Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go on a real ghost hunt like the kind you see on television shows? I did! So, I recently visited The May Stringer House (also known as the Hernando Heritage Museum) in Brooksville for their weekly ghost tour. Built in 1856, The May Stringer House is one of the oldest houses standing in Brooksville and is said to be home to at least eight resident ghosts that roam the property. Workers have felt cold spots and mists, and noticed eerie shadows. They have heard footsteps, balls bouncing, items moving, voices coming from empty rooms, and the sound of children’s laughter echoing throughout the building. Many strange things have happened in the room of Jessie Mae, the three year-old daughter of pioneer John May who built the house. The room is still decorated with her belongings, including her dolls that sit in a cradle, and you are warned not to touch. “Mr. Nasty” is said to live in the attic….you’ll have to visit the House for yourself if you’d like to find out more about him. Ghostly figures have been seen peering through the windows and on the property surrounding it. Late one evening, a police officer who was doing his usual pass-by, was startled when he saw a full-sized entity staring back at him through the upstairs window. He said he would never go back.
Upon entering the Museum, you will be greeted by a very friendly, educated docent who will give you a thorough one-hour tour around each room while explaining in detail the history of the people who once lived there, and the tragedies that occurred on the premises during and after the Civil War. The stories are intriguing, and when combined with the more than 11,000 artifacts decorating each room of the twelve room house, you really get the feeling of what it was like living in the 18th century. For example, the kitchen and the old school room depict the late 1800’s, the war room has authentic combat memorabilia, and the doctor and dentist’s office exhibits many pieces of medical and surgical equipment that were used at that time. Some of it is sure to make your hair stand up. Also on display is the Southern Communication Systems used before the computer age. The second hour is spent exploring and ghost hunting on your own.
Many professional paranormal ghost hunting teams have investigated the May-Stringer House and have claimed it as “certified haunted”. Flash photography is permitted but don’t be surprised at the number of orbs that show up on your photos! You are also permitted and encouraged to bring paranormal investigation equipment with you. For the novice ghost hunter, digital cameras and video cameras are handy devices to bring. There are free apps such as Paranormal PMF Ghost Scanners available to upload on iPhones and iPads. Dowsing rods, widely used as a simple, effective way of searching for anything from lost coins to ghosts, are available at the front desk at no cost. Most importantly, don’t forget to bring a flashlight because you will be ghost hunting in the dark! More experienced ghost hunters or those who want an in-depth experience can bring additional equipment. EMF Meters measure fluctuations in electromagnetic fields which ghosts are said to be able to manipulate. Ghost Boxes and Spirit Boxes are a great way to promote communication in both directions with a potentially intelligent entity. A Ghost Box utilizes various environmental queues through software to give the spirits a voice while a Spirit Box emits raw radio frequencies. EVP Recorders can be used to investigate electronic voice phenomena which is sound potentially caused by ghosts in order to communicate with us from the beyond. Laser Grids are useful tools that beam a pattern of light on a solid wall so that any anomaly with significant enough mass that passes in front of the laser will cause a visual disturbance in the pattern. Many of these devices can be purchased on-line at a nominal cost and there are YouTube Channels and websites on the internet that explain in detail the uses of all these pieces of equipment as well as where to find them.
If you’re brave enough to check out the May Stringer House at night ghost tours are offered every Friday and Saturday from 8:00-10:00 p.m. by reservation only for ages 16 and up. Late night investigations are also available for group tours. The cost is $20 (cash only). If you are not interested in ghostly matters, the Museum offers daytime tours from noon to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday where you can explore the house and learn the history behind this interesting historical site. The Hernando Heritage Museum is located at 601 Museum Court, Brooksville, FL 34601. For details and additional information please call (352) 799-0129 or visit www.hernandohistoricalmuseumassoc.com.