For years, the New Windsor Heritage Committee held annual ghost walks through the town as their Halloween fundraiser. After a while, attendance started to plateau, then drop, according to organizer Doris Ann Pierce. Former attendees told her they were tired of hearing about the same old ghosts; a problem, since one of the main features of ghost stories is that they're old and historical.
Who you gonna call?
If you follow Pierce's lead, you contact a self-proclaimed psychic medium to find more ghosts.
Pierce reached out to Laine Crosby, a Maryland author who bills herself as an investigative medium, and has been featured on the Travel Channel's "Mysterious Journeys," and Biography's "My Ghost Story."
Crosby came out to New Windsor to see the sights — and spooks — of the town, guided, she claims, by the spirit of Jeremiah Bennett Moquin, born in 1797, who passed away in New Windsor and whose spirit remains in the town to this day.
"He's taken me to different locations in town and introduced me to the spirits there," Crosby said. "He gets people who were actually there during that time, and they give me stories of the town."
The stories she's gathered from the various spirits will be shared at the New Windsor Heritage Committee's "Conversations with the Ghosts of New Windsor," held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Carroll County Public Library Headquarters in New Windsor.
In preparation for the event, Crosby said she visited with spirits at the Atlee House, the cemetery, the Dielman Inn and throughout the rest of the town.
"There are spirits in town who used to work for a tavern here, and they told me about their lives," Crosby said. "I talked to a number of slaves that are still there. There are some spirits of slaves who are still looking for a way to the North to cross over. It's so interesting, because what appears to be a sleepy town is so rich in history and wonderful people."
Crosby claims she spoke to her first ghost in 2004, when she moved to Maryland from Atlanta along with her family. A former marketer, Crosby grew up in cities before moving to a former plantation near Rock Creek Park in Montgomery County. She said she had never experienced the silence she found here before, and in that silence she discovered her psychic power.
"It was always wild and crazy in Atlanta. I had brothers and sisters coming in, and it was an energetic, wild place. When I moved here, I didn't know anybody," Crosby said. "The first night, it was so quiet. I couldn't sleep. But with the silence, I began to feel more."
Crosby claims the solitude brought her into contact with her first spirit, a former slave named Jannette. This relationship that began between Crosby and Jannette formed the basis for Crosby's first book "Investigative Medium — The Awakening." During the event, Crosby will read from the book and answer questions about her writing, as well as discuss New Windsor's spirits.
Though she said Jannette was her first relationship formed with a spirit, she claims there had been signs of her psychic ability since she was young.
"I would know about things from time to time, or I would have imaginary friends like most kids, and my mom would laugh it off or write it off as women's intuition," Crosby said. "If we're open to it, we all have abilities in the psy area. We just need to be open to them."
Pierce said she's always been open to the existence of spirits, but had yet to see anything to fully convince her before she met Crosby. While touring New Windsor, she said Crosby spoke with a spirit who said his name was Joseph Stem. Crosby said Stem operated a general store outside of New Windsor next to Dr. Aldridge's Apothecary in the 1870s.
"The next day, I went up to the [New Windsor Heritage Committee] museum and pulled out an 1877 Carroll County map that lists old farms, mills, locations and started looking up Joseph Stem," Pierce said. "He wasn't between Westminster and New Windsor and he wasn't in Sam's Creek, but then I saw Dennings Road, and there was the Joseph Stem General Store and the Doctor Aldridge's Apothecary. It blew me away."
Crosby said there are spirits all around us. She said she believes some are spirits who have not found their way to heaven, while others have crossed over and have come back to check on the physical world. She said she believes heaven isn't necessarily a place your spirit stays, but is a place one can pass to and from at will.
"I never feel alone. When I think about my mother, I can feel her by my side because our thoughts are like beacons," Crosby said. "They go out and she can be present. Our loved ones are always around us whether it's physically in this dimension or just being in tune with us from the other side."
Pierce said nobody truly knows what is on the other side, and it's up to each of us to discover what will meet us after death.
"I just hope people are entertained. You know, there are people who believe and people who do not," Pierce said. "There may be some skeptics who go away feeling unfulfilled, but really all we're trying to do is have an entertaining evening with something new and fresh. October is, after all, the month for ghosts and spirits."