Thursday, November 28, 2013

Arkansas' Rush-Gates House

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Wishing everyone a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving this year!  I am grateful for all you readers...and I'm grateful that I'm ALMOST done with the first haunted road trip around the United States with Theresa's Haunted America page!  Today's blog brings us one step closer...

In 1900, Missouri native, Dr. J.O. Rush, moved to the town of Forrest City, Arkansas.  He took a job as the surgeon and doctor for the local railroad, and in 1906 built his home (which doubled as his office/local emergency room) near the tracks.  Dr. J.O. Rush was a prominent and well-known citizen, and there are numerous references to him and his work in a variety of publications of the early 20th century.  He lived and worked in the home until his death in 1961.

Following the doctor's death, his home stayed in his family line until 1995, when ownership was given to the county.  Money was raised and extensive renovations were undertaken in 1998 to turn the house into the St. Francis County History Museum.  Today, the museum is still going strong, and features a number of exhibits portraying local history.  There's even a room completely renovated to look like an exact replica of one of the doctor's operating rooms! This bears as striking coincidence with Kentucky's Bluegrass Heritage Museum; a former doctor's home/office turned local history museum complete with reconstructed medical room with a haunted reputation....

Anyway, what is interesting about the museum collection is that is largely comprised of Dr. Rush's personal collection of artifacts!  Shortly after moving to Arkansas, Rush, who was somewhat of an amateur archaeologist, began collecting locally found prehistoric relics, including fossilized mastadon bones.  His collection continued to grow as patients paid him with relics and friends and family sent back exotic specimens from world travels.  The doctor was so proud of these items that he displayed them prominently in the hospital section's waiting rooms.

With so many things going on, its anyone's guess as to the cause of the paranormal activity, but there's definitely activity to speak of!  Weird shadows and movement in the windows are reported after museum hours when no one is supposed to be in the building.  Securely shut doors open on their own, strange noises, some which sound like muttering, are heard, and objects have a bad habit of disappearing.  In fact, according to curator Shelley  Gervasi, there aren't many on the staff of the museum who HAVEN'T experienced the disappearing object phenomenon!

Whether these events are the work of those who died during the home's tenure as a hospital, the doctor himself, or even tied to the many artifacts, it does appear that the renovations to the museum definitely stirred something up.  In order to better understand the paranormal activity associated with this location, the team Paranormal Research in Unknown Phenomenon uses the facility as a training ground, and several times a year, the museum hosts an open ghost investigation event for the public.

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