Often when you think of hauntings it conjures images of decrepit old buildings, battlefields and many other sites that can have numerous deaths attributed to the grounds. In general people feel that ghosts are only caused by violent deaths and haunt the place where they died.

In many instances where there are violent deaths there can be hauntings, but it is not the only circumstance. The reason why most people associate ghosts with these locations is because of the grim history that they do possess. It is far more common for people to know of a violent history of a location than a ‘quiet’ history.


The most common are Revolutionary War and Civil War battlefields. Everyone has heard of the casualties, the deaths that occurred in Gettysburg or even, locally, the Battle of Oriskany. These are historic moments where people died. When someone visits these locations and has an experience with the paranormal, they know it’s because of the violent deaths at the location.

When so many people publicly acknowledge the ghostly activity at these sites it fits within the beliefs. Violent death means there will be a haunting. However, this is not always the rule. It’s just that we are more likely to hear about the accounts from these locations that have a grim history tied to them. While a house with no reports of violent death can have plenty of activity, people are more inclined to ignore the activity or refuse to acknowledge it because it ‘doesn’t make sense.’

An old house can just as easily not be haunted as a new house can be haunted. It’s not about violent deaths, it’s about our ability to tune out the paranormal.

(Editor's note:  The painting accompanying this article is called Herkimer At Oriskany and depicts General Nicholas Herkimer at the Battle of Oriskany.  The painting was featured on a US Postage stamp and is on permanent public display at the Utica Public Library.)