Monthly Archives: August 2013

Adopting Graves: Second visit with Clara and Johnnie…

This is the fourth post in a series titled “Adopting Graves”, where I’ve enjoyed sharing my journey of adopting and researching two graves during the autumn season. For previous posts, visit:
Adopting Graves: A New Autumn Tradition (2013)
Adopting Graves: Some genealogy on our little Johnnie and his family
Adopting Graves: More on little Clara and her family

Clara's grave from today's visit.

Clara’s grave from today’s visit.

 

Johnny's grave from today's visit. (The grave of his grandparents in the background.)

Johnny’s grave from today’s visit. (The grave of his grandparents in the background.)

 

Today was my second visit to the gravesites of Clara and Johnnie. Except for the fact that it was like eleventy-hundred degrees today, I was very excited about each of these visits. I know so much more about these souls and their families now, and that made this trip a little more meaningful. After another stop for flowers (different colors this time), I made my way toward Gumbo Cemetery for Clara. In both cemeteries, the remains of my flowers from the last visit were present… aged and frozen in time. I secretly hoped they’d still be there, mainly for the selfish opportunity to snap photos of them. For both Johnnie and Clara, I talked aloud of how I knew they probably weren’t present with me, eternally hanging out next to their head stone, but I wanted to make sure they knew I had been thinking of them and learning about their families over the last few weeks. I even read my previous blog posts and mentioned the fact that many others were learning about their families as well. I sat in silence for a while (a little longer for Clara since I was winded from climbing the hill) and forced myself to be okay with my legs being itchy from the grass.

 

The resting place of Eugene, Clara's father.

The resting place of Eugene, Clara’s father.

 

A young and handsome Eugene Gegenbauer, Clara's father.

A young and handsome Eugene Gegenbauer, Clara’s father.

 

The resting place of Isabelle, Clara's mother.

The resting place of Isabelle, Clara’s mother.

 

A young Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer, Clara's mother.

A young Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer, Clara’s mother.

 

On my way out of Linn Cemetery after visiting Johnnie, I took a few photos of the entrance to the older section. I found an older marker for this section with the date of 1867, although I’ve seen some head stones there with a burial date of 1865.

 

Near the entrance to the older section of Linn Cemetery, Wentzville, Missouri.

Near the entrance to the older section of Linn Cemetery, Wentzville, Missouri.

 

Near the entrance of the older section of Linn Cemetery, Wentzville, Missouri.

Near the entrance of the older section of Linn Cemetery, Wentzville, Missouri.

 

I suppose I’ll plan the next visit for two weekends from now. Hopefully by then I’ll be able to wear a hoodie. That might be a stretch.

Till next time… 

 


Adopting Graves: More on little Clara and her family…

This is the third post in a series titled “Adopting Graves”, where I’ve enjoyed sharing my journey of adopting and researching two graves during the autumn season. For previous posts, visit Adopting Graves: A New Autumn Tradition (2013) and Adopting Graves: Some genealogy on our little Johnnie and his family

Clara's headstone from my first visit.

Clara’s headstone from my first visit.

Beginning genealogy research through Ancestry.com can be incredibly addictive and time consuming. This new hobby has given me my first opportunity to try it. I’ve filled up nearly ten pages on a legal pad with notes on both Johnnie and Clara, the two souls and graves that I’ve adopted this season. Of course, this is more info than anyone would ever need to know. But even though these families were strangers to me before now, it has been great fun… fun of the nerdly variety. In researching information on Clara, I have had the good fortune of getting in contact with a nice woman named Gayla Liles. Gayla is a great niece of Clara and has supplied me with the information and photos shared in this post. Since Gayla lives in New Mexico and no other family members live near, I have been able to share photos of the unseen Gegenbauer family plot and headstones with her. It feels good… and it makes it seem like there’s a real purpose to this new tradition, rather than just being a strange nerd who blogs about these things. It has been an honor to talk to Gayla and I thank her very much for the hard work and information researched and gathered.

 

Clara I. Gegenbauer, March 29, 1884 – March 17, 1889

Clara was the fourth out of eight children by parents Eugene Gegenbauer (1847 – 1916) and Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer (1853 – 1930). Like Johnnie (see last post), there is no record of how or why Clara died at such a young age. Her father Eugene (whose parents immigrated from Germany) and mother Isabelle (whose parents immigrated from Ireland) were married in 1876. After immigrating, Clara’s paternal grandfather was a physician and teacher in the Ballwin, Missouri area. He died in 1880.

 

A young and handsome Eugene Gegenbauer, Clara's father.

A young and handsome Eugene Gegenbauer, Clara’s father.

 

A young Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer, Clara's mother.

A young Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer, Clara’s mother.

 

An older Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer. I love this photo. You can just see wisdom in her eyes.

An older Isabelle Coulter Gegenbauer. I love this photo. You can just see wisdom in her eyes.

 

Isabelle and children. I'm not sure if Clara is a part of this photo or what year it is. According to my research and this photo, they lived on a farm.

Isabelle and children. I’m not sure if Clara is a part of this photo or what year it was taken. According to my research and this photo, they lived on a farm in the Meramec/St. Louis area. I just love the house!

 

Out of the family’s eight children, Eugene and Isabelle had 7 grandchildren, including my new friend Gayla’s father. Clara’s last remaining sibling, Jane Sophia “Jennie” Gegenbauer, was Gayla’s grandmother. She died in 1976.

 

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This Labor Day weekend marks two weeks since I adopted Johnnie and Clara’s graves. I hope to make a return visit to both. It will certainly be more meaningful now that I know more about these two families.

 

 

 


Children who have spirit friends…

Currently I’m in the middle of reading Volume Two of Andrea Perron’s House of Darkness House of Light, the true story of the decade of events experienced by the Perron family and depicted (loosely, I’m finding out) in the movie The Conjuring. Just in case you’re new to my blog, the movie doesn’t have any direct ties to the book, but is inspired by the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren.  

I recently read the chapter titled “in the closet”, when I had one of those moments… a moment where you find yourself tearing up and getting deeply into what you’re reading. In this chapter, Andrea writes about experiences that happened to April, the youngest of the five Perron daughters. April doesn’t come up much in Volume One and so far in Volume Two, and I always wondered why. It turns out she had plenty of experiences, perhaps just as many as the other kids in the house, but she refused to open up and discuss them with anyone until just recently. It turns out April has truly been haunted with memories and a pain in her heart since then.

 

April spent a lot of time alone, or at least that’s what the rest of the family thought. Very early on after moving to the farmhouse, April met the spirit of a little boy, a boy who gradually got comfortable with her presence and friendship, though he was constantly in fear and hiding. They appeared to be about the same age. They would play together, sharing April’s toys while they were alone in her room. When they were done playing he would disappear in a closet to hide. She was never once afraid. She grew to like spending time with him, even though he never spoke. As April grew up to be a teenager, she mentions that often the little boy would peek out of the closet into her room in hopes that she’d decide to play for a while. Not being the same little girl she once was, she ignored him. When she described the disappointed look on his face as he disappeared into the closet once more, that’s when I felt the tug in my heart and my tear ducts proved to be fully functioning. These experiences and the guilt of leaving the little boy at the farm has affected April her whole life.

 

A common theory is that many or all children are open to seeing spirits on a regular basis, but adults drive this ability out by making them feel ashamed for speaking such nonsense, thus blocking the experiences out of their minds. I wonder how many of us don’t remember a significant friendship or two from childhood. As a child I loved to spend time alone. It was nothing unusual. Very often I’d turn down invitations to play because I had a fun filled day planned out already. When my little sister arrived and was old enough, I was able to drag her through the experiences of things like playing school to keep me occupied. Even though it would be cool to suddenly remember a long lost spirit friend from my childhood, I don’t recall ever having an additional student in the attic or “imaginary friend”. After this chapter I kind of wish I did, although I would not want the sadness that has followed April.

 

I know that for several of my readers, seeing or feeling the presence of spirits is not an unusual thing, but I’m curious to know how many people had a spirit friend as child that no one else knew about. Please share!

 

Related: 

Flies and Hauntings: "You can't really kill what's already dead." (Big Séance)

Flies and Hauntings: “You can’t really kill what’s already dead.” (Big Séance)

Apparitions (Big Séance)

Apparitions (Big Séance)

Investigation Report of a Private Residence in St. Peters, Missouri (Big Séance)

Investigation Report of a Private Residence in St. Peters, Missouri (Big Séance)


Adopting Graves: Some genealogy on our little Johnnie and his family…

In my last post I shared with you my new autumn tradition of adopting older graves. I was so very excited to share the two that I chose… the resting places of Johnnie and Clara. The two graves are in different cemeteries, and even though I did my best to be drawn to the graves naturally, both happen to be the resting places of children who died at around the same age of five.

 

Johnnie Michel (1879 – 1884)

Though I was not able to find family photos in my research on our little  Johnnie and his family, I was able to find a significant amount of information and documents.

Johnnie’s father, Franz Heinrich (Henry) Michel (1842 – 1920), was a prominent member of the Wentzville, Missouri community by 1876. He married Johnnie’s mother, Mathilda Michel (Brockman) (1844 – 1928), daughter of “well-to-do farmers” in the county, in 1873 in St. Louis. They were members of the Lutheran Church. It is said that they had “many sincere and true friends.”

Henry Michel grew up poor, but eventually found success in Wentzville. In 1876 he built and opened a general store on Main Street in Wentzville, where Mathilda “kept house” and the family on the 2nd floor. To my knowledge, it appears the general store stayed in business until at least 1910. Johnnie had an older sister who died in 1953 and a younger sister who lived to be 92 years old. Depending on the census, apparently several clerks and salesmen for the store shared the upstairs living quarters with the family throughout the years, as well as a few cousins, Johnnie’s grandfather, and the husband of one of Johnnie’s sisters. It must have been an exciting household! By 1920, according to the census from that year, Johnnie’s older sister was the only other person sharing the house with her parents. By that time she was 33, while her parents were 75 and 77. (I’ve contacted the Wentzville Historical Society and hope to hear back from them with information regarding the general store, the location, if the building still exists, or if anyone has photos.)

A tobacco pouch from Johnnie's father's general store in Wentzville, Missouri.

A tobacco pouch from Johnnie’s father’s general store in Wentzville, Missouri.

According to an 1895 book with biographies of prominent and representative citizens from the surrounding counties, “In the business circles of the place Mr. Michel is highly and justly esteemed as an honorable and upright man, whose word is as good as his note, and who endeavors to fill to the letter every contract and obligation. Politically he is, like his father, an enthusiastic Republican.”

Unfortunately, other than one mention of a 6 month old Johnnie on a census form and the date of death from the head stone I found, no other information is known.

 

Johnnie's grandparents rest only a few feet away.

Johnnie’s grandparents rest only a few feet away.

A touching side note: The large head stone behind Johnnie’s in the photo on the right is the grave of his grandparents, Johann and Maria Michel, immigrants from Hannover in Germany. It warms my heart to know that they are buried close. I’ll have to check when I return, but I don’t believe there were any other Michels buried nearby. Johnnie’s father Henry is buried in the St. Peters Cemetery in nearby Washington, Missouri. Mother Mathilda and older sister Ella (most likely younger sister Katherine as well) are buried in St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery in Santa Ana, California. 

 

 

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Adopting Graves: A New Autumn Tradition (2013)...

Adopting Graves: A New Autumn Tradition (2013)…


Adopting Graves: A New Autumn Tradition (2013)…

Inspired by the amazing Renae Rude – The Paranormalist, who is a fellow lover of all things autumn and spooky, I decided to begin a new autumn tradition of adopting one or two gravesites. 

In my mind, the idea is to choose an older grave, perhaps forgotten (of course how does one really know this?) that may also need to be tended to. The two local cemeteries that I chose happen to be fairly well cared for. I would think you’d want to choose a grave that really speaks to you, either metaphorically or literally. As someone who finds cemeteries fascinating and enjoys spending time and taking photos in them, I found it hard to not just gravitate toward the interesting and most beautiful graves. But at the same time, I didn’t want to ignore those feelings. Lastly, a requirement for me was to be able to identify a name on the marker. This is often hard to do in cemeteries. You might argue that a grave that has lost the identity of the body resting there would be more in need of adoption, but for my first experience at this, I really wanted to be able to connect with a name as well. It is also my hope that after this initial post I’ll be able to research genealogy and share that with you as well. After selecting my graves, I’d commit to returning every so often throughout the season, keeping their soul in my thoughts and praying that they are at peace. 

So this last Saturday I was very excited to set out to adopt two graves for an early autumn kickoff. I wanted to choose one grave at two different cemeteries. It was an absolutely beautiful day and I was honored that Joe was willing to accompany me. (Normally this would be a little weird for him.) We went and picked up two beautiful bunches of flowers for a total of $10 and headed for Linn Cemetery in Wentzville, Missouri. Linn Cemetery is a place I’ve visited a few times in the last few years. Click HERE for photos from my first visit to Linn Cemetery.

 

Johnnie Michel, son of Henry and Matilda Michel, July 5, 1879 – January 21, 1884

Johnnie was four and a half years old at the time of his death. He was buried near two or three other Michels, but we found no Henry or Matilda Michel (his parents, according to the marker) near Johnnie. We wondered why the parents weren’t buried here, or at least nearby. Did life take them somewhere else after this loss? Did they have other children that lived hopefully longer lives? And what happened to Johnnie? Was it sickness? An accident? 

Here’s a close up of the writing below the dates. 

To the best of my ability, it appears to read “Here ____ our Little Johnnie ____ his still and silent… ?? …till we meet again. God has called him home, he thought it best.”

I visited a bit with Johnnie, wondering out loud about his story and asked who the other Michels buried near him were. I promised to return a few times and keep him in my thoughts, hoping and praying he is at peace. 

Our next stop was the Gumbo Cemetery in Chesterfield, Missouri. I had come across this cemetery on accident only the day before. I was excited to stop by and check it out. 

 

Clara I. Gegenbauer, March 29, 1884 – March 17, 1889

Clara’s grave is up on a scenic hill along a tree line. Inscribed on her marker is the message “A voice we loved has fled.” That really touched me. Like Johnnie Michel, Clara died just short of her fifth birthday. In the photo it almost appears to be taken at dusk, due to the canopy of tree limbs overhead. Clara rests among seven other graves that are clearly grouped as a family. Clara’s grave stands proudly on the front left corner in the group. From my first step into the cemetery, this group of markers off in the distance and on top of the hill caught my attention. 

I visited with Clara, pondering the same questions that go through one’s mind when you see the resting place of any young child. I also left her with the same promise I gave Johnnie. 

 

________________________________________

So was I meant to be drawn to the graves of two children, approximately the same age? Or did I subconsciously choose a little girl out of fairness after already choosing Johnnie? I also think it’s interesting that Clara was born just months after Johnnie died. At the risk of creating a dramatic plot that doesn’t exist, I wonder if there is some kind of connection between the two, whether it’s between the two families, or a great plan designed from the other side. What an interesting thought. Ha! Maybe I should write a book. 

I’d love to know what you think about this new tradition of mine. If you find it interesting, be sure to check out Renae Rude’s fascinating post in the related articles below. Stay tuned in the coming months as I hope to piece together just a bit of the history of these two families. This will be my first attempt at genealogy, so wish me luck.

 

Related Articles:

Graveyards, churchyards and cemeteries: spending an afternoon with the dead.

Graveyards, churchyards and cemeteries: spending an afternoon with the dead. (Renae Rude – The Paranormalist)

Click here for more cemetery posts, or visit the "Cemeteries" category on the right. (Big Séance)

Click here for more cemetery posts, or visit the “Cemeteries” category on the right. (Big Séance)


My Personal Experience with Mediums by David Almeida

Please enjoy another article that is very well written by David Almeida. Please check out his bio at the end of the post. Once again, Mr. Almeida has kindly given me permission to share this with you. Thanks, David!

_________________________________________

 

A person can easily say that mediumship is foolishness (I guess that sort of gives away my position on the matter).  It is my policy to report on my personal experiences in the “It’s what you actually saw, not what you think you saw” manner.  (Please note this remark is directed towards events that occur in the physical environment such as shadow people or hauntings).  I’m not certain if I have always stuck to this policy in my past writings.  With the supernatural, as with any topic whether it be politics, economics, or entertainment, people’s opinions naturally enter the discussion.  This article clearly demonstrates that fact.

 

When an unbeliever is personally touched by the spirit world, their attitude often changes. It’s like the people that we see on the Long Island Medium television show who receive spirit messages through Theresa Caputo.  We see the client exclaim in similar words “Wow.  How could she know that about me?” 

 

Being a spiritualist I can relate to this kind of wonderment.  It startles the person receiving a reading when a medium says something of a personal nature that could not possibly be known to him or her.  The first time I had a half hour session with the pastor of my former Spiritualist church, she made a statement that amazed me.  The pastor said, “You are into concepts.”  She barely knew me at the time.  This was during the time that I was writing The First Truth: A Book of Metaphysical Theories

 

While anyone can say that my pastor’s concept remark was coincidence, I find it interesting that she could have said just about anything concerning my character.  I believe it was during this session that I inquired with her about my suspicions regarding the Arthur Waite.  This question came from her mention of the name Arthur in a previous session and my realization of his connection to me.  She positively confirmed his identity, by asking me if this Arthur person swayed back and forth between good and bad.  This piece of information was among the few facts that I knew about him at the time.  Many people may find this sufficient evidence for what might be considered a grandiose claim, but it is consistent with several other experiences I have had with Mr. Waite.  I have discussed these experiences in other articles.

 

I am extremely careful in writing down my thoughts.  When I reduce my thoughts to writing, I intend to stand by it.  If I later find myself wrong about a particular statement I have written, or I discover a conflict with one of my theories, I am obliged to acknowledge my error.  In such a situation, all I can say is those famous last words “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”  While I am prepared to leave my ideas open to debate, I am duty-bound to defend my ideas.  Otherwise, there would be no point in sharing my articles with curious readers on the Internet.  Any theory can be refuted, no matter how well supported and officially endorsed they are.

 

I have seen the search results on Google that claim Theresa Caputo is a fake.  I did not venture onto any of these websites.  I have never met Mrs. Caputo, so I cannot personally attest to her mediumship ability.  However, I’m not sure that the show would air if the producers thought her spirit messages were bogus.  That revelation would reflect terribly on everyone involved in producing the show.  I know people will do anything for money, but even so, it’s seems to me that no one would risk their reputation on a faker. Putting your career on the line for a hoax is risky.  I would never knowingly associate myself with anything I recognized as a sham. 

 

I want to state for the record that a certain amount of skepticism is healthy and necessary in evaluating supernatural phenomena.  It goes without saying that one should not take everything he or she hears as the irrefutable truth.  In that regard, I consider myself to be a true skeptic, despite my feelings towards spirit communication and metaphysics.  My observations and conclusions are reliable when it comes to documenting what actually occurred in a particular situation. 

 

I have to admit that the practice objectivity is challenging when dealing with the supernatural.  Objectivity tends to be of little use in assessing spiritual or mystical experiences.  These are the kind of experiences that are labeled hallucinations and dreams by the skeptics.  If my statements in this article seem contradictory, then you are beginning to understand the deceptive and limited nature of objectivity.

 

I am not saying it’s impossible for Mrs. Caputo to be faking her talent.  Having seen her show a number of times, I feel it is reasonable to believe her mediumship ability is genuine. Many people would agree with my opinion.  Again a large number of people giving approval to a supernatural event, or to any situation, does not necessarily mean it is true.  However, the people I am referring to have first-hand knowledge of Mrs. Caputo’s mediumship ability.  If one chooses to disregard their personal testimony, then I do not know what to say.

 

Quite often the professed skeptics are nothing more than perpetuators of conspiracy theories.  I am thinking of the misinformed groups who continue to link the legendary Illuminati to various world domination conspiracies.  I fell for this nonsense in my early twenties.  I have out grown them since that time.  I like to be flexible in considering other people’s beliefs, but having followed many conspiracy theories in my younger days, I am of the opinion that the majority of these overblown rumors are unfounded.  There may be some truth to a few of these theories, but it’s hard to determine which parts are factual.

 

I could come up with many plausible reasons for why Mrs. Caputo and many other mediums are frauds.  By continuing in this manner, I would be doing a disservice to my readers.  Humans are meant to reach out to the hidden universe in search of new ideas and information.  I do not understand why some individuals feel the need to resist spiritual growth.  If we protect the status quo, we are only hurting ourselves.  The Truth will never be uncovered by thoughtlessly convincing people to maintain the notion of a closed universe.

 

Spiritualist mediums go through training.  After this, they spend what I believe is a year or two as student mediums.  They ply their skills once a month by giving readings to church attendees.  At some point, the student’s mediumship skills are tested for accuracy by an independent certifying board.  I have met some remarkable student mediums. 

 

Am I of the opinion that all mediums are equal in their ability to communicate spirit messages?  Of course not.  Many mediums maintain an outstanding track record, while others have moderate success in their readings.  The disparity in accuracy between mediums can be wide.  It’s important to remember that the medium is reliant on unknown entities for their information.  There is no known system for getting consistent results.  Even the best mediums can have an off day through no fault of their own.  I should also acknowledge the fact that there are excellent mediums who are not certified by any Spiritualist church. 

 

Interestingly, I have noticed that few mediums in the Spiritualist tradition make future predictions.  It confirms my suspicion that common spirits are no more capable of predicting the future than living beings.  I liken future predictions to the principle of cause and effect.  This universal law is responsible for the infinite possibilities that exist as our future realities.  Some of these “alternate realities” become future probabilities.  Both spirits and mediums are able to perceive the probable future.  This does not mean that a particular probability will unfold in the present.

 

Based my personal experience with mediums, I am convinced that spirit communication is a reality. A close-minded person will never acknowledge the truth.  No matter what a medium says to the skeptic, he or she is more than likely to deny the accuracy of the message given.  I do not feel the statement of an absolute skeptic is a reliable measure of a medium’s competence.  The assessment of reasonable and balanced person is much more useful in gaging a medium’s ability.

 

As a side discussion, I would like to make a brief comment on the paranormal investigator.  These special investigators are helpful in substantiating or disproving a supernatural claim.  By their nature, paranormal investigators are inclined to believe in the supernatural.  Otherwise, they would not be interested in pursuing the unexplained. As I already stated, I feel that this open-mindedness is an excellent quality for an investigator to possess.  Paranormal investigators minimize their natural curiosity with reasonableness and sensibility.  They look for “proof” or “evidence” of supernatural manifestations by using modern technology. 

 

I once requested the assistance of a paranormal investigation group to document the existence of supernatural activity in my former residence.  This was more than ten years ago and took place before I became acutely aware of nonphysical reality.  The investigators did not obtain the evidence I was seeking, but I was impressed with their professionalism.

 

 

Bio

David Almeida is a Spiritualist and researcher of Rosicrucian philosophy and esoteric knowledge. David is a past article contributor to the Sedona Journal of Emergence. He is also a Board Certified Hypnotist and Reiki healer. David is the author of The First Truth: A Book of Metaphysical Theories and Illusion of the Body: Introducing the Body Alive Principle. Both books can be purchased at Amazon.com. Visit http://www.findyourdivinelight.com

 

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