(Above): An image from 2007 depicting marks on one of the windows.
May Stringer House
Former residence, now business/museum
June 17, 2007
May-Stringer Mansion, May 2, 2015
Prior visits: 2007, 2012
Our tour guide was Bonnie. We did an abbreviated tour where we learned of a number of deaths on the property. The first floor area was the site of one of the first ride-by shootings in the area in which a man was killed. The home was also used by the May and Stringer families; Marina, the wife, married May who passed away, then remarried Stringer. Marina, herself, died in the house as did two of the children she gave birth to: a little boy, who died while she was still alive, and her 3 year old daughter, Jessie May, who died under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Jessie May was alive after her mother died, but was the only child produced by Marina and Mr. Stringer; two step siblings also lived in the house at the time. Jessie May is the only ghost acknowledged by the May Stringer Historical Society.
Bonnie reported that she had seen the cups in the dining room vibrate and rattle. Finally, one cup rose up and flipped over, and was placed upon a saucer – in front of a daytime tour. She said that her daughter has had encounters, including footsteps in the house.
There was a war memorial room. People reported getting crying and EVPs in that area.
The guide reported that the second floor ladies bedroom seemed to be haunted by a feminine presence and by Jessie May. A third entity was attached to a very old pre-Civil War doll. This entity did not like anyone else touching the doll. When the doll was misplaced the house had “rolling darkness” through it until it was found and returned to its proper place.
The second floor had a second bedroom that seemed to house the ghost of a man called “James”. The story is that he returned from the Civil War (?) to marry his fiancé, who had married another man while he was away. He was very upset by this and committed suicide by hanging in the attic area. He did touch women and was known to caress hair.
The attic area was the one where there was a lot of activity. The guide thought that it was an entity attached to an actor’s trunk. This entity did not like Bonnie and she stayed out of the attic. She believed that he disliked women, particularly alpha females. People who were in the attic heard breathing, footsteps, were pinched or scratched. Bonnie felt herself pushed at one point, and also reported walking into a wall of smell – the smell was that of putrid flesh. A second tour guide walked us the team up in that area. Donna and I stayed on the second floor trying to communicate with Jessie May.
Once the tour was done, we were allowed to investigate on our own.
Examination of the EVP:
Ladies bedroom/Jessie May’s area: There were some toys in a bin under the bed which we had permission to use to see if the little girl would play with us. I did try to leave two toys on the carpet – marked by the pattern of the carpet – to see if the little girl would play with them. No results. (Checked the area twice more throughout the investigation).
One of the most active sections was in the Master bedroom with “James”. EMF did not get any results, but the recording did capture our question and answer session in conjunction with the EMF meter. We did set the parameters that if the entity wanted to alert us to an important item, or a “yes” answer, that it should spike the needle (move the needle to the right). When asked if anyone was present, the meter spiked. When asked various emotions (happy, sad, angry, frustrated) the needle spiked on angry. When we asked for confirmation of this, it spiked again.
We asked about the Stringers (it was also their bedroom). The needle did spike on former owner, the Stringers. Yet, it also seemed to respond to “James” more often than any other name asked. (We asked several times with several of the male presences reported on the premises).
We did ask that if we were the 57/58th team to come out for one of the ghost tours, was the entity bored? The answer was a resounding spike. We did attempt to ask some unusual questions (did he play sports? Did he ride horses?) but got no results.
We did ask if this person had a sweetheart – spike.
When I first walked into the attic, I smelled a very strong aroma of fireplace smoke (cedar smoke?) I had a second smell shortly before we left to go back to the first floor – it was very sweet. It reminded me of almost a hand sanitizer or a body lotion. None of us were wearing perfumes and it did not happen anywhere else or at any other time.
While we were in the attic, the temperature physically dropped. It started at 84 degrees and slowly dropped to 80 degrees during our EVP session. It climbed back up to at least 84 by the time we were ready to leave. No reason found to account for this.
The upstairs attic area: I had a piece of my hair touched very lightly (top, left of head). I also had the sensation of extreme heat on my face – almost as if I was blushing extremely hard. To my knowledge, my complexion was normal. While this was going on, I also felt an odd burning sensation on my right cheek. As I explained to the guides that the burning reminded me of when a pet scratches the skin – either it is broken but not bleeding or it is about to bleed. There is an odd burning feeling associated with that phase. The burning sensation started only in the attic, remained focused only on my face, and did not stop until I left the house. I have no real explanation for this as there were no marks on my face either when I got home or the next morning (or in the days afterward). There were no bug bites (we saw no bugs; if bitten I tend to have welts left behind).
During the reveal phase with our remaining guide (Bonnie had to leave a little early that night), we learned that at least one other tour guide had seen a spectral lady in the house. It was during a quilt exhibit. The woman came in to open the house for a tour and saw the lady examining the quilts. The woman spoke to the guide (“This one is mine”). The guide complimented the woman on her dress; at some point, the guide turned around or left the area briefly. When she returned the woman was gone. No one had come in or left the house.
There was also a story reported to the museum by a former resident of the home. The man said that as a child he was bouncing a ball in the house. He saw a woman come out of his room and say “We don’t do that here”. She was dressed in a long dress, took the ball away from him and walked back into his room. Then he heard the ball drop. When he went in to see where she was, the woman had vanished.
June 17, 2007
The news of the Heritage Museum ghost tours came to us through an article published in the St. Petersburg Times The newspaper described a very haunted, very historic museum in a semi-rural part of west central Florida called Brooksville. Our northern county resident member called ahead and booked the SPIRITS of St. Petersburg for a tour. We had a 2 month waiting list as the Museum's reputation made national publication.
The day finally arrived. Five SPIRITS of St. Petersburg members met for dinner, then alighted shortly before dark at the location. . The musuem is actually inside a beautiful old home called the May-Stringer mansion. Built in the mid-1800s, it comes complete with the standard Florida wrap-around porch surrounded by a canopy of oak trees. A young John May, builder of the home, was just 23 when he settled there with his wife and infant daughter. Unfortunantly, he died a short time after the birth of his second child; May was only 24. He is the first of many residents who haunt the home. In fact, the Museum has a scrap book of images taken at the property and believe that May manifested as a full-bodied apparition and a shadow figure in several photographs.
We met our tour guide, Bonnie. She is a delightful frank woman who tells things as she sees them, including stories of phenomena she has witnessed in the house. She reported watching items moving, hearing singing and footsteps, and even senses the presence of May, himself. She openly talks of run-ins with individuals who have told her that she has a connection to the house associated with a past life. WIth or without a prior existence in the home, Bonnie is impressive with how very in tuned she is with her surroundings; she seems to have a stories about every nook and cranny within this old homestead.
Since the tours are relgated to 8 people, the SPIRITS members were pleasantly surprised to find that our tour-mates were members of the New Port Richie ghost group (we have a review of their tours also listed under the "tours" section of our website). Though the event was initially scheduled for 8 p.m., during the summer season things start a little bit later in order to allow for darkness to settle. Each member was given a battery operated "candle" to light their way thorugh the night. Hand-held equipment in hand, we wove our way through the dark Victorian corridors to meet our spectral hosts.
Each room has someone new to "talk" to. There is a war room containing uniforms of American soldiers, apparently one of which has brought the spirit of its initial owner. The kitchen has had reports of fantastic aromas, the attic a tempermental actor who arrived when his wooden trunk was donated to the museum. There is an room remodeled to resemble an old fashioned school that holds a lonely man, allegedly jilted by his fiance. The master bedroom has a cradle containing a baby doll that is rocked by a mysterious ghostly child. There are images with nebulous figures looking out at the photographer, who swears that no one was there at the time the picure was snapped.
The tour is highly recommended for paranormal groups; after the walk through, the group is allowed to divide into smaller sections to go back to areas of interest for the second hour. A representative of the museum travels with each group, but does not interfere with what is found. To see the SPIRITS results, see our images below.
For anyone who wants to go on a tour, the instructions are to call ahead and reserve. Only 8 people a night can come on a ghost tour and these specific tours are only offered on Friday and Saturday nights. Tours start after dark and last approximately two hours. The cost is $20 per person for the tour; it is well worth the price. All money earned goes towards maintaining this fantastic place.
Brandy: My only sensations were by the attic area where I felt someone "blow" or touch my neck. It was \very subtle. I also had the impression that our soldier friend was going to be quiet that night.
Brandy's images: digital. When we first arrived, I took a couple of pictures while we were waiting. I got this double set of orbs, which moves down the hallway, then vanishes. (Note: it is part of this camera to produce "flat" orbs. I have NO idea why).
The conditions were different for us. We had another ghost team there and the two teams switched areas of investigation. During the actual investigation, I really did not get a lot. Nothing on EMF or EVP. Strange window image posted is, in my opinion, probably naturally explained as an odd reflection. We did focus on the school room as that was said to be an area of heavy activity. The attic was creepy, but it could have been because it was so crowded. However, the staff did have an excellent picture of some of the images taken by prior teams. One included what looked like a man made out of energy -- almost a shadow figure -- walking on the ramparts. I'm not sure if the image is a fluke (ink blot; the image was enlarged) or if this was an actual anomaly caught directly on camera. Otherwise, the history was excellent to learn and the items within -- from Victorian dolls to antique furniture -- was amazing to behold. Florida lacks the history of the North and I think that this is one of the few houses that shows that Florida did have residents here before 1950!
From "Florida Ghostly Legends and Haunted Folklore: North Florida and St. Augustine". (V. 2)
Author: Greg Jenkins, published 2005
The house is located at 601 Museum Court in Brooksville, Florida.
Built in 1856
Four story home, 12 rooms total, with "a large country kitchen and an adjoining summerhouse kitchen toward the rar of the home, all decorated in a Civil War-era motif with over 10,000 pieces of antiquity on display" (p. 1)
Hosts a small schoolroom and library, which was used for local children, attic filled with items from Florida's past
A child was born in the house; the mother died shortly thereafter, and the little girl died at 3 years of age. Before her death, the child would walk through the house crying for her mother; her spirit is said to still be wandering today. Reports include a little girl's voice crying "Momma, momma"...which then faded away (p. 7).
She has a favorite doll that she still plays with (photo in book -- p. 5).
Attic: also an area of poltergeist outbreak. Volunteers would arrive for work and found attic space in disarray, particularly if new toys are brought in.
Names of potential ghosts: Marena and Jessie May; both buried in the front yard (not uncommon for the time).
Note: The author of the book does not appear to have gotten a lot of response, either. On page 8, he does state:
"Parapsychologists and phychical researchers have come here to look into the ghostly goings on, and many of them claim to have found evidence of something out of the ordinary. Although the paranormal events at the May-Stringer House are usually mild, events such as teacups being found in a place where they should not be, and the bedroom and attic being ransacked from time to time by unseen culprits, points to classic poltergeist phenomena. However, most poltergeist activity is short-lived compared to this haunting, and so the remarkable events in the May-Stringer House may continue for centuries."
However, with his lack of contact, and at least two ghost investigation teams present on our night, neither of which appeared to have gotten much, I am not sure that I agree. Jessie may have her own schedule and may do things on her own time. The manifestations cited are mild -- mostly in the bedroom, attic, and kitchen, and with a long lag between events. I have not checked into events past 2007 so I do not know if activity has picked up, especially with the wave of interest from the media and new ghost enthusiasts. I am hopeful that Jessie may have found her mother and knows peace -- which is the best case scenario for her. Nonetheless, the May-Stringer house is a beautiful place to go and, ghost or no ghost, worth the time to visit.