Cayla Gregory grew up in the small town of Fox Lake, Wisconsin. She said her family has always been close and that they were very close with her grandparents. Her grandparents, she explained, lived at the old Fox Lake Prison farm. She shared that the prison was located just behind the farm and Cayla remembers visiting her grandparents and reading prisoners’ names that were painted on the ceiling of the old corn crib. Cayla shared that even as a child, she could “sense things” at her grandparents’ farm. As a little girl, she said, “I always felt I was being watched.”
When she isn’t fulfilling her role as a Senior Collections Representative at Marine Credit Union (MCU), Cayla and her husband Steve now spend a lot of their free time as professional ghost hunters and are members of the Fox Valley Ghost Hunters. In addition to running tours at the Sheboygan insane asylum, they investigate all over the country. “When I was growing up,” Cayla shared, “there was a ghost hunters show. I would sit and watch it. I became obsessed with it.” She shared that her passion for ghost hunting grew until she had the opportunity to eventually experience it herself.
“My husband fueled it,” she continued. “It’s one of our favorite things to do.” She shared they even took a ghost tour on their honeymoon while in Key West.
Cayla said they have a variety of instruments and investigating tools including thermal and full spectrum cameras. Had she ever seen anything? “Once in a while,” she shared, “but it is heavy on experiences. One time it was pitch black and I saw a white apparition passing from left to right.” She said their instruments were “going crazy.”
“My husband was the biggest skeptic,” she continued. “so, if he believes it …”
“He has a logical thinking mind,” she added, of her husband. “He was in the military and is all black and white and routine. I’m more whimsical and fly by the seat of my pants,” she said with a laugh. “We are opposites, but so so much the same too.”
“There were only two times I was scared,” Cayla admitted. “Last year we were at a house in Minnesota. There was a huge bang that shook the whole house. I was alone and thought, ‘What was that!’ The other time, she explained they were on an investigation and even had their kids along. “They love ghost hunting,” Cayla shared. She said she “got nervous” that time because the front door creaked open, and they heard footsteps … and then there was a “huge bang.”
“It was weird,” she continued. “Nothing was happening, then the creak and footsteps. Our equipment went crazy. Then a huge bang. Then nothing.” She admitted she was scared that time and hide behind her husband.
Cayla shared that she was fearless when she was younger. At one point in her life, though, Cayla shared, “I lost myself. I lost my balance.”
That was when Cayla went through, what she called “a domestic violence situation.” After that, she started self-medicating with alcohol. And it wasn’t until much later that she said she had her “com to Jesus moment.” It was the day she met her current husband on January 1, 2018. She has been sober since January 2 of that same year.
“I found my strength again through my husband,” she said. “I quit drinking and didn’t even tell him for six months.”
She said she did call her mom and dad though, “every single day.” Her dad and her now have matching phoenix tattoos to symbolize rising from the ashes and her parents and her, on her fourth anniversary of her sobriety, now all have wolf tattoos to symbolize strength and overcoming.
Cayla smiled and continued. “My husband was okay with me being me. At one time I felt it wasn’t okay to just be me. I was finally given permission from the world to be myself.”
She said that her sobriety was “the thing I hold as the most inspirational thing in my life.”
“As an adult living in rural Wisconsin, there isn’t much to do outside of drinking,” she added. “Ghost hunting stuff has giving me the ability to form a life where I remember everything I do and, I enjoy it,” she shared. “It feels like I am doing everything for the first time. It is the best gift to just find joy again.”
Cayla has certainly found joy with her family too. “I have the Brady Bunch,” she shared with a smile. Steve brought his two boys, Ryan (13) and Michael (7) and Cayla, her two girls, Morgan (13) and Max (10).
Morgan, Cayla explained is the “easy” child. Having Morgan at a young age, Cayla said, “We grew up together. She is a spitfire and Steve, her dad, is her world. She is an inspiration and a badass. She plays tackle rugby and football. Her goal is to be a paramedic. This kid is driven.”
Ryan, she shared is into ghost hunting and is even buying his own equipment. “He’s musical and has a lovely singing voice. He’s a kind soul; the first person to understand when someone’s hurt.”
Then Max. “She’s the odd duck,” Cayla laughed. “She is so firm in who she is, and nobody can tread on that. If I left her abandoned alone in the woods … she would survive.”
And their youngest, Michael. “He is a little sweetheart.”
And of her husband, Cayla explained, “He just a pillar of strength. He has overcome so much. I could not be more thankful for God bringing him to me. He is my best friend in the entire world.”
And Cayla works hard to be that same strength for others, especially members who have fallen on hard times and are facing losing their homes. “I have been through it,” she explained, “all the way through a sheriff’s sale. It is not something you want to experience. I don’t want to go through what we went through,” she added and said she understands what members are experiencing. But she said that after making it through her own adversities, she has hope for her members, too. She said that it is important that she understands each member and what their story looks like.
She shared that she has over 30 members she is currently working with and she knows them all by name. “We go on a journey with them that lasts months to a year. For me … it’s extremely personal. I spend more time talking to them than my friends or family. Their wins are personal,” she added and so are their losses.
Her heart is the heart that seems to permeate all the employees at MCU. “There is not a better company to work for,” Cayla shared. “I feel cared about. The leadership team – they know who I am. They care about the employees and create an environment where you feel you are working with family.”
Cayla even went as far as referring her mom to MCU and her mom now works as a loan processor there. “She’s a saint among sinners,” Cayla said of her mom. Her parents, she added are “cool human beings.”
Cayla wanted to add that she hopes her story reaches someone who has gone through similar times to help them to know that there is hope.
MCU, she added, “is a great place to come to work on and rebuild yourself.” She said it was where “Cayla Gregory grew” into who she could be. “You won’t find that environment everywhere you go.”