In Roseboom, Dousing Ghost-Buster’s Job Is Done
By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ROSEBOOM – In the 187 graves behind the Roseboom Historical Society was the spirit of a 39-year-old woman who died in childbirth, ghost hunter Susan Miller of Cherry Valley avers.
Until lately, that is.
“She wouldn’t move over,” Miller reported at a Thursday, Oct. 17, pre-Halloween presentation to the Historical Society, which occupies the former Baptist church in this hamlet.
“Imagine carrying this torment for over 100 years,” said Miller, author of “Time Between: The Hauntings of Cherry Valley,” and “Chasing Sarah,” described as a ghost/murder/mystery novel.
After pleading with the spirit, Miller was able to convince her to leave, affirming that the cemetery is now “clean.”
Contracted by the Historical Society to map the graveyard, the speaker described her use of dowsing, a skill also used in determining where to dig wells, in her work.
Locating gravesites through dowsing requires intuition, she said, and the assistance of a pendulum and metal rods.
Once a body has been located, Miller seeks to communicate directly with the spirit to determine factors such as gender, age, and cause of death.
When the Roseboom Historical Association reached out to Miller said she approached the Historical Society project with enthusiasm. “I grew up seeing ghosts,” said the woman, who has been dowsing since 1971.
Although involved with an ongoing project at Cherry Valley Cemetery, Miller began working in early October on the Roseboom plot with friend and fellow dowser Linda Leckenbusch.
It wasn’t long before they mapped out the area, using flags to mark each individual.
“We were surprised by the number of bodies in the plot,” said Leckenbusch, who has been dowsing for about a year.
Now that she’s finished the Roseboom plot, Miller is refocusing on the Cherry Valley Cemetery and anticipates similar projects in the future.
When asked about the project, attendee John Webb, Cemetery Association of Roseboom president, said,
“It raised a lot of questions.”
That include who exactly is buried there, whether an epidemic – yellow fever, perhaps – had added to the census, he said.
“It’s something we will pursue as an association,” he said.
That task may prove difficult, however, because the plot served as a potter’s field – a burial site for paupers – as early as the 1820s.
Most of the people buried there would have been tenant farmers, too poor to afford funeral services and, thus, placed in unmarked graves.
“It’s our responsibility to mark the spot,” says Webb. He hopes to work directly with the Historical Association to facilitate the installation of a grave marker for the deceased.