Bruce Cline is a paranormal investigator and ghost historian. He received B.S. and B.A. Degrees from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. Bruce has had a long time fascination with history, folklore and ghost stories. In 2007, he formed the Little Egypt Ghost Society. Since that time, other team members and he have traveled extensively throughout the Midwest in search of the history, mystery, and hauntings of interesting people, places, and things.
For our readers who may be unfamiliar with your work, please tell us a little about how you became interested in the paranormal and why you founded the Little Egypt Ghost Society.
My interest in ghosts and the paranormal started at an early age. When I was about eight or nine years old I had my first ghostly encounter. My brother and I were spending the night at our grandparent’s house in Marion, Illinois. After a fun day of play in the garden and woodshed, we retired for the night. Of the three bedrooms in the house, we were to sleep in the middle bedroom. At some point during the night, I woke up and noticed a dark shadow on the wall opposite the window. It was a shadow of a large dog or wolf‐like creature. There were no pets in the house to make such a shadow. I was so scared that I pulled the covers over my head and did not sleep the rest of the night.
A couple of years later, in 1966, a new TV show came out that was called Dark Shadows. The show was about a 175 year old vampire named Barnabas Collins. I rushed home from school every day to watch it. I was fascinated with the idea of vampires and the paranormal. Instead of experiencing fear, I became curious and started studying all things paranormal as well as folklore and history. This led me to start a club that I called the Gaslight Ghoul Club. Members of this club would spend many late night hours around campfires or in my tree house telling spooky stories.
Eventually, college, careers and raising a family took up much of my time. It was not until 2007 that I started the Little Egypt Ghost Society. We were interested in ghost hunting, but we were also interested in history and mysteries. The way we approach the paranormal is to research history. Once you know the history of a person, location or thing, there may be some mystery associated with the historical events. We found that many times, there is a haunting associated with the mysteries that history has to offer.
Once we became established as credible paranormal investigators and historians, we started receiving many calls from individuals and businesses seeking our help with what they considered paranormal activity. Our group is made up of skeptics—optimistic skeptics to be exact. We use research as well as “ghost hunting” equipment to document and try to arrive at a logical explanation for reported paranormal activity. Only after we have ruled out all naturally occurring and logical explanations do we consider that the events may have a paranormal explanation.
What was the most interesting case you have investigated so far, and why?
The historic Rose Hotel (built in 1812) in Elizabethtown, Illinois is the most haunted place the Little Egypt Ghost Society has ever investigated, and we consider the Rose Hotel to be one of the most haunted places in America. We have conducted several overnight searches for the spirits still lingering at this historic and famous hotel.
We were to invited to investigate reports of the paranormal activity that has been occurring at the hotel on a regular basis. Sandy and many of her guests have reported sounds coming from parts of the hotel (it only has six guest rooms) where no one is present. These noises are said to sound like there “is a party going on up there.” Objects have been mysteriously moved, only to reappear sometime later in a different location of the hotel. Pennies, in groups of three, are found on a continuous basis throughout the hotel. Our team captured the image of one of the former servants, Tote Wilson, in a mirror in the McFarlan Suite. The image was positively identified by Sandy Vinyard using the hotel scrap book containing old photographs of thee hotel and staff. We tried to debunk our photo, even going so far as to video tape the entire process, but could not reproduce the image.
We conducted several EVP experiments while at the hotel with very interesting results:
Q. “Are you alone?” A. “YES”
Q. “How do you feel?” A. “FINE”
Q. “Where are you now?” A. “RIGHT BEHIND YOU”
Another EVP captured with our camcorder said: “WE ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS”
In the front lobby we took a photograph about midnight that showed the face of a young lady looking in the front window. There was no one outside at the time. This photograph was positively identified by Sandy as one of her former workers who was killed in a car crash about a year earlier.
On several occasions, our group would smell the scent of cigars, bacon cooking, lavender and logs burning when none of those items were present in or near the hotel. We heard voices and the sound of a small dog barking as well as footsteps and doors creaking open and shuts upstairs when no one was up there. There is a small graveyard behind the hotel where several members of the McFarlan family as well as some of the servants and guests are buried. Many of the graves are unmarked.
We were at the Rose Hotel to film a TV commercial. After we finished filming, we decided to do a little ghost hunting in the McFarlan Suite. Sandy was present with us when she heard the floor start to “creak.” At that moment, Lisa and I started getting readings on our K2 and Ghost Meter EMF meters. We were able to trace the EMF field to a location near the center of the suite. We quickly realized that the EMF field was confined to an area the size and shape of an adult human! When we placed our hands into this EMF field, we discovered that the temperature was 15 to 20 degrees cooler than the surrounding area. At that point, the EMF field moved and we tracked it to an area near the fire place. Once again, the temperature inside the EMF field was noticeably cooler than the surrounding area. At this point the electric power went off in the McFarlan Suite, but not in any other area of the hotel. After we exited the suite, the power mysteriously came back on. We then rechecked the entire suite and could not relocate the EMF field. We firmly believe that this was the spirit of Tote Wood once again playfully letting us know that he still keeps watch over the nearly 200 year old Rose Hotel.
What do you think is special about Southern Illinois? Why does it have so many legends and ghost stories? Do you find local residents are open to talking about the subject?
As the earliest part of the state to be settled by Europeans, Southern Illinois is steeped in history. From the French settlements at Cahokia, Fort de Chartres, Fort Massac, and Kaskaskia, to the convulsions of the American Civil War, to the present day, the region popularly known as “Little Egypt” has been filled with legends, folklore, and ghost stories. For those interested in ghost lore, Southern Illinois offers some of the oldest ghost stories in the state.
You recently published a new edition of History, Mystery, and Hauntings of Southern Illinois. What is different about this edition, and can we expect any new surprises?
The new 2nd Edition of History, Mystery and Hauntings of Southern Illinois (320 pages. IllinoisHistory.com) actually contains all three original books in my H,M&H of SI books – all in one volume. Several stories have been updated and some new material and many more photographs have been added. Unlike the first three volumes,this book is fully indexed and has directions to over 90% of the featured locations. With over 80 photographs this book makes an excellent travel guide to the haunted history of southern Illinois.
How can our readers get in touch with you if they would like to know more about you, History, Mystery, and Hauntings of Southern Illinois, or the Little Egypt Ghost Society.
People can contact me on facebook through the Little Egypt Ghost Society or can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to order personally autographed copies of this book.