BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — German immigrant George Fisher suffered a painful death in 1934 – accidentally ingesting water tainted with rusty metal. Yet, according to mediums, George is a friendly spirit, welcoming visitors at the door to the Robbins House Museum, where he lived for 41 years.
“He admits that he is responsible for footsteps often heard upstairs and running water heard downstairs,” said Jim Conrad, a longtime member of the Waterville Historical Society (WHS).
George is just one of the spirits who will be featured in Haunted Waterville, a series of tours beginning in June.
The 90-minute program will launch from the Robbins House Museum, where a different guest speaker each month will provide insight into the spirit world.
On Thursday, June 16, ghost hunter Lisa Maag will share recordings of sights and sounds of the paranormal. On Thursday, July 21, Annette Wakulenko, creator of the Triadic Tarot of 2017 and author of The Tarot: A Strange and Wondrous Thing, will share her knowledge of interpreting tarot cards. In August, WHS member Bill Albert will share “spirit images” in which a deceased person might appear floating in a photograph – an often-used technique in the death-obsessed Victorian era.
“We’re incorporating a variety of ways at looking at the spirit world: science, tarot, mediums and Victorian customs,” said WHS president Julia Wiley.
Following the 45-minute program at the museum, guests will board a trolley for a 45-minute tour of historic downtown, stopping in front of homes and businesses where spirit activity has been reported either by Waterville residents and business owners or a medium that was brought to town recently.
“The Columbian House has the most spectral activity of any place in town, and consequentially, the most ghost stories associated with it. Phenomena reported by many include the sound of footsteps, crashing glass and a child crying, walking into cold spots, feeling someone or something nudge or push you from behind, and a chair that refuses to stay put,” Conrad said.
Jacob Conrad – no relation to Jim – was a barber and cigar shop owner who didn’t want to leave his 26 N. Third St. business and home, even after death. A psychic touring what is now Old House Vintage Store, told proprietor Aggie Alt about the spirit. That explains why one handkerchief kept getting moved to a different location after Alt locked the shop up for the night. She also hears footsteps when no one else is in the building, and some of her customers have reported feeling like someone else is in the building.
“I’m convinced Jacob is here with me,” said Alt, who obtained information from the WHS. She now has a photo of Jacob and his brother that she displays in the shop – and she greets him every morning.
“Most of the stories we know are benign – people’s experiences at different buildings and homes in Waterville. It’s not like a haunted house. We’re not trying to scare anyone,” Wiley said of the tour. “It’s meant to be more entertaining than scary.”
The tours are a fundraiser for the WHS, which needs money to invest into the upkeep of its historic homes, which include the Robbins House, Sargent House, Wakeman Hall and Cobbler Shop. The Sargent House is in need of extensive foundation work.
In addition to the tours, the WHS is collecting first-person recordings of individuals sharing stories – and these will be added to the historical archives.
The tours will take place on Thursdays, June 16, July 21, August 18, September 15 and October 6 with start times of 5:15 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Due to space restrictions in the Robbins House and on the trolley, the tours are limited to 20 people each. Children are welcome, and those 12 and under will receive a free T-shirt.
Tickets are $30.00 per person and sold only through the website at www.watervillehistory.org. No tickets will be available at the door.