Wednesday, March 18, 2015

In The Beginning….

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." --- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

 Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Michael Ragsdale. I am 65 years of age and the Founder of Jackson Purchase Paranormal Investigations, based out of Paducah, KY.

Although I can’t honestly say I have been fascinated by the paranormal my entire life, I must confess that pretty much every job I’ve had since I was 20 years of age has had an association with, or at least the prospect of, DEATH. This lifelong association started after graduation from the US Army Medical Training Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in 1970, when I became a combat medic with the US Army and later the US Army Reserve and the Kentucky Army National Guard.

After release from active duty, my first civilian job was as an emergency room technician at one of the local hospitals. This lasted for the better part of six months until I was introduced to the world of emergency medical services (EMS). I had gotten to be friends with the ambulance service personnel (there were no EMT’s anywhere in Kentucky at this point in time) and I was soon offered a job working with them …. an offer which I accepted quite enthusiastically.

As time progressed and the talk got serious about Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), it was a given that I would become one and, in fact, I became the 115th licensed EMT-A in the Commonwealth of Kentucky (and, I might add, the 2,292nd Registered EMT in the United States as a whole).

Sometime in the early 70’s I moved about an hour away to Murray, KY, where I helped open a new, professional, ambulance service in that community (up until then, ambulance service to the Murray, KY, area had been provided by funeral homes). Along with this change, I migrated into other fields of emergency services, becoming a Firefighter/Engineer with the Calloway County Fire & Rescue Squad.

After a couple of years in Murray, KY, I decided that the time was right to consider a move back to Paducah, but not before I consulted with the Marshall County, Kentucky, fiscal court about opening a professional ambulance services in their area (again, ambulance services were being provided by the funeral homes up until this time).

After I had worked with the Fiscal Court to successfully open the ambulance service, I then relocated back to Paducah where I once again took a position with Angel of Mercy. I also became a police officer with the McCracken County Auxiliary Police (and later the Paducah Police Department).

I truly loved being a police officer. I had grown up in Madisonville, KY, being around police officers. My great uncle Herbert “Guy” Jones was a Madisonville Police Officer, and his son, Herbert “Sonny” Jones, was a Kentucky State Trooper. Also, my grandfather, Edgar Frank Watson, who died long before I was born, was also in law enforcement in the Madisonville, Hopkins County, KY area (he worked for the Hopkins County Sherriff’s Department) , so I guess you can say it was in my blood.

Without going into the specifics let me say that the politics of small town government in the 1970’s were a bitch …. and said bitch will reach out and bite you in the ass when you least expect it so, after over three years in law enforcement, I found myself out of a job through no fault of my own..

After finding myself in need of a job (at this point in time paramedics still seemed like a distant dream) and having no real interest in returning to the ambulance service as a basic EMT, I turned to one of our local hospitals looking for a job and I was offered a job in Respiratory Therapy (actually called Inhalation Therapy at the time) and I have basically been doing that for a living ever since.

Although I would have preferred to have remained a police officer for the rest of my days, I can honestly say that things have worked out like they have in my life because I DIDN’T remain in law enforcement, so this, regardless of the hurt that resulted, has, in fact, been a very good thing.

When I was twenty-six years old, my father, and my hero, Herbert Bernard Ragsdale, passed away (even though he had been hospitalized for over a month, his death was still unexpected and a tremendous shock to the entire family.

Although I had already seen death and the sorrow that results from it in a multitude of forms in my chosen career paths, nothing prepared me for the sorrow that accompanied the loss of my father. Even though I had already experienced the loss of a grandparent and even close friends, the loss of my Father caused a pain which was like nothing I had felt before, but the worst part of it all was THE DREAMS (perhaps nightmares might be a better description)!

It seemed like every night while I slept I would dream about my father and, invariably, things would be fine in the dreams. He would be alive and well and it would be like things used to be, but then the next morning I would awaken and be assaulted with the heartbreaking realization that he was still gone and that it had all been only a dream.

These dreams went on night-after-night for what seemed like months until finally things changed. I remember being in bed and I am pretty sure I was sound asleep. Suddenly, something awakened me and there, standing at the foot of the bed, was my father. I remember this quite vividly and I remember him telling me that “everything is going to be fine” and that he was “OK.”

For what it’s worth, the dreams stopped that night and, for the most part, have never returned. Although it can be argued that this experience was, in fact, simply another dream, I personally like to think it was truly my father who, after realizing how much I was suffering night after night with these dreams, chose to return to this plane of existence and do something about it.

There’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t think about my Dad, and more times than not I actually talk to him, either thanking him for something that he taught me when I was younger that I have found useful as an adult or simply just letting him know that I miss him.

Fast forward thirty-some-odd years!!! Staying busy with my career while at the same time raising a family, the spirit world was the least of my concerns for quite a number of years. This was to change after hearing one simple little word, uttered two times. Nothing more than a simple greeting, as it were, a greeting uttered by someone not of this world (at least as we understand it). A greeting that would change not only how I have come to personally view the afterlife but which put me on the path to where I am today, trying to find answers and solutions for total strangers who are bothered by what they feel is the paranormal.

To better explain the importance of that simple greeting, I will be focusing on January 8th, 2008 but first I need to regress to March 3rd of the previous year. That’s when my mother died after a particularly nasty illness.

Although we had not talked specifically about her belief in the afterlife, I knew the basics of her feelings from talking about things that had transpired when other loved ones had died. For example, when my Great Uncle Guy was on his death bed in August of 1979 he talked with/about my father (who died in 1977). They were simply going to go fishing.

In 1981 her brother was dying at Walter Reed Medical Center and my mother was there at his bedside with his family when he departed this life. One thing that struck me was that, as my Uncle lay dying, he began to talk with/about relatives that had preceded him in death, namely, my father and my Great Uncle Guy (as mentioned above).

What I took from her relating this to me was that she believed deeply that previously departed loved ones were coming to take a loved one home … and that’s the way it should be!

Sadly, when both my Father and Mother passed on, neither of them was able to talk about any loved ones coming for them as they were both attached to mechanical ventilators, but I would like to think that family was there for both of them when it came  their time to cross over.

Now, back to January of 2008 (ten months after my Mother had passed away) when that one little word spoken twice would set things in motion that have brought us to where we are today.

Our Beginning….

As Related By Matthew Ragsdale, Lead Investigator

“Jackson Purchase Paranormal Investigations was founded in early 2008 by my Father, Michael. Over the summer and fall of 2007, we had developed an interest in watching Ghost Hunters, and watching soon became a weekly occurrence. It was fascinating to me, as I have always believed in ghosts and some sort of an afterlife - even if I didn't know what it was.”

“In December of 2007, Santa brought me a digital recorder and a K-II for Christmas. I was ridiculously excited and I could not wait to try them, and that night I did my first EVP session. I had no idea what I was doing, only that I wanted to talk to ghosts like I saw on TV - needless to say, I got nothing.”

“Just a few short weeks later, in January of 2008, my Mother and I were watching my newborn nephew. Asleep in the floor, he had no idea that he was the star of the show that night. As the evening progressed, my Mother began to hear noises coming from the kitchen, pots clanging lightly, a spoon in the sink moving, a footstep. So, I grabbed my recorder and headed off into what would take me on a 6 year long (and going!) expedition into the unknown.”

“That night we received our first EVP, and I'll stand by it to this day, one of our best ever. As I say, "You can leave a message by talking into the red light." I am followed by a clear-as-day ‘Hello....hello?’

I was stunned as I listed to that in review for the first time. It was one thing to see it on TV, but another thing entirely to get one! Shaken as if I had actually seen a ghost, I walked out of my room and looked around to my family – ‘We got something...’ I said, as I was still reeling from the surprise of it all. ‘We got something.’ ”

Needless to say, the thrill that encompassed my being was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. We had actually recorded the voice of what we took to be a spirit seemingly attempting to communicate with us. The word excited just doesn’t accurately describe things.

As for “The Mom”, it was an entirely different story. She listened intently to the recorder and then with a look of pale disbelief, proceeded to slide down the wall she was leaning against, assuming a sitting position on the kitchen floor. The word “stunned” just somehow doesn’t quite describe how she felt (and acted).

As to whose voice we recorded, it is pretty well accepted by all the family that this was the voice of my Mother, who, as you might recall, had passed away just ten months previous to this night. I feel strongly that she was at our house that night checking out her new great-grandson, Grayson. The rest, as has been said in so many, many circumstances, is history …. in this case, the history of JPPI.

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