by Brenda Hambleton
In 1968 Hans Holzer, author of more than 140 books on ghosts and other inhabitants of the “other side,” fled the Bell house, in the Blackguard area of Waterford, with his psychic medium in tow. After only an hour in the house, he feared a terrifying presence was trying to possess the psychic, as it had the previous owner. He believed the house was a “soul trap” and begged the current owners, the Brighams, to leave.
In October 2020 a new paranormal team led by paranormal investigator Dave Schrader, psychic medium Cindy Kaza, and equipment technician Shane Pittman, returned to the house to pick up where Hans Holzer left off. The result is Episode 11 of Season 2 of The Holzer Files – “Don’t Send Them to Heaven.” (The episode is available for viewing on the Travel Channel.)
Using information from our local historian Nancy Eaton, who was interviewed in the show; first-hand accounts from the current homeowner; impressions from psychic medium Kaza; and a variety of ghost-detecting electronic gadgets, the team found a secret room, the ghost of a little boy named Will, a woman at the attic window, footsteps without a person, a rocking chair that rocked on its own, and a voice that said, “Don’t send them to heaven.” They concluded that the house held a variety of spirits who were trapped there. They believed that some were tied to the use of the secret space as a hiding place on the Underground Railroad that ran through Maine. Others were past owners who stayed. The spirits seemed to like certain owners who were open to them and did not want them to depart.
The current owner, Mary Rhode, was not afraid of the spirits. She often heard footsteps in the hallway, felt someone watching her in her bedroom, and sensed a woman – a previous owner, Alice Bell – looking out the attic window. She was okay staying in the home for however long she was wanted.
From the Waterford Historical Society's Fall/Winter 2017 issue of Waterford Echoes:
"Also in our collection is a photo given by Harry Bell, labelled: 'Irving and Alice Bell bought [their] house in the Blackguard section of Waterford in 1940. It was transferred to Archie and Ethel [Skinner] Bell (cousins and neighbors) in 1956. In 1959 they sold it to the Brigham family who discovered they had a resident ghost in the house.' [This was written up in Hans Holzer's book Ghosts of New England, Random House, 1997.] Several visitors have evidently felt and seen a presence who looks like Alice.”
Irving’s and Alice’s burial locations could not be found, but Archie and Ethel Bell are buried in Elm Vale Cemetery. Elm Vale is a beautiful spot for a stroll and an opportunity to visit many of the characters associated with Waterford. You can find people who are buried there and a map of the cemetery here. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/1966242/elm-vale-cemetery