Local man hosts historical ghost walks

Posted at 2:34 PM, Oct 31, 2016

Halloween is a time for anything spooky, creepy, crawly and scary.

Mason Winfield, a man with an aficionado for ghosts in the Western New York area, has collected more than enough stories to get your Halloween senses tingling.

Winfield is the organizer of Haunted History Ghost Walks in the Buffalo area. From Irish American ghost stories to Native American witch tales, several different cultures that live in Western New York have preserved the supernatural traditions of their old countries and ones they experienced here.

Winfield and his team host walks in several different neighborhoods to tell these ghost stories.

It's no secret there is a strong Irish American presence in the area, and Winfield says there are a lot of Irish American tales that have been shared in the Larkinville area over the last 135 plus years.

Here are just a few he shared on his Larkinville ghost walk:

Buffalo Banshee Tale

In Irish mythology, a banshee is a female spirit. The Gaelic word "ban" means "woman," and the word "shee" means "hill", coming together to mean "woman of the hill."

According to Irish stories, a banshee can be heard wailing around the world the night before one of the clan elders dies.

One of Winfield's fellow writing students in Buffalo told Winfield this story about his family who came from Ireland and landed in Buffalo along the Erie Canal in the 1800s.

There was a rumor in this man's family (for the purposes of this story, his name will be Sean) that the night before an elder man in the family died, there would be a loud moaning groaning sound that would shake the house.

Sean never believed the tales passed down through his family - until it happened to him.

At the time of this story, Sean was living in Colorado, his younger brother was in Alaska, and his parents still resided in Buffalo.

One night, Sean was in his apartment in Denver when he heard a crazy groaning sound that sounded and felt like an earthquake. He immediately wondered if that was the sound his family had been talking about for years and thought he should give a family member a call.

At that moment, Sean's younger brother in Alaska called and asked if he heard the loud sound. They thought about calling their parents in Buffalo, but decided they didn't want to alarm them.

In the morning, Sean's mother called to say his father passed away in the night.

Patrolling Under the Larkin U Building

Winfield says the ghost stories of the Larkin Square buildings usually involve the underground.

Tunnels underneath the buildings connect them and are part of the security guards' patrols.

One guard was doing his rounds when he noticed a man walking ahead of him in one of the underground tunnels.

He yelled after the person, asked what he was doing down there and told him he needed to get out.

The man ignored him and turned the corner. The security guard ran after him.

When the guard turned the corner, all he could see was the stretch of tunnel ahead of him - there as no man and no way to get out.

The security guard quit the next day.

Fowl Play

This story, also from an Irish American family, comes from an old Catholic Church called Sacred Heart that used to be in the Larkinville neighborhood.

In the year 1900, there was a young family from the Sacred Heart parish with a four-year-old boy and six-month-old girl.

At the time, the little girl was not doing well and her family was worried she would die. The baby would cry all night long, she couldn't gain weight, and she was always running a fever.

The family asked the priest from the Sacred Heart Church to come over to see if he could detect what was wrong with the child, and he called in a priest from a different church for help.

The Father went through the house and made his way to the little girl's room. He looked through the room, in the closet, around the windows, until he came to the bed.

He picked up the feather pillow the girl slept on every night and cut it open to find an effigy had been made out of the feathers inside.

It looked like a bird, with a head, tail, and one wing - the other wing had not been formed yet.

It was as if the feathers spun themselves into the shape of a bird inside the pillow.

The priest took the feather sculpture to the kitchen, put holy water and salt on it, and burned it in the oven.

The Father told the family that the girl would not have lived if the bird had had a chance to fully form inside the pillow.

The priest deduced that someone had cursed the family and came back with holy water to help protect the house. He rubbed every inch of every door, door knob, and window with the holy water.

The little girl started to get better and the priest told the family they had made an enemy. He had no way of knowing who it was, but he said whoever it was would never be able to enter the house again.

About six months later, the little girl's aunt, her mother's older sister, came over for an Easter dinner. She got up to the front door, touched the door knob, claimed she had a family emergency and ran off.

Another six months after that she came over for another family gathering, got up to the house, turned around and took off again.

She never entered the house again.

The story says the older sister pitched a curse on the younger sister out of jealousy.

At that time, it was considered dishonorable for a younger sister to outdo an older sister. The younger sister had a hard-working husband and nice kids, while the older sister was married to a drunk and had no children. The older sister was offended and applied old world magic to the house.