Paranormal Walk shows off Hamburg’s history, ghosts
Thursday October 1, 2015 | By:Andrew Manzella | News
John Koerner talking about the best ways to connect with the spirits of the dead while on a recent paranormal walk in Hamburg. Photo by Andrew Manzella.
For some, the presence of paranormal activity is a matter of obvious fact in Hamburg. For others who are more skeptical John Koerner, a professor of American history at Erie Community College, can
shed some light on the village’s spooky past with a guided tour based on historical accounts and his professional insight.
Every Saturday until October 31, Koerner will lead a walking tour of different sites in the village of Hamburg that are referenced in stories and haunted tales of the past. Specifically, the guide
touches upon a connection in Hamburg to presidential assassination conspiracies.
“I grew up in Hamburg. I am a graduate of SS Peter and Paul Grammar School in the village, and St. Francis High School, so this walk and the people who come to it make this very personal for me,” he
explained. “It seems like every week that I do the walk, I run into someone from Hamburg Junior Baseball, or one of my former classmates. I feel an obligation to show the pride that I have in being a
Hamburg native to make these walks a showcase for the truly unique paranormal history that Hamburg has to offer.”
Koerner said he added a lot of new aspects to the paranormal walk, this year, including having them on Saturday evenings, to avoid conflicts with local school events. He said he wanted to make sure
more families, who would otherwise go to high school football games, could make it.
“This year we are emphasizing more interaction with the tour-goers,” the guide explained. “Each person is encouraged to bring their own ghost-busting equipment, and take plenty of photos. Any
interesting photos get posted that night on our website.”
Photography is encouraged during the tour because some anomalies can be visible in the exposures. Koerner said the presence of orbs, fog or other images is common.
Every Saturday, two volunteer tour-goers receive a quick lesson in electromagnetic wave detecting devices, and take charge as “ghost hunters.”
Kelly Toporek, of the Hamburg village, served as one of the volunteer ghost hunters on a recent Saturday.
“I just hope we don’t go down my street,” Toporek said as the tour began. “If we do, I’m not going home tonight.”
As Toporek, and the other volunteer, a local youth named Lucas Vogt, walked with the crowd of about 20 people, the small devices in their hands blinked with red lights. This, according to Koerner,
implies the presence of certain paranormal activity.
Koerner starts his walking tour at Main Street Ice Cream, located at 35 Main St., then he takes the group down Main Street, toward the corner of Center Street. He stops at various buildings and
sites— even a church— and talks to the crowd about what the paranormal significance is there. He also offers insight into traditions that are still around today which stem from paranormal
Koerner said that two sites on the tour were added for this season and two more were “reworked”
The Kronenberg mansion, at 213 Main St., made it onto the tour this year because, according to Koerner, it has a century worth of unusual accounts.
“What is fascinating about this house is that the spirits have seemingly stayed with every owner that the home has been passed on to, and seem keenly aware of the living occupants,” he said.
He added that this year he has a more in-depth understanding of connections between Father Nelson Baker and SS Peter and Paul. Beyond the paranormal aspect, Koerner has authored books pertaining to
conspiracy, as well. A topic on the tour is a Hamburg connection to the conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy.
The final paranormal walk of the season will be on Halloween night, which falls on a Saturday.
“What better way to end your Halloween season than with us,” Koerner said about the tour. “We will have plenty of candy and some special prizes to give away that night.”
He added that there will be a discount for admission for anyone who shows up in a costume on Halloween.
For more information on the Hamburg Paranormal Walking Tour, visit its website at www.paranormalwalks.com.
Paranormal walks explore Hamburg’s ghouls and ghosts
Wednesday September 24, 2014 | By:Lizz Schumer, The Sun editor
HAMBURG — With Halloween just over a month away, ‘tis the season for things that go bump in the night. With John Koerner’s guidance, residents can explore Hamburg’s village and learn all about the
paranormal happenings that lace the area’s history.
Koerner is a historian, teacher and founder of Paranormal Walks LLC. He is also a Hamburg native and graduate of Saints Peter and Paul school and Saint Francis High School. His parents still live in
Hamburg and he said his ties to the area, as well as its wealth of history, make it a great spot to seek out the paranormal. The guide has led tours in Hamburg for three years now and this year, the
walks start off at Main Street Ice Cream on Main Street and wind through the center of town, visiting spots like SS Peter & Paul, the Verizon building, Acquired Attire, the Noco station and Next
to Nature, ending at the Unitarian Church on Union Street.
“There are a number of great stories in Hamburg,” Koerner said, adding that this year, the new route means there will be new tales to tell, even for repeat visitors. “Being a Hamburg native, I know a
lot of the sites well from growing up here, and there’s just so much going on, it’s a perfect place for a walk. Being a native, it was just a natural fit.”
Based in his own research and that of other historians, Koerner’s walks cover the “whole range of the paranormal,” including ghosts, miracles, angels, folklore, vampires, secret societies,
conspiracies and vampires. “And Hamburg has almost all of them,” Koerner added.
As a paranormal investigator, Koerner brings ghost-detecting equipment on the walks and encouraged local enthusiasts to do the same. “My tours are very interactive. People can bring their cameras or
equipment. I love when people ask questions or have stories to share,” Koerner said. “I want people to feel like they’re part of the experience.”
The tours are family-oriented, although there are some scary stories, the tour guide noted. With children of his own, he said he “knows how to respect children and their needs,” and plans the walks
accordingly. The mile-long journeys are great for couples or family outings, he said, and include free wristbands and candy for all participants. He also charges less than some other local touring
companies, and offers a printable coupon on his website, to make the night more affordable.
“Buffalo is a working-class city, and I know how hard it can be. I try to make it a fun night out for the whole family, or for a different kind of date night,” he said. On Halloween, he will be
leading a one-night special “director’s cut” walk with candy and costumes, as well as two extra sites.
“We’ll be visiting lucky 13 [stops] that night, and everyone will be in costume,” he said. “It’s a great chance for the family to come out together, get a little extra candy, wear those costumes one
more time. We may start a little later that night, give people time to get there.”
The tours travel the village every Friday night until Halloween, starting at 35 Main St. at 7 p.m. and running until about 8:30. Topics such as ghosts, UFO sightings, Hamburg’s connection to
presidential assassinations and other topics are all covered in Koerner’s walk.
“Hamburg has great examples of why things happen the way they do,” Koerner said. “We’ll talk about why ghosts are in some cases good, in some cases bad, why they haunt some people and places and not
others. I like to keep it open to everyone and just ask that people keep an open mind.”
He added that the walks continue to grow, as participants add their own perspectives to his stories.
“Last weekend, I was talking about how McKinley Mall is haunted and some lady in the group spoke up and said, ‘Yup, I work there and I can vouch for that.’ And that happens all the time; my talks are
always getting added on to and verified by participants.
“Hamburg has such a special history. People are very friendly, very open. It’s a great town.”
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
October 14, 2013
'Paranormal Walks' are a different way to tour Lockport
By Kevin Prise
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — John Koerner feels an obligation to track down the truth. As a history professor at Niagara County Community College, he describes himself as "obsessed" with the
challenge of deciphering the truth, sifting through history to learn which happenings are true and which are false.
The quest has led Koerner to develop a series of paranormal walks throughout Western New York, where the professor guides tour groups throughout area locales and educates on the mystical history
of each town. One of Koerner’s first projects has been Lockport, where he is currently guiding a series of walks for the second consecutive year.
The Lockport walk, as part of Koerner’s "Paranormal Walks" series, is offered each Saturday at 7 p.m. and takes about 90 minutes. Koerner begins each tour by introducing himself and his
credentials, then leads a walk up and down several streets, where he touches on the ghoulish history of the buildings.
Koerner, who previously wrote four books about aspects of the paranormal, said he feels a duty to teach the public about mysterious happenings in the area, if he can.
“I thought it would be appropriate to bring some of these stories to the public in a walk,” Koerner said. “I’m kind of obsessed with trying to figure out things about the unknown, that are closer
to the edge. I want to figure out what is true and what’s not true, and to bring that to the public.”
The tour this past Saturday was attended by about 60 guests, most of whom were from the Lockport area. Most walkers said they didn’t have much experience in the paranormal realm but were intrigued
by the subject and wanted to learn more about the city’s history. A few guests made the drive from southern Erie County. Boston resident Robert Yung said the drive was well worth it.
Koerner has been hosting these tours for two years, in both Lockport and Hamburg. He said he has many guests who take one tour and then feel compelled to take the other, or decide to take the same
tour a second time and bring family members. Koerner said the Lockport tour took about a year to research.
He also pointed out the organic nature of his tours, that is, how he is receptive to the introduction of new facts and ideas by tour guests who know a thing or two about the area’s paranormal
history. He added the site of the former Friendly’s restaurant due to a tip from a tourist, and also added paranormal-related information about the local Department of Motor Vehicles office after a
conversation with a few tour-takers. As a result, the same tour is never given twice, and new perspectives are added each week, Koerner said.
“I’ve found that people are very willing to share their stories and add them to the walk,” he said. “We also get a lot of photos that are sent in, and a lot of people come back and bring their
families for the second time.”
Indeed, Koerner tries to keep his walks family-oriented with a variety of fun endeavors such as encouraging walkers to sing as they go from location to location. On the way to the YMCA, Koerner
attempted a rendering of "YMCA" by The Village People, and he tried to get guests singing "Casper the Friendly Ghost" on the approach to the now-closed Friendly’s restaurant.
Saturday’s tour group included Lockport residents Molly and Joe Rex, Damon and Pam Eyre, Audrey Collesano and Jeanette Collins, who all lingered near Lake Effect Ice Cream (where the tour started
and ended) afterward to discuss the covered topics.
In respect to the unique nature of the tour, this walker will not divulge the specifics of paranormal activity discussed. I'll simply say that the tour is ongoing every Saturday night through Nov.
2, starting at 7 p.m. at Lake Effect Ice Cream, 79 Canal St. Walks through Hamburg begin at 7 p.m. Fridays through Nov. 1. Each tour costs $10 per person, and a coupon is available at www.paranormalwalks.com.
Compared to other ghost walks that are a bit more pricey, Koerner thinks he provides a solid deal. The fact that no two walks are ever the same helps keep things interesting, he added.
“We try to keep it affordable for the family. Just because of my profession of teaching history, I feel that I’m always obligated to find out the truth," he said. "We’re always trying to take
steps forward with the paranormal.”
Click image to read full article...
Conspiracy Theory: Author suggests more to McKinley Assassination than lone gunman
By Mark Graczyk (Batavia Daily
As a kid growing up in the Buffalo area, John Koerner was fascinated by the events surrounding the assassination of President William McKinley.
After all, McKinley was shot in Buffalo, at the city's Pan-American Exposition on Sept. 6, 1901. He died eight days later. Some have argued that McKinley's demise left a permanent black mark on
''To say I was obsessed with the McKinley assassination and the Exposition would be an understatement,'' Koerner said in an e-mail this week to The Daily News.
So it's no surprise the author and historian has written a new book about the murder, timed for release around the tragedy's 110th anniversary.
What makes this book noteworthy is the theme. As the title implies, ''The Secret Plot to Kill McKinley: Conspiracy, Curses and Ghosts in Western New York'' uncovers an extensive conspiracy to kill
the president that extended well beyond convicted assassin Leon Czolgosz.
Click image to read full article...
Local Historian's Passion Fuels Latest Book
by Catherine Colmerauer (Hamburg Sun)
In the oppressive late summer heat, thousands wait in line for the chance to greet the 25th President of the United States. Inside the Temple of Music at Buffalo’s Pan-American Exposition,
President William McKinley shakes hands with his public. The organist has begun to play Bach’s “Sonata in F.” The scene is merry.
Yet hidden in the crowd waits one man. A white cloth conceals the gun in his hand — the weapon that will come to murder McKinley and change the course of history.
In John Koerner’s latest book, “The Secret Plot to Kill McKinley: Conspiracy, Curses and Ghosts in Western New York,” the local historian attempts to uncover the true account of McKinley’s murder on
Sept. 6, 1901.
“It has been assumed by mainstream historians for well over a century that a single gunman acted alone in assassinating the president,” writes Koerner in his introduction. Part one of Koerner’s book
sets out to prove the intricate plot and the many hands involved in McKinley’s death.
In part two, Koerner focuses on the inexplicable phenomena that continues to haunt the locations surrounding the president’s final days.
Though many books have been written about McKinley’s assassination, Koerner believes he is the only writer to frame the murder as a conspiracy.
Click image to read full article...
GCC Instructor completes second Father Baker book
By Mark Graczyk (Batavia Daily News)
John Koerner said his first ”introduction” to Father Nelson Baker was the Father Baker Bridge, a now-demolished span in Lackawanna known for its huge potholes and questionable construction.
”I asked my parents why it was called the Father Baker Bridge and they said 'because it takes a miracle to get over it,”' Koerner said, repeating a common local punchline.
Koerner's subsequent connections to Father Baker have been more positive. The Erie County resident recently completed his second book about the beloved Buffalo area priest, who died in 1936 at age
The Father Baker Code is a sequel to Koerner's first book, The Mysteries of Father Baker, published in 2005. The new book recounts additional stories of reported miracles attributed to the
priest's intercession, many of which occurred long after his death. Father Baker founded the Basilica of Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna and also started a hospital, a home for orphans and
neglected children as well as Baker-Victory Services, which assists needy people in the area. Church leaders have begun the long process of attempting to have Father Baker declared a saint by the
Roman Catholic Church.
”I felt called to look more into this side of Baker,” Koerner said.
After his first book was published, Koerner said so many people contacted him with more miraculous stories that ”I felt there was just so much more to tell about this man.”
Thank you to everyone who made our Medina tour a success this year, including the staff at Meggie Moos.
The CIA conspiracy to assassinate JFK has specific links to our Hamburg walk. Click above to order John Koerner's second conspiracy book.
The conspiracy to execute President McKinley unfolded 115 years ago this fall, and has direct connections to our Hamburg walk. Click above to order John Koerner's first conspiracy book.
Listen to John Koerner's appearance on Richard Syrett's Conspiracy Show discussing the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination.
Click above image to listen to John Koerner's interview on Coast to Coast AM.
Click to order John Koerner's latest book
John Koerner, founder of Paranormal Walks, author, professor, and historian
John Koerner's appearance on the History Channel's "America's Book of Secrets: Presidential Assassins" can be found by clicking here.
Click above to watch John Koerner's appearance on William Shatner's "Weird or What: Paranormal Mysteries" on the History Channel.