Paranormal team from Tennessee investigates Cape house

Sunday, October 18, 2009
Mike Uelsmann inspects the entry to an alleged tunnel under the Minton House on Saturday. Uelsmann and Rich Newman of Paranormal Inc. came to investigate paranormal activity in the house on Washington Street in Cape Girardeau. (Katherine Webster)

Two paranormal investigators are setting out to explore local folklore associated with the Sherwood-Minton House in Cape Girardeau.

Rich Newman and Mike Uelsmann of Memphis, Tenn.-based Paranormal Inc. came to the house Saturday night to conduct an investigation.

The house at 444 Washington St. was built in 1846 for Adriel Sherwood, a Baptist minister.

During the 1850s, it housed the Washington Female Seminary. The seminary was a forerunner of the Normal School, which is now Southeast Missouri State University. It was also used as a military hospital during the Civil War to house soldiers suffering from smallpox.

The house is currently vacant. Real estate agent Laura Ritter said the most recent owner lived in the house for four years. She said past owners have heard footsteps coming from the basement. Another owner saw a woman in an antebellum gown upstairs.

Minton House on Washington Street in Cape Girardeau. (Alaina Busch)

Newman and Ritter discussed the stories so he could target his investigation. He placed four audio recorders and three video cameras throughout the house. He said "hot spots," or places where others had paranormal experiences, aid the investigation.

"It lets you come in and have targeted places to hit," he said.

The investigators also used infrared and ultraviolet cameras as well as electromagnetic field detectors.

Newman and Uelsmann, both originally from Scott City, are finishing up a movie about haunted Civil War sites. Newman said he traveled to five locations, starting in Illinois. He said he is hoping to include the Sherman-Minton House in the final edit, but it will depend on the results of the investigation. He said the movie will be complete by November and that the movie will be on DVD by June.

Newman and Uelsmann have been working together for about 20 years. Newman is a filmmaker and writer based in Memphis, and Uelsmann works at Do It Best in Cape Girardeau.

Uelsmann said their first investigation included the alleged green eyes seen at Lorimier Cemetery.

"Within five minutes we had that figured out," he said.

He said they quickly figured out headlights were reflecting off the headstones, creating the green spots.

According to another local legend, there were once tunnels coming from the Sherwood-Minton house to transport soldiers who died from smallpox or slaves through the Underground Railroad.

Newman and Uelsmann will have about 20 hours of video and audio to sort through before concluding their work, which will include a look into the basement.

In the past, Newman said, he felt the presence of ghosts through hugs or a hand on the back. He's also seen apparitions of American Indians and a floating head.

While proving the paranormal is subjective, he said evidence can eliminate reasonable doubt for some.

"A true skeptic is not going to be convinced of anything," Newman said.

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

444 Washington St. Cape Girardeau, MO

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