Is There a Mischievous Grandpa Ghost at the Duncan-Bainum House?

By Nick Bell

I’ve had enough encounters with “unexplainable incidents” to keep a very open mind about the presence of spirts among us. During my journalism career, I had the pleasure of investigating and writing about several spiritual encounters. That said, I don’t go looking for them, they just seem to find me from time to time.

When my partner, Devin, and I moved into our historic Old Northeast home three years ago, we wondered briefly if it might come with a ghost or two. Afterall, a house history we had done revealed at least three owners had died in the home over the years. But for more than two years there was no sign of a spiritual presence at the 93-year-old Duncan-Bainum House.

That seemed to change during the Christmas holidays last year when it appeared the ghost of my grandfather, Lloyd Bell, decided to pay us a visit. The reason for his coming to call was the 100-year-old mantel clock he and his wife received as a wedding gift. Grandpa loved clocks of all kinds, from the oak mantel clock to German cuckoo clocks. My parents got the mantel clock upon grandpa’s death, and it came to me when Mom downsized several years ago.

We gave the clock a place of honor – in the center of the fireplace mantel. There it sat for two years until last Christmas when we moved it to a closet in order to decorate the mantel for the holidays and the neighborhood candlelight tour of homes. (Sorry, grandpa, but the clock just didn’t work with the decorating theme.)

Grandpa’s clock sat in the closet for about two months. Following a New Year’s Eve party, I packed up a small box of decorations and took them to the closet to store them for future parties. When I entered the closet, I gave the clock a quick glance and all seemed as it should be. But as I moved to place the box of decorations on a shelf, the clock’s heavy metal pendulum began swinging back and forth. The clock had not been wound in months, the pendulum is behind a small glass door, and it needs to be manually started. So, it was startling to see the pendulum suddenly doing its thing unaided. I watched it swing back and forth for a minute or two to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, then opened the glass front and stopped it. I quickly put the box of decorations on a shelf and exited, complete with arms covered in goose bumps.

A couple days later, I told my mother about the mysterious clock incident. She told me a story about the time when I was a young boy in our hometown, Rock Port, MO. Grandpa had given his beloved clock to my folks. My mom wasn’t wild about it, so she placed it in the basement. He came over one day and asked about the clock. When she told him she’d placed it in the basement, he promptly went downstairs, retrieved it and took it back home. So, Mom suspects Grandpa doesn’t appreciate his clock being hidden away.

To Mom’s point, I freed Grandpa’s clock from the closet and gave it a primo spot on the mantel in the main hallway – but I didn’t wind it because Devin, unlike me, dislikes the sound it makes when it strikes on the hour and half hour. My brother Pat came to visit in April. One day he was working on his computer at the dining room table, in view of the clock in the hallway. Suddenly, it chimed once (on the 1:00 hour) and then the pendulum started its methodical swinging back and forth. Again, no one had wound the clock or touched the pendulum. The three of us looked at the clock, then at each other. Then Pat simply pointed out that Grandpa always did like him best. We let the clock continue to do its thing but the day after Pat left, the pendulum stopped, and it hasn’t started again since then. I guess Pat was right!

In case you’re thinking the clock simply has a mind of its own and has nothing to do with spiritual goings on, there have been a series of other mysterious happenings since the initial clock incident. Three times we’ve been awakened in the middle of the night by loud noises, once by the sound of breaking glass and twice by loud “bangs.” The glass breaking was a large orchid in a glass planter that fell from a secure spot in the guest bath, shattering on the tile floor. It had been there for two months undisturbed.

The first “bang” was the sound of a heavy cookbook that wound up in the middle of the kitchen floor one night. It had been among a stack of cookbooks on the kitchen counter, and somehow was slammed to the floor about 6 feet from the counter’s edge. The second loud banging noise was the sound of our whole-house wifi device, plugged into an electrical outlet on the stairway, coming unplugged and ending up several steps below it’s original spot. It had been in the same electrical outlet since we equipped the house with wifi two and a half years ago.
Additionally, one morning we awoke to find a 5-inch piece of clear broken glass in the middle of the kitchen floor. It looked as if it was from a large glass vase, but there was no other glass present nor were any vases missing.

So, is all this simply Grandpa getting even with us for unceremoniously storing his wedding present in the closet? Maybe. All this did start with that, after all. Oh, and by the way, he loved to play pranks when he was alive, especially at Christmastime when he’d spend hours putting together gag gifts for the entire family.

Friends and family ask if we’re afraid or creeped out by the ghostly activity. Certainly not afraid since nothing that’s happened has been physically threatening (unlike supposed poltergeist that go for the jugular). The incidents have all been on the mischievous side. Granted the orchid was destructive but it didn’t break the bank, just the orchid.

So, for now, assuming we have a mischievous grandpa ghost roaming about, we’ll welcome him as part of the family at the Duncan-Bainum House.

Do you have ghostly encounters or know of someone who does in the Historic Old Northeast? Let us know and we’ll investigate and publish their story!