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Atwood

 

In 1976 my grandparents moved their family to the middle of nowhere, about an hour's drive to the nearest town in northeast Colorado. Mom was 16 and very unhappy about the move. She moved out as soon as high school was over, married dad and went on her merry way. She said the Atwood house gave her the creeps and she couldn't wait to get out of there. Grandma and grandpa (still living) didn't make the move to town until maybe 2005 or so, when grandpa sold all his farmland and cattle.

When they moved to town, their house didn't have the same 'vibe' as the country house, which I thought was strange. It was just a normal house with them in it. I started thinking about the house in the country and suddenly I'm filled with quite a lot of questions about it.

The feeling of the Atwood house was unique. Every summer we would drive to Colorado and see dad's parents in the mountains, and mom's parents on the prairie. As soon as we would make the turn and the country house was in view, my stomach would knot up and drop and I would get the shakes. I always put it down to the excitement of seeing them, although even after a week of being there, the same thing would happen every time we drove around that corner (no matter if dad, grandpa or a cousin was driving whatever vehicle). A feeling of unfathomable loneliness permeated the entire place. I just figured it was my grandparents, but now I think it was something else altogether.

When they moved in, it was a three room house, very small, very old. Grandpa and my uncle knocked out the east and west walls of the house and put a huge kitchen on the west end and another living room in the east end, three steps down. There was no division between any of the three big rooms, so it was like a long rectangle divided by carpet and three stairs. Grandpa had finished one basement but didn't finish the old storm cellar (once outside the house, now inside). I got about halfway down the old cellar steps one time looking for grandma, thought I saw a skeleton doing laundry and ran back into the kitchen terrified. I think I tripped on the way up but it felt like a push. Never went down there again, although we always played in the new finished basement on the other side of the house.

It was the feel of the place that got to me most, and it was everywhere on that property. When I was sitting at the kitchen table looking out at the prairie, I would get so sad I'd burst into tears, when I was looking out the windows of the living room to the corn fields again, just sadness. Even going outside to swing or help hang out the laundry or burn the trash, the wind through the trees would just fill me with a feeling of despair. This didn't happen at my aunt's house (down the road) or at my uncle's house (down the road and around the corner), just there, although both said weird stuff happened at their houses too.

My mom and I lived in a little house next to grandma's when I was very little and dad was working in another town. I don't remember the house, but I do remember weird dreams of skeletons walking me through the cornfields across the dirt road so I could get a better view of the trees blowing in the wind by the ditch. Still gives me the creeps thinking about that. Grandpa tore down the house a little later, the snakes would get into the pipes and hide in the toilets.

The only time I ever saw anything odd was when I was older. We were all bunked down in the old part of the house (the middle) on the pull out couch. The front door (no one used) was across from me, and the kitchen sink was just to the left of that, its light on all night so grandpa wouldn't run into anything when he left to check on the birthing cows. A dark shadow formed right inside the front door and stood there. It was right where the kitchen light shown, and it hadn't been there a moment before. Seemed masculine, I watched it for a bit and it seemed to nod. It wouldn't move into the 'new' area of the house, but stayed in the 'old' section.

I'm wondering if more things didn't happen that no one mentioned - the few things I heard over the years were pretty odd. Grandpa once he told me he and his brother-in-law chased a ball of light through the fields; grandma went MIA for an hour when a bright light enveloped her on a walk to the 'big tree' one morning at 5am; my uncle has had flashing lights wake he and his second wife up in the middle of the night and followed them around the house, etc. Just a lot of weird stuff out there.

Don't know what happened to grandma. She mentioned a light took her once about 15 years ago walking to the 'big tree' and went mute on the subject. 'Big tree' in quotes because all the trees around there are the same size. No one knows what one she was talking about. She did quit walking outside at 5am though. She and grandpa were teachers, include the farm and cattle, and the house was pretty empty most of the time.

I always got the feeling of being a Native American running. I just wanted to go out the screen door and run and run and run and not ever come back. Run away from the 'little house on the prairie' scene and keep on running. I'm wondering if a settler took an unwilling wife and they're still trying to come to terms with each other, I have no idea.

My sister went to see my grandparents this summer. On the way to my uncle's house, she drove by the old Atwood place. They had cut down every single tree on the property. In the yard, in the ditch, around the barns, every single one. It looked even lonelier than before.

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shelbyloree (5 stories) (285 posts)
 
7 months ago (2017-03-17)
I'm so sorry for the delayed response, I never think of checking my own stories, ha!

Tweed - I agree the place needed a good 'cleaning,' but they are outside people. Mom's the same. As soon as they wake up, they go outside - walks, yard work, school, garage, out to the fields, running errands, etc. They are literally never in the house except to sleep. Pretty much the opposite of me, I prefer to stay home for whatever reason.

Grandma and grandpa have, to put it nicely, a very unhappy marriage. They tend to not only avoid the house, but each other, so I assumed the feeling was generated from them. Came as a surprise when the lonely feeling didn't travel with them to town. That definitely got me thinking.

They preferred (and still prefer) to sleep in a basement room, which was a new room in Atwood. The only people who stayed in the old rooms were my mom and her sister, both of who moved out asap. The old rooms were turned into a gun room/office and a spare bedroom. Basically storage rooms.

Grandma stayed in the newer kitchen, grandpa would stay in the newer living room - everyone kind of ran through the old sections of the house (the central part) but the times when I was alone in the old rooms, the lonely feeling was overwhelming - I can still remember and feel it as I'm writing. Almost debilitating really.

Red wolf - I did ask my uncle and cousin if they thought the place was off, but they both said no. Maybe it was only around in the summer (when we would visit) or something, but they were clueless. They also are outside people and always gone from the house too, so maybe because I was the only one in the house, I'm the only one who noticed?

Augusta - yes, desperation! Definitely. I think you hit the nail on the head!

The snakes would get into the toilet for the water, and the house was right by the ditch, so I guess you had to be careful. It was only me, mom, her sister-in-law and my cousin (same age) there for a while, we weren't even 2, so mom and my aunt were the only ones needing to be careful. Dad was working in another town so with a new baby mom stayed by family for help.

Even with modern technology, underground wells, sprinklers, etc that part of the country is a very difficult place to farm. My cousin still farms nearby in Nebraska and he still struggles at times, so I can't even imagine the difficulties before sprinklers. It's blow sand and grass out there, you can see the rain move all the way around you, north, west, south - it rarely hits. In the years they lived there, I remember it raining once.

Cloudy - interesting story! I love folklore like that. Grandpa said it was a UFO and he was out chasing aliens away from the cows, but his description was a ball of light. Same with grandma - just light. I didn't know any of their neighbors, but I know grandpa makes a very bad neighbor generally. I don't want to be his neighbor, ha!

It didn't feel busy out there, but they were on the South Platte River, a very busy river out there in the olden days, so who knows? Just thinking about visiting does bring a feeling of entrapment, mom says she feels the same out there.

Sorry for the delay - I need to check back more frequently! Thanks for all the replies!
cloudy (7 stories) (37 posts)
 
12 months ago (2016-11-06)
Hi, I really like all of your stories, thanks for sharing! 😁
This story really reminded me of something my grandmother told me. She always used to tell me old legends or wife tales from rural Sweden. One of them goes something like; in the countryside your neighbourhood might sometimes have witches. The way you would notice this is things such as the cows will all run out of milk and other devestating things for someone depending on the land and animals. The witch was then stealing the milk and when doing so she could only be seen as a bright ball of light flying across the fields. If you followed it though, to see which neighbour was the witch, it could if you were unlucky have you lost forever.
AugustaM (2 stories) (378 posts)
+1
12 months ago (2016-10-31)
"snakes would get into the pipes and hide in the toilets." Can I just say THAT is terrifying!?!?!? Whoa, no thank you!

But a very interesting story - so much has happened in those lonely plains... I am sure if we were able to see all the spirits that roam them, they would hardly seem lonely anymore. Just because the history of the house prior to your grandparents' purchase was a fairly short one, something still may have happened there - perhaps another house once stood in its place that was torn down before that house was built, there may have been a skirmish there (between Native American tribes or between them and settlers pushing West), rivers were popular stopping places for wagon trains - perhaps one stopped and some tragedy befell them from illness to violence, the area might have hosted a nomadic settlement for a time...

I get the feeling that there was someone who was headed home, desperate to get there and someone waiting anxiously for them to arrive... And they never did. You know when you've been traveling for a long time - you just want to be back home - you want to be there so badly, you can practically see yourself turning that final corner, home coming into view... All but feel the pavement of the final stretch beneath your feet? That's what I think of when you mentioned the sensation of dread whenever you turned the corner and that house came into view. As though the person desperate to return knew that something awful would happen to the person waiting for him if he didn't get there - and he never got there... The feeling of despair as you looked out over the prairie - as someone would feel who was waiting waiting waiting for someone to return, their whole life depending on it. Maybe she's buried beneath your grandmother's 'big tree'. Both your grandmother and the skeletons in your dream seemed to sense a certain significance about those trees...

Anyway, this is all just my own speculation and rambling - I just get a feeling about certain stories and pieces start to seem to fit.
RedWolf (28 stories) (1246 posts)
 
1 year ago (2016-08-23)
shelbyloree,

Very interesting story. Knowing something was "off" but not knowing what, and not getting straight stories or answers. Having a grandfather who tells stories that you don't know whether they are true or not. Seems to me the only person you can talk to and get straight answers from is your uncle so why not talk to him?

Regards
Red
Tweed (22 stories) (2034 posts)
+1
1 year ago (2016-08-23)
Shelbyloree,

It's frustrating your grampa is a prankster because my family had ball of light encounter once. Theirs was out in the country too, large orange 'flame' ball, very noisy and fast. I've also experienced a random flash of light a few times. No unexplained wanderings towards trees though, thankfully. No idea what this is either.

Sad to hear the place seems more lonely now. 😢

Skeleton doing laundry sounds really trippy. Interesting too that the shadow seemed to nod. Gosh, something creepy about that.

I wonder the same as you about cover ups when it comes to places with negative vibes like this. If not a land history then maybe the home itself. Or a bit of both. Whatever the case that place could've done with Rook's method. 😉
shelbyloree (5 stories) (285 posts)
 
1 year ago (2016-08-23)
It probably did at your house, although most tragedies are for the most part covered up, suppressed, forgotten, etc.

Violent death (s) would be investigated and recorded at some point, but what about strong emotions imprinting on their surroundings? Terrible violence or misery could be left on the environment like fingerprints, which is then picked up by people who pass through maybe, ignored by those used to the imprinted emotions who are around them all the time.

I don't know if quantum physics has an explanation for that, but it seems logical, especially for residual hauntings. I think about Elisabeth Fritzl's case for example - there were no deaths, but the horror must have left a terrible impression on the environment, how could it not?

We all may be constantly leaving emotional imprints on the environment, but maybe some are just extremely strong, like at grandma's or at that house of yours. Or maybe it was just a funky geo magnetic field out there in the boonies, I don't know.
matrix899 (1 stories) (35 posts)
 
1 year ago (2016-08-22)
All very interesting. Something may have happened there, in the house, or the surrounding area, to create such a feeling of sadness that lingers.

I myself regret not looking into the history of the house where we stayed. I feel certain that some tragedy happened there.
shelbyloree (5 stories) (285 posts)
+1
1 year ago (2016-08-22)
*not* getting anything definite I meant to say.

Asked mom again and she said her parents had bought the house from the original farmers, so no long unknown history anyway. Maybe just spooky land, since the weirdness is in that general area (although centered at the house).

I think it's the South Platte River that runs nearby - so in the pre-European era Native Americans would have been moving through too. Everyone stays (and stayed) pretty close to water out there.
shelbyloree (5 stories) (285 posts)
 
1 year ago (2016-08-22)
Isn't that strange how vague somethings can be but it's still 'off'? You can't put your finger on it, but it's still there. I never knew them at a different house but it still was weird.

I'm sure your in-laws felt exactly the same way - nope! Leaving asap!

My grandparents stayed in Atwood for 30 something years, but I'm thinking they just ignored the weird stuff. Sometimes grandpa tells me things that are just far out about that place, but I didn't include it here, because I don't know if he was pulling my leg or if it was true.

He told my cousin when she was 6 the house had tunnels and secret passageways throughout the house, and would play tricks on her, and he was always kidding around with us too. So DID he and his brother-in-law chase a UFO in his truck over the fields away from the livestock? Or was he just telling stories? I never know what to believe with him, especially out there.

Grandma never answers questions, grandpa tells stories and mom just says 'I HATED THAT HOUSE.' My uncle is the only one still out there, and his house is equally weird.

It's frustrating knowing something is strange, but it getting anything definite.
matrix899 (1 stories) (35 posts)
 
1 year ago (2016-08-22)
Interesting account, it brought back memories of a house I once occupied briefly. This house was occupied for about one month by me, my ex-wife, my new-born daughter, my father-in-law and mother-in-law; it was occupied by us for about one month after our house burned down. We acquired this house as a rental quickly because it was empty at the time of our misfortune.

The house did not feel "right" to me, but at the time, I could not put my finger on the problem, or define to myself what exactly was wrong. Over the years I have thought about this house, and would now describe the feeling of being in there as a "heavy feeling" or a brooding.

This was a two story house with stairs leading to the second level where the three bedrooms were, along with the only bathroom. The "heavy feeling" seemed to be most noticeable at the top of the stairs before you got to the bathroom. I was about 26 at the time, and I remember being afraid to take a shower because of this ever-present feeling of fear and dread.

I was very aware of this feeling when in the house, and in an effort to rationally approach the subject, I thought the feeling may be due to not enough light coming in, so, one Sunday morning, I opened all the windows in the upper story to let in more sunshine and fresh air. It did not help.

My in-laws were in their 70s at the time and did not make any comments about the house, but I noticed they stayed downstairs all the time during the daytime. As mentioned, we stayed there only about four weeks. My Father-in-law quickly found another place to rent.

I have lived in many houses over the years, but have not had a repeat of this experience. I have speculated that something awful may have happened in that house, but I did not make any effort to research the history.

Thank you for sharing your story.

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