By Margie Thessin
Over the last few years, as interest in the paranormal has increased, those in the ghost tour business will be contacted regularly by paranormal investigators, also known as ghost hunters. One in particular, the Tennessee Wraith Chasers, did an interesting investigation last year at Lotz House Civil War Museum in Franklin. That’s where I come in. My company Franklin on Foot has partnered with Lotz House for several years to offer weekly Friday evening ghost tours at the museum.
Airing on The Travel Channel, Haunted Live is just like what it sounds like, an investigation airing live. The team carries out the investigation while inviting viewer input and participation as they tweet and post on Travel Channel’s social media platforms.
The whole process took about two months, from the first call of inquiry to the one-hour episode on October 5, 2018. A month earlier, the channel sent a technical team to plan the show and take b roll - supplemental and additional footage including interviews with some of us connected with the house. It was a relatively long process for these type shows. And on the day of the actual show, the team arrived at 9am and did not wrap up until 11pm although the show itself aired only from 8pm - 9pm.
The show itself did not appear to uncover any evidence of hauntings, although they really tried, going so far as to have one member of the team pretend to be on the operating table about to have his leg amputated. They also focused on areas of the house that those who work and visit there did not suggest, such as the stairs, the daughter’s bedroom and the Red Room, or family parlor. And we did make suggestions, based on what visitors and staff have experienced and recounted over the years. Personally, I think it was a bust. But that’s not to say there’s not something there. I just don’t think these things can be “investigated.” In fact, the spirits of the Lotz House made it very clear that they did not want to be investigated.
It all started Saturday, August 11, 2018. The night prior, as usual, I had a tour. Everything was fine. The next morning, at 9:15am, I got a call from Thomas Cartwright, museum manager. He said when he opened up, he was surprised to find a number of items out of place. A bowl of minie balls and another of shell fragments had somehow migrated from their usual spots on the ticket counter to the floor. Upstairs, both whiskey bottles from the parlor had decamped, one out to the hall and the other onto the sofa. A pipe had jumped tables. Of course, everything had been in its proper place the night before when we locked up.
This was odd. It was not unusual for things to move around. It happened, inexplicably, every several months, but typically it was just one item or several of the same items. This was a lot of stuff to mess with. We figured they just got it all out of their system and we wouldn’t hear from them for awhile.
Not. The next day, Sunday, the site opened at 1pm. Thomas called at 1:15pm. “It’s happened again. More items moved.” This time a sign moved rooms, a basket of candy relocated to the floor, a GooGoo Cluster dropped from its perch, and upstairs, a very heavy tea set was ready for serving - from the floor, not its usual table.
Over the next eight weeks, there were six more days where the staff opened up to find the place in minor disarray. Once, they found t-shirts strewn around the floor. Brochures dumped on the floor, GooGoos on the stairs. But the one that really got everybody’s attention was the minie balls that seemed to spell a word: NO.
Then, on October 6, 2018, it ended. No more throwing and scattering things, no more big heavy tea sets or whiskey bottles traipsing about the house. The activity returned to very simple (but still unexplained), activity. So we figured it out. The heightened activity began right about the time the first call came in about the investigation. A lot of internal discussion about it ensued over the next two months, a partial day of filming took place in September and a full day on October 5th by a nosy bunch of investigators. “They” didn’t like it and they made their displeasure very clear, by throwing and moving things around and finally spelling out a big fat NO. Message received!
Margie Thessin owns Franklin on Foot, which offers guided walking tours of Franklin, including ghosts, crime, Civil War, city, cemetery and food tours. Ghosts of the Battlefield at Lotz House is most Friday evenings at 6:30pm. On October 26th and 27th, costumed reenactors will tell their stories at City and Rest Haven cemeteries in downtown Franklin. Book tours at franklinonfoot.com.