When Dr. Thomas Mottershaw left his last career in educational administration 14 years ago, he wasn’t quite sure what he would do to fill the time in his retirement years. After all, he had already written 22 books, has been singing professionally for over 60 years, and even worked as a special agent photographer for the FBI at one time. He did know he wanted to use what he knows best – education. Specifically, educating people about American history – but he wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. He moved to a 14 acre plot of land just outside of the small town of Girard (about 15 miles south of Springfield on Route 4) and lived there many years before he decided what to do. It’s possible that the ghosts helped him with that decision. You see, Dr. Mottershaw’s home is built on old Indian burial grounds, which was determined by the artifacts found when he started planting a garden and various flower beds. Paranormal investigations have been conducted at the property to confirm a ghostly presence, but Dr. Mottershaw did not need that confirmation. “About every three months or so, right around 10 p.m., the ghosts will dance on my deck. You can’t see them, but you can hear them,”?he explained. “One time they rearranged all of the deck furniture, and another time, they left a spearhead as a gift.” Whether their existence and acceptance of the good doctor living on their land had anything or not to do with Dr. Mottershaw’s inspiration is unknown, but what has transpired over the last four years is Dr. Mottershaw’s Ghostly Legends and Historical Villages.
Mottershaw has transformed 12 acres of his property into a walk through history, with replicas of old buildings, battlegrounds, campgrounds, war camps and even cemeteries. It’s an amazing, and highly accurate, representation of four specific periods of American history- the American Revolution, Civil War, Old West and Lewis & Clark. The grounds are open for tours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., May through November. Tours are free, and take about 45 minutes. There is no need to call for reservations. If Dr. Mottershaw is not home, you are welcome to tour the villages on your own, just please make sure the doors to all buildings are closed when you exit. If he is home, you will have the pleasure of having a personal tour guide, which includes a free history lesson. “I invite school groups, scout troops, families and individuals alike to come and take a walk through history,”