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Today we talk to the paranormal investigators of the Bump in the Night Society, who collect ghost stories from all over Appalachia. Sean started seeing ghosts at age 4, but really got hooked on the paranormal after an uncanny experience with a psychic medium. After breaking the taboo of whistling in the woods at night and taunting the spirits with an annoying wooden recorder solo, Jen says she is “still alive…but…we definitely had a lot of weird stuff happen.” Let’s hear just how weird it gets.

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About the Guests: Jennifer and Sean Bowman of Bump in the Night Paranormal

The couple is fortunate to have at least one thing in common: they love researching things that go bump in the night. So much so that, in 2020, they formed Bump in the Night Society, a paranormal research team working to the comedic tune of a wooden recorder. Far from just ghost hunting, their venture also encompasses a wide range of paranormal topics, including cryptids, monsters, aliens, and conspiracies. They share their experiences and insights through various platforms.

Jennifer and Sean Bowman of Bump In The Night Society

The Bowmans’ inspiration for exploring the unknown and sharing their findings lies partly in the legends of spirits in Appalachian folklore. They host a podcast featuring discussions with guests, exploring supernatural topics that range from Halloween haunts and attractions to true ghost stories (Sean used to work at ScareHouse, a seasonal haunted attraction in Pittsburgh Mills Mall). Listen to their podcast of Appalachian paranormal stories on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Their website tells the story of what sparked their interest in the paranormal. The website also details the services they offer, including consultations, public investigations, and home service calls all over Appalachia to tackle paranormal phenomena.

Additionally, they share videos related to their paranormal activities on YouTube. Their YouTube channels are Bump in the Night Paranormal Investigations and Bump In The Night Paranormal. They hope you dare to join in on the chills by following them on TikTok, where they broadcast some of their paranormal investigations in Appalachia live. Email bumpinthenightsociety@yahoo.com or check Facebook for info on joining them in person for a public investigation. Or check out their Linktree for all of their links.

More notes about Paranormal Activities in Appalachia

Is an Appalachian Deliverance Like an Exorcism?

Those who grew up outside the Appalachian region may hear the word “Deliverance” and begin to feel on-edge. It’s a prejudice implanted by the Yankee perspective of rural Southern Americans exploited in the movie of the same name. But what is deliverance, and what does it mean biblically? Appalachian Pentecostal deliverance and a Catholic exorcism are not unlike each other in their goals (and flamboyant, stigmatizing Hollywood depictions). Yet the two differ greatly in approach, scope, and practice.

Pentecostal Deliverance vs Catholic Exorcism

Exorcism involves a formal ritual performed by a priest or religious leader. This typically (but not exclusively) Catholic practice includes prayers, incantations, holy water, and religious symbols to drive out demons. The “Rituale Romanum” under Pope Paul V established specific, strict guidelines for the performance of exorcisms. The Catholic Church considers exorcism a last resort for severe and verifiable cases of demon possession.

What is Spiritual Deliverance?

Deliverance, on the other hand, is a broader concept found in charismatic Christian movements. It’s not limited to the expulsion of demons, but also addresses other spiritual forces like generational curses, witchcraft, and occult influence. It is a wholistic practice. In addition to the active process of expelling demons, deliverance will likely involve preparation, diagnostics, curse breaking (through not just prayer and spiritual warfare, but also forms of counseling), healing for the mind, body, and soul, and follow-up.

Lay people can perform a deliverance, which doesn’t necessarily follow a prescribed formal ritual. You might think of it as a homespun exorcism. This type of informal spiritual warfare is naturally more common in an area where even emergency medicine has traditionally been homespun by Appalachian Granny Women. The people of Appalachia have always known how to take care of and look after one another, without the need or desire for a formal institution to grant them permission to do so with such things as degrees or licenses. After all, if the closest licensed medical professional is so far away that you’re likely to die in transit, something’s got to give.

For more detailed information, read sources like Wikipedia’s page on Deliverance Ministry and Multiplying Freedom Ministries.

Why is Pittsburgh, PA, the “Paris of Appalachia?”

Diana’s camper van sat frozen in fear at the bottom of the hill. Stopping in Pittsburgh on her way to West Virginia now seemed like a questionable decision. Craning their necks towards the windshield, Amber and Diana couldn’t even see the top of the trees making up the woods in front of them. They could only tell that the road intersected another at a perpendicular crossroads right at the peak. That was their turn-off.

Was there some way to back up? To gain enough momentum in the vintage van to make it to the top? When…IF they made it up, would they be able to make that sharp 35 degree turn off the 35 degree grade? What if a car happened to be speeding from the other street? Or what is there was a sheer cliff on the other side of the hill? Trying not to imagine the potential fall, Amber circled the block at the bottom of the incline, seeking a suitable takeoff runway.

Randyland in Pittsburgh is a beautiful and inexplicable garden bursting with found object art.
Randyland in Pittsburgh is a beautiful and inexplicable garden bursting with found object art.

Urban Pittsburgh is perhaps the least paranormal place in the Appalachian Mountains

A quick jaunt to explore Pittsburgh leaves a gritty taste in one’s brain. It’s instantly apparent why the city’s pro-team references metal mining, and gradually apparent that the rest of its history is somehow entwined with that of ketchup. Diana breezed through a traditional Italian deli, thankful she wasn’t the one looking for Strip District parking, exiting with a muffuletta in a greasy paper sack. Later, she went searching up Squirrel Hill for authentic Szechuan off a Chinese-only menu.

The Oktoberfest vibe drew what felt like millions of visitors to the breweries. Even in standing room only, the locals were disarmingly welcoming. Tasting more than her fair share of tiny flight glasses of local beers certainly made the subsequent Pittsburgh tours more interesting. Between microbreweries, Diana spotted workers applying fake rust to fireplugs for major motion picture filming.

Pittsburgh is not Atlanta, but it plays one on TV.
Pittsburgh is not Atlanta, but it plays one on TV.

As the apex city of a mostly rural region, Pittsburgh has been likened to Paris, France. Both are hubs for higher education and the arts, built upon a history of revolutionary industrialization. Also like Paris, Pittsburgh features a blend of glinting architecture and the tree-covered beauty of the natural world, well viewable from many a cliff or steep hill.

The nickname “Paris of Appalachia” is, however, somewhat tongue-in-cheek. It pokes fun at the contrasts between grand Paris and humble Pittsburgh. Or rather, the cultural reputation of France compared to that of Appalachia. A sarcastic SAT question might summarize this cheeky comparison as Paris:France:Wine:Arts::Pittburgh:Appalachia:Beer:Condiments.

The OTHER Octagon Haunted House in Circleville, OH

We’ve all had nightmares about Becky’s family’s house of octagons, so you already know how haunted a shape it is. Octagonal houses may be fated to severe levels of paranormal activity, considering this other one is the Bump In the Night Society’s favorite site to investigate. They like the location not because of its shape, however, but because of the haunted parts. They tell us tales of how they collect an abundance of haunting evidence they collect every time they visit the building.

In the early 2000s, the 1856 Gregg-Crites Octagon House was slated for a demolition that never happened. Instead, in a remarkable feat of engineering, the Round town Conservancy moved the 480 ton mansion—intact—to park it on a new plot of land half a mile away. This complex process involved inserting steel beams into the basement and mounting the house on a hydraulic mechanism with 96 wheels. Sean says they took the ghosts with it.

The Conservancy plans to restore the mansion, now listed on the National Register of historic places, into a museum. Read up on the tale of its legend on its Wikipedia page here. The Ohio Exploration Society also provides photographs and stories about the house’s restoration progress here.

What are the Brown Mountain Lights?

In the Pisgah National Forest of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, enigmatic lights appear at random above Brown Mountain. The lights were seen shining through the darkness of the forest decades before electricity would’ve been common in the area. Native American legends suggest they might have been observed much, much earlier.

What might cause the Brown Mountain Lights?

The nature of the lights has sparked much speculation, ranging from the scientific to the supernatural. Are they caused by the piezoelectric effect, when quartz rock in the earth generates light in response to mechanical stress? Could they be transient brush fires, or St Elmo’s Fire, from storms? Are they manmade? Could they be ghosts or UFOs? The souls of women looking for their husbands who fell in battle? Other proposed explanations include unusual electrostatic discharges from geological fault lines or natural phenomena similar to ball lightning. Yet despite data from numerous studies, including one by the United States Geological Survey, the true nature of the lights remains unexplained, continuing to fuel storytelling.

Where to see the Brown Mountain Lights

The ideal viewing location is Brown Mountain Overlook, according to Carolinacountry.com. You can get there via Highway 181, turning off between mile marker 20 and 21. Wiseman’s View is another good place to search for the lights. That’s harder to get to, however, as you’d have to take a gravel road 5 miles south of Linville Falls on State Road 1238. Even if you organize an extensive search party, you’re highly unlikely to see the lights on any given trip.

TLDR: see Jen’s TikTok video for a very quick description of the Brown Mountain Lights.

What is the Bellaire Demon House?

Sean told us he saw a possession at Bellaire demon house in Bellaire, Ohio. The child spirit of Emily Davis is seen there yet today. But we now have good reason to doubt she’s a child at all.

Why is the Bellaire House so haunted?

The extremely haunted abode has myriad reasons to be infested with ghosts.

  • It was built on a ley line.
  • It was also built on the site of a fatal coal mining accident that claimed 42 lives.
  • The home is near ancient Native American burial caves.
  • Its located in an area affected by the French and Indian War.
  • It may have been part of the abolitionist movement.

Perhaps the haunting of the Bellaire House was manmade? Edwin Heatherington, the house’s former resident, was obsessed with contacting his deceased sister Lyde after she died in the house. He conducted numerous seances, which may have led to the opening of portals to other realms within the house. Sean commented matter-of-factly that the house is thought to have 13 portals.

Do you have a true ghost paranormal story from Appalachia?

Whether you’re in Paris or Pittsburgh, Homespun Haints wants to hear your stories, told by you. Submit your story today to be featured on the podcast soon, and have a spooky day!