An Interview with Brian Henry: A Tennessee Ghost Hunter
By Brent Raynes
BRIAN HENRY is a ghost hunter in Spring Hill, Tennessee. He is the founder and director of Tennessee Spirits Paranormal Investigations. He maintains a website at: www.tnspirits.com. His email address: email@example.com.
Brent Raynes: Brian, I know that you’ve been involved in ghost hunting and you have a group there in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Could you tell us a little about yourself, about your group, and how you got interested?
Brian Henry: I have been involved in paranormal investigations for a little over twenty years now. I was, in the beginning, doing it for myself. I never had a team up until about six years ago when I formed a small group. In 2008, we decided to change the name and reformat a little bit. We’re now Tennessee Spirits Paranormal Investigations, and we’ve got quite a few investigations under our belt thus far as Tennessee Spirits.
We do mostly residential homes, but occasionally we do the big commercial properties, what I like to call “pay for haunts.” Like Sloss Furnace and Waverly Hills and investigations like that.
Brent Raynes: What is the “pay for haunts”?
Brian Henry: It’s locations that you have to pay to investigate. There are several locations that a lot of teams like to investigate, like Sloss Furnace, down in Birmingham, Alabama, and Waverly Hills up in Kentucky. Those are well-known haunted locations and now that they’ve become publicly known they charge a fee to investigate.
Brent Raynes: Okay. Now that you’ve been investigating this for about twenty years, and I imagine that you’ve had some memorable experiences out in the field, can you tell us some about some of the interesting cases you’ve investigated? How this may have kind of rocked your world or how you’ve come to integrate this into your worldview?
Brian Henry: Sure. What really triggered me into investigating the unknown, or the paranormal, goes back to 1988. I was still in high school, and here in Franklin, Tennessee, there is a well known location that is known to be haunted by several different ghosts and that is the Carnton Plantation, or Carnton Mansion, which was used as a civil war hospital during the Battle of Franklin.
Back in 1988, my best friend and I decided to go out there and look for the White Lady, which is one of the well-known ghost sightings out there. While we were out there a Franklin police officer ended up showing up because we were trespassing. Now that’s one thing myself and Tennessee Spirits does not condone is trespassing. We were young and looking for the adventure and the thrill of it. But while myself, my friend, and the Franklin police officer were sitting out there we started to hear what sounded like gunshots, or canon fire in the distance, and as time progressed they became louder and closer to the point where we heard the actual Battle of Franklin occurring while we were there. We heard the canon fire, the gun fire, and the horses running by. You could hear horses, the Calvary running by. You could hear soldiers yelling.
Now this was all audio. You couldn’t see anything, and it was a full moon so we were capable of seeing for quite a distance in the middle of the night out there. The longer we sat there, the more we heard, and you could hear the horses rushing by you and the soldiers yelling and the gunshots.
That’s what really triggered me to do what I do now.
It lasted from 22 to 25 minutes and during that period of time the police officer walked around the back of the house, the back of the mansion, and we could hear him talking. We ran over there and as we ran over there we saw a full bodied apparition of what we are assuming, from what this guy looked like in the pictures that I have seen, that this was General Patrick Cleburne standing on the second story balcony. He was clear as day, like my best friend standing right next to me, and he was communicating. He was talking to this police officer about what was going on and from that point on man, I just had this passion to find out exactly what is going on out there in the world that most people take for granted. They hear a noise or see a shadow or something and they just dismiss it or throw it out the window as nothing. But in reality, it could be something paranormal going on. You know, a lot of people see things that they don’t want to believe, or they dismiss, that in reality is paranormal.
Brent Raynes: How about this police officer and your friend, are they still interested and are you still in touch?
Brian Henry: My best friend Eric, we’re still best friends and we still hang out from time to time, but as far as the paranormal goes that’s something that he’s not interested in, but he’ll be the first to tell you that what I just described actually happened. As far as the police officer, I haven’t been in contact with him since the incident. I do know that he had mentioned something to the newspaper and there was an article printed in our local newspaper in 1988, about the incident. From that point on, some of the research that I’ve done I’ve found out that the three of us aren’t the only ones who have witnessed that. There have been several occasions, throughout the years, that people have gone out there and witnessed the Battle of Franklin going on.
Brent Raynes: A lot of people would define it as a residual type thing, but since the police officer was interacting with that military leader there it doesn’t sound at all like that was a residual thing there.
Brian Henry: You know, this is one of the few cases that I have researched where you had a long lasting residual haunting, like I said from 22 to 25 minutes, with an intelligent haunting, and something that I’ve never encountered since. Most of the cases that I go on are either residual or intelligent, but to have both of them together is far and few between. Like I said, I’ve done a lot of research on it and there aren’t many cases out there that have both residual and intelligent together during the same period of time.
Brent Raynes: Did I see on your website that you had actually been to the Pinson Mounds?
Brian Henry: Oh yeah. That was another great place. We had actually gotten permission from the State to investigate Pinson Mounds, which is a historical site, an archeological site which there are, oh goodness, well over 20 different burial mounds out there.
Brent Raynes: I’ve been there. They say it goes back to like maybe 100 or 200 B.C.
Brian Henry: Yes, the website claims that it’s like 50 to 500 A.D., but if you go to the museum there there’s artifacts there that date to before Christ, so there’s no telling how old the site is because the archeologists were only allowed to excavate one percent of what’s out there because the Native Americans came in and fought for the rights to leave it untouched. So there’s no telling, and there’s soil that has been brought in from the West Coast and the Gulf area. Tons and tons of this soil and I just can’t fathom 2000 years ago these people hauling tons and tons of soil thousands of miles just to bury somebody. But that’s what happened at this location, and it’s not one individual group. You’ve got several different Native American groups that have been to this location. There’s also ley lines out there. This is a hot spot for ley lines and the energy is just immense. It’s all positive. There’s nothing negative at this location.
Brent Raynes: It looks like you’ve been there twice, so you must have found it quite interesting. What kind of things happened there?
Brian Henry: The first investigation we went to out there it was quite windy, so we didn’t get to do much audio outdoors. There’s cabins on the site that we rented and there’s a big common area that has a kitchen and what not that we rented. We rented the whole place out. We had it all to ourselves, and because of the wind we decided to stay in and just soak in the atmosphere. Because like I said, the energy was so positive and it relaxed you so much that you didn’t want to do anything except just be lazy, and while we were in there, Marge and I, who is one of my directors, we were all being extremely quiet and we were just listening and you could hear the faint beating of drums. We don’t know if it was outdoors or if it was indoors or what was going on, but you could hear the faint beating, and then shortly after that, in this common room, you have two bathrooms, a male and female. It’s your typical state park bathrooms. Everything is metal in there. The toilet seats, and so on, easy to clean. When we were sitting in the common area, we heard what sounded like a metal toilet paper roller start rolling, just like somebody was sitting there just rolling the toilet paper roll on it. Well, two of my investigators decided to walk back there and they opened up both bathrooms and come to find out it was coming from the female’s bathroom. As soon as one of my investigators walked in there it stopped. As soon as they crossed through the door’s threshold it began again and they went back in and I had them roll the toilet paper rolls and that’s exactly what we were hearing. You know, there’s no air conditioning breeze that’s going to do that. There’s clearly something there that was manipulating that toilet paper roll. Then later that night, when everybody went to bed, I was the only one who slept in this common area. In the kitchen, hanging above the prep table, are all the pots and pans. Well I’m almost sound asleep and then it sounds like somebody takes their hand and runs it across all of these pots and pans.
That was pretty much the activity that we encountered that particular night. The second time that we went out there really wasn’t anything going on. We got to go out and do some audio around some of the burial mounds. We didn’t get any kind of evidence that night, but we know for a fact that something paranormal is going on at that place, which is amazing. A lot of people would say, “God, I’d have been terrified. I’d have run out of that place.” But you don’t understand until you’re there. The energy is so positive and so peaceful that you could have had a paranormal Pow Wow going on right in front of you and you would not have been afraid whatsoever because it was so peaceful and relaxing out there. It is an amazing place.
Brent Raynes: My understanding is that it was a spiritual place.
Brian Henry: Oh, very spiritual.
Brent Raynes: And it wasn’t where people lived. It’s where they came and did ceremonies.
Brian Henry: Right. That’s all it was.
Brent Raynes: What made you think to investigate the Pinson Mounds?
Brian Henry: I had never been there before, but being the researcher that I am I like to read and gather as much info about any location that is historic throughout Tennessee. I came across Pinson Mounds and I’m like, “This thing dates to the time of Christ”, and I’m like, “There has got to be some type of activity there.” And the funny thing was is we were actually trying to get permission to investigate the old Tennessee State Prison, which is under state control and the man who oversees that also oversees Pinson Mounds. So we were inquiring about the state prison and he had told us, “You need a media pass” and other stuff to get in there, and they doubted that they could actually get us in there. Then he kind of threw out Pinson Mounds and I was like, “You know, I did a little research on Pinson Mounds.” He said, “All you’ve got to do is rent out the place for the weekend and you all can have at all,” and that’s exactly what we did and I do not regret that decision one bit because it’s a great place.
Brent Raynes: So what sort of other experiences, that may have been further enlightening or may have had elements in them from which others, who perhaps desire to be ghost hunters too, what kind of lessons might you share, or what sort of guidelines would you suggest that they follow?
Brian Henry: You know, anyone who is interested in becoming a paranormal investigator should go for it, but you need to be careful what you do and where you go. Now we don’t normally provoke and I know that a lot of teams like to provoke to try and get some kind of response. That’s kind of a bad idea because you don’t know what you’re going to get a hold of when you do provoke. Sloss Furnace is one of the locations that we decided to provoke and I made a big mistake. Last year, we went to Sloss Furnace at Birmingham, Alabama, and me being the authority figure, the leader of my team, I went in provoking whatever was there. After my first hour there I was walking between two of my investigators and it felt like a linebacker hit me from behind and slammed me to the ground. Now a lot of people will say, “Oh, you could have tripped,” or what not.
Well I can assure you that while I was on the ground I used every bit of strength that I could to push myself up, and I couldn’t, and the result was bruised forearms and bruised palms, from physically trying to push myself up. So there was a little proof that something had me down on the ground and would not let me up.
Sloss Furnace was an iron foundry that was built back in the late 1800s. It’s really what Birmingham was built around. Birmingham wasn’t a city until Sloss was built. A lot of people died on this location. You can imagine, you’re dealing with 120, 150 degree heat, on a daily basis, molten steel, iron, and a lot of accidents and a lot of deaths.
Brent Raynes: Yeah, I can imagine.
Brian Henry: Then after that first attack I went outside and composed myself, I came back in, and you know that really ticked me off that that happened so I came back in provoking even harder and in return, to my provoking, I felt a burning sensation on my back. I had several investigators around me who had video cameras and digital still cameras and they lifted my shirt and while everybody was there taking pictures I had scratches being formed on my back. Some of the investigators claimed that words were being formed. Of course, it was on my back so I couldn’t see anything. But I had several scratches and we have the photographs on my website and on some of our networking sites on the internet for anyone to see.
The strange thing was that happened about 4 o’clock in the morning. We left about 6 o’clock. During the attack some of the investigators got a couple of evps and it happened to be a female. We do know, from research, that there were prostitutes that came to Sloss during the late 1800s and early 1900s, but as far as anybody with any authority it was all male. So it was kind of strange to get a female’s voice during this attack.
Brent Raynes: Are there any further remarks or observations regarding ghost hunting that you feel needs to be added?
Brian Henry: Be cautious when provoking. I hold a public meet-up once a month where I allow the general public to come and listen to us talk about what we do and what not and I always tell everybody, “Do not trespass.” And, on that note, leave a location the way you found it.
We don’t know exactly what we’re dealing with. Everyone assumes that what we are dealing with are individuals who have passed on, and if that is the case then show respect. Don’t go in being the typical ghost hunter. Don’t go there just to get your evidence. You’ve got to show respect when you go to a location that you know is haunted. That’s what I like to tell everybody.
Brent Raynes: I know that some teams will kind of prepare themselves psychologically and spiritually before an investigation too. Does yours do this?
Brian Henry: I tell everybody that we’re a scientific group but any true paranormal investigator or team will know that you have to bring a little bit of religion in to any investigation, so yes, you’ve got to say your prayers of protection before and after each investigation. Whether or not anyone knows that that really does any good or not, it still gives us a peace of mind that if it does then we are helping ourselves out.
Brent Raynes: Thank you Brian for sharing these very interesting personal experiences and observations regarding ghost hunting.