Do You Have Ghosts In Your Genealogy?

I don’t believe I have any ghosts in my genealogy, but I do often feel like I’m being guided by the spirit of ancestors when it comes to my research. I wrote about this in one of my favorite posts called; The Waiting Room. You may know the feeling; it’s when you have the sudden urge/need to go to a specific place or website only to do that and find out some detail about your ancestor that you might not have found otherwise.

Some may think that I’m chasing “bright shiny objects,” but I know all too well the success I’ve had from listening to my ancestors. After all, isn’t that what we are all doing? Researching and telling the story of our ancestors so that they continue to be remembered.. and maybe sometimes they give us a little nudge in the right direction.

I bring up this subject because it’s getting closer to Halloween, and I also saw a Facebook post where someone was asking precisely that. Do you have a ghost in your genealogy? The person said they had researched a particular ancestor and found that the place where they had died had stories of ghosts still being there today.

I decided I would check on the internet and see what I could find about the subject, and there were many interesting stories found on WikiTree. It seems they asked this same question in 2018. You can read the answers HERE. They even have a free space page created especially for ghosts. Check it out HERE.

This week I went on the Haunted Trolly Tour in Edmonton, and it reminded me of my trip to Kingston, Ontario, where I’d gone on a Ghost Tour. I love these tours because often ghost tours are historical and you can learn so much history about the city. One of the stops on the tour was the Kingston Mental Hospital which was called Rockwood Asylum.

I was interested in this stop because one of my great uncles had spent his last few years there and had died in the hospital. In fact, one of my great finds was his medical record which I’d obtained from the Archives of Ontario. Getting back to my ghost tour… after the tour, I went back to my RV, which I was staying at on my own. It was a calm and windless evening. Suddenly the awning which had an automatic system on it so it could close during a storm.. did exactly that. It closed. At the time, I wondered to myself if I’d brought my dead great uncle’s spirit back to the RV.

Finally, let’s talk about something that I hope you’ll confirm that I’m not the only person who does this. That is when I’m in the cemetery, I sometimes have a chat with the departed. It might be to bring my mom up to date on family events or ask for assistance from William Beaton on finding his parents. From what I’ve read, I don’t think that it’s all that unusual. In fact, I found and purchased the book, How to Communicate with the Dead: and how cultures do it around the world. It is written by Judith Fein, who also wrote an article called Emotional Genealogy.

Emotional Genealogy is not just finding the names and dates of our forebears but learning who they were which often explains why we are the way we are and helps us discover a little more about ourselves.

So we may not have ghosts in our genealogy, but I like to think we have their spirits helping us make new discoveries about them so their stories can carry on.


  • Teresa says:

    I have long felt my ancestors around me – those of us who are serious about genealogy know that it’s about far more than just names and dates.

    Interesting about Rockwood. I was at Queens for 6 years and learned a ton about Kingston during my years there, but somehow Rockwood escaped my radar!