The May Stringer House
In the 1850s, the western part of Florida was barely out of its wilderness days. In the 1840s, Fort De Soto had been built as protection for settlers in the Seminole Wars. Brooksville began to grow around it. It was in 1856 that John May built his 4 room, 2 story house. He died, his widow, Marina, remarried, died in childbirth, and her daughter, Jessie Mae, died at the age of 3. Both Marina and Jessie Mae are most likely buried in the front yard, as was customary. In the 1880s, Frank Stringer added to and remodeled the house, creating the 4 story, 12 room Queen Anne style home that is the Hernando Historical Museum today. The building has seen its share of history! Slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Railroad, World Wars, economic changes, technology developments, marriages, births, new families! The spirit of Jessie Mae is seen and heard in an upstairs bedroom. Frank is said to pace the second floor veranda. An unknown entity is alleged to be on the third floor, possibly coming with a donated actor’s trunk. Off the Trails Paranormal Investigations, OPI, investigated. We found many EVPs! In the third floor attic, we heard the words “Robert,” “my visitor.’ “May Stringer House,” “help,’ and “wait.” During a spirit box session, we heard a voice said “burn up,” “death,” and “you can.” Yellow fever patients were once brought up here by the doctor who owned the house. When asked, “Can you see us up here?” the response was a negative, ”Nah uh.” Although the entity on that floor is mean, having hit and scratched, he did nothing to any of us. We felt heaviness in the air on our walk through, making it hard to breathe! However, on repeated visits by various members, we never felt that thickness again.
James, or Jimmy, inhabits the schoolroom. He is believed to be a WWI veteran who committed suicide upon learning his sweetheart had married another while he was away fighting. Bonnie Letourneau, who led us on our walk, reported that many people have seen him looking out the window. A policeman once insisted that he be allowed to check the room to make certain there wasn’t a mannequin there! The single EVP we have from Jimmy is the response “nice” to the statement, ”Bonnie says you’re nice.”
The old summer kitchen was attached to the house in the 1930s. Today it houses the military exhibit, uniforms and other memorabilia from the Civil War through contemporary mid-East conflicts. Conducting a spirit box session, Angel and I were told, “F*#! You.” We don’t know who said it. We asked, Can you give us a name?” The odd response was “”What’s that I told ‘em?”
In little Jessie Mae’s room, we asked if she liked to play. The spirit box voice repeated, “Play.” We also heard the words “mama,” and “yes” in response to the questions, “Do you like dolls?” and “Do you like to play?”
Frank was a very prominent man in town. He made important decisions. Maybe he is rethinking these today, because his spirit is said to pace the porch. We have several photos of bright orbs in different locations on that porch. Perhaps it is Frank’s spirit.
The 1885 Train Depot is part of the museum, too. The depot includes an old dining railroad car. Exhibits take in a display of cracker life, old fire truck, diorama of the town, and so on. We did a short investigation there. While I was standing by one of the dioramas, with a train track surrounding it, the ovilus said ‘round.” It then said “pine.” I asked, “Are you talking about the floors. A voice I hear later answers, “Yes!” It would seem someone was communicating with me using both his voice and the ovilus! EVPS include a woman’s voice asking, “Do you want me? A man’s voice saying, “I want – “we can’t distinguish the last word. What sounds like a child’s voice says, “On the train. Train!” A voice in the dinner car says, “I can’t run!” These words don’t seem to be answering specific questions, but were picked up on the video recorder. In a spirit box session, we ask if we are talking to a white person or a colored person, using terminology of the time. Remember, depots were segregated until the 1960s. We hear “Negro” come from the box. We also hear the name Maureen. There were a few orbs we caught on camera.
We have discovered enough activity to believe both the house and depot have more secrets to share. OPI would be glad to return to the May Stringer House!