The Oswego County village of Hannibal was formed in 1860. It's been through a lot since then, including several major fires that took down almost the entire village. It's a rich history that leads to some compelling ghost stories. In this special haunted edition of Your Hometown, our Katie Gibas takes us to the Hannibal Quick Mart, which some say could be one of the most haunted places in the country.
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Welcome to the quiet village of Hannibal. Population about 500. But despite its small size, it's rich in history. This building in particular is one of the oldest in the village and it survived all of the village's great fires. But aside from all that, one paranormal investigator says its one of the most haunted places in the entire country.
"I've investigated probably the top ten places in the United States. I'll take Waverly Hills for example, which is a sanitarium in Louisville, Kentucky. I got one EVP for two days that I was there. I come here, and I've got 15 or 16 in just two or three hours," said Stacey Jones, the CNY Ghost Hunters Founder.
The Hannibal Quick Mart was a funeral home and furniture store from its beginning until 1957
"They didn't have modern techniques for funeral homes. It wasn't the grand thing that it is now. You went to the furniture store. You picked out your casket. And your funeral director was either upstairs or close by," said Jones.
Susan Hurlbut, the Hannibal Quick Mart Owner added, "There was an elevator, kind of like a dumb waiter, an elevator that went from the basement to the top story. And the bodies were brought in, put down the chute, and taken upstairs. They weren't embalmed. So the people were just dressed.
In 1958, the last undertaker died. It wasn't until the summer of 1959 that five bodies were found upstairs.
"There would have been no heat or anything, so it would have been really cold here in the winter, so it wouldn't have affected it too much. But when the summertime came and the springtime came, they started to smell things," said Hurlbut.
Jones added, "When you hear that there were bodies discovered afterwards, you've just got to get in here."
In 1959, John Matson bought the store and turned it into a hardware store.
"A store, a mercantile hardware, was kind of the heart of any little village. Many people kind of had their lives centered around it. They came here to play poker. They came here to mingle and socialize," said Jones.
CNY Ghost Hunters have done several investigations at the Hannibal Quick Mart.
When they learned that poker games were a popular pastime at the hardware store, they decided to play a game.
"We kept hearing like a rattling, like that noise. And we kept asking, 'What's that noise? What's that noise? And when we played back the EVPs, it says 'poker chips,'" said Hurlbut.
Jones added, "During that poker game, we actually heard a woman yell up the stairs to us. I came downstairs and the doors were locked. It was closed. That was interesting because we all heard it."
Hurlbut said, "About two weeks later, I came in one morning, and there was a stack of poker chips sitting on the side of my register. We didn't have any poker chips here."
Eventually it became the Hannibal Quick Mart, and nine years ago Susan Hurlbut and her husband bought the place.
"The prior owners told us it was haunted. And we said, 'Uh huh' and we found out it was," said Hurlbut.
Aside from hearing footsteps walking around and children's voices when no one else is in the store, other mysterious things have happened at the Hannibal Quick Mart.
"We get the coffee ready for the next day, every night before we leave. So we just pour the water through when we come in in the morning. We did that and in the morning, when we came in, we opened at six in the morning, went to dump the water through and there were open sugar packets inside the coffee pot," said Hurlbut.
One night the surveillance camera even caught a case of beer floating out of the cooler.
"When the door's open, it's like they just didn't have the energy to take the beer out," said Hurlbut.
While they say most of the ghosts are just pranksters, some experiences have been eerily touching.
"They said, 'Hank, who are you here for?' And he said, 'Bonnie.' And none of the CNY ghost hunters knew what my father-in-law's nickname was, and they didn't know my sister-in-law. And to hear that come out immediately, was pretty much, just verification that they're here," said Hurlbut.
Jones added, "For a little tiny store in Hannibal, this is pretty big stuff."
The owners say they've received mixed reactions after the publication the CNY Ghost Hunters' findings.
"Some people say, 'that's really interesting. Can we stay the night there?' Other people are like, 'Oh I can't ever go back in there again,'" said Hurlbut.
The CNY Ghost Hunters say overtime they come to the Hannibal Quick Mart, they get new evidence or confirm previous experiences. And to finish this haunted hometown story, they say they'll be back for years to come.