A window to the past: Property's strained history behind some of the hauntings at Ghost Cottage

A window to the past: Property's strained history behind some of the hauntings at Ghost Cottage
March 19, 2009
by Matthew Smith
Curry County Reporter

t looks like any other house as you drive down Mateer Drive in the Hunter Creek area, but owner Kelli Ryan says there's nothing usual about her two-story home. She has owned the property, 28315 Mateer Dr., for around three years now.

Ryan, who says she has always had psychic abilities since she can remember, didn't intentionally purchase a haunted dwelling.

"I wouldn't have bought this place if I had known," said Ryan. "Once things began happening, I befriended the spirits to make sure we could get along."

She now embraces her psychic abilities, but it made for a troubling childhood.

"When I was only two to three years old, I would say something was going to happen and it would," stated Ryan. "When my parents would be making plans for the following week, I would tell them not to schedule anything for that day, because so-and-so's funeral was that day. That person hadn't passed away yet, and they would pass away shortly after."

Ryan says that when someone was going to pass away, she would see heat waves around the person, similar to those rising off an extremely hot roadway. These experiences occurred until she was a teenager.

The house and property surrounding the house has become a popular site for paranormal researchers. Many of their experiences on the property have even been uploaded as You Tube videos.

"Many researchers say this is the most active place they have visited," said Ryan.

Among some the evidence that researchers commonly see and collect are pictures and video white masses, shadows, orbs and recordings of disembodied voices.

The property

Several ghosts inhabit the property and house. The hills above her house is reportedly home to Valkeryies, also sometimes referred to as forest guardians or fairies, and have been seen by many people as a traveling mist that moves throughout the forest. Ryan even has a collection of gifts from them. She says they give her many sculptures and special rocks, many contain heart-shaped rocks – which Ryan believes it is a sign they like her.

"I used to sing Irish songs to them and nothing ever appeared," said Ryan. "Once I learned some Celtic songs, they started leaving me stuff. I wanted one of those rocks with a [cone-shaped] hole in it, after watching ‘The Spiderwick Chronicles'. The next day, there was one outside."

Bill Starkey

Another ghost that roams the property is that of Bill Starkey, who once owned the house above hers.

"One day, I was walking my dogs up there and I suddenly got very overwhelmed. I thought a cougar or something was about to pounce on me," said Ryan. "Suddenly, I felt something touch my shoulder and a voice tell me, ‘Honey, it will be alright.'"

"I immediately thought, ‘I need to get off this hill now,'" added Ryan. "I came back later and asked him his name, and he just said Starkey, which I mistook for Star Key. Later on during a conversation with another person, I learned that this was his last name only."

Bill Wells

The most active ghost in the house is a former pharmacist named Bill Wells, who died in a car wreck in 1978. He has been known to bang pots in the kitchen and can be seen walking around the house, especially near the laundry room and hallway. He is one of the past owners that haunt the property.

"He treats the house like it's his. We don't mind, though. He is fine with us being here," said Ryan. "You can really see him around 10:30 at night."

Lilly the witch

Prior to the home's construction, purportedly there was a witch named Lilly that lived in a trailer in the exact spot where the house would later be built. According to local lore, she suffered a mysterious death after making someone's wife sick.

"I don't really take action against the nicer spirits; they are no threat to anyone," said Ryan. "I do take action to keep the mean ones, like Lilly, away."

Lilly's mean streak was a threat to the Ryans. She would turn appliances on and off; make them dizzy and sick; lock Kelli in the bathroom; move objects and even assaulted them. "We would go to Brookings and she would turn on the stove or coffee pot," said Ryan. "She was doing some extremely dangerous things. She could have burned down the house. She drew so much energy from us to do these things, we would get sick."

"Bill gets along with most of the others, but he doesn't want her in his house. He protects us from her. She likes to hang out around the doors and sneak in at night when we go outside," added Ryan.

Dan Kuykendall

A previous owner of the house died after crashing his plane into a mountain, and reportedly walks the property. He rarely visits the actual house itself, spending most of his time outside. He even has an additional connection to another person haunting the house; Kuykendall married Wells' widow and moved into the house after his death.

Jean Hawkins

Ryan was in need of a bed to finish one of the bedrooms, so she traded her piano for one she really liked. She knew the bed had once belonged to Jean Hawkins, who had passed away. What she didn't know was she was getting more than a bed; apparently it was one of Hawkins' most prized possessions. The bedroom in which the bed is placed has become known as the Rose Room. People who knew Hawkins are amazed at how much it looks like something Jean would have done.

Ryan stated that Hawkins likes to look at the front windows of the house, something she liked to do while living.

"You can see a black figure kind of lean out of the kitchen area and look towards the window," said Ryan.

The Myrtlewood grove

Ryan believes how the property was created has something to do with all the paranormal activity.

"I have heard from people that were around while the property was being developed that a big grove of Myrtlewood trees were destroyed, then a huge slice of hill was taken out to flatten the property," stated Ryan. "I know the forest guardians are not happy that occurred. Those are sacred trees."

Water intensifying activity

There is a belief that water intensifies paranormal activity, and Ryan thinks that between the Pacific Ocean, the Rogue River and other numerous waterways in and around Gold Beach, we are more prone to have such activity.

"The Chinese never build their homes facing a river; they believe that the river will carry more spirits towards their home," said Ryan.

Educating the public

The Ghost Cottage is also home of the Southern Oregon Paranormal Research Association, which Ryan runs. She helps other researchers by allowing them to use her home and property as a learning environment. She also teaches classes on improving people's psychic and intuition abilities.

"I believe everyone is psychic; I just help them hone and refine that ability," said Ryan. "A lot of them say, ‘I don't want to be a fortune teller or something.' It isn't about that; it is about using it to enhance their everyday life."

Her other passion

It doesn't take long to see Ryan's other passion in life – art. Paintings hang from the wall as if you're in an art gallery. Antiques are on every shelf, which both Ryan and her husband Riley love to collect. She works as a manuscript illuminator, textile restorer and general art restorer, working on Medieval and Renaissance pieces to modern works.

She spent around three years in Florence, Italy helping re-pigment frescos at the Vatican, restoring the images and making them pop once again. She hopes the Oregon Coast will become a haven for fresco painters.

"Gold Beach is a perfect place for frescos, since a true fresco is painted while the plaster is still wet; the cool and moist air is perfect for having more time to finish," said Ryan. "I have been illuminating since I was 12 years old. I love the idea of making transcripts the same way monks did."

Ryan also is very interested in Pentimento, which is where finished paintings are utilized by the painter as a canvas for a new painting. The under image is completely hidden by the new painting, but over time the top layer gives way and a "ghost" of the under image is visible. Black lights and x-rays can be used to pull the under image out even further. Art supplies were expensive; so many painters utilized this technique to save money.

"In a way, this is a lot like a haunting. You see what's on the surface; but with some work you begin to see the history," said Ryan.
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