Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit the White Hill Mansion, located in Fieldsboro, NJ. I received an invitation from Dawn, vice president of the Friends of White Hill Mansion, to investigate the mansion on my own. I’m attending a paranormal expo taking place there on September 23rd, and Dawn was interested in having me out prior to the event to see what I could find. Yes, she was well aware that I’m a skeptic…which is why she wanted me to come out. She wanted to see what I would come up with.
To make things a little easier, I’m going to copy the history of the White Hill Mansion directly from The Friends of White Hill Mansion website…
“Robert Field inherited the property from his father in 1757. A successful merchant, he built a comfortable mansion on the property. In 1765 Robert married Mary Peel. He drowned under mysterious circumstances January 29, 1775. The widow Mary lived at White Hill throughout the RevolutionaryWar. It was through her cunning intelligence that her property survived in tact. In 1797 Mary signed over the property to her son, Robert III. Unfortunately, he lost the entire property due to mismanagement in 1804.
The Mansion changed hands many times, occupied by inventors, doctors, and a State Senator. In 1923 Heinrich and Katrina Glenk opened an upscale German Restaurant often visited by New Jersey’s elite. In 1972 the Glenks sold the restaurant. It was twice sold and finally to the Stepan Company. When the Borough of Fieldsboro learned that Stepan planned to demolish the house, the Borough bought and now maintain the property.”
The White Hill Mansion is currently on the New Jersey State Register of HistoricPlaces. A restoration project began in 2004. Two Archaeological digs were conducted by Dr. Richard Veit and students from Monmouth University. Over 30,000 artifacts were uncovered, as well as several building foundations and evidence of native American occupation.” (1)
My wife and I arrived around 9:45 Sunday morning. As we approached the mansion, we could see the exterior had definitely seen better days. But…it certainly had potential. We were early, so I began taking some photographs of the exterior of the building. I took note of potential issues such as openings that animals could enter, gaps in windows and doors that would allow air pressure and noise reach the interior, and so on. I was also getting some artsy shots too!
When Dawn arrived, we were greeted with a big smile. She opened the gate and once inside, she gave us a tour of the entire building. Dawn is very knowledgeable, straightforward, and down to earth. I like her – she makes no excuses and is open to finding a logical explanation for seemingly strange experiences. A prime example of this came from her personal experience in the basement. She described being behind the bar and leaning over to open a drawer. As she was leaning over trying to get the drawer open (it was stuck), a plastic vase was thrown at her, nearly hitting her in the head. Two friends that were on the other side of the bar were busy on their phones and saw nothing. As she was telling us the story, she pointed out a dehumidifier that was on the bar and repositioned it to how it was at the time of her experience. Dawn herself pointed out that the power cord and drainage hose from the dehumidifier were in her path, and could have easily been moved by her as she struggled with the drawer.
We first discussed the description of the event, focusing on words that can seem more dramatic yet are commonly used by everyone. “Thrown” is a word that is often used when describing objects which are thought to be moved by an entity with malicious intent. Dawn told us she was busy with the drawer and had not seen the vase until it went past her head and hit the floor. Her two friends weren’t paying any attention to the scene, so they saw nothing. So… no one actually saw the vase begin to move – be it picked up and thrown or otherwise. Working with Dawn, we found that the hose and power cord moved enough to hit the vase and tip it over. Later on, Donna and I recreated the event several times until we were able to get an experience that matched. We had taken video and showed it later to Dawn, who agreed that this was most likely what had happened. You can view the video here.
After we were finished recreating that event, I saw a shadow figure move in the other part of the basement! Ok…ok, it wasn’t a shadow figure…but it was a good lesson I’m going to share with you. I was standing behind the bar, my wife and I was discussing how there is alleged “something” behind the bar that doesn’t like other people standing there. I glanced to my right, looking through the doorway that leads to the other part of the basement. I could see the wine cellar area and the short wall that separates it from the rest of basement. A large shadow moved across the wall, looking as if it hurried into the adjoining cellar wall. It looked like a figure hunched over and scurrying quickly away. However, I also saw the bright spot flapping around that caused the shadow – a moth. The moth was close enough to the light bulb in that area to cast a large shadow onto the wall. Lucky for me, the position of the moth and my line of sight matched up, and I could immediately identify the cause of this particular shadow figure.
While still down in the basement, we checked out the rest of the area, including the wine cellar area and the small entrance to one of the tunnels. The ceiling in this area is very low with wires, pipes, insulation, and lots of cobwebs hanging low enough that almost anyone can get their hair snagged, feeling as though it’s being touched or pulled. In one of the images provided, Donna is seen under a bunch of pipes and wires (and some cobwebs). As she came into the room, she turned and brushed against the wire by her head (our right) and got startled. These were all over the basement area. This is just something to look out for if you’re ever investigating the mansion since most ghost hunts take place in the dark. It’s easy to be tricked by these.
During Dawn’s tour, while the three of us were in the basement, there was a rather loud noise that sounded like something had fallen on one of the upper floors. The sound was not incredibly loud, but definitely enough for all three of us to stop in concern that something had fallen to the floor. We immediately went upstairs and searched around, since we were the only ones scheduled to be here. After a few minutes of searching, we found no one else and nothing was found out of place. Before you get all “Omg, Kenny heard a ghost!”. No, I did not. We heard a noise we could not identify, and we did not find a source. The conclusion being “I don’t know what that was”. It had been raining off and on all day, there are trees around the property, and there are plenty of ways animals can get into the building. It’s possible any of these could have been the cause. I don’t know what caused it, so that’s what my answer is.
One of the spots I wanted to see was the 2nd-floor bathroom, nicknamed “the Bloody Bathroom” – so you know I had to check it out. The nickname comes from the red-painted accents in the room. It also probably comes from the rumors that someone either was murdered or committed suicide in the tub. The tub was featured in an episode of Ghost Detectives (2) and also an episode of Paranormal Lockdown (3). In the Ghost Detectives show, we see several members sit in the tub. At one point text pops up on the screen telling us “Multiple teams investigate the bathroom, rumors & Psychic impressions were of someone taking their own life in the Tub[sic]”. Three of the members reported experiences ranging from not being able to move their head forward to one apparently choking, feeling as though they had their throat cut. In the Ghost Adventures show, we hear that several psychics claim they see the tub full of blood. We also get the story that a man had his throat slashed in this room (not necessarily in the tub, though it would contain the mess).
I asked Dawn about the tub stories, specifically if there any documentation that someone had died in the tub. Her answer was a flat out “No”. As far as she could recall, the story started with the episode of Ghost Detectives, which came out in 2015. After the visit, I did a little bit of digging and could find no mention of the tub being associated with paranormal activity before that year. I’m not one to believe in “psychic impressions”, but I do believe that imagination and suggestion can be a powerful mix. The room is painted with bright red accents; door frames, chair rail, and the radiator stands out in bold contrast to the rest of the room. The peeling and worn look of it screams “MURDER ROOM”, so I can see how people would get “impressions”. I saw the red paint and thought “blood, horror”, then I thought “Murder, Death, Kill” (Who gets the reference?). The bottom line here is a story was told and it took off, which is rather common in the paranormal community. There’s no supporting evidence for the story, and there’s not even a set story – it was either a man or a woman, a suicide or a murder. I sat in the tub. I had no issues with my neck, no heaviness in my chest, and didn’t choke…not even once. It’s a long tub and I felt comfortable sitting in it. And now I want one.
When Dawn first invited me out to the mansion, I set out to find what kind of claims were being made concerning ghosts and if any were testable, meaning the details and experiences could be replicated to see if we came up with similar results. A good example is Dawn’s experience with the vase. We were able to recreate the event based on her information and get it to happen multiple times. When looking for other such claims, there wasn’t much. The majority were anecdotes about feelings and people claiming to see shadows in different parts of the house (one potential explanation for a shadow figure was addressed above). There’s nothing in the way of photographs or video that could be examined. I know many of you might be saying “What about the Kinect video that Nick & Katrina got on Paranormal Lockdown?” To be perfectly blunt, those two have no understanding of how the equipment works. The video they presented is due to operator error and how the software interprets the data. The stick figure was not a ghost, nor does the Kinect pick up ghosts. Please see my article on the Kinect for more information, the link is in the references (4)
Although there was a lack of photos and video, EVPs kept coming up as a common phenomenon, with the majority of the alleged voices being attributed to Heinrich Glenk, “whose voice has been heard emanating from the attic space” (5) Mr. Glenk ran an upscale German restaurant in the mansion with his wife Katrina, from 1923 until 1972. Maybe Mr. Glenk has a lot to say and gosh-darnit, he’s gonna say it! But the main question that comes up, at least to me, is how do we know it’s Mr. Glenk speaking? As far as I could find, there are no audio recordings of Mr. Glenk available for comparison. To be fair, many of the websites listing this claim seem to be “copy & paste” versions, just repeating what they found on another website.
After sending the first draft of this article to Dawn, she provided a little bit more information regarding why it is believed Mr. Glenk haunts the attic. Dawn told me “I’m sure that I know where the story of Mr. Glenk’s ghost came from. And that would be me. About five or six years ago we held a Descendant’s Party. Anyone who was descended from a former owner was invited. So many great stories that had been passed down through families were told. I met a relative of Mr. Glenk that day. We sat at the bar and talked for over an hour about stories that he remembered from his family. Maybe he had too many glasses of wine, lol, I don’t know, but he mentioned that it was his relative who haunted the attic. During tours, I would mention that it was rumored to be Heinrich Glenk’s ghost in the attic.”(6) Dawn states they weren’t even talking about paranormal stuff at the time. Unfortunately, once he said it, he changed the subject and new people arriving at the event interrupted their conversation. It certainly is an odd thing to just blurt out, especially when it’s not in the context of the conversation. It’s interesting to note that the relative later denied making that statement. Nevertheless, it does give us the source of this part of the story.
Something else to note during this discussion of EVPs is the possibility of noise contamination. The house is full of holes that not only go through walls to adjoining rooms but also through floors. There are a few huge openings that drop down a floor or two. Noise and voices will easily carry within the mansion, something to keep in mind when it’s common practice for teams to split up and head to different parts of the building. Outside the house, I noticed other issues. The railroad tracks are about a hundred feet from the house, down a steep drop. If people were walking along the tracks, you wouldn’t see them from the house. The Delaware river is just on the other side of the tracks, which sees a good amount of boat traffic. To the North and East, about four hundred feet away, begins a neighborhood with the potential for kids, adults, parties, etc. Most investigations are done over the weekend, so such noise contamination is always a possibility. About four hundred feet to the west is the Stepan company, a chemical manufacturer. I’m not saying these are definitely the cause of EVP recordings, I’m saying these are potential causes and should always be taken into consideration.
We spent about three hours in the mansion, and I enjoyed wandering around and seeing the architecture. Talking with Dawn was fun, learning about the history of the place and the work she, and the other volunteers put into it. It’s a labor of love, no doubt.
Is the White Hill Mansion haunted? Hmmm, I don’t think so. There are a lot of ghostly stories and some amazing history, but personally…I haven’t seen any sign of Casper yet. I’m still waiting, and I’ll still be looking. I’m heading back out to the mansion on September 23 for the History & Paranormal Expo. I’ll be speaking about deconstructing paranormal photography, and probably taking part in the Roundtable discussions. I’ll be there all day, and perhaps taking part in the ghost hunt that night.
In addition, Dawn has extended an invitation for me to come back with some of my science-minded friends and stay the night. What’s particularly interesting is that Dawn is not out to “prove ghosts exist” to me, or anyone else. She not only invites explanations for strange experiences, she’s happy to have them.
Even though I don’t believe the mansion is haunted, I DO think it’s worth visiting. Whether you attend the History & Paranormal Expo, or another event, I would take the time to visit this place. If you’re interested in learning more about the mansion and perhaps visiting, please visit The Friends of White Hill Mansion website.
1 – White Hill mansion website. “History”. Accessed on September 8, 2017. http://www.whitehillmansion.com/history.html
2 – GhostDetectivesTV. October 4, 2015. “Ghost Detectives White Hill Mansion Season 6 Episode 1” Accessed on September 8, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq-RrqG0vDA
3 – February 3, 2017. Paranormal Lockdown Season 2, Ep. 9. “White Hill Mansion”
4 – Biddle, Kenny. July 7, 2017. “The Xbox Kinect and Paranormal Investigation”.https://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/the_xbox_kinect_and_paranormal_investigation
5 – Matthews, Dana. November 24, 2016. Week In Weird. “The Haunted History of White Hill Mansion, one of New Jersey’s Most Paranormally-Active Properties”. http://weekinweird.com/2016/11/24/new-jersey-haunted-white-hill-mansion-ghosts/
6 – Personal correspondence with Dawn Reichard.
7 – Stepan. Accessed on September 8, 2017. http://www.stepan.com/About-Us/overview.aspx