By RENEE FITE
History intrigues some visitors to Northeastern State University’s Seminary Hall, while others seek to experience ghostly encounters.
Neither are disappointed.
The Haunted Seminary Hall tours offer both stories from the past, and for some, goose bumps from things that go bump in the night.
Most people are in search of a fun activity, but one couple has been coming since the tours began to discover who haunts the halls.
Web and Debra Grayson have captured sounds, voices and floating orbs of red, green or white light.
“It’s fun. It’s Halloween,” said Web. “We’ve heard things in there on the tour. Last year, we heard typing.”
His wife, Deb said, they’ve made a CD of the sounds captured on the tour.
“One time, a tour guide told people he thought the woman in white was Florence,” Deb said. “She heard [the apparition] say, ‘That’s silly talk.’”
Another time, they heard a old man say, “Web Grayson, what are you doing here?” and he laughed.
With cameras in hand, they anticipated what they might see this time on the tour.
The tours are a fundraiser for the Graduate Student Association, GSA President Tara Buck enjoys interacting with community members.
“I get to meet people I wouldn’t get to meet as a student,” she said.
She’s taken one tour, and said, what happens on the third floor stuck with her.
Ben Sanders and Karen Squirrel were first in line Friday.
“It’s supposed to have been haunted for a long time,” Sanders said. “I’ve read some of the history.”
Squirrel, a student, said she’s heard stories and has a class in Seminary Hall.
Pam Lamb said she came to learn history, along with daughter Alicia Woodrum and friend Stacey Matlock.
“I’ll probably be really scared,” said Woodrum, “but I’m watching Stacey, she’ll get scared and wet her pants.”
Matlock said she’s lived here since 1991 and never heard about the tour until this year.
Graduate student Jennie Love began the tour, standing outside under a clear, starry night, talking about Florence Wilson to a group of 20 eager-to-be-scared participants.
“When the Seminary was built in 1889, it was a boarding school for girls ages 5 - 20, out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods and fields. Florence Wilson was the headmistress for 26 years, and she would greet new girls out by these pillars,” Love said.
Inside the entry way, holding a historic photo of Seminary Hall illuminated by her flashlight, graduate student Erin Bailey said smells have been reported in the halls, like sulfur.
“It smells so bad, and no air freshener can kill the odor,” Bailey said.
On the second floor, young artists once decided to paint a mural at night, but were so frightened by sounds of feet running up and down the hall, they left. The next morning their paints were found scattered. After that they only painted at night, Love said.
It was on the third floor where sick students stayed in the infirmary and sometimes died.
“This is where one girl on a tour said she felt something play with her hair,” said Love.
More than one person pulled their long hair close to them, around from their back to the front.
The last in line of the tour, the Graysons lingered, with Deb taking photos throughout the tour in dark hallways they just passed through, or at the opposite end. But is was on the third floor where she took the most pictures.
“Stand still if you want me to take your picture,” Deb said to the darkness.
But outside, when looking through her photos, sure enough, a large white orb, or ball of light, appeared close to her in that photograph.
“Remember when you said someone was following you?” she asked another woman on the tour, “Look!”
What she showed was a photograph of the woman, with a large orb right beside her.
When leaving the third floor, and again as she left the building, Deb said, “You have to stay here. You cannot come with me,” to the spirits most could not see or sense.
To view a photo slideshow of the Haunted Seminary Hall tour, go to www.TahlequahTDP.com