ELLICOTTVILLE — Anyone who is curious about paranormal activity and engrossed with ghosts is sure to enjoy Ellicottville’s Paranormal Walks. It’s an evening of paranormal investigation and storytelling outside some of Ellicottville’s oldest buildings and the Jefferson Street Cemetery.
Hosted by the Ellicottville Historical Society, the final walk will take place Friday, Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s Paranormal Walks have been taking place outside and leaving from the village gazebo.
Ellen Frank, vice president of the historical society, said the turnout has been good in spite of the pandemic. She said people looking for a possible paranormal experience have gathered every Friday night over the past few weeks to search for ghosts and supernatural happenings in the village.
Tours are based on original research and investigation conducted by John Koerner, founder of Paranormal Walks. The weekly walk tells the haunted tales of Ellicottville, as well as stories from the archive of first-hand accounts from previous ghost hunts.
Participants have the opportunity to seek out ghostly spirits on a guided investigation with Koerner and Frank, who has been doing the research for this year’s walk and throws in some history along the way to make it more interesting.
Frank starts the tour out by talking about the town hall and the things groups from past years have experienced, as well as the readings and sitings they have found there. She said the walk begins at the town hall, constructed in 1929. The building replaced a log courthouse and jail, built in 1820, that once served as the center for government for Cattaraugus County.
“We go behind the town hall to talk about the jail and the history of the courthouse,” she said. “Then we visit the United Church of Ellicottville on Elizabeth Street where there was plenty of paranormal activity during the 2018 walk when three coat hangers started moving while the group was at the church and they wouldn’t stop. Then the door suddenly closed.”
At the corner of Elizabeth and Monroe streets, Frank tells the group how Joseph Ellicott, chief surveyor and resident land-agent for the Holland Land Company, laid out Ellicottville in a grid street plan at the turn of the 19th century.
“There’s a pattern in his layout that I never realized, so we talk about that. It’s also the same pattern he used in Washington, D.C.; Buffalo; Medina; New York City and Batavia,” she said. “In Ellicottville, I guess there were 96 plots that were first developed. He started education on one corner, religion on another, and the other two corners are the court system.”
In addition to the town hall, some of the most haunted locations that have shown paranormal activity include the United Church of Ellicottville, Ellicottville Historical Society Museum and the Jefferson Street Cemetery, which has the most history and potential ghost activity.
Last year at the museum, the group found a lot of paranormal energy from several objects in the room including a student desk, a bell and a black dress. Frank said the device would turn red as Rob deGuehery, also of Paranormal Walks, was talking about a story told by his grandmother where kids had desks like that and boys would put the girls ponytails in the inkwells.
Constructed in 1853, the current museum site has been the location of the County Clerk’s Office, a bank, a German Protestant Lutheran Church and a millinery shop. In 1894, a belfry was added and the brick structure became a firehouse for the volunteer fire department meetings. Since then, this structure has served as a school and a public library. The hundreds of old artifacts there gave off plenty of paranormal activity for the hunters to detect.
According to Frank, some really weird things happened at the cemetery last year including the smell of smoke and a mysterious glowing orb. The spirits were more subdued this year. Established in 1817, the Jefferson Street Cemetery was the first to serve the village. The burial ground has over 400 burials dating from 1817 to 2003.
“I saw orbs last year, but none this year. We did not smell smoke this year, either,” she said. “It’s interesting that we are getting different tombstones with different things.”
The use of ghost-hunting applications on their cellphones makes the experience even more fun for the participants. Frank said the sightings and occurrences are different every year as far as what the participants are going to hear, sight or pick up on an app.
This is the fourth annual Paranormal Walk hosted by the Ellicottville Historical Society with proceeds benefiting the organization. Frank said it was uncertain, at first, if the historical society could host the walk because they’ve been closed all year.
“Because we’ve been closed, we haven’t had any dues or donations to speak of this year, so this has been a good way for the historical society to make some money,” she said.
Tickets are $10 per person and are non-refundable. Walk-ins are welcome but must pay cash. The walks are family-oriented, interactive and instructive. They take place rain or shine, last about 90 minutes and are limited to 50 people.
People should register online at paranormalwalks.com where they are advised to read the New York State Guidelines for mask wearing and maintaining appropriate social distancing. Everyone is required to sign in stating that they have no COVID symptoms and have had no exposure to COVID infected people.
For more information, call Frank at (716) 474-8528 or Koerner at (716) 245-0855.