As I was growing up in western New York, I heard a tale of the haunted house out on Mill Road in the township of Busti. Now Busti Township is made up of ten villages or hamlets in an area of about 48 square miles, but the actual town of Busti itself was originally called Busti Corners because it grew up centered on five intersecting roads. These were Forest Avenue Extension from Jamestown; the Busti-Sugar Grove Road, the opposite direction of Forest Ave.; County Road 18; County Road 328; and Mill Road, the opposite direction of CR 328. The township was created in 1823 and named for Paul Busti, a general agent with the Holland Land Company.
Herman Bush came to town around 1825, and built a sawmill on Hatch Creek, on the site of the now Bush Cemetery, the only large cemetery in the town proper. Then Uriah Bentley built the very first brick house in Busti in 1837. This is the land upon which the haunted house is located. The brick house was destroyed by a fire in 1857, and a new wood home was built by Lyman Crane in 1868. Rather than using the normal horizontal wood planks on the outside of the house as was normal at that time, he used a vertical wood type of siding, much like very old homes from the 1800s. This is the beginning of the legend of the Crane House.
Now the thought is that there were southern sympathizers that found out that the Bentley home was a part of the underground railway and therefore burned the house down. There were nine bodies found in the ashes. Legend says that there were large quantities of long planks found underneath the home when Lyman was excavating to build a basement for his new home. He used these nice planks as part of the outside clapboarding for his new home. Over the years since the house was built, it has had many owners and most did not live there long. Mysterious goings on had been reported for many years, people disappearing or ghastly murders associated with the home. It was totally abandoned in 1917 and no one has lived in it since then. The surprising thing was that the outside of the house never deteriorated. It looked just like the last owner, Fred Carpenter, left it in 1917. The house had a white exterior with multi-pane windows and a detached one-car garage. Now the garage was a different story. It looked a hundred years old and was leaning against the large maple tree next to it on the south side of the house. But the house looked like it always had. Electricity had not come to this area until the 1930s, so the house never had electricity run to it.
Lights were seen in the house sometime in the fall, around the middle of October to the first week or so in November. These were flickering lights or shadows seen through the clean windows. They most likely would have been from candles or kerosene lanterns that were common in the day when the residents of the house lived there. There were several attempts to tear the house down that were thwarted, but under unusual circumstances. George Martin bought the property in 1925 and was attempting to tear the house down when he woke up one morning and discovered his hands were red from some type of rash. He immediately went into Jamestown to see a doctor and was told it was a kind of hives type of thing, that he must have gotten bit or stung by something near the house, or gotten something on him to cause it. He waited almost a month for the redness to go away, and when he tried to go back to the house, he found his hands turning red the closer he got to it. He immediately abandoned the house and left the area. In 1939, a man was hired by the son of George Martin to bulldoze the house down. Before the dozer got to within ten feet of the house, the track on one side came off. Once that was fixed, he attempted to push the house down again, and as soon as the dozer blade hit the house all the electrical in the machine fried and electrocuted the man running the machine. The dozer was towed away, and the house sat for another fifty years, never aging.
This is where I come in to the story. My name is Robert Reese, but most people call me Bob. I mainly grew up in Jamestown, although some of my very early years were spent in Busti Township in the hamlet of Ashville. We moved to the country when I was about 15 and I started going to the square dances at the Busti Fire Hall on Saturday nights, as it was the best cheap entertainment around, and I met a lot of nice girls and some not so nice ones, if you know what I mean. You know that the not so nice girls would allow liberties that the nice girls wouldn't. Nuff said, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, know what I mean?
Anyway we were coming up on Halloween and I heard the story about the Crane House from some of the old-timers at the dance. We all would go outside to cool off and smoke or make out with our dates during the intermissions.
It seems that the flickering lights were back at the Crane House just last night. My friends and I had not heard of this before, so we asked the old gentleman what the story was. He gave us the back story you just read, and said that there usually was strange goings on at the Crane House ten days before, and up to six days after Halloween. They said it wasn't every Halloween, but there was no other time of year when the lights were seen. Halloween was the next Friday and they were saying that it would be a good thing that no one was expected to be around there then.
Well, we figured that this was just a load of BS the old-timers were giving us kids. Let's face it, you think that you're invincible when you're 15, especially about ghost stories. I mean, hell, we knew Santa was just a figment of some marketer's imagination way back in time to sell more stuff at Christmas. I had just moved from a house that was like a block from the largest cemetery in Jamestown, and I went all over that place as we scared little kids with our pranks every year. We used to dress up in rags put on a chalky face, blacken our eyes, and come out of the crypts and mausoleums scattered all over the cemetery; or we would just lay behind a tombstone and then scare the hell out of the kids walking through on the roads. So we knew a ghost story when we heard one.
I tried to find out all I could about this so called haunted Crane House all that next week. From what I could find out the stories were true. There has been some incidences where people have been hurt or disappeared and never heard from again over the years. Who can say what's right concerning this event? A few more people have tried to do something to the house besides enter it. It's very rare someone approaches the house around Halloween, but the house is open and anyone can walk in and look around any other time of year. But don't try to leave with anything or try to harm the house in any way, because you'll suffer the consequences if you do.
I had finally talked someone into going along with me on Friday night. It was Gordon Shumway; he was a friend from down the road where I lived. He was a year older and played fiddle in our band. I played acoustic guitar and sang, Ken played piano and electric guitar, and also sang; my cousin, Gilbert, played banjo and bass fiddle. We dubbed ourselves the 'Country Gentlemen' and mostly played at 4H dances or some of the high school dances for some of the surrounding consolidated schools.
Anyway, Gordon was the only one to come along, since I think everyone was afraid to be with me. I was the real daredevil of our bunch. I was the first to jump off the roof of the pig sty when we were kids; I jumped into the creek pond first when it was still spring runoff time. I would try just about anything for a thrill. Needless to say, I'm not that way anymore; but more on that later.
Anyway, Gordon and I went there that Friday night and walked in like we owned the place. We had flashlights, and they went out as soon as we crossed the threshold. We went back to my dad's car for the candles I made sure I brought, and lit them after we went back inside. We were about five feet from the door when it closed. It was windy tonight and the candles flickered right before the door slammed shut. We stood stock still and waited a few minutes; nothing more happened, so we went looking around. We walked all over that house except the basement. That door it was locked or stuck when I tried, because it didn't budge at all.
We walked upstairs and nothing was out of place, so we figured the whole thing was a big ghost story. We got back downstairs, and after trying the cellar door again, we were in the front room about to leave, when I felt a very cold chill run up and down my spine. Gordon had been behind me and he wasn't there when I turned around. I turned back and there was nothing there either. I turned back to look behind me again and I saw the ghostly apparition of a small girl of about nine or ten, holding a candle in one of those candle holders with the round handle to hold it with, and a plate type of thing for the candle itself. I didn't see any metal coming up around the base of the candle, so I assumed that there was a nail sticking up to put the candle on. She had come from the cellar, since I could see as the door was now open.