Haunted Rialto, California Historical Society Church Building
by John Anthony Adams
Image Photographed on Stairs in Old Church
I was an atheist until I reached my 50s, and the most amazing experience of my entire life was to discover that ghosts are real. My ghostly encounters have taken place over a period of 20 years in an old haunted church building that now serves as the Rialto Historical Society in Rialto, California.
I am the historian of the Rialto Historical Society and have spent countless hours in this haunted old building. I had ridiculed the idea of ghosts all my life. but now my acceptance of ghosts is so complete that I have published a book called "The Little Girl in the Window: A True Ghost Story" that contains scores of ghost stories that took place in the old Church building.
I am writing this account of a few of my observations that have convinced me that ghosts are not just a figment of people?s imaginations. It is exciting to have these experiences but it is extremely frustrating and maddening when people assume you are just imagining things or making them up. I inquired about getting a lie detector test so that I could put the results in my ghost book, but I realized that it was not worth spending the money when non-believers wouldn't believe me anyway.
Most of my experiences with ghostly manifestations in the church have involved sounds, smells, movement of objects, or even a touch, but when I tell about them people often ask, "Have you ever actually seen a ghost in the church?" For many people, "seeing is believing." Only once during the countless hours over the past 20 years that I have been in the church did I actually see a ghost. This happened in a room in the church with a door that is always kept locked. If it is clicked shut, but not locked, it comes open by itself and sets off the burglar alarm.
One day I was fooling around in the hallway outside the mysterious room with copper dowsing rods given to me by a ghost investigator named Tom Hagman. I did not totally reject the idea of dowsing rods because my grandfather used dowsing rods made from fruit tree wood to locate likely sites for wells for the local water company. Both my mom and brother (a retired Stanford University Professor and a big skeptic about supernatural topics) told me that my grandfather had let them try the dowsing rods and they were amazed to feel their strong downward pull. Still, it seemed ridiculous to think that the movement of dowsing rods could show the presence of a ghost. The copper dowsing rods rarely moved for me in the church, and when they did I suspected it was the result of my hands being slightly tilted, resulting in the slow movement of the rods that I would occasionally see.
I pointed the rods at the door to the room and was surprised to see them move inward vigorously. I unlocked the door, walked into the room, and was shocked by what I saw in the chair. The center of the chair looked intensely blurred. The area of blurring did not have the outline of a body although it was the size of a person. It was as if there was an otherwise invisible object in the chair that affected the transmission of light through it so that it obscured what was behind it. I could not see the details of the chair behind the blurred area. I looked at the chair with disbelief. I thought, "This can't be happening!" I kept looking to the side to see if the center of my vision was blurred in those directions, as might happen if I had a migraine headache, but I only saw the blurring when I looked back at the center of the chair.
I pointed the dowsing rods at the chair, and they whipped inward with astonishing force. A woman who had come at an earlier time with a group when they explored the church told me that she sensed ghosts by reaching out to feel them. When she placed her hand in the ghost, she was able to sense an image. I didn't know if she just imagined an image or not, but I was so anxious to sense a clearer image that I reached close to the chair to see what I would feel. The air by the chair felt icy, but no clear image of anyone popped into my head. After a brief time had passed, the center of the chair no longer appeared blurry, and the rods no longer moved so vigorously when pointed at it. The rods still moved when pointed at the chair, and in various other directions, but now they moved at about the same rate when pointed at the chair or elsewhere in the room.
I left the room, making sure that the door had clicked shut when I closed it, but I did not lock it because I wanted to find out if it would come open by itself again. Sure enough, after a passage of time it came open and the alarm sounded. Ten different people have told me about their experiences at various times of seeing the blurry image in this room. Ghosts are often described of having such an appearance.
I have attached a photo of an image that was snapped on a stairway in the old church by a member of the Rialto Historical Society named Richard McInnis. There was nothing visible on the stairs when Richard took the photo, but this strange figure appeared in the photo after he took the film from his camera to a one-hour photo development service. A few days after this I was leading the tour of an elementary school class through the old church when four girls became terrified after saying that they saw the ghost of a woman at this exact same location on the stairs. The entire class panicked when they heard the girls' story.
Most of the numerous ghosts reportedly seen in the old church of the Rialto Historical Society had a lifelike appearance, and some of these appeared before multiple witnesses. Two different pairs of Rialto policemen answering burglar alarms after midnight on separate occasions told me about seeing the ghost of a middle-aged woman dressed in Victorian clothing at the base of the stairway shown in my attached photograph. She was lifelike in color and had very detailed features, but was transparent and lacked feet. Kristina Dana Hendrickson, the little girl whose ashes and favorite possession were kept in a glass case at the base of the stairway, was seen and described with great accuracy by three different witnesses. She was the "little girl in the window" for whom the book is named. A number of other ghosts have been seen by more than one witness.
Why have so many ghosts been reported in the church? Three different investigators who came to the church on separate occasions claimed that they had sensed a "ghost portal" by the entrance to the church kitchen that allows ghosts to come and go from the church. This might sound crazy but it was impressive to see each of these three independently identify the supposed portal in the precise same location.
Most of the manifestations that I have observed in the church involve sounds. The unusual nature of these sounds became clear when a group of people was present, because some could hear them while others, with excellent hearing and good memories, did not hear a thing. An example occurred when a series of 4 different sounds occurred in a room with 13 people present for a ghost investigation. This succession of sounds included a loud knocking at the outside door, an extremely loud "pop" sound, a whooshing sound that oscillated up and down in pitch, and the sound of sobbing. Most of the people present did not hear any of them, and only a few heard them all. I heard all of them. Each sound was heard and described by at least 3 or 4 people so they were clearly not imagined. I know that the fact that several people heard each sound was not due to power of suggestion because I did not mention that I had heard each sound and yet would hear someone accurately describe each sound after I heard it. The weird sounds could not have been natural sounds because so many did not hear them.
Ghost investigator Tom Hagman said there is a large difference in the ability of people to sense otherworldly manifestations because of differences in the sensitivity of individuals. The same differences in ability to sense things occurred at other times with some mysterious odors. He compared this inability to sense ghostly things to people with color blindness, and based on experiences with ghosts in the church most people have an inability to sense them. Some people have spent many hours over a period of 20 years in the church without a single experience, and it is not surprising that some of them are skeptical of the ghost stories. I would be too. These people have the equivalent of colorblindness.
My experiences in the old church have shown me that many widely held beliefs about ghosts are myths. For example, ghosts are just as likely to be active during the day as at night, and most people discover that encounters with ghosts are fascinating rather than frightening.