LiveSciFi’s paranormal investigation of the Hinsdale House in New York was an unusual experience in many ways. The challenges that Tim and the team faced were unexpected and hard to deal with–like no cell phone service, unstable internet connections, trespassers, and power outages. But when all is said and done, the Hinsdale House exceeded my expectations.
The house was the site of an extreme haunting that began in 1970 when the Dandy family moved in. A Catholic priest conducted a failed exorcism on the house in 1974. But afterwards, the paranormal activity grew so malevolent that the Dandys fled six months later. Make no mistake: whatever was haunting the Dandy family at the Hinsdale House has never left.
Let’s get something straight right off the bat: the house and property are, in this writer’s opinion, most definitely haunted. That was apparent almost immediately. The whole property felt charged in some weird way. After being in the house for a few hours, I could feel a constant vibration in my feet and legs, like there was something under the floorboards that buzzed silently and non-stop…a strange sensation in a house without central heating or air conditioning, major appliances, and extensive utilities. There was a dorm fridge that sat on the kitchen counter, not on the floor. The house also doesn’t have a stove, washer and dryer, or water softener. No TV, no landline phone, no cable. The internet came through a satellite system and for the first few days the signal wasn’t strong enough for me to connect my laptop to the internet. The second floor wasn’t even wired for electricity. So whatever the source of that vibration was, it didn’t originate from anything you’d normally find in a house.
Does that make it paranormal? Not necessarily. This much I will say: Tim felt that vibration within an hour of us being in the house. I didn’t feel it until about six hours later, and that buzz kept going without stopping until I left the property four days later.
Second, within the investigation team there were differing theories as to what kind of haunting was going on. When Tim spent a few hours alone on the property our first day in New York, he had a vision (or daydream, depending on how skeptical you are) about a Native American woman being attacked by two white men next to a spring and held under water. In our first Ouija session, an entity came through that identified itself as “Panateka”, a Native American woman with a lot of anger. You can learn a lot about a haunting (or a demon) by having the entity’s name, and Panateka’s name is especially interesting. The Native American tribes in the region were part of the Iroquois Confederation, and the Seneca were the primary tribe where the Hinsdale property is now. In the Seneca dictionary, -ateka is a suffix that means “make it burn” whereas in multiple languages including old Dutch (the Dutch originally settled much of New York state) pan means “all”.
What makes this interesting is a documented event from 1807. A village in the area was suffering from an epidemic, and a Seneca squaw went to the village to help. When she came back, she told her tribe that her family would die of the disease. When her entire family (along with many other Seneca and also nearby white settlers)came down with the disease and died, her tribe condemned her as a witch and burned her to death.
It makes you wonder if Tim’s vision and the Seneca woman’s story line up in some way. The False Face Society is a magical group within the tribes that make up the Iroquois nations who are supposed to attack bad spirits and particularly the Dagwanoenyent–flying heads that are created as the result of a particularly violent murder. These undead entities chase the living and try to devour those who aren’t protected by powerful shamans–like the ones in the False Face Society. The Dandy family reported seeing disembodied heads on the property in the 1970s. Maybe Panateka is a Dagwanoenyent.
And then, there’s the name. Does Panateka mean “make it all burn”? There’s a long-standing association between the house and mysterious burns. Multiple people in the house reported getting burns when the Dandy family lived there in the 1970s. Tim got burned during the Ouija session when Panateka’s name came out. The association with fire has endured as long as the haunting’s been documented, so you have to consider what could cause that.
So while half the team was leaning strongly toward the Native American angle, the other half (including me) had a different opinion. I think the entity is a mimic, and because there’s a constant stream of people coming onto the property it’s learned to give them what they want–meaning that the entity validates what they believe about the haunting based upon what they’ve read or been told before they even get there. To my mind, the Hinsdale House is being oppressed by an inhuman entity who uses the weekly diet of investigators and tour groups like a Chinese buffet–constantly eating, feeding from their energy, then going back for more. The spirit keeps them interested and engaged so it can continue to feed.
And if the team ignores its antics for the most part, which was Tim’s strategy for the first day or two going in to the investigation, the entity gets very annoyed.
Usually, there’s a huge difference between the legends surrounding a haunted location and the actual history. When I started to research the property, I started where everyone does: an online search. Early on, however, I found a newspaper article that said the following:
“…Paranormal investigator Father Michael Rambacher began the morning filming with a brief history. In 1737, local Native Americans who were part of the seven tribes of the Iroquois Confederation, the Senecas, sent a proclamation to Alexander Hamilton of the Continental Congress stating that they were actively opposed to the formation of the United States. At that time there were four other villages in the Iroquois Confederation who would not sign the proclamation. According to Rambacher, the Iroquois Confederation became upset and ordered those villages destroyed. During the campaign over 800 men, women, and children were killed in the area that is now Main Street, Hinsdale. Rambacher went on to state that those casualties are what laid the ground work for spirit disturbances in the Hinsdale area. Rambacher told participants that ancient burial grounds lie within 250 feet of the Hinsdale house. He discovered them nine years ago, but had not been back since…”
Just reading those two paragraphs set off all kinds of alarm bells in my head. This had been called “history” by the writer? I didn’t even have to open up a book or a search engine to confirm that nothing in the article was “history” and let me show you why:
First off, there were never seven tribes in the Iroquois Confederation. Originally, there were five and right before the end, there were six. They couldn’t have sent a proclamation to Alexander Hamilton at the Continental Congress in 1737 stating they were against the formation of the US because Hamilton wasn’t born until 1757, the Continental Congress wasn’t formed until 1774, and the US wasn’t even thought of until 1775. So according to this article, a letter from the wrong number of tribes was sent to a man who wasn’t born yet, as part of a political body that wasn’t formed yet, against the creation of a country that hadn’t been thought up yet and that led to a massacre on the land that is now Main Street of Hinsdale. (No, the massacre didn’t happen either.) Keep in mind, also, that in the state of New York, Native American burial grounds are protected, especially after the Kleis Case, and to find such a site and not report it would be a violation of both state and federal law.
And yet somehow, Rambacher’s claims managed to make it past not just the journalist who wrote the article, but that journalist’s editors as well–and they called it history. As a result of this article in the September 9-15, 2009 issue of the Cuba Patriot and Free Press newspaper, other paranormal groups have taken these falsehoods and made them into gospel, treating the article and interview as documented fact. While we were on the property, for example, a group of trespassers brought the story up in between the time they piled out of their SUV and announced they were spending the night (they didn’t) and the cop pulled up to see what they were doing there (they fled).
This misrepresentation of the property’s history is continuing a historical trend that began when the Dandy family was still in residence between 1970-1974. During their tenure in the house, a famous psychic, Dr. Alex Tanous, did a walkthrough of the property. During that visit, he stated there was a stagecoach line through the property, a coaching inn, a woman that was hung from a tree by the owners of the inn, and a mass murderer that left bodies “stacked” in the crawl space over the porch. Reporters for the local and Buffalo newspapers who covered the case reported those psychic impressions as if they were documented history, and those myths continue today.
What most people don’t know is that Dr. Tanous did a second walkthrough some months later (the day before the failed exorcism in fact) during which he actually said he wasn’t picking up on the same energies as he had the first time and that those original impressions might be from the area and not the property. In retrospect, this makes a lot of sense since two of the most frequently witnessed apparitions (the teenage boy who’d been killed in a buzz saw accident and the young man who’d been shot by his brother in the 1990s) had no association with the property whatsoever.
Dr. Tanous himself said not to assume that what he’d seen on his walkthroughs were facts. But thanks to the media, paranormal groups have perpetuated these psychic visions ever since and present them as fact when that’s not the case.
What this means for the paranormal researchers is that they’re not investigating the location or the haunting. Instead, they’re trying to investigate a myth, a fiction, or an out and out lie, which completely undermines their credibility. That’s why I think the haunting is diabolical in nature, to be honest. Why else would the entities claim in EVPs to be part of these stories? Why would an entity claim to have been hung, or to see the bodies in the crawl space, or to be a Seneca chieftain buried on the property?
Exactly. Because it’s giving the investigators what they expect to hear, those investigations are invalidated from the get go, and the next week a new group comes in with all its energy researching the exact same fictions as the last.
Now let me be frank: I am not a psychic, or a sensitive. At Hinsdale, I was the in-sensitive. But getting impressions of a location is not my role. My job is to know the history of the location, so I can weed out the myths and have a pretty good idea what the true story is. Tim is convinced that the source of the haunting is Panateka, a Native American woman who was murdered on or near the property and there’s a definite thread of evidence that supports his theory.
I think, though, that the pattern of discernible activity at the Hinsdale House supports my theory as well. And if we’re being honest, we could both be right…or wrong. There’s no way to prove our theories either way.
There are two sources I wholeheartedly recommend if you want to find out what really happened at the Hinsdale House historically (this site by Cassidy Nichols relates the real history of the property. How do I know this? Because I personally fact checked everything on it) or paranormally. Echoes of a Haunting by Clara Miller (Dandy) relates what the haunting to her family based upon her diary she kept at the time. A first person journal of the haunting is an important primary source for any researcher; it’s the best way to find out what really happened in the victim’s own words. I need to point out as well that the current owner of the site inherited all these falsehoods when he bought the house, and so blame for these legends predates his involvement with the property.
In the meantime, something great is happening with the Hinsdale House.
Its new owner, Dan Klaes, is intent upon learning and telling the real history of the property. And while other groups and television shows have hyped up the myths, he wants to know what really happened. This bodes well, not only for the future of the house but for the future paranormal research that will happen at Hinsdale. You can tell that Dan is genuinely invested in doing the right thing. With the volume of activity occurring there, the Hinsdale House is the Holy Grail of paranormal tourism: a haunted house where a lot of things actually do happen. If you’re wanting to ease into paranormal investigation, consider booking a spot on one of the overnight tours.
There’s one other tidbit of information you should be aware of before you reserve a spot for an overnight tour. During the course of my research, I was warned by multiple people that the house itself finds a way to suck you in, to make you fixated about the property. A historian told me months before we got to Hinsdale that the house would “make” you obsessed and to be careful because it would find a way to call you back. Paranormal reality TV mogul Nick Groff has admitted publicly to such an obsession. Several people from different paranormal teams just happened to drop by while we were at the house. One lady told us that she’d awakened at three in the morning with the almost unbearable urge to drive to the property–and she lives three hours away in Pennsylvania.
So beware. The Hinsdale House may be a lot like Hotel California. You might check out, but you may never leave.