Bridgeport Hauntings to be Focus of Forum

 
By Felicia Hunter
(correspondent)

      With Halloween looming, members of the Bridgeport Community Historical Society decided it would be a good time to explore tales of ghosts and goblins associated with several Bridgeport landmarks.   But don't expect a tongue-in-cheek discussion. According to featured speakers Larry and Debbie Elward, ghosts are serious business.

      Take, for instance, the one Debbie Elward recalls seeing at McLevy Hall about a year ago. She was driving by the 19th-century downtown building when she glimpsed a tall, lanky, serious-looking man pacing the sidewalk, she said.  That sighting of Abraham Lincoln-who once spoke there-as well as other ghost-sighting claims, will be discussed during the Elwards' talk.

      "Haunted Bridgeport" will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Trumbull Library, 33 Quality St. Admission is $5.

      The Elwards devote much of their energy to paranormal investigations and also have participated in "deliverances," an exorcism-type procedure.  However, that aspect of their activity will not be part of the Tuesday presentation, which the Elwards put together at the historical society's request.   "The talk will be about the different hauntings that have been reported in Bridgeport," Larry Elward said, "The first 15 minutes will be a kind of 'Paranormal 101", where we talk about the different kinds of apparitions. Then we'll show slides on the various cases we've worked on. 

      Exploring elements of the city's folklore is one way the Bridgeport Community Historical Society fulfills its mission to inform residents about the area, said Audrey Blair, a member of the society.

      "Our purpose is to disseminate the history of Bridgeport so people are aware of it," Blair said.

      "Easton has their 'White Lady'-why not us?" she added referring to reports of an apparition appearing in an Easton cemetery that has become part of town legend.

      "Everyone like a good ghost story, and I think everybody has one," said Larry Elward.

      Bridgeport haunts that the Elwards will discuss include a Lindley Street house, Mountain Grove Cemetery and the corner of Ellsworth Street and Fairfield Avenue in Black Rock, where an accused witch was hanged in 1653. 

      "She's reported to be still hanging around there- no pun intended," he said.

      And then there's the Lincoln sighting at McLevy Hall. Debbie Elward believes what she saw was an image of Lincoln as he was preparing to give a speech there in 1860.  A plaque at the site attests to Lincoln's visit, but Debbie Elward said she hadn't been aware that Lincoln had ever been to Bridgeport before she saw his ghost.

      "We're not saying Abraham Lincoln is destined to walk the streets of Bridgeport. What I saw was an imprint of a historic event in his career," she said.  Preparing the presentation has led the Elwards to consider writing a book, she said.

      "We wanted to try to do a book on haunted Bridgeport," she said. She'd like to see it published next year.

      Dialogues about supernatural phenomena have become part of popular culture.  A notable recent example is the television program "Crossing Over with John Edward," in which the show's star claims to possess the psychic ability to connect people with their deceased relatives.        In response to inquiries made to them, the Elwards plan to offer classes about paranormal investigations.

For more information, consult the couple's web site at www.angelfire.com/scifi/deliverances