It wasn’t just a Halloween scare story. Hollister’s Kathleen
Sheridan and Kent Child truly believe their home was haunted.
Hollister – It wasn’t just a Halloween scare story. Hollister’s Kathleen Sheridan and Kent Child truly believe their home was haunted.
“Oh, you bought the haunted house” Sheridan recalls folks telling her back in 1989 soon after she and her family moved into the Victorian farm-style home in Hollister’s quiet Sally Street neighborhood. Sheridan and Child planned to fix up the old house – originally constructed after 1895 – and turn it into a happy home to raise their three children.
At first, they remained somewhat skeptical about the neighbors’ “haunted” claims. They were professionals and not prone to superstition. Child worked as an art instructor and as Dean of Liberal Arts and Science at Gavilan Community College. Sheridan worked at the downtown Hollister branch of Great Western Savings. (They’ve recently retired.) The couple had no inclination to entertain fantastic stories.
But then the mysterious noises began.
“We heard quite a bit when we first moved into the house'” Sheridan said. “We could hear children singing in various parts of the house. We’d go and look and there were no kids around.”
The unexplainable phenomenons kept getting stranger. The family heard the footsteps of unseen people walking up the stairs. One daughter found someone had thrown her clothes out of her closet and strewn them throughout her room. House plants were also tossed to the floor.
“The Dustbuster would be turned on and off in the middle of the night'” Sheridan said. “It was one of those battery-powered ones. It was kind of crazy.”
One chilly night, Sheridan woke to find an extra blanket covering her in bed. She thanked her husband, but Child told her he never put it on her.
“For the most part, it wasn’t scary,” she said. “One time, we heard an (unseen) child crying at the top of the stairs. That was kind of creepy.”
The family lived through the hauntings for more than 10 years.
Two years ago, they hired Santa Cruz feng shui expert Pamela Ticoulat to help them create a balance of “chi” energy in their home.
Ticoulat strolled through the rooms with a pair of divining rods to check the flow of the dwelling’s energy. She quickly discovered some foundation and support structure problems in the old house. (A home inspector later found this was true, Sheridan said.)
“When she went upstairs and tried to go into my son’s room, the divining rods would spin around and go backwards,” Sheridan recalled.
The room always smelled “funky” with a musty odor, but Sheridan attributed this as a typical teenage boy scent. Ticoulat, however, believed it might have come from unseen spiritual entities.
“Sometimes there’s an odor that’s very different,” the feng shui expert said. “Sometimes it’s a smell of death – a kind of stinky, musty quality.”
Sheridan noticed the pet cats always shied away from the boy’s room. Ticoulat said that’s because animals are more perceptive of the spirit world than most humans.
The son also kept martial art weapons, such as Asian swords, hanging on the walls of his room. “A sword in feng shui represents cutting through the layers, cutting through the veils, cutting through the negativity and the fear,” Ticoulat said. “He considered it a protection item. I felt that was the reason he wasn’t bothered (by ghosts).”
Ticoulat asked the family about the history of the house. Sheridan told her it once belonged to a mid-wife. In the early part of the 20th century, many Hollister residents had been born in it.
The feng shui expert believed the ghost stories the neighbors had told might be true. Several spirits possibly existed in the home, she told the couple.
The family decided the time had come to remove the specters from the house and send them on their way. They asked Ticoulat and her assistant to guide them in a seance to communicate with the ghosts.
Candles and incense were lit. Family members and the feng shui experts joined hands in an “energy circle,” Sheridan said. “Pam contacted her spirit guides who told her it was okay to make contact.”
As the group chanted and prayed, three spirits made their energy presence known in the room, Sheridan said. She described the experience more as an “awareness” rather than a visual sighting. “They appeared in kind of a shadowy way,” she said. “It’s more of a distinct impression that you get of somebody.”
One of the ghosts was a middle-aged woman of possible Mexican, Native American or Portuguese ancestry. Her name was Martha or Margrete and she had been killed in a horse-related accident, Sheridan said.
A child – perhaps a girl named Alice or a boy named Aaron – was the second ghostly presence. The third lost soul was a farmer. Sheridan described him as tall, lanky and quiet.
“He stayed in the shadows,” she said. “He was reserved. He kept to himself.”
Ticoulat asked the woman ghost why she still remained in the house.
“She said she didn’t have any other place to go,” Sheridan said, recalling the reason.
When Ticoulat informed the ghost she had been dead for many years, the news upset her.
“It was definitely disturbing to her,” Sheridan recalled the ghost’s reaction. “She cut out of there really fast. She bolted off.”
During the seance, one of the couple’s daughters had her finger pricked by the mischievous ghost child, making her jump, Ticoulat remembers.
“There was some kind of rivalry there,” she said.
Ticoulat suggested the family place beautiful pictures and flowers around the house and talk gently to the ghosts to let them know it was now time to move on with their after-lives.
“Create this scene of beauty and love,” she told them. “You let the people know they don’t have to stay here any more. You do it with patience and love.”
After two weeks of compassionate conversation, the ghostly events in the home came to a close, Sheridan said. She believes the three spirits haunting the home found their paths to whatever realm might lay beyond.
“Beings from other dimensions can be considered protectors or aggressors,” Ticoulat said. “They need to be tamed.”
Most ghosts are not harmful to humans, she said. They are really “tricksters,” playing mischievous pranks to get attention.
About 5 percent of her clients seek help removing trickster spirits from their homes, she said.
“All spirits want help,” Ticoulat said. “They want to serve you in some way or to be helped – to move on in that (other) dimension.”
The Child-Sheridan family believe that, with Ticoulat’s help, they assisted three souls to move on from their Sally Street home to find the passage to the after-life.