TALENT — With electromagnetic field readers blinking and infrared cameras monitoring every upstairs room, there was only one thing left to do — kill the lights and call the spirits.
Members of the ghost-hunting Oregon Paranormal Society of Medford came out in full force one night last week to investigate why the 120-year-old home of Talent founder Aaron P. Talent is haunting its occupants.
The family, who does not want to be identified, says it has tried driving off the shadowy souls lingering in their rooms by burning sage and having a local reverend bless the house with holy water, but nothing has helped.
"When my 5-year-old daughter woke up and saw the little girl sitting next to her bed twirling her hair, I said, 'Enough is enough,' " says the mother, who has been renting the home in the 100 block of South Front Street since February.
The mother of two says she hasn't personally encountered the spirits, but strange occurrences — most recently, their pet snake disappearing from its locked cage in an upstairs room — and her children's sightings have her convinced that the home is haunted.
"I can deal with it, but if they don't leave my children alone we will move," says the mom. "It's a beautiful home and you'd love to live here if you didn't have to be tortured by these spirits every day."
The woman says she's had similar sensations at some of her past residences, but nothing close to this.
"I'm scared," says her 10-year-old son. "I like seeing this stuff in the movies, but not here."
At least three spirits reside in the house, the mother believes: an older man, a young girl and at least one other child. After months of her smoke alarm mysteriously going off at the same time every morning, her caged birds wildly chirping during the middle of the night for no reason and the family cat hypnotically staring into the same corner, she decided to call the Oregon Paranormal Society team.
Scott Triem, 42, of Medford founded OPS in 2009, and the group has gone on to investigate dozens of sites around Southern Oregon, he says.
Triem's team didn't have a significant personal encounter with any spirits at the Talent home that night, but hours of audio and video recordings still have to be reviewed before the investigation is complete.
Voices and objects that humans can't detect naturally are often realized while reviewing video and audio recordings from investigations, he says.
OPS member Pam Lindgren, 49, referred to as a "sensitive" by her colleagues for her ability to detect the presence of spirits without the help of recording equipment, says the house is haunted without a doubt.
"I definitely feel a presence ... you're being watched," Lindgren told the family. "I don't feel maliciousness, but I wouldn't sleep in this room."
Even if the night's footage and audio recordings don't reveal a glimpse of any spirits, the team agrees that the house is haunted.
"It's heavy in there," Triem says.
Tina Sanchez, 41, of Medford, the team's research leader, says a young girl decades ago drowned in Wagner Creek near the home. It could be her spirit lurking in the rooms, but it's hard to tell, she says.
According to historical records, Aaron P. Talent built the home in 1886, about 10 years after settling in Southern Oregon. Originally a carpenter, Talent had opened a successful grocery store between Ashland and Phoenix in 1881. Two years later he established a post office inside the store, which made possible the incorporation of Talent in 1910.
Talent and his wife, Martha, raised nine children in the Front Street home, records show. Six of those children made the trip from Tennessee to the Rogue Valley with their parents, and three were born here.
It's possible, OPS team members say, that any of the Talent family or subsequent occupants could be haunting the place.
Talent sold the home to Mary Packard sometime before 1896, the year she sold the property to George A. Briner, records show. By 1902, Talent and his wife had moved to Medford and the Front Street home had been sold again, this time to Van A. Dunlap, who went on to become the city of Talent's first mayor.
Dunlap's daughter Bertha, following the death of her parents, sold the home in 1922 to Susan and Thomas Clayton, who owned it until 1945. Ownership was then transferred to F.O. Clayton, records show.
Reviewing all of the recordings from the investigation could take weeks, says Sanchez. She expects OPS will conduct a follow-up investigation once the review is complete.
Sanchez says she doesn't know whether any of the former owners died in the home, but she assumes someone has.
However, "we're not qualified to rid a home (of a ghost) ... our only intention is to investigate and find out if our clients' home is haunted ... and hopefully find out why they (spirits) are using the home," Sanchez says.
"It's possible to make peace with them."
As for the family, the mother says, "we'll just have to wait and see what happens, but we can't do this very much longer."
Sam Wheeler is a freelance writer living in Talent. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.