Growing up in central Pennsylvania, I didn’t know too many ghost stories. However, when my mother moved to Wilkes-Barre and I started spending my summers there it all changed.
46 Welles Street in the town of Wilkes-Barre Pa has been a haunted fixture in the community for generations.
I’ve walked past it as a child. The house itself seems normal for the area. It’s greyish asepsis siding and tiny front yard always seemed perfectly normal for that part of town.
Maybe not in a perfect neighborhood, but haunted? Nothing from the outside ever drew my attention to the possibility of something dark and maybe evil inside. But by the time I was a kid in the area, Ms. Watkins owned the house and the horrors of Wilkes-Barre had more to do with drugs and crime than ghosts and phantom men.
I’m not one for haunted houses, I don’t like ghost manors or haunted hayrides in October, but you know, (or at least you would if you’d read my Ghost Adventures Article) that I love the paranormal sciences.
The Welles’ house isn’t one of my favorite local legends because if I want to get pushed down some stairs or get scratched, I can get that anywhere on a Friday night out with my friends. Welles Street thrills because there are no answers, yet.
The Curse or a Land
The house was practically doomed from day one of its construction. And what was the houses primary claim to fame? Its legendary hauntings that are so strong, that a man dropped dead for no reason in front of the house in the 1800s.
And, the Bennett family who bought it in 1976, only survived its wrath for 2 years before having to leave. They left so quickly that they all of their things were still in the house. Everything!
Some will say that the Welles Street House is worse than Amityville, maybe that’s because we haven’t really decided if Amityville happened or not. Some might say that Welles Street is nothing more than local legends and campfire ghost stories. When you’re done reading, you be the judge.
Haunted or Hooey?
The house was built in the 1860 by Augustus C. Laning. He was one of the first industrial giants to move to the little lumber town of Wilkes-Barre. Soon after the house was built, odd happenings became to occur on Welles Street.
Strange deaths and financial misfortunes began to plague Laning. His family’s barn was struck by lightning, his own nephew perished in the fire after being pinned beneath a dead horse carcass. Laning Factory burned to the ground around the same time.
Then, Laning sold the house and what was left of his company in 1869 feeling that the house and the land were somehow cursed, and he blamed it for all of his loses.
The Hauntings Never Stopped
But the house wasn’t done. Over the years, the house has claimed a number of victims over the last one hundred and fifty years. Six deaths that are confirmed by the Wilkes-Barre Coroner’s office, two of them suicides.
The house has sold and re-sold a total of several recorded times including Laning. The house has sold for as little as one dollar in 1939. However, Katherine Watkins bought the property in 1982 and lived there until her death in 2012.
The family that made 46 Welles Street famous was the Bennett family who dismissed the rumors and bought the house in 1976.
“The house at 46 South Welles Street is definitely haunted.” – Lorraine Warren, Ghost Hunter
Less than two years later they’d be forced to flee the house with only their clothes on their backs. Having suffered two years of unspeakable horrors.
They witnessed bloody spots on the walls and floors, unexplainable illness, depression and one of their daughters reportedly being shoved down the stairs only to float mysteriously on her landing unharmed as if whatever was in the house was using them as toys.
According to multiple websites, the house has the following paranormal activities:
- Unexplained bangs and scurrying noises from one of the houses to the other.
- Unexplained illnesses and depressions.
- Nightly visits from a well-dressed phantom man.
- A young girl who walks through doors.
- Shrieks, moans and crying that seem to come from inside the walls and from the attic.
- Blood spots appear on the walls and floors of the living room.
- The sound of boots tramping up and down the floor and stairs.
- Unexplained physical attacks on residents and guests mostly in the form of scratches, but some guests have reported being pushed or shoved.
The Bennett family reported that they discovered a tin box behind a chimney brick in the basement human teeth and chicken bones in the shape of a cross. A cleansing or a curse? Who can say.
In 2013 SyFy Ghost Hunter Live, Tim Wood spent a month in the house and promptly bought it in 2014. He retains ownership of the estate today. And currently he is not doing much with the property that anyone knows of.
Here’s what I do know.
Like much of Pennsylvania, the development of the Wilkes-Barre area is a bloody one. All of it was Native American land at some point, there were forts and battles fought over the land for years. Not just between settles and tribes but between settles from Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
The French and Indian war was fought there, so the ground itself is soaked in blood and turmoil. Is that what gives the Welles House its paranormal activity? Are the boots steps heard from lost soldiers from a battle that happened in 1778? Is the blood that finds its way onto the living room floor that of victims of a massacre? Did the Nanticokes, Shawaneses and Delaware people not leave the lands willingly like the state history suggests?
The Iroquois were the last to leave the valley, or maybe they never left? Who is the man in the suit? Did Mr. Laning love the house so much that he stayed there even after death?
Many questions, but not that many answers…