Review: Historic Palmyra Investigation

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On November 12, 2016, we had the pleasure of investigating the Palmyra Historical Museum and the William Phelps General Store located in Palmyra, New York. It was a brisk, clear night just one day before the closest and brightest super moon since January 1948 which may have added to the amount of activity we experienced on this night.

The group outside of the WM. Phelps General Store in Palmyra, New York. L to R, Steph, Amanda, Crystal, Kevin and Richard.

A Brief History…

The William Phelps General Store & Home was built in 1826. The Phelps family lived upstairs and the general store was located on the first floor. In 1940, William Phelps’ son, Julius, locked the doors to the store and never reopened. His sister, Sybil, resided in the home upstairs with no plumbing or electricity until 1976. Many of the items in the home and store are original.

Outside of the WM. Phelps General Store. Photo Credit:

On December 20, 1964, there was a tragic fire at 123 Market Street, just a few doors down from the General Store. It resulted in the death of a mother, Anna, and her six young children, Eddie, Dennis, Sharon, Susan, Mitchell and Samuel. Multiple fire companies came from surrounding areas to try and stop the blaze. It was the largest fire to happen in Wayne County still to this date. The fire is said to have been caused by Anna’s husband and the children’s father, Paul Breeder, but it was never proven.

The Breeden family, left to right (front row) Samuel (1), Dennis (5), Mitchell (3), Susan (4), Sharon (2), (back row) Ruth Anna (24), Susie Roxanne Wall Breeden (Paul Breeden’s grandmother), Marion Edward (7). Photo scan courtesy of Bonnie Hays.

The Palmyra Historical Museum was a former hotel and tavern and was originally located on Main Street. In the mid-1960’s, the Urban Renewal project threatened to destroy this building, along with many other historical buildings on Main Street. It was saved and relocated to the 123 Market Street location in 1976. The museum sits right atop the rubble from the original home lost in the fire. It is believed that Anna and her children are the ones who “live” in the museum now.

Our Guided Tour...

We began our tour in the Historical Museum with Steve Hays. What a phenomenal museum! Tons and tons of history from all different time periods. There is truly something for everyone to be interested in in this place. Steve told us to roll on our recorder because sometimes the kid’s will come out and talk during tours. However, upon review, we did not capture any evidence during this time.

This building had a very eerie feeling. Not “scary”, but you do feel as though you are being watched or followed.

Creepy dolls in the front room of the Historical Museum. There are a lot of dolls and mannequins in the museum. No wonder it felt as though we were being followed!

Upon entering the “Doctor’s Room” on the second floor, most of our group began to feel short of breath and Steph, Amanda and Crystal began to feel quite uneasy. Steve explained to us that there has been an increased amount of activity in this room since the museum was gifted a box of abortion tools that are now on display. Makes sense that the three of us women were having uneasy feelings with some pretty traumatizing items in the room.

A shot inside the Doctor’s Room at the Historical Museum. The box of abortion tools sits just left of center on the table.

We continued out into the hall and were looking at the photographs and listening to Steve tell the history of them when suddenly Steph, who was located in the back of the group, told us that she felt like something had just touched her on her lower back. Steve stated that this was probably Eddie, the oldest child, following us from downstairs as he does often when there are new visitors.

After we finished up the tour of the Historical Museum, we met up with Bonnie Hays downstairs and walked over to the Phelps General Store & Home. As huge antiquity fans, we all immediately fell in love with this place! We are excited to head back one day just to look at everything in detail. A really cool item that Bonnie had pointed out to us was a box of eggs that have been there since the store closed.

A glimpse into the WM. Phelps General Store.

When we walked up the back stairway, we entered the original washroom and kitchen area of the old home. It was really amazing to see how people lived 100 years ago compared to how we live today.

The original kitchen stove that the Phelps family used.

At the other end of the kitchen was a room known as the “Sick Room”. Bonnie explained to us that many people had passed away in this room, including Julius Phelps in 1964. He is known to be a very ornery spirit and isn’t always fond of women being in this room. One really neat feature of the “Sick Room” is the original exterior wall of the building can be seen. They left the whitewashed brick wall uncovered and you can read “Bakery” across the wall which faced toward the Erie Canal. Pretty neat feature!

“Bakery” wall inside of the Sick Room.

We continued touring the home area, taking in all of the history that Bonnie and Steve were providing to us. At approximately, 9:00PM we gathered our gear and began our investigation!

The Investigation...

We began our investigation at the Historical Museum in the old bar area. You can see the indentations in the floor from where the bartenders used to walk back and forth as they served patrons. Now, the room is filled with assorted artifacts from different events. We sat around a table in the middle of the room with two digital recorders, an EMF detector, and four mag lights in front of us. Kevin was manning our video camera and sitting in the corner of the room. We began by introducing ourselves as we do in all of our investigations. We asked some simple yes or no questions to try and open up communication. Below is a clip. Please watch and decide if you hear anything strange.

Kevin is telling how he felt short of breath while walking up to the second floor of the other building. We all respond "yeah" and Kevin begins talking again and you can hear a woman's voice speaking (0:14). We were not rolling on our digital recorders at this time, but you can see us begin an EVP session seconds later. Just as we begin recording, we can hear what sounds like a woman singing (0:29). Bonnie had told us earlier about a “working girl” named Rose who was one of the well-known spirits from the tavern days. Could this possibly be Rose singing on a busy night at the tavern?

Here is another short clip of us listening to an EVP session. Something kind of cool happens!

We continued with another EVP session in the area and Kevin stated that he had heard a noise in the bedroom behind him. He went in to see if he could find the source quickly, but did not immediately notice anything and stepped back into the bar with us. Bonnie and Steve had loaned us dowsing (or spirit) rods to use. As a group, we had never used them before, but Kevin and Crystal had used them a few years prior during some investigations in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, so we had a little experience with them. They seemed to be responding to some our questions by crossing and uncrossing, as well as following certain members. We look forward to working with these more in the future.

At one point, while Steph was holding the rods and Crystal was standing in front of her, Crystal felt something brush against her leg. Nothing was close enough for her to bump into and she was holding the video camera which shows she was not moving. One of the rods was pointing directly at Crystal and crossed when we asked, “Are you standing next to Crystal?"

In the video, as Kevin asks "Mitchell, if you're here can you uncross those rods?" and you can see an orb manifest in front of the rods and move toward the lower right of the frame as they uncross. Everyone in our group is pretty skeptical when it comes to orbs. Yes, this could be coincidence, but it is a little strange how there are no other orbs in the entire video until this point when our question appears to be answered.

Moments later, Steph’s digital recorder began malfunctioning. It would not stop recording, nor would it even turn off. We had to manually take the batteries out to reset it. While this might not definitively be paranormal, it was strange and something that has never happened to us before.

Photo of the object that Kevin and Richard find on the floor just inside the doorway of the first floor bedroom.

Kevin and Richard continued hearing noises in the bedroom where Kevin heard something a few minutes earlier. They walked in to investigate. Upon entering the bedroom, Richard had stepped on something and felt it crack a few feet into the doorway. They looked around on the floor and found a little plastic ornament top looking item and a gold string on the floor next to it. This object was not there during our walk through, there is no possible way that one of us would have not stepped on it earlier. The children like to play in this room near the cabinet in the corner. Maybe this object was on the cabinet and they had moved it after we left earlier?

We decided to do some work in the upstairs hallway. Steph sat on the top step looking down the staircase with the laser grid on and two mag lights. Crystal sat to her right facing down another hallway, next to the "Doctor’s Room" and placed two mag lights at the end of that hallway. Kevin was still filming, and Richard and Amanda were facing the last hallway. We began rolling on our recorders when Kevin states that the first camera battery was already almost dead. Then, Crystal felt the hairs on the left side of her neck stand on end and a tingling feeling she had never felt during an investigation before. It was so odd because it was only on one side, like a hand or few fingers were just resting there. As she went into the "Doctor’s Room", she stated that the feeling on her neck had left and she began to feel sick to her stomach. Seconds later, it was very cold in the room and the feeling was back on her neck in the same spot. Also at this time, Steph stated that she had just felt a cold blast go past her. After a few minutes, all activity seemed to cease.

Earlier in the night, Bonnie had asked us if anyone in our group was a medium or sensitive. Richard is the most sensitive in our group and spirits at all of the locations we've visited so far have been very drawn to him. Bonnie told us how a man from the Philippines had come to visit the museum one time. He had only stepped foot through the door and told Bonnie that there are two dolls here that should not be removed from their cases. He did not go up to the room at all and did not say exactly which two dolls, he just turned around and left. She asked Richard to see if he could find out anything more when we investigate the "Doll Room".

Richard was in the room getting settled while Kevin and Crystal were in the doorway setting up the camera so that it could record him in the room. Richard placed the four Mag Lights facing each one of the cases. The idea was to ask the spirit to light up the case of the malicious dolls. We were just about ready to step away from the camera and record on our digital recorders when one flashlight began to move in a curve away from two cases on the left side of the room, approximately two to three feet.

You can hear the flashlight begin to roll. Richard is the only person actually in the room. The rest of us are out in the hallway. You can hear the rolling noise and then Crystal is able to pan down to capture some of the movement while Kevin turns on his own flashlight to see what is making the noise. Afterward, Crystal and Richard tried to make the flashlight move in that same manner and could not find any way to make it happen. It would wobble back and forth when forced, but not actually roll. We placed the flashlight back in its original spot and Richard began asking questions while the rest of us went back to the door and hallway area to observe.

At this time, we all kept hearing noises down the hallway at the other end of the house. It sounded like footsteps and furniture pieces being moved around. Kevin and Crystal decided to take the camera and go investigate down that way while the other three stayed near the "Doll Room". Once we were down the hallway and checking out all of the rooms, we could not find any source of noises or capture anything on our digital recorder and the noises seemed to have stopped. Almost like they were playing with us to get our attention and then stopping once we tried to figure out what it was.

We then returned to the rest of the group in the "Doll Room" and played back their EVP session which uncovered one of the best EVPs of the night. Have a listen below!

You can hear Richard ask, “What about this one?” referring to a doll in one of the cases. Right after, we hear a very distinct young girl voice come over the recorder and say “It’s not that one”. It was remarkable and we were all quite shocked because it was such a clear response.

We eventually wrapped our investigation of the Historic Museum up and moved over to the Phelps General Store & Home down the street. We began our investigation in the main store front. Amanda sat in the back right corner, with Bonnie seated to her left, then Steph, then Richard, while Kevin and Crystal stood towards the front of the store filming and taking photos. We stilled and began our first EVP session. Almost immediately, the video camera battery began flashing low battery. Now, we don't have top notch equipment by any means but this was getting ridiculous with these batteries! Anyway... A few minutes in, the circular rack that hangs from the ceiling in the center of the room with scoops and tools hanging from that began to spin.

Maybe this is why our camera battery drained so quickly!

The next bout of action happened when we went upstairs and into the Dining Room of the home. Crystal was standing in the corner near the doorway to the "Sick Room" while the rest of the group and Bonnie sat around the table.

After Steph says "We were hoping we could get some dinner" if you listen closely, we hear a voice stating "no" (0:15). Around the 40 second mark, we begin talking about a rattling noise we were hearing. During our walk through, Crystal recalls hearing this noise also and believed it was a pitcher that sat on a tray on the buffet behind Amanda when we were walking around. However, during the investigation as you can see none of us are moving and it is still rattling. Kind of odd. Around the 1:48 mark, there is also a strange orb that manifests behind the Mel Meter sitting on the table and moves slowly out of frame. Then, Amanda asks "Can we have seconds?" and you can hear a voice again tell us "no" (1:58).

We continued on to the small parlor with a fireplace across from the Dining Room. There is a little girl named Holly who stays in here. She tragically died outside of the building and they believe was abused. It is said that Holly now hides under a small table in the room looking for comfort. Bonnie told us that she only trusts women and will sometimes hold hands with them from under the table. Amanda decided to sit next to it with Richard to her left, then Crystal, Kevin, Steph and Bonnie surrounding. Amanda held her hand out under the table and introduced herself and asked Holly to come out and talk with her. We began asking questions and a few minutes into our session, Amanda jumped slightly and said that her hand felt tingly and one finger felt numb. Bonnie stated that Holly was probably holding her hand right then. We kept hearing noises in the room adjacent to this one. There was a noisy radiator, but there were other noises occurring that we could not explain and even sometimes it sounded like whispering behind us.

The sign on this piece says: "PARLORS - NORTH & SOUTH. As is all the furniture in the Phelps family home, this is original to the family. The North Parlor has its original gas light fixture and book case. The books are also the family's. Note the many periods that the furniture covers - remember the family lived here 108 years. Three generations of Phelps. The settee is Victorian. Wood pieces vary from oak to dark walnut and even veneer. The framed lithographs may be store advertising as the one in the hallway you just came through. The carpets were originally Brussels's but through the years of damage couldn't be saved. these carpets are from the Phelps period, donated by the Pomponio family."

After a bit, Amanda and Crystal switched spots to see if Holly would connect with her also. Crystal didn’t feel any sensation like Amanda but shortly into our EVP session, she physically felt a quick drop in temperature. She asked Richard to hand her the EMF detector and held it in her right hand which was about 3 feet from where her left hand was under the table feeling icy cold. Above the table the temperature kept reading approximately 67 degrees and then when moved in under the table, it dropped to 61 degrees. We checked for drafts and there were none that we could find. Then, Bonnie said she thought she saw something to the right of Richard and Richard felt like someone was near him. We also believe there is a cat spirit that wanders around and maybe that is what Bonnie saw, Richard felt, and Crystal was detecting on the EMF detector.

It was just about 1AM so we decided to make our way up the beautiful floating staircase to the third floor where all of the bedrooms are. We spread out among the hallway and rooms and conducted a few EVP sessions with no such luck. Nobody in the group felt anything up here so we decided it was time to call it a night.

Always have to get that post investigation group selfie!

This was by far one of our most active investigations this year. The spirits seem to be quite friendly and interested in their visitors. Bonnie and Steve were wonderful and informative hosts and we look forward to visiting them and the spirits of Palmyra in the near future!

For more information on visiting Historic Palmyra, visit and find them on Facebook!

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