Hannah House Investigation

History: The Hannah House was built on approximately 250 acres of land in 1837 by 37-year-old Alexander Moore Hannah. Hannah was a very prominent figure in the community and had worked in different trades including a farmer, gold rush prospector, sheriff, postmaster, circuit county clerk and civic leader.

He married his beloved Elizabeth in 1851 and made a lot of additions to the building. They both wanted a child but Elizabeth had a miscarriage and an unmarked grave in Crown Hill Cemetery marks the location. Alexander died April 15, 1895 without an heir to his fortune. About four years later the property was sold to Roman Oehler and to this day remains in the ownership of his heirs.  After his death, his daughter, Romena Oehler Elder acquired the home. In 1978 it was listed in the National Register of Historic Locations by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

This location was well-known as part of the Underground Railroad and runaway slaves were housed in the basement, given food, shelter and a real chance for freedom in the North. There is an Urban Legend that says some slaves sleeping on hay in the basement when it caught fire and they died from smoke inhalation. No there, to date, no documentation for this story. The jars on the racks are original from that time period.

Today the “Lincoln Room” was Hannah’s main office and it proudly displays a large portrait of
Abraham Lincoln.

In the parlor is a large Grandfather clock with the symbol NY backwards. Some believe that it was possibly created by Free Masons.


Address: 3801 Madison Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46227

Telephone: 317-787-8486  

Owner: Scott Longere

Website: www.thehannahmansion.org




Hauntings: The smell of rotting flesh has been reported in the past emanating from the 1st bedroom on the left on the 2nd floor. I first read about this story in 1981 book More Haunted Houses by Richard Winer and Nancy Osborn Ishmael, (Bantam Books, July 1981, ISBN: 0-553-14243-7). The chapter entitled, “The House that Reeks of Death” goes on to describe it quite nicely.

Winer interviewed a local professional man who did not give his name. Here is his account:

“One of the upstairs rooms sometimes smells like gangrene or decaying flesh. When I first smelled it, I thought it was caused by something like decaying rats between the walls, burning garbage, old food, something like that. But a careful examination revealed nothing. What baffled me was the way the stench would completely disappear one day and return again on another day. It would linger for a few hours, then disappear once again.

“I tried bleach, deodorant, bug spray, perfume, the works – nothing worked. I finally brought in an exterminator service, even a plumber, who double-checked the pipes – still nothing”

This individual’s only possible explanation was the Urban Legend stated earlier of suffocated slaves in the basement.

A parapsychologist and frequent visitor to the Hannah House, Ruth Loux said she encountered something there on many occasions.

"We had no difficulty agreeing that we experienced a ‘feeling’ about one particular room. After being in the room about fifteen minutes, we heard noises – eerie sounds of moaning and whining, and soon a heavy, sickening odor was detectable. My companion on the investigation complained of a headache, and I became nauseous. It was a smell of flesh, of death, and we went outside for fresh air.”

Doors open and slam by themselves, cold drafts have been felt, the sounds of footsteps on the stairs and spoons have been seen lifting from cups and flying through the air.

The O’Brien’s rented out this home for about ten years, lived upstairs and had an antique shop downstairs. According to Mrs. Gladys O’Brien, she would hear the sound of crashing glass at least five times. She also saw a man walking around the upstairs hallway, dressed in a black suit probably dating from the 1880s, during some renovation work in the 1970s. She followed this person, knowing that no one was allowed upstairs because they were living quarters and he was nowhere to be found!

I was very privileged to have met with one of the past owners, David Elder on August 24, 1992. He graciously gave me a tour of the building and let me wander around myself. He told me of many encounters that he and his sister, Mrs. Dorothy Elder Gartin, had when they lived there. As I came out of the building, I was met by some workers who were renovating the building. When they found out my interest in ghost stories, they quickly related something that happened to them in their childhood. They used to walk past this building almost every day and noticed a strange visage of a woman in the top window peering out towards the street. As they continued to view her and came around the other side of the building, looked in another set of windows that belonged to the same bedroom, she was no longer there but had simply vanished in the wink of an eye.

Passersby’s would often see an old man waving to them from some upstairs windows and even from the backyard.  

Numerous reports of shadowy figures have been seen and recorded in various locations but mainly the East Cell Block and Solitary Confinement. Sounds of prison doors slamming, screams of prisoners, footsteps on the metal stairs and walkways, the ghost of the former warden’s wife killed by a falling pistol has been encountered near the their living quarters, a ghostly figure has been seen on Reformatory Road, people being scratched, equipment manipulation, disembodied voices, numerous EVPs, cold spots and equipment fluctuations.

Cell 17 of the East Cell Block was where James Lockhart committed suicide by dousing himself with paint thinner and turpentine and then setting himself on fire. Prison guards and nearby inmates claimed that after he was put out with fire extinguishers, the flesh from his body fell off of him in chunks. This area today is location where many investigators receive EVPs and encounter a very heavy feeling.

Other reports include shadow people, orbs, unusual mists, voices, slamming cell doors, batteries being completely drained, numerous EVPs and phantom footsteps. 



The GRS investigated Hannah House on September 23, 2017 and the team included: Stan Suho, Kathie Para, Michael Wright, Greg, Kos, Barbara Meagher, Kat Meagher, Marge Sucha and Dale Kaczmarek  











Equipment setup: Three IR cameras were set up; the first down in the basement, another on the 2nd floor and the third on the stairway. Most of the other equipment was deployed in a hand-held mode including REM Epod, Melmeters, EDI+ meter, Ovilus X, Ghost Box, X-Cam SLS system, digital IR cameras, visible light digital cameras, IR illuminators, digital tape recorders and dowsing rods.

Experiments performed: EVP, Ovilus X, Ghost Box and Dowsing Rod sessions were conducted in the attic, basement, Grandma’s Room, library and the parlor downstairs. Other devices employed were digital tape recorders and cameras, IR cameras with supplemental IR, X-Cam SLS system, Melmeters, REM Epods and a bell; a physical object for the spirits to try to manipulate.

Personal experiences:

Barbara Meagher: Hannah House in Indiana was investigated on Saturday September 23 beginning at 8pm.

There was a group Investigation in the basement with audio recording photography and Dowsing Rods. This investigator recorded no EVPs from this session.

There was another investigation in the attic. An EVP group session was recorded but no EVPs were picked up by this investigator.

This investigator set up a small bell on a ribbon and a motion detector in the attic. There was no activity related to the bell but about 15 minutes prior to the EVP session in the attic the motion detector did go off when no one was in the attic.

This investigator did have a personal experience worth noting. I experienced a strong scent of gardenias in the hallway on the main floor of the Hannah house. It was very strong and lasted several minutes. It was not the same scent as the mosquito repellent several of the members were wearing and there were no fresh flowers in the house.

Unfortunately, this investigator had to leave early and did not participate in the rest of the investigation.

Kat Meagher: The Hannah house is a very rustic home. Kind of hard to believe it is in the midst of corporate surroundings. It's surrounded by trees and you can barely see the house off the road. If it wasn't for the signs I would have missed it.  

As we did the walk-through the curator told us the story of the slaves burned in the cellar. Allegedly this home was part of the Underground Railroad. He also stated that there was no written account for this urban legend. Is it true? I'm not sure.  

During some of our correspondence spirit, Mike was using the dowsing rods. Through the whole time we were there it seemed that there was only one spirit that was answering questions through the rods. I am hoping that there is some other evidence of possible hunting.  

I unfortunately could not uncover any evidence with any of the equipment that I had. I am hoping that my other colleagues have uncovered something. If nothing else, it is a quaint little home with a lot of history. I encourage you to visit the Hannah house.  

Greg Kos; we visited Hannah House on September 23 on a beautiful fall day!

All the GRS members that were present were Dale, Stan, Marge, Kathie, Barb, Kat, Mike, and Greg.

Stan and I talked about locations for doing the IR filming. I chose the main stairway in the center of the house. Stan’s camera was on the 2nd floor, opposite end of the floor shooting towards my location. Later on in the evening I believe Stan had a camera set up in the basement. As an afterthought the basement and stairs leading there would have been a better spot to film because of a lack of contamination from our own activity.

The other equipment that I used during my investigation was EDI+ meter, K-II meter and my voice recorder. It was a very quiet night. The SB-11 Dale had during our EVP session in the basement seemed to be the highlight of the night! I had no evidence from any of my equipment.

This is the 3rd time I have been to Hannah and I love the building and all its history and I’m sure our friends had just taken the night off!

Can’t wait to go back!  

Kathie Para: Members present that evening were: Dale, Stan, Greg, Barb, Kat, Mike, Marge and myself.

Having investigated there myself several years ago, I was anxious to go back. However, it proved to be a disappointment because it was pretty quiet this time. We covered quite a bit of the house, doing EVP sessions in the attic, basement, second floor “grandma’s room” and the library, and the first floor parlors with nothing exceptional happening. Marge and I had been there several years ago and had an exciting experience in the servant’s stairwell, so she and I spent some time alone there. Upon review of my audio I heard what may or may not be a voice saying “hello” followed by a noise. I can’t say for sure due to some noise contamination in other areas of the house at the time. I have submitted the audio along with this report. 

You can’t predict or force paranormal activity. The spirits weren’t cooperating that night but the group had fun. It is a lovely house full of history.

Marge Sucha: Equipment I used: Digital Camera, FLIR, EDI+ Research Device, Rook EMF meter, Olympus Digital Recorder.

This was a night time investigation.  It was extremely hot and humid and temperature was 91 degrees the day of our investigation.   

A few years back during an EVP session Kathie and I had an experience in the servant's staircase so we were eager to do another one this time.

I did two EVP sessions in the library / office.  The first I did by myself and the second one with the group. 

We also did EVP sessions in the men & women's parlor & Grandma’s bedroom

The most active area that night for me was the basement.   We had some interesting words come out on the Ovilus and did a dowsing rod session.

Overall the house seemed quiet; however, I still would love to go back to this charming home again.     

Stan Suho: We had a pretty good turnout for this one. We were given the cooks tour by our host than began our setup. I setup two cameras. The first down in the basement. It was reported that slaves were buried under the floor. I focused my camera across the room to far wall. I used a sensitive Ghost Mic and a DVR recorder. I then assisted Greg in setting up his IR Camera at the top of the second floor landing. He also used a Ghost Mic and a DVR.

With some time on my hands, I set up a second IR Camera in the two big rooms on the first floor. Since this is an older house all the joints were very squeaky. I had to make allowances for this when reviewing my videos. In the meantime Dale and the EVP team were off chasing those elusive spirit voices. I rounded out the evening following them around and taking IR photos of their activities. 

Conclusion; In spite of very intense listening, I did not hear ant slave voices on my recordings. This is a very interesting place and I recommend it to other groups.

Dale Kaczmarek: I had no real personal experiences while investigating this building but did collect some intriguing responses on both the Ovilus X and the SB-11 Ghost Box. Some of these responses seem to contradict some of the urban legends associated with slaves dying in the basement.

I conducted one Facebook Live video in an upstairs room often called “Grandma’s Room” often associated with the sickening odor of decaying flesh which has never been thoroughly explained by anyone in the past history of this building.

A better time to investigate this location would be in the early spring or late fall as there was no air-conditioning turned on for us and only a couple of fans on the main floor.

Evidence collected:

Fuck you Hannah.MPG – while conducting and Ovilus X session in phonetic mode in the attic, the Ovilus said, “Fuck you.”

Male Hannah.MPG – while conducting a Ghost Box session in the basement, a question was asked, “Are you male or female?” The Ghost Box responded with, “Male.”

No you Hannah.MPG – while conducting an Ovilus X session in phonetic mode in the attic, a question was asked, “You’re not stuck here then?” The Ovilus responded with, “No.” A little later in that same session a comment was made by K. Meagher, “You should touch Dale.” The Ovilus then responded with, “You”; probably meaning Meagher.

Parlor’s help fire Ovilus Hannah.MPG – while conducting an Ovilus X session in phonetic mode in the parlor the words, “Help fire” came through. (Interesting to note due to the urban legend of a fire in the basement suffocating slaves.)

Servant’s stairs help noise Hannah.MPG – while conducting an EVP session near the servant’s stairs, a faint male voice is heard to say, “Hello” followed by a noise. (We cannot be 100% sure that this is paranormal.)

Yeah Hannah.MPG – while conducting an Ovilus X session in phonetic mode in the downstairs parlor, a question was asked, “Was there a fire in the basement?” The Ovilus responded with, “Yeah.”

Conclusions: Most everyone agreed that the evening was pretty even compared to some past investigations that some from the GRS had attended in the past. There were some very high EMF readings on the floor of the attic that were later debunked as possible wiring in the floor. The entire building with the exception of the basement was pretty hot, the attic being the worst at around 88 degrees.

Some names did come through the Ovilus X in dictionary mode, George, Betty, Steven and Kelly. There were several references to a fire and even “help air.” This could refer to the fire in the basement that suffocated some slaves, even though our guide said that that story could not be substantiated. Kos said that he received the word, “smoke” on his device.

This has always been a building that I’ve wanted to investigate for a very long time, and while it did disappoint me a bit, some of the words and responses that we collected were indeed very interesting!





This picture was taken during my first visit to the Hannah House in 1992 and shows David Elder (left) and an unnamed individual. They were very gracious in showing me around and then allowing me to wander through the building on my own. It was a unique experience and one that I won't soon forget!









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