Born February 20, 1974
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Robert L. Murch Jr., was born in Lewiston, Maine on February 20th 1974. He is the second and youngest child of Robert L. Murch Sr. and Carol Shulman. Robert grew up in Portland, Maine and moved to Massachusetts when his mother married for the second time to Michael Sapol. He attended Peabody Veterans Memorial High School and attended college at the University of Connecticut, University of New Hampshire, University of Massachusetts in Boston, and Salem State College. Robert married Gary Halteman on May 17th 2004 on the steps of City Hall in Salem, Massachusetts.
Robert's grandmother, Sarita Shulman, loved horror/science fiction and they often spent hours watching Creature Double Feature together. Perhaps black and white movies planted the seeds that would grow into a full fledged obsession. After watching the movie Witchboard in 1986 his strange relationship with the Ouija board began. Robert purchased his first antique Ouija board in the summer of 1993 while attending college in New Hampshire. After his second purchase he realized there were many different Ouija boards and continued collecting. Distance has never been an issue for Robert, and he is known to drive hours for a board he doesn't yet possess. Though he never mentions costs it is rumored he has spent a small fortune collecting these rare talking boards. He currently claims to own over 300 different talking boards. He also collects all things William Fuld.
As he studied the history of the Ouija board and William Fuld, he often found inaccurate and poorly researched articles. This inspired his extreme research methods often traveling to Maryland and tracking down descendants of all those involved with the invention of the Ouija board. He has spent over fifteen years uncovering the final resting places of these gentleman that have been long lost to history. To date he has discovered the grave sites for William Fuld, Isaac Fuld, Elijah Bond, Harry Welles Rusk, William H. A. Maupin, Col. Washington Bowie, Washington Bowie, Jr., Charles Kennard, and E. C. Reiche. John T. Green's grave continues to elude him and that search continues.
In the fall of 1997 Robert Murch found himself in the middle of the ninety-six year old Fuld family feud. While researching the history of William Fuld and the Ouija board, he created a website called “OuijaWitch's Wonderful World of Talking Boards.” Through the site he received e-mails from both Kathy Fuld, William Fuld's granddaughter, and Stuart Fuld, Isaac Fuld's grandson. Both Kathy and Stuart had similar questions about their family and through those questions were able to bridge a century and bury the hatchet. With Robert's urging, Kathy called Stuart and the family feud was over. Though the Fuld family often credits him with ending the feud he prefers to credit them and the Ouija board. Robert Murch is the Fuld family's personal historian and is considered the foremost expert on the history of William Fuld and the Ouija board.
Kathy and Robert believed that between the two of them they had the perfect formula to launch the next generation of talking boards. On January 6th 1999 Kathy and Robert filed for a trademark on the word Cryptique and two copyrights on its directions and on the layout of the board. They then incorporated in Maryland under the name Thomas & Long, LLC. On October 14th 1999 they assigned the interests of those registrations to that company.
That next year Kathy decided to step back from the company and become Cryptique's biggest fan. Robert and his then fiance now husband, Gary Halteman, incorporated in Massachusetts as Spirited Ventures Inc. On September 9th 2000 Thomas & Long, LLC assigned the Cryptique trademark and both copyrights to Spirited Ventures, Inc. They also registered a new trademark Let The Spirit Move You®. This mark became Cryptique's tag line and appeared on its planchette or seer. With that move to Massachusetts Cryptique officially became “A Spirit Board from Salem, Massachusetts” which appeared on the front of its box as well.
Since then Robert has worked with DreamWorks Studios as their Ouija consultant on the movie What Lies Beneath and made appearances on Showtime's Bullshit!, The Travel Channel, MTV, the BBC, and Australian radio, U. S. radio, and on A & E's Paranormal State. He has also been featured in articles published in the Associated Press, USA Today, CNN.com, ABCNews.com and various local newspapers. He is often interviewed and consulted for books and other projects dealing with Ouija or talking boards and is an occasional guest presenter at Salem's annual Festival of the Dead.
In October of 2007 Robert Murch discovered Elijah Jefferson Bond’s unmarked grave in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. He then worked tirelessly with the cemetery and eventually received permission to install a gravestone for Bond. Coincidentally, it was during this process that he also located Walter Dent, Jr., Bond’s great grand nephew and Winifred Pierce, his great great grandniece. Walter Dent was 98 at the time, and he and his daughter generously gave Murch their family’s permission to erect a memorial for Bond.
Tegeler Monuments agreed to take on the project and began crafting Bond’s headstone while Murch raised the necessary funds to pay for the memorial. Thanks to these people and Murch’s hard work there is now a place where Ouija fans can visit and pay their respects to the man who first patented a favorite piece of Americana.
In the summer of 2008 Robert Murch was contacted by Nick Young who's great uncle, Joe Young, co-wrote the 1920 hit “Ouija Mine.” Nick, lead singer for rock-electroclash band A. I., was looking for a copy of the sheet music and Murch was happy to oblige. Working with the descendants of those involved with the Ouija board is Murch's specialty.
Also in the summer of 2008, Robert Murch began working with Michael Albert, President of Papa's Toys, who currently manufactures the Canadian Ouija board. With the help of Albert, The Toronto Public Library, and the McMaster Library, Murch has successfully traced the Ouija through it's many Canadian locations and document it's development throughout Canada. Without this information much of the Ouija's Canadian past would be lost.
Robert L Murch Jr., resides in Boston, Massachusetts. He is presently working with Baltimore city officials, the Maryland Historical Society, The Baltimore Museum of Industry, and the Maryland State Archives to preserve their Ouija legacy and document their favorite son, William Fuld. While he continues his research he is currently working with Eugene Orlando from the Museum of Talking Boards to co-write a book about the history of the Ouija board. What's next for Murch? Just ask the Ouija board!
To contact Robert Murch click here.