JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)- With Halloween just a few days away, residents may be looking for something festive to do this fall.
October is known as a month of ghosts and hauntings and here in the Florida Panhandle, there are plenty of historic places that have a tale or two to tell.
“The history is important because that’s our culture. That’s the background of who we are as a community, who we are as a people, and you take the ghost story and you add to that and you really get a little bit of intrigue about it and I think that really sparks people to learn more about the history so I’m in favor of both,” said Local Jackson Co. Historian, Dale Cox.
Local Paranormal group, Emerald Coast Paranormal Concepts, has been around for years. The group specializes in investigating paranormal phenomenons at historic places all over the Florida Panhandle.
Tracy Todd founded the group years after he developed an interest in the paranormal. Todd was in the Air Force when he experienced an incident like nothing he’d ever seen before. Todd said when he was serving in the Air Force, he was in a hangar when a black object was caught on camera heading toward the ceiling, he never did figure out what the shadow-like figure was.
Immediately following that sighting, he and a few others in that same hangar said they saw a tool bench roll across the floor but no one pushed it, thus began his interest in exploring the possibilities of the paranormal.
He started the group to develop a greater understanding of the paranormal and discover the truth behind what we describe as unexplainable events or paranormal phenomenons.
Tracy Todd and his wife, Susan Todd, are just two members of their 6 person team. The team works together to conduct investigations in places around the Panhandle and the state of Florida.
Below is a list of the places they’ve conducted paranormal investigations:
- Bellamy Bridge-Marianna, Florida (JACKSON COUNTY)
- Ft. Gadsen- Wewahitchka, Florida (GULF COUNTY)
- The Russ House- Marianna, Florida (JACKSON COUNTY)
- Historic First National Bank- Marianna, Florida (JACKSON COUNTY)
- May Stringer House- Brooksville, Florida (HERNANDO COUNTY)
- Seven Sisters Inn- Ocala, Florida (MARION COUNTY)
- Pensacola Lighthouse- Pensacola, Florida (ESCAMBIA COUNTY)
- St. George Island Lighthouse- St. George Island (FRANKLIN COUNTY)
- Goodwood Mansion- Tallahassee, Florida (LEON COUNTY)
- Coombs House Inn- Appalachicola, Florida (FRANKLIN COUNTY)
- Man in the Sea Museum- Panama City, Florida (BAY COUNTY)
The Todd’s and their team say these paranormal investigations mean more than just learning what actually lies in the great beyond. For them, it’s also about preserving the places they most frequently conduct their investigations.
“If we can help in some way to preserve the history of the house or any building, that’s my number one goal, to preserve any history we can,” said Founder of Emerald Coast Paranormal Concepts, Tracy Todd.
The Todd’s are not limited to just private investigations, but they also open a number of sessions to the public. The sessions cost a small admission fee and all money from admissions goes back into restoring and preserving the Bellamy Bridge and the Russ House in Marianna, Florida.
The Bellamy Bridge is a site they visit frequently and the story has been around as long as we can remember, and even longer than that. Many tell the story of a burning bride whose wedding dress had caught fire and she jumped into the water to put it out and ended up drowning.
“It originated with that story and then over time, it almost became a literary artifact where different stories blended into it, some of them real, some of them not, and the story has carried over into today,” said Cox.
“I was in high school in Panama City back a long time ago and I heard the story of Elizabeth Bellamy and the Bellamy Bridge so it’s been around for a long time,” said Tracy Todd.
However, the story you grew up on, isn’t actually the truth. “That was long before the current story of a burning bride and all of that came into being, and the story revolves around a woman named Elizabeth Bellamy who died in the 1830s of malaria. After she passed away, her baby dies and then some years later, her husband commits suicide, and you have that much tragedy, you’re going to get a ghost story whether there’s a ghost or not,” said Cox.
At the Bellamy Bridge, there have been a number of strange sightings. Some people have reported a bright flash of light or a blue mist– both of which are believed to be the ghost of Elizabeth Bellamy, but who’s to know for sure?
Susan Todd says while their goal is to look beyond the veil and try and figure out what is there on the other side, they always make it a point to conduct the investigation properly. She said these potential spirits could have been someone’s loved one or family member, and they should be treated as such.
“We are always respectful in our investigations and I think that everyone should do the same,” said Case Manager of Emerald Coast Paranormal Concepts, Susan Todd.
The Todds encourage those interested in trying out an investigation for themselves to keep an open mind. Some people believe deeply in the thought of the paranormal and others may want nothing to do with it, but they encourage everyone to at least give it a shot.
There are a number of opportunities throughout the year to try out an investigation with ECPC. You can keep up with them on their Facebook page. While these sessions may cost a small fee, remember all funds are going right back into restoring our area historic sites such as the Bellamy bridge and The Russ house.
If these places stay maintained, they can be enjoyed by generations to come.