Let the Spirits Be With You

let the spirits be with you Wesley Culp – Down on The Farm

The story of Wesley Culp is well known and documented in the annals of Gettysburg history. As a boy and young man, he grew up playing around town with his two close friends, Jennie Wade and Jack Skelley. Prior to the Civil War he moved to Virginia with the company that employed him as a carriage maker. Having made new friends and joining the local militia, it was only natural that he cast his lot with the Confederate Army when the war began. He served bravely in the famous Stonewall Brigade.

Just prior to the battle of Gettysburg, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia won a victory in Winchester, Virginia. After the battle, Wesley spotted a group of captured Union soldiers. Among these soldiers was a group of boys from Gettysburg. This is where he found his good friend and boyhood companion Jack Skelley seriously wounded. While visiting his friend the next day, he promised to deliver two personal messages (whenever he returned to Gettysburg): One to Jennie Wade, the other to Jack’s parents. Neither message was written down; they would be delivered in person.

Wes returned to Gettysburg with the army and attempted to deliver the messages on the evening of July 2nd. It was not to be. Jennie Wade was at her sister’s home South of town between enemy lines. Jack’s parents were hiding in a neighbor’s cellar and could not be found!

The next morning, Wesley Culp was dead, shot while fighting on his uncle’s farm on Culp’s Hill. Jennie Wade was to meet her maker within the hour, killed by a stray confederate bullet while making biscuits at her sister’s house. Jack died of his wounds just nine days later in Winchester, Virginia.

***

I was along East Confederate Avenue photographing monuments when a troop of Boy Scouts came hurrying down the road; they stopped to rest not far from where I was parked near Spangler’s meadow. As I approached my vehicle, the leader hurried over to me and asked if I had seen a lone Confederate going through the area? At first I thought he was talking about a reenactor and said “no not lately.” He began to get all excited as he told me that as his group hiked down the road near the Culp farm, they were approaching a man in a confederate uniform staring toward Culp’s Hill. He seemed normal at first but as they got about 200 feet away, they realized that something was not right. As the figure turned to look in their direction, he seemed to move in slow motion; very “unreal” is how the scoutmaster described it. A moment later he turned again toward the Culp farm and as he did, he disappeared. They were certain that they had just been given a rare opportunity to look into the “other side” and were now hurrying back to their cars to make a hasty getaway back to camp.

Peggy Noel’s Untold Story

She had been enjoying the stroll along the trail by the water taking in the ambiance of the early morning light, when to her surprise, she saw a woman standing in the creek.  At that point she was surprised that the woman was wearing a long full dress.  She thought it odd that she would be wearing that in summer with the temperatures at 70 degrees and why go out into the water with such an outfit?  She continued down the trail closer to the woman and got a very clear look.  The woman in the creek had her back to the visitor, she was bent at the waist with her hands down in the water.  As she watched this sight, her curiosity turned to horror as slowly the image in the water stood straight up.  Standing there turning toward her was the body of a woman in a colonial costume with no head.  At first, she felt she couldn’t move, watching the image coming toward her.  Finally, after what seemed like forever, she began to run falling from time to time in the dim light.  She made her way back to the security of her family in the camper.

After hearing the story, the son went to search the creek as the father and daughter cared for Mom.  There was nothing to be found even though he looked for over an hour.  They didn’t know what to make of Mom’s story.  They thought she had certainly seen something, but what?  She was too shaken to be imagining it.  What should they do?  They decided to go on a ghost tour and tell the story, hoping to find an answer.

I don’t know who was more shocked, me at hearing the story of the Mother or the rest of the family, at hearing my reply.  I took them to the side, sat them on a bench and warned them that what I was about to relay to them could be quite disturbing.  They said they needed to know, so I told the story of Peggy Noel.

The response was unexpected.  Dad, daughter and son seemed quite upset even unnerved to hear the ghostly tale.  Mom on the other hand was relieved.  Relieved to hear that others had had similar experiences.  Relieved that now she knew she wasn’t going crazy.  Amazingly, she seemed anxious to go back and see if the ghostly apparition would return again next morning.

I often think about that family.  I wonder how they slept that night next to Marsh Creek.  I continue to hope that I see them again on one of my tours, so I can find out if anything happened the next morning.

Supernatural Bedlam on Baltimore Street (Part 1)

A woman who resides in Hanover, about 16 miles East of Gettysburg, gave me a very interesting story about a house in Gettysburg on Baltimore Street. She had grown-up in this house back in the 1930’s and 40’s and this house was her home for 25 years.

I first met Anna in the year 2000. Anna, a very bright and talkative woman in her eighties, had very vivid memories of those early years in Gettysburg. She could remember the names of her friends and their addresses. The teachers that she had throughout her school days, the stores she had shopped in and even the names of the shopkeepers.

Happy times were her favorite memories. Playing games with friends, hikes around the battlefield, birthday parties, Christmas festivities were some of her remembrances. A big smile would cross her face when she spoke of boyfriends and romance stories.

Some of the conversations were sullener and sadder as she talked about Gettysburg during World War II. The war efforts in town, the boys that went off to war, and the ones that did not return. Fortunately for Anna, her two brothers had returned after serving three years in the Navy.

All these stories occupied a lot of the time that I spent in Anna’s company. One day, however, I learned that there were other stories of a much more sinister nature. I had recently started a new job as a Ghost Storyteller in April 2001 when I again saw Anna. She wanted to know what I had been doing and when I told her of my new job, she got a look upon her face of deep thought. After a moment or two, she asked if I really believed in ghosts? When I answered yes–she opened up with a whole new story of Gettysburg.

The house that she had grown up in was definitely–HAUNTED. From her earliest recollection, she knew that someone else resided in the home with her family. On more than one occasion during dinner as the family of six (Mom, Dad, Anna, her younger sister Betty and two older brothers, Al and Jim) gathered around the table, they knew they were not alone. A cold sensation would be felt and an incoherent voice of a man holding a conversation with an unseen companion could be heard. During one evening meal the conversation turned into an argument as the voice got louder and louder. It came to an abrupt end as a thud was heard on the table. An unseen fist must have struck the table in anger, hard enough that Anna heard her silverware rattle and saw the water in her glass ripple.

After that episode, the coldness was not felt for over a month and no voice was heard. It appeared that finally there was peace in the realm of the Spirits. But alas, the peace did not last. Day after day, week after week for over a year or more the coldness returned followed by the voice. Then one day, the fight broke out again. After that, the cycle would continually repeat itself over and over again.

The staircase was another area of concern if you wished to avoid the spirits of the house. Randomly, the family members experienced the sound of either a child or a woman’s soft footsteps coming down the stairs at a rather hurried pace. If you happened to be on the stairs at the time you would sometimes smell the aroma of flowers trailing behind. Anna said that after the first few encounters, she became used to this visit from the other side, but you could never adjust to what would happen late at night. Like clockwork at approximately 11:00 PM, heavy footsteps would be heard coming through the front door and slowly deliberately pound its way up the stairs to the second floor. The journey was sometimes accompanied by a man’s low-pitched voice–but what did it say? Every member of the family heard the voice, but only Albert thought he could make out what was being said. “I am home and you had better be here!” If that wasn’t unnerving enough, the slamming of a heavy door would be heard just after the footsteps reached the top of the staircase. No door was ever seen slamming but that sound certainly got the attention of all that heard it.

Many other unexplained activities took place and were experienced by Anna and the other family members. Lights going on or off, items disappearing and returning days later. The windows sometimes would open but never close. Anna said there were times when her covers would be pulled off the bed. The family grew as accustomed as possible to these spirited activities, but there was one area in the house that frightened everyone…

Supernatural Bedlam on Baltimore Street (Part 2)

The second floor was divided into comfortable bedrooms with plenty of room for everyone, but there was a room at the top of the stairs that Anna’s father kept locked. No one including Anna’s mother was to ever enter that room. It was strictly off limits. Anna and her siblings loved to speculate about the contents of the secret room. As children would, they had many imaginary reasons why the room was private–Did Dad keep the family fortune hidden there? Maybe even better than that–a hidden treasure of pirates’ gold or perhaps a whiskey still left over from prohibition where he made home brew? Then again it could be simply a place where their Christmas and birthday gifts were hidden. Brother Jim had a theory that maybe it was not locked to keep the family out, but rather keep something in. Jim may have been right!

It may have been Anna’s imagination but over the years she was sure that she heard knocking sounds, footsteps and many different voices coming from behind the locked door. But what happened in 1946 wasn’t her imagination. Dad had passed away and Mom was moving from the home. Anna, who had recently moved away from the area returned with her brothers to help their Mother. As they were inventorying and packing what items were left to sell, Albert came across the key to the secret room. The three siblings agree to go in together.

As Al opened the door, a damp, musty odor rushed from the room through the threesome, exposing a room of antique furniture covered with dust and cobwebs. When Al attempted to enter, he could not. He rushed out heading down the corridor saying that “he felt nauseated”. Anna and Jim did go into the room but Anna reported a feeling of pressure on their chests as if something was trying to keep them out. As they stood there taking it all in Anna recalls they heard a voice saying, “I am here, I am still here.” At about the same time Anna says she saw a chair began to levitate, a picture fell from the wall and the door slammed shut behind them!

Anna said she and Jim turned and ran from the room never to enter again. When the house was sold, it was sold “as is” with the furniture, dust, cobwebs and ghosts undisturbed.

Whatever secret Anna’s dad knew about the room, he took it to his grave. Anna had a friend from Gettysburg in the 1950’s who told her that rumors around the Borough said that an evil entity had possessed that house. The friend had also heard that the owner was desperate and was looking into having an exorcism performed. Whether that ever happened or not was unknown to Anna so her story ends here.

During a recent interview with the owner, I found that the hauntings continue to this day. Display areas are disturbed, voices are heard, ghostly footsteps continue to ascend the old wood staircase. The ghostly images of an elderly woman have been seen sitting, staring out the first-floor window near the entrance.

Additional stories and information about the the Bedlam on Baltimore Street Story are provided by the owner.

General Supernatural Facts About the Bedlam on Baltimore Street

“For Your Information”

Emanuel Bushman built the house in 1901.

A woman named Christine occupied the house during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Her last name may have been Rosensteel. She cared for her parents in the house and both parents died in the parlor. (The room to the left as you face the building).

She was a mean recluse who despised children. She would not allow them into the home even if they came with their parents. She spent hours sitting in the alcove (to the right of the door) constantly watching any activity outside.

“Supernatural Activity”

*Inside the door near the register and under the stairs.
1) Clock chimes for no reason. Starts and stops.
2) Coldness is felt near the register and a presence is also experienced.
3) Radio is left on all day & night, it seems to please the spirits and drowns out strange sounds.

*Stairway
1) Soft or maybe barefoot steps are heard coming down the stairs.
2) Perfume has been experienced on the stairs.
3) The owners pet dog sometimes stop and stares as if it’s watching someone.

*Display Areas
1) Platters have fallen off the wall.
2) Cards have flown off display racks.
3) Closet doors have slammed shut when no draft was experienced.

*Bedroom at top of stairs–end of hallway (Christine’s Room)
1) Doorknob turns and rattles.
2) Doors are heard banging–but none have moved when inspected.
3) The light comes on by itself.
4) Tags are removed from sale items.
5) Clothes on mannequin are rearranged.

*Additional Bedroom
1) Air gets let out of air mattress as if the spirits don’t want guests.
2) The owner has seen a spirit standing at the foot of the bed watching her.

*Other Impressions
1) Past owner felt threatened by spirits.
2) Spirit favors men and interacts with them more.
3) Renters in rear apartment say their cat can sense when the spirits are present.
4) A bright glow has been seen under the doors coming from dark rooms. Owner interviewed on Thursday, May 19, 2006.

The Battle of Broadway and Beyond (Part 1)

The town of Gettysburg has grown to such an extent since 1863, that most residents from that period would have a hard time recognizing their small town.  On the north side of town, there wasn’t much residential property past the railroad tracks where Abe Lincoln traveled from Hanover to Gettysburg in November 1863.  The area was a rural mix of farms and fields.

Over those fields on July 1, 1863, the soldiers of both North and South battled.  The Confederates trying to advance toward town while the Yankees made a desperate attempt to hold at all cost.  Eventually, the rebel army would be victorious on this day, but it was not easy.  Many a brave northern soldier would lose his life as they made attempt after attempt to hold on.

With so much determined and desperate fighting going on over this area, it is only natural for the spirit energy to remain behind.  Today, the stories of hauntings are many but I believe that there are many more stories still waiting to emerge from the realm of the unknown to be told at a later date.

For now, I would like to relate the stories of a few of the ghosts who have made it through to our side in the hope that their bravery and sacrifice might be recorded.

Along the northernmost street of town, Broadway, there are many fine homes that have been built over the years.  They may not have been standing at the time of the battle, but they may as well have been.  It seems that the fighting continues around and through this neighborhood.  Just to the north, where the Union artillery made a determined resistance, unseen cannons are still heard firing away at an invisible enemy.  Through the neighborhood ghostly muskets are firing at the advancing army of spirits.  Orders are still being shouted out and footsteps are heard.  It seems that the route of the Union army is still going on around this part of town.

Not far away, in fact, just down the street, another ghostly encounter takes place on Coster Avenue just off Stratton Street.  There is a beautiful mural on the wall of a block building depicting the stand made by Costers’ Union soldiers.  The hauntings here are not as loud and audible as those are on Broadway, but they may be a bit more unnerving and dramatic.  The scream of a man in pain has been heard breaking the silence and solitude of this seldom visited area.  After the scream, if you listen closely, you might hear a man’s voice softly moaning and calling out for help.

The Battle of Broadway and Beyond (Part 2)

If this is not enough excitement for you, keep your eyes open.  A lone soldier has been seen in this area limping along, looking for something or someone.  There is no doubt that he is not among the living as you can see the monuments and other features right through this man.  Some say, that he actually comes right out of the painting to take a look into our side.  I really don’t know if that is possible or not, but whoever he is, he must have a deep-felt connection with what happened here in the fields north of town.

Recently on a Ghostly Images Trolley Tour as the driver was approaching the Coster Mural his headlights lit up the darkened area.  There to his surprise he clearly saw a young woman in civil war period clothing walking among the monuments.  Knowing that few visitors ever venture to this site during the day—much less at night he was surprised and curious.  As he pulled to a stop, he kept a close eye on the woman.  There is no doubt that she had crossed over from the other side.  As surprised as he was to see her there, he was startled to watch her suddenly disappear.  Who she was, we may never know for sure? But that driver will never forget her image and he will gladly tell his tale whenever he drives the Haunted Trolley.