Wednesday night the other members of the Granite Hill Campground staff and I went on a Ghost Tour. It started out at the parking lot across the street from the National Soldiers Museum at 777 Baltimore Street in Gettysburg. Gettysburg is called the most haunted city in the United States, because so many people lost their lives here during the Battle of Gettysburg. The tour we took focused on two places, The Gettysburg Orphanage and the Jenny Wade House. The photo above is of Bob, our tour guide.
Back in the days of the civil war, if your father died, you became an orphan. The story goes that Amos Humiston, a Union soldier from upstate New York, died of his wounds on York Street, clutching a photograph of his three children. Because he had no identification on his body, and his unit had already moved on before he died, no one knew his name. A reporter for a Philadelphia newpaper latched onto this story and turned it into a public interest story. He published the account, which was passed on to many newspapers, until it reached Humiston’s wife. She came forward to claim the photograph. The reporter then started a campaign to open an orphanage in Gettysburg to care for the children left behind by the many soldiers killed in the war. Shown above is a photo of Amos Humiston’s three children.
Philinda Humiston was named the first Matron of the orphanage, and moved with her children to Gettysburg. She was kind and took good care of the children who lived there. When she remarried, she left Gettysburg.
The new Matron, Rosa Carmichael, was an evil woman.There is evidence that Rosa shackled children with chains to the walls of the cellar. She would also chain them to a rail fence in the hot sun, leaving them all day long to suffer sunburns, with no food or water. Children were locked in outhouses and sheds on the property in the winter, forced to stay out all night in the freezing cold. The two pictures above and below show chains used to shackle the children in the dark, damp cellar of the orphanage.
Many people have claimed to have seen the ghosts of children in the cellar and yards of the orphanage house. Others have felt something tug at their hair or at their clothing while they were walking through the cellar. There are many photographs showing orbs, ectoplasma, or ghostly outlines of children that were taken at this location. Although I did not see any ghosts while there, I did feel the sadness of the place. The chains and shackles are still there.
A short walk down the street brought us to the Jenny Wade House. Jenny was a twenty year old woman, who was the only civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg. She was staying with her sister, helping out because her sister had just had a baby. Jenny was in the kitchen of her sister’s house, making biscuits, when a stray bullet went the wall of the house and struck her in the back. She was found dead in the kitchen.
Because of the battle raging around them, the family laid Jenny’s body out on a slab in the cellar of the house for two days. There are many stories of Jenny’s ghost haunting this house. There was also a story told about her father, who was getting forgetful, and did not believe his daughter was dead. He would often walk into the cellar looking for her, thinking Jenny was just hiding from him. Years later, people say he still comes into the cellar looking for her.
There are also spirits of children from the orphanage across the street, who come to play in the house, because the occupants of the house during the time they were alive, were kind to them and often allowed them to come in and play there. Photographs on the walls in the Jenny Wade house show the ghostly images of children in the background and in mirrors in the house.
These last two photos were taken at the Jenny Wade House. The first one is of a depiction of Jenny’s body laid out in the cellar. The second one is part of a painting showing Jenny’s sister and other family members at her wake, while they waited for the battle to cease so they could bury her body.
I don’t know if these ghosts exist or not. I know I didn’t see any on this tour. If you are ever in Gettysburg, take the tour and decide for yourself.