The Haunting Of The House
By James Donahue
I think I first concluded that I was living in
a haunted house after a twisted maple branch threw a large tree trunk at me. The tree came down on my left leg, cracking the
bone near the knee. I ended up in a cast from my ankle to my hip, and was forced to spend most of my time lying flat on my
back for the next three months.
Because it was a vertical crack my doctor would
not remove the cast or let me stand on that leg until x-rays no longer showed signs of that crack in the bone. Suddenly my
busy schedule braked to a stop. I had time to reflect on my life. I spent hours thinking, reading, and watching television.
My wife made weekly trips to the local library, keeping me stocked with books.
Among the books I whipped through that fall was
"The Amityville Horror," a popular story about a haunted house in which events got so strange the occupants were forced to
move. The book was supposedly based on a true story, although I have always had my suspicion that it was grossly embellished.
Strangely, during the reading of this book, I began to compare some of the strange events linked
to that New England house with goings on in our own home. Because I was always on the run,
never taking time to stop and really look at my surroundings, I missed the fact that we had something supernatural happening
right under our noses.
There was an unfinished room on the second floor
that was always full of flies. Whether it was spring, summer, winter or fall, flies buzzed constantly in that room. We sprayed
it. We hung flypaper. We even used a professional device that sprayed the entire house with enough chemicals to destroy creeping
things in every crack, from the basement to the attic. Still we had flies. We kept the door closed and never used that room.
Except to pass through to reach an attic where we kept a pail to catch water. Let me explain that.
The roof of the house had a perpetual leak. Before we moved in, a piece of the plastered ceiling
in the living room collapsed from water damage caused by a leak in the roof. The house stood empty for several years before
we bought it, so I was not surprised that we had problems.
I enjoyed repairing and restoring older homes and
expected to have some work to do. The leaky roof was my first project. I began by using roof tar to patch any places on the
roof where I thought water might be getting in. Then I repaired the damage in the ceiling by installing tile.
The next time it rained I entered the attic to see
if the leak was fixed. It wasn't. A stream of water was flowing along one of the open roof rafters. To save my new ceiling
I placed a pail on the attic floor. It was a nuisance to have to remember to empty the pail after every rain. Next I re-roofed
that side of the house. I installed roofing tile all the way to the peak, installed new flashing around the chimney, and used
roofing tar abundantly.
When it rained again, the leak was as bad as ever.
I finished roofing the entire house, carefully tarring and capping the peak. The leak was still there. There was nothing more
I could do. As long as we owned the house I had to always remember to have empty pails ready in the attic to catch the water.
I tried to carefully trace the flow of water during a rainstorm and could never find its source. It seemed to appear out of
the side of the roof rafter.
There were other things about that house that bothered
me. It was never a happy home. As a family, we probably had more fights and arguments there than any place we lived. That
was not like us. We were always close knit. It was as if we were possessed by a spirit of meanness that took charge from
time to time.
house was designed backwards, if that makes any sense. The driveway approached the house from the south and then stopped.
The attached garage had its door facing the north, away from the driveway, and could never be used. The kitchen was located
just off the garage. A downstairs bedroom, which also was located on that side of the house, should have been the kitchen.
You had to walk through the downstairs bedroom to get to the stairs leading to the upstairs bedrooms. If I had stayed there
for any length of time, I had plans to rebuild the house the way I thought it should have been.
suffered the worse bout of influenza in our lives in that house. It swept the entire family within hours, making us all so
sick we could not take care of each other. We barely had the energy to line up at the bathroom, trying to time our vomiting
and diarrhea so we were not in each other's way. That flu knocked us down for days. No one could fix a meal but then no one
wanted to eat.
youngest daughter, Jennifer, was born while we lived in that house. My wife became very ill and nearly died in childbirth.
She was hospitalized more than once, but survived to have a healthy baby girl.
began heating the house with a wood-burning furnace after a severe ice storm left us without power for 14 consecutive days
in mid-winter. The entire region was hit with this storm and because we were living in a rural area, we had to wait for repair
crews to replace the power lines leading down our road. During the power outage, we lost a deep freeze filled with food, our
basement flooded and the water destroyed our washing machine and clothes drier as well as our sump pump. When the power came
back on the surge wrecked our refrigerator.
mishap linked to our wood cutting also occurred while we lived in that house. It was late in the fall and all the leaves were
fallen as we hauled logs from a lovely elm that our son had fallen. The tree had vines wrapped around it, but we didn't pay
much attention. The vines turned out to be poison oak. My son and I both broke out in a serious rash. My wife also developed
a rash because she handled our clothes after we came in that night. It was such a serious attack that we all sought medical
attention. I found that I am severely allergic to poison oak. I was hospitalized for a week.
There was a severe attack by a tiny biting insect known as no-see-ems that perplexed us for several weeks. They struck
every night as my wife and I slept in the downstairs bedroom. We went to great lengths to debug the house to no avail. Then
we realized the insects had infected a bush just outside our bedroom window and were tiny enough to come in through the screens
at night while our window was open and the light was on. When I sprayed the bush, the problem went away.
had a serious fire. We lost a large barn in the back yard that nearly took the house with it. The fire also claimed our family
cat, some pet rabbits, and nearly killed our daughter's horse, which was led out in the nick of time. We lost all the tack.
Our neighbor's combine, a mow filled with his hay, and several other pieces of farm equipment also burned with that barn.
Our older teen-age girls were home alone that day with Jennifer, who by then was just toddling. Our mailman happened to stop
at our house and saw smoke pouring from the barn. He investigated and found Jennifer toddling in the burning barn. He got
her out of the building moments before it exploded in a ball of flame. The girls were so intent on saving the horse they didn't
notice that Jennifer wandered into the burning barn. Our mailman saved her life.
We purchased the property from a farmer who we later
learned had worked with the realtor to cheat us on the land that was to have gone with it. The property came with about five
acres of land that we did not find out about until we arranged for its sale to another party. The farmer continued to use
the land that was to have been ours, and prevented our daughter from pasturing her horse there. We might note that the farmer
went bankrupt and the realtor’s wife went insane during the time we lived in the house.
After selling the house and moving on, I learned that the place had a dark history. A previous
occupant reportedly murdered his entire family before committing suicide there. It was said the killing happened in that upstairs
and unfinished room where we had all the flies. Another previous occupant committed suicide by hanging himself in the attached
believe we were sharing that house with bad spirits who were working overtime to make life miserable and possibly drive us
away. Oddly enough, we moved from that house into another country home in the area that also was haunted. In fact, we have
encountered several haunted houses over the years. This one was probably the worst of the lot.