RED WING -- A voice of a little boy named Bill, spirits of playful children, taps on the shoulder and the voice of a riverboat captain were among those things encountered during a paranormal investigation at the Goodhue County Historical Society.
Members of the public joined paranormal investigator Adrian Lee and three of his colleagues in a guided investigation of the historic Red Wing building Friday night.
Lee, who has been investigating the paranormal for more than 25 years, spent last August with his team investigating the site and documenting the various spirits they said walk the history center's halls.
"I'm a historian originally. I'm also a psychic. When I was a small child I saw my great-grandmother in my bedroom," Lee said. "I never thought about investigating the paranormal until I started studying history at a really high level. I thought to myself, 'Wow, if you could interview the ghosts, if you could talk to the ghosts via the equipment, or by psychic skills you can interview them and ask them what it was like back in the day.' -- I suddenly realized that as a historian you can interview someone from the 1850s and ask them what it was like."
According to historical society Executive Director Robin Wipperling, the buildings on the property used to be an old folks home in the early 1900s and the old Red Wing hospital in the 1930s and '40s.
"So there were patients in these rooms, with nurses taking care of them," she said. "There is a tunnel. It's downstairs off our storage, and it leads to the old City Hospital. So that's how they would transfer people back and forth. Also, there were nurses at one point who lived here, and they would go through the tunnel to get to the hospital."
Lee's team investigated the building back in August to make sure there was nothing bad that would cause the group issues this time around. He said that most of the spirits would be most likely attached to the artifacts or the building itself.
"So under those circumstances the nurses aren't going to cause us any issue," he said. "Their purpose in life was to help people and be nice, so there shouldn't be anything here that causes any issue."
On Friday, people were split up into two small groups to help illicit more paranormal activity, Lee said. One group went to the upstairs gallery while the other went into the basement with Lee and his colleague Scott. Visitors were asked to turn off their phones since the signal can interfere with investigators' equipment.
It didn't take long for the activity to start.
Armed with equipment one would normally see in an episode of "Ghost Adventures" and a SB7 Spirit Box -- which scans through radio frequencies and is popularly believed to pick up spirit voices -- they heard the voice of a little boy who said his name was Bill.
According to the two investigators, Bill said he was there with his seven brothers and sisters, one named Jenny. As the spirit of Jenny came through the spirit box, one woman claimed at that moment she had extreme cold chills on her shoulders.
After nothing was happening on any of the equipment, another woman, who claimed to be a medium, said the spirits were overwhelmed with the number of people sitting in the gallery. That part of the investigation wrapped without anything showing up on the equipment besides the spirit box.
Teams switched places for the second half. During that time a spirit by the name of Josephine came through the spirit box, investigators said. It was believed by Lee and his assistant Scott that Josephine might've been a nurse that worked at old folks home in 1910.
Lee asked Josephine if she could tell him the name of the current president via the spirit box.
"Taft," the woman's voice said back.
While the voice spoke, a sounding like a man whistling was heard in the background. A minute later, Lee said a man named David came through the box, while the whistling continued.
Lee said he was seeing images of a river barge or passenger boat and asked Robin if there was anything related to the Sea Wing disaster in the building. She replied that they did.
After the investigations wrapped up, she checked crew records from the Sea Wing disaster and found the boat's captain to be none other than a David Wethern, and according to historical accounts, the whistle is believed to be him signaling passengers to climb on board before a storm caused the boat to capsize.
The next course of action for Lee's team is to review any footage and audio recordings for anything that might be paranormal in nature, and he hopes to give a follow-up discussion in the spring. He also said there may also be another investigation at that time, too.