An 1851 Farmhouse With Stories to Tell – to Anyone Who’ll Listen

Ten years ago, the first time I walked into the house on Cornwallville Road in Cornwallville, New York, where I now sit and write this, I felt a powerful, mostly positive, energy about the place. What was odd about that is that, for the most part, I don’t typically feel or sense such things at all. I just bumble through life clueless about that kind of stuff. In fact, usually I’m a skeptic about such things. But this energy was undeniable. Just a few steps inside the kitchen door, and I was certain that this house was special. Within a year I was co-owner of the place, with Aubyn, after we decided to merge our lives.

And this house is indeed special. It was built in 1851 for the Reverend John Battersby, who ministered in Cornwallville’s Methodist Episcopal Church, just about a mile away “in town” on the same road. “In town” is in quotes because C’ville really doesn’t have a “town” part – at the time of Reverend Battersby, it had his church, a town hall, a smattering of farm houses, and not much else. The town hall still stands, and has been converted into an art museum by our friend Paula LaLaLa. There’s a graveyard that once accompanied the church – Reverend Battersby is buried there. His church, however, is long gone.

Now, back to those energies in this house. Energies is plural here, because, in addition to the big energy that hit me as I first stepped into the house, I have since  encountered a handful of smaller, but still powerful such energies inside.

Upstairs in the northwest bedroom there is an energy that I sense belongs to a man named Edward. Edward doesn’t seem to be overly anxious, but his energy, though subtle, is definitely there. He’s got a story to tell but I have no clue about what he’s hanging around for. I do get a sense that he was a contemporary of our Reverend Battersby. I wonder if there was something unfinished between them.

A house full of energies.

Not long after I bought into the house, I was renovating the last of its four bedrooms, just finishing up the skim-coating I had taught myself how to do for the massive project (over the course of about three years of weekends, I renovated every room of the house – ten in all, plus the stairwell). As I squatted in a corner of this last bedroom, sponging the wall to remove any loose plaster dust, I was wondering what color I should paint that room. I never had color inspirations for the renovated rooms until after I had done all the prep work. Anyway, as I’m finishing up that corner, I got a frisson and the powerful sensation that someone named Sarah was there with me. I looked around, and no such thing. But then I got a vision of a beautiful, warm pink color. I could practically see it already on the wall. 

A corner of the Pink (or Sarah’s) Room.
(In the 1980s Momma made each of us a Cabbage Patch Kid. This one is Brenda.)

With that color seared into my head, I went to the paint store and picked out the exact match within a second or two (this is very abnormal for me because for each of the colors of the other rooms I’d done, I labored over the choice – bringing color cards home first before returning to the store to get the paint. Not this time. The pink I (or shall we say, Sarah) picked, was never in doubt. I bought it on the spot. Though I don’t use much pink anywhere in my life, that room now wears that color. I must admit that, once finished, the room turned out quite nice. Before the renovation we had kept the door closed for the most part. As I was leaving the fully-renovated and decorated room, I left the door open – it needed to air out, and it just felt right that the door should remain open, and not closed, as it had been for years. 

A few weeks later, our friend Dorothee Walliser, co-proprietor of Oak Hill’s DeWitt Hotel, visited us to see the renovations in progress. She’d just been through a course on how to read situations by observing the movement of a chain necklace and a pendant. As we were walking up the stairs to the bedrooms, she asked, “Who’s Sarah?” She had no idea about the story of the pink room. After seeing the room and pulling it’s energy with her chain necklace and pendant, she said, “Sarah says we should always keep the door to this room somewhat, if not fully, open.” Coincidence? Probably.

I was sitting in the stairwell sanding the steps with a loud hand-held sander. Our pooch Moby, who was sitting in the living room, let out a high-pitched sound that was more like a squeal than a bark. It was so loud it pierced through the noise from the sander. I turned it off and looked at him. He was staring right through me to something behind me. I turned to see what I thought was the translucent shape of a man standing there in the entryway to the dining room. I shook my head and looked again and saw that it wasn’t a man, but a woman dressed in a billowy housedress and apron. Moby squealed again, and she was gone. 

The Norman Hasselriis assemblage of metronome and an anatomy-book illustration of the human eye.

Several months later Aubyn was showing the house to a visitor. I had of course told him of my experiences with these energies, but he was always a bit skeptical. On this day, however, he and his friend got their own little energy performance as they walked through the dining room to the living room. Just as they approached the bookcase that abuts the stairwell that separates the two rooms, the needle on a metronome – one of the “assemblages” by local artist Norman Hasselriis – started moving rapidly. On its own. Two witnesses for this. And both of the human persuasion.

There’s at least one other energy associated with the house – and I get a strong sense it emanates from a man called either Wilbur or Walter. Unlike Sarah, Edward, or the woman by the stairs, who seem to be either neutral or friendly, Wilber/Walter’s energy feels negative, as if he’s quite anxious about something. I’ve felt him a few times when I’m in his space outside, just to the right of the door as you enter. He seems to hop from foot to foot. But he stays out there – not inside the house. I figure that as long as he stays outside, the energies in the house will continue to be of the positive variety. And I’m totally fine with that. One day – long about 2034 or so – I suspect Moby and I (and possibly a few years later, Aubyn, though his lingering skepticism may disqualify this) will have left some of our own energies to meander here in this old house. For future occupants. 

M

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Val says:

    I love this story. My first similar experience was when I felt energy in my cottage in Milledgeville. The local historian told me the house was 200 years old, had survived many moves and uses and probably was “haunted” by the spirits of previous inhabitants. I felt them also; they were benign and we peacefully coexisted.

    The house I now live in is almost 100 years old. If there are energies here, most of them are as fed up with the current landlord as I am. The house is starting to literally fall apart; cracks mark the plaster in every room. Logical me says it’s the settling of the raised house, but the other me says it’s the marks of those who are not pleased with how Slum Lord Vader is allowing the house to decay.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s awful, Val. I’ll bet your old house nonetheless has a lot more soul than so many of the other, sterile new buildings out there.

      Like

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