Friday, February 22, 2013

Side Trip: Marks' Mill

True Stories of a Paranormal Investigator



Sometimes we at Arkansas Ghost Hunters have little side trips enroute to investigations. We hit Warren several hours early to hit the local library with no success. After grabbing lunch and meeting with Jordi, Joseph and Angela, we were told by a couple of the locals about a nearby Civil War battlefield. Nearby turned out to be about several miles north and into the next county. But the drive was worth it.

The Battle of Marks' Mill was fought on April 25, 1864 and resulted in about 1793 causalities, not counting any civilians (1500 on the Union side, 293 on the Confederate side)

Marks' Mill was owned by John H. Marks and his homestead was about a mile from where the battle took place. He and his family witnessed the first shot and causality of the battle, the driver of the lead supply wagon. After the battle, his home served as a temporary field hospital and his daughter testified that several soldiers were buried on their property. Not far from where the house once stood is Marks' Cemetery  where members of the Marks family are buried.

Now the area where Mark's Mill, the Marks' homestead and a small portion of the battlefield is now a State Park. A dirt road leads to the cemetery and along the road is various markers about the Mill, the Battle and the Marks themselves. There are also equipment from the mill and the Marks' homestead in the area. The park also sports nature trails.

Now we didn't go out there to investigate anything. We just went out there as history buffs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Coker Hotel 2/16/13

I haven't forgotten about you. We just took a break during the holidays.

Our first investigation of 2013 was in the small town of Warren, Arkansas in the southern part of the state. Now Warren is a quaint little town (this from someone who has lived in big cities and good sized towns all her life) Very quiet and the people are quite friendly. And the homes there! A good majority of the houses there are old good sized homes (We were even told by a librarian that several of the houses have had reported activity) I should stop talking about the houses before I side track myself as I'm a sucker for houses built before and during World War I.


The History

The land that Warren sits on now once belonged to the Quapaw and Choctaw peoples. The town was built in 1851 and according to tradition was named after a slave freed by Captain Hugh Bradley, the man the county is named after. Around the turn of the century, the timber industry hit a big boom and folks flocked to Warren and the surrounding towns to work in the field and in the lumber yards ad sawmills. In 1914, Philip Coker, who had previously owned mercantile businesses*, along with his wife, Fannie, built the Coker Hotel to house those passing through and also serve as a type of boarding house. Folks that worked at the mills and lumberyards would live there when they first got to town. The hotel was in operation from 1914 until the 1980's when it was closed. It currently is mostly boarded up and abandoned, although one of the lower rooms has been converted into an apartment. From what I could tell, hooligans break in regularly and spray paint all sorts of crap in the upstairs portion of the building. Parts of the floor on the second story are weak and warped. in 2012, the Coker Hotel, along with 9 other locations, was placed on Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas' Endangered Places list, which, I believe, is a step towards being placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Now we haven't been able to find much on the history of the building aside from word of mouth from folks that live in Warren. We were told that both Mr and Mrs. Coker died in their apartment there.

The Investigation

Only four of the team members went on this investigation as one was sick and the other couldn't get off of work. Trish, Justin and I rode together. Jordi met us there. We were also joined by another paranormal group, Off the Grid. Their members, Joseph and Angela, were some awesome people. While I never actually investigated with them at the hotel, they are a couple of very professional investigators with a unique investigation tactic. We were also joined by a member of Warren's Chamber of Commerce, his daughter and  the client's daughter, although she only stayed briefly. Like I've mentioned before, two of the rooms on the ground floor had been converted into an apartment. The rooms opened out into the courtyard, thus the tenet doesn't have to actually go into the building itself. The tenet has complained of hearing a conversation and footsteps from behind his apartment. (He is the only tenet in the building. Behind his apartment is where the hotel's kitchen is located.)

To start the night out, Jordi and I went upstairs to test out how bad our footsteps could be heard downstairs. Chamber of Commerce (called henceforth CoC), his daughter and the client's daughter joined us a moment later ad we began the investigation, while Trish, Justin, Joseph, Angela and the client investigated downstairs. Now, CoC was quite chatty and regaled us with stories that his grandfather told him about the hotel and Warren itself. We did find out that across the street where a parking lot and a drive through bank is now was a bus station, making the Coker Hotel perfectly situated to welcome travelers and newcomers. He directed us to a library/music room where the Cokers' grandson lived before he moved out of state. Jordi and I did an EVP session there and we even got a slight hit on the K2, the only time the entire night it did anything. After hearing what I thought was a footstep, we went back downstairs and were met by Justin, who'd stayed in the building while the others went to check out the apartment. He, Jordi and I went back upstairs while the client's daughter left and CoC and his daughter went to have dinner. We all heard another footstep and Justin were able to debunk it as a door hitting a chair propped against it. We explored the library and did another EVP session before going downstairs, where we found that a door had been closed. We explored the kitchen area and did an EVP session before we headed over to the apartment ourselves and did an EVP session there.

I'm going to stop right here and say that it was freezing that night and the hotel has no electricity. Luckily, we were able to take refuge in a beauty shop that was nice and warm. After I regained feeling in my fingers, Jordi and I were rejoined by CoC and his daughter and we went back into the apartment. After doing an EVP session there, we joined Justin inside the hotel and did some more EVP sessions.

All in all, the Coker Hotel was a wonderful place. To see all the history that the grandson collected and to see all the furniture that was left that wasn't destroyed and seeing the places where the community bathroom was. You don't see that a lot. I really hope the Coker Hotel finds itself restored to it's original condition. Makes me sad to see a wonderful piece of Warren's history being left to crumble like that. The Hotel closed the decade I was born and seeing old places like this being allowed to deteriorate makes me realize how much my generation is going to miss out on.

Bonus Investigation

And here you thought I was done...

After we finished at the Coker Hotel, Off the Grid invited us to their second investigation of the night, an early 1900's building. While Arkansas Ghost Hunters didn't stay very long, we did walk through the location and gather some of the history that the clients could gather. While it was more of a mini investigation for us, Off the Grid has been there before and we were told to start our recorders right away. (I've listened to one of the recordings we'd done and Justin another and together we've gotten about 8 possible EVPs. Farther analysis pending.) We were able to see how a ghost box works first hand (Joseph made theirs) which was pretty nifty. I would like to return and actually do a full blown investigation there and work with Off the Grid again.

Until next time, ghost friends


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