The Seneca Falls Historical Society located in the Finger Lakes region is so much more than just a historical society
When people hear the term "historical society" they immediately think of old records and archives, and sometimes the more mundane things that go into keeping a small town's history. That could mean maps or ledgers, or just old newspapers, but the Seneca Falls Historical Society has so much more than that.
They do indeed have a map and ledger room (with the oldest ledger dating so far back it's actually older than America), as well as a library filled with almost every Mynderse Academy yearbook dating back to the start of the school, scrapbooks from the last century belonging to residents, including a scrapbook belonging to a cat that lived to be 25 years old, and a room full of photographs dating back to the start of Seneca Falls, but that have other things too.
They have ghosts.
That's right, the Seneca Falls Historical Society has ghosts, which is why this blog is the first in a series of spooky season blogs titled "Spooky Seneca County Chronicles."
Before getting into the history of the historical society and the talk of ghosts that live there, here is one example of their hauntings:
This is a photograph of an original British Red Coat from the war, and it belonged to a man named Captain John Haigh. Below, is a video that starts out by showing paranormal activity surrounding this very Red Coat.
Who are the ghosts that reside at the Seneca Falls Historical Society?
To know who the ghosts are, the history of the home and how it came to exist first needs to be understood.
This home didn't start as a big, gorgeous Queen Anne mansion. It began as a small wooden one room structure built by Edward Mynderse, the namesake of the Seneca Falls High School, Mynderse Academy. In the year 1855 Edward chose to built an Italianate style home in place of the one room wooden building. The home was then purchased by the Partridge family in 1880 when the renovations were made, which then led to the home being a Queen Anne mansion. In all the house has 23 rooms. Soon after, the home was then purchased by the Norman Becker family in 1890. The home remained in the Becker family until 1962 when Florence Becker sold the home to the Seneca Falls Historical Society.
Edward Mynderse's ghost
Edward's ghost allegedly took up residence in the home early on, because he was very displeased with the renovations made to the home he had built. It is believed he spends much of his time in the parlor and dining room, where the additions to the home are located.
Pictured above is the dining room, where Edward is believed to hang out. While many people describe his presence as harmless, some of the things he's accused of doing include tugging people's hair lightly, flipping pictures around to face the wall, touching people, and speaking out loud.
Pictured above are photos of the drawing room, currently decorated for the Halloween season as the historical society prepares for visitors for their annual ghost tours, which will happen every Tuesday in October in 2023, except for the actual date of Halloween which is the final Tuesday of the month.
This room, along with all of the other rooms on the first floor, are designed to look the way they would if the family was currently home and living in the house. The paintings along the walls are various members of the Mynderse family and others who have resided in the home. The furniture, decorations, and light fixtures all reflect style from the late 1800s chosen by the Becker family.
Edward's ghost may have been one of the first to move into the home, but it certainly was not the last.
Mary, the nanny and maid for the Becker family, is believed to be present in various areas of the home. One area is her kitchen, where employees have shared that they smell fresh bread and molasses cookies being made. Molasses cookies were believed to be the Becker children's favorite dessert she made. Activity has also been reported in and around her bedroom, which is in the attic on the third floor of the home. In one instance, an employee claimed to have heard footsteps upstairs while working downstairs alone. When calling her brother to come look, he set up a recorder for the night. The next day, they went to listen to the recording and could hear themselves approaching the room to get the recorder. They heard their own footsteps, as well as themselves opening the door, followed by a voice saying, "Excuse me! You hit me!"
Pictured above is the kitchen Mary used to make food and do her housework.
What I heard while visiting the haunted mansion
While taking this photograph above of the drawing room, I was ready to head to the right, where the dining room is located, right off of Mary's kitchen. While taking photos and videos of this area, myself and a woman who was sitting at her desk in the front were the only two people downstairs at this time. I heard dishes clinking from Mary's kitchen, even though I knew nobody was in there.
While visiting the third floor, I had a very eerie feeling. It seemed okay in Mary's room where the most activity seems to happen, but when we reached the opposite side of the third floor I started to feel like I was being watched and the air felt incredibly thick. This feeling was the strongest in the Billiard Room, which is used to store people's clothing from over the years, and where the Red Coat is currently on display.
Another ghost that was reported to be present in the past was that of a young Irish girl who was friends with one of the Becker girls. She died of consumption at the age of 15 and people have claimed to have heard her crying on the back stairs, ones she would have regularly used while alive and in the home. A medium visited and said there was a young girl who was homesick and wanted to go back to Ireland. After completing a seance, nobody has heard her since.
Besides the ghosts, the home is great to visit because of it's rich history and beautiful architecture from the 1800s
Consider visiting the Seneca Falls Historical Society when planning your trip to Seneca County.
The Seneca Falls Historical Society is a great place to visit and take a quick tour of. Located within walking distance of the Women's Rights Historical Park, you're sure to make your visit even better by stopping to see this gem.