ROCKINGHAM — With a crisp autumn coolness in the air Sunday evening, a local paranormal investigation team wrapped up its annual downtown ghost tour.
Members of Pee Dee Region Paranormal started the event — which is part history, part hauntings — in 2018 and expanded it the following year with separate tours: Haunted Homes and Uptown Ghouls. Last year’s tour was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Team member Scott Tomestic said the group tried to limit each tour to 10 people so participants could maintain social distancing.
Tomestic is a Massachusetts native and descendant of a minister during the infamous Salem witchcraft trials.
The first stop on the Haunted Homes Tour was the Leak-Wall House.
Dressed in 19th century garb, Tomestic told the history of the home, adding that the ghost of a soldier in a Confederate Uniform has been seen on the property.
The spirits of the historic home reportedly aren’t fond of Northerners, as a former occupant from Ohio is said to have been nearly struck by a falling tree limb and another object following a snowstorm.
During a previous investigation of the house, Tomestic said there were two hits on a K2 meter — which measures electromagnetic frequencies — and that one of the investigators felt someone breathe on him. Tomestic has yet to take part in an investigation at the Leak-Wall House.
The tour continued down Fayetteville Road to two homes across from Bennett Deane’s insurance office.
The previous owners of the home on the right both died the same day and the current owners have reported unexplained crashing sounds and other activity.
The home on the left, which is currently occupied by Tomestic and his wife, is the site of a story of a mysterious reflection seen by a girl who was home alone at the time.
Several months ago, during a power outage, Tomestic said his wife heard footsteps on the porch and their cats ran to the door as if someone were about to enter.
Next up was the Steele-Fisher House, the oldest on the tour, which temporarily served as the Union Army’s headquarters during Sherman’s infamous march. While no specific activity has been reported at that home, Tomestic said cadaver dogs found two graves on the property.
Neighboring homes, however, have had reports of paranormal activity. Strange goings on in one house was thought to be linked to a portrait with bleeding eyes; and footsteps have been heard on the stairs in another.
Several other homes on the tour were also once occupied by members of the Steele family.
At the Robert L. Steele Sr. House, legend has it that the owner’s son was standing with a pop-gun as the Union Army came through town. An Army captain reportedly took the toy gun from the boy and broke it over his knee. In later years, the ghost of a pre-teen boy with a gun has been seen in the belvedere in the upper part of the home.
Tomestic also took the group to a house that was built on the site of an old church, were bones from the church cemetery continued to be found for years.
At a now-empty house on Fayetteville Road, the caregiver of a previous occupant reported that pictures would not stay hanging on the walls, with no explanation as to why. Mysterious lights have also been seen passing by the windows.
There has also been paranormal activity reported at the current H. Bright Lindler law office, including widespread computer issues, and the sounds of footsteps and doors — that were found to be open — shutting.
The building was once the home of Lucy Russell, who penned “A Rare Pattern,” a memoir of the reconstruction era several years before her 1962 death at the age of 100.
The final stop on the tour was the W.T. Covington House on Rockingham Road. It was previously the site of two funeral homes where the owners were charged with misconduct, leading Tomestic to question if the house was cursed. He added that there have been sightings of a girl in an upstairs window.
The later Uptown Ghouls tour featured stops of several reportedly haunted buildings — including Hudson Brothers Deli and Richmond Community Theatre — as well as the Manufacturer’s Building, outside of which was the site of the 1925 murder of William Ormond by textile tycoon W.B. Cole, and the W.H. Parker Building, once used to store the bodies of residents killed in a deadly tornado.
Pee Dee Region Paranormal is planning an investigation of the Bank of Pee Dee Building later this year.
CORRECTION: The name of the first tour is the Haunted Homes tour. 1:02 p.m. 10-18-21.