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Ghost of Gettysburg VI

From the series on ghosts of Gettysburg by Mark Nesbitt

Mark Nesbitt was born in 1949 in Lorain, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Lorain High School in 1967 and from Baldwin College in 1971. He moved to Gettysburg, PA, to work for the U.S. Park Service in 1972.

He left the park service in 1976 and has published twelve books including the "Ghosts of Gettysburg" series which have been turned into programs seen on A&E, The History Channel, and Unsolved Mysteries and Sightings. He started his own freelance writing and research business in 1977. He is currently working on writing novels.

An Excerpt From Ghosts of Gettysburg VI

By Mark Nesbitt

THE GHOST HOUSE

Well what is this that I can’t see? Ice cold hands taking hold of me. I am Death none can excel; I open the door to Heaven or Hell....
-O Death, Traditional

Many of the people who enter the Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tours® Headquarters to purchase tickets for the tour inquire whether they will be allowed to enter a haunted house.

The answer to that question is simple...and ominous: “You’re already standing in one.”

All who take the tours pass, usually without knowing it, through the doors of our own haunted house. Customers are allowed to wander through areas where visions of spirit orbs and spectral children dwell; where long dead residents or perhaps soldiers, true to their duty unto death (and beyond) still practice their defunct lives and manifest themselves by talking, touching and interacting with employees and visitors alike. Other areas in the house, off limits to visitors for very good reasons, have revealed childlike, ghostly, spirit orbs playing games and taunting one another, and unseen hands playing tricks on employees. True, documented events have happened and continue to happen within the walls that once contained the bodies and souls of Confederate soldiers and Gettysburg townsfolk alike.

Even before reports of paranormal happenings began to emerge about the Tour Headquarters, employees began calling it “The Ghost House.” After the last six years inhabiting it, all who work there have realized that the name “The Ghost House” is entirely appropriate...and all too prophetic.1

In 1997 Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tours®-established in Gettysburg in 1994 as the very first ghost tour company-purchased a building on the corner of Baltimore and Breckenridge Streets from which to conduct tours. Like many of the historic structures in town, it was built in stages. In 1834 a small building used as a carriage trimmer’s shop appears on the tax rolls. According to the Pennsylvania Historical Resource Survey prepared by historian Elwood W. Christ, Jacob Heck was assessed $175, probably for the “one story frame shop” on his property in 1834. By 1837 he was assessed 2.6 times that much for improvements on the property. This would correspond with the building of the two-story brick section that fronts Breckenridge Street. That documentation makes it one of the older structures in the borough of Gettysburg.

On September 24, 1849 Andrew Woods, a carriage trimmer and dealer, and his wife Sarah purchased the property and continued to own it through the maelstrom outside their door known to history as the Battle of Gettysburg. The next increase in tax assessment does not appear until 1888 and corresponds to the construction of the section that faces Baltimore Street.

So to visualize the structure as it appeared during the battle, one must stand on Breckenridge Street and erase in their mind the windowless eastern gabled section to the right.

According to Christ’s report, in July of 1863, the house became part of the Confederate battlelines which stretched through the town. “The second story of the house afforded sharpshooters a vantage point from which to harass Federal troops in the vicinity of the Rupp Tannery and along the Emmitsburg Road towards the Dobbin House.” So, picture rifled-muskets emerging from the windows on the balcony roaring with fire and smoke, then being withdrawn to be reloaded. In fact, to the right of the middle door, there is a chip in the brick, made by a minie ball from the Federal troops near the cemetery.

Christ also reported that the Henry Comfort house, immediately to the north and the James Pierce house, across Breckenridge Street on the corner, both became temporary field hospitals, which would indicate that Andrew Woods may have seen his share of wounded and dead in and around his house as well.

Picture then, as you stand looking at the balconied section, the two story structure with Confederate soldiers wandering in and out, sharpshooters at the second floor windows firing away at Yankees several hundred yards behind you, and wounded rebels making their way into the house or down into the cellar of the structure to rest until their turn on the operating table.

Some would eventually be transported, either by their own army to safety in the South, or by the Union soldiers as prisoners to the Camp Letterman Hospital. Others would never leave the house on the corner-at least as living beings. Some, it appears, left a remnant of themselves to remain within “The Ghost House” to this day.

But to help your imagination, we have an eyewitness account of what it looked like just two days after the battle.

Leonard Marsden Gardner wrote Sunset Memories: A Retrospect of a Life lived during the last Seventy Five Years of the Nineteenth Century 1831-1901. In it he described Gettysburg as it appeared on Sunday, July 5, 1863:

“The wounded had been removed but the dead lay unburied and the ground was strewn with abandoned muskets, knapsacks, canteens and other accoutrements of war. The houses were marked with shot and shell on both sides of the street. Some with ugly gaps in the wall and others with a well defined hole where the cannon ball entered. A frame building particularly attracted my attention. It stood in a position facing the Union front and the weather boarding from top to within a few feet of the ground was literally honey-combed with the minie balls. No boards were torn or displaced but thousands of neat round holes marked the places where the balls entered.”

Gardner continues his narrative, specifically describing the corner upon which “The Ghost House” stands:

“Passing on I came to the point where Breckenridge Street connects with Baltimore. There a barricade was thrown across the street. Through an opening at one end I led my horse and remounting I rode on down the street. A few persons only could be seen on the pavements. A scene of desolation and death was presented all the way. The unburied dead and the mangled remains of human bodies, mingled with debris of broken gun carriages, muskets, bayonets, and swords, which lay around in confusion on that lonely street in the quiet Sabbath morning, was one of those pictures of desolation which will never fade from my mind.”2

On March 26, 1866, Woods sold the house and lot to a cobbler and his wife for $1,000 cash. David Kitzmiller and his wife Mary owned the house for 26 years. When they moved into the house, they brought with them at least one child, Charles B. Kitzmiller. At least two Kitzmiller children-Eva Jane and William Henry-were born in the house. And at least one Kitzmiller offspring associated with the house died: William Henry died on February 1, 1899 at 24 years of age. There were perhaps more deaths in the house.

A mysterious entry in the Kitzmiller genealogical record in the list of the children of David and Mary Ann states, “Babes-number unspecified.” As well, while not giving a specific date of death, first-born George Edward was baptized just 12 days after his birth (when the Kitzmillers usually waited a year or so before baptizing their offspring) indicating that his survival was in question. But there is no death date nor burial site specified for George Edward, nor names, dates of birth or death for the “Babes-number unspecified.” They seem to just disappear from the records of the family and the house.

If a visitor to the Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tour® Headquarters would like to walk in the footsteps of a near tragedy, they can walk behind the property into the alley behind the Carriage House and trace the near dragging to death, in 1880, of 15-year-old Charles Kitzmiller.

According to a local newspaper, The York Springs Comet, “...Charles Kitzmiller (son of David)...living on South Baltimore Street [in the Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tour® Headquarters], Gettysburg, met with what might have proved a serious accident. He was herding a cow in the alley, having a strap attached to the chain. He thoughtlessly looped the strap around his waist when off started the cow and dragged the boy from above Comfort’s shop [the house just north of the Headquarters] out to Buckinridge [sic, i.e. Breckenridge] Street and thence to Baltimore Street, passing Pierce’s Corner [Southwest corner of Baltimore and Breckenridge].”3

Someone caught the cow and released the young man before he sustained anything more than just a few bruises

In 1888, David and Mary Ann built the Baltimore Street-facing section and replaced the outbuilding on the alley with a larger structure-now the Carriage House-between 1907 and 1912.

David died in 1914, and upon Mary’s death the house passed on to the surviving children who sold it out of the family.

As with any history, mysteries remain. As with nearly every historic house in Gettysburg, mysterious happenings and unexplainable events abide, perhaps as evidence of an unsettled past and an uneasy present.
As you enter the house, you might be surprised. It certainly doesn’t look like a “Ghost House.” But in that first room a number of dark, unexplainable, paranormal events have occurred.

Corinne, a manager at the Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tours® was alone in the house one night. She was between tours and the phone had finally stopped ringing for a moment. The place was quiet...until she heard something entirely out of place. Echoing softly from the dark stairwell across the room-and apparently across decades of time as well-came footsteps. She heard them lightly descend, one step at a time, and could actually follow the sounds, as the footfalls came slowly down the stairs and stopped at the bottom. She peered into the darkened hall, but saw no one. She bravely walked around the information desk and cautiously peeked around the corner to the foot of the stairs. No one-at least no one visible-was there.

Two hours later, she was talking to a person at the desk and was listening rather absentmindedly, letting her mind wander a bit, unknowingly putting her mind in a state where it is more receptive to the supernatural. Slowly, from the darkness at the bottom of the stairs, out of nothing, there materialized a small boy, age 6 or 7. “He had dirty blonde hair,” she recalled, and described him wearing a light shirt with dark pants and suspenders. He stood there, looking into the front room, at the oddly out-of-place (at least to him) information desk and strangely dressed (again from his point in time) people. Then, as suddenly as he had entered this strange world, he left it, before Corinne’s eyes could pick up any more detail of what was clearly an impossibility anywhere else but in “The Ghost House.”

Beginning in the spring of 2002, a visible, tangible, moving reminder of someone-or something-has frightened a number of employees as they freshened up in the employee’s restroom, tucked beneath the stairs to the second floor. First it happened to Katie, a manager at the Ghost Tour Company.

She was taking advantage of a lull between customers to freshen up. Another employee remained at the ticket sales counter. As Katie stood next to the closed bathroom door washing her hands, the small brass door handle began making a small clicking and squeaking sound which accompanies its movement. She had dried her hands within a second and reached down and turned the handle herself, expecting to see her co-worker standing in front of the door playing with the doorknob.

She opened the door. No one-at least no one visible in this world-was standing there. She walked the two or three steps into the main room to see her co-worker seated behind the desk. Katie didn’t even have to ask whether she had been playing a trick: there had not been enough time for the co-worker to move from in front of the bathroom door all the way across the room and behind the desk.

In June, 2002, it happened again.
This time Corinne was in the restroom. No sooner had she entered when the handle began to rattle and squeak. As she stood next to it rinsing her hands and watching it, the knob began to slowly, methodically twist. She grabbed the handle and threw open the door to discover the perpetrator-and no one was there. And it happened to yet a third employee: again the familiar squeak and rattle; as she looked to the small handle, it turned; exiting the room revealed...no one.

In October of 1997, psychic Karyol Kirkpatrick toured the house and recorded her psychic impressions which, when compared to the documented history-and recent paranormal events-are remarkable.

One of Karyol’s first impressions was that of a child whom she said had died upstairs. We would upon occasions, she said, hear marbles rolling across a wooden floor (even though it was now carpeted) and witness other evidence of a child trying to regain a childhood that was cut short by ever-ravenous Death.

There is that mysterious entry in the Kitzmiller genealogical record of “Babes-number unspecified.” And their first-born George Edward baptized so soon after his birth as if he was not expected to live the usual year they waited before baptism. Could the child Corinne saw be the same Karyol felt had died here? Could it be some long-dead child playing with the doorknob?

Indeed, there was even more recent evidence of a child spirit’s playfulness in the very room where you stand to get your tickets.

Again, Corinne was working behind the desk along with another employee. She felt a strange touch at her back; then a tug; then she felt the back of her sweater pulled several inches away from her back. She turned to look over her shoulder and wondered how, without moving, she could have hooked her sweater on something. But there was nothing upon which her sweater could have been stuck.

Just then she saw her co-worker, eyes wide with astonishment. She blurted out to Corinne, “I just saw the back of your sweater pull out all by itself!”

Later that evening Corinne was closing up for the night, alone, at about 10:00 p.m. Like all older houses, “The Ghost House” has its share of creaks and groans. Creaks and groans are one thing-but witnessing something supernatural is another thing entirely.

She was turning out the lights. The house, as the lights are slowly being extinguished, does have a certain “feeling” to it: as it grows dark, you get the inkling that you need to hurry, that someone-or something-can’t wait for you to leave so that they may get on with their existence-if that’s what one could call it -in peace.

Moving from behind the desk and into the next room, she casually looked into the darkened stairwell. Her eye was caught by what she described as a small, glowing “cloud,” -ectoplasm-ascending the stairs. It was almost as if, at 10:00 p.m., some ancient voice, not heard on this earth for a century, had called, Time for all good children to come up to bed. And they obeyed, like the good little children they once were.

The upper floors of the Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tour® Headquarters are closed to our customers, but the most active area up there is too dangerous to visit anyway. The stairway to the attic is narrow and winding and the only light is activated by a string at the top of the stairs. Even when your eyes grow accustomed to the dark, lights dance eerily from the openings under the antique tin shingles. The roof is too low to stand upright anywhere in the attic, and, although hot air rises into the attic, it seems that whenever you ascend the stairs you are met by a cold draft on its way out. One could easily become disoriented and imagine things up there. But Rick Fisher, renowned ghost hunter and paranormal investigator, doesn’t need an imagination to see ghosts in “The Ghost House.” He has caught them on video tape!

Within the last two years, Rick has used his Sony Digital Handicam to videotape strange phenomena in this house.

His technique is to set his Handicam on a tripod in the oldest part of the attic, late at night when all activity-human activity, that is-has ceased in the house, turn the camera on, then leave. He returns when the battery is about to die, then rewinds the tape to examine it for any anomalies.

Rick is a skeptic, and so is careful to analyze in detail what he records. So far he has had three distinct recordings of voices-known to researchers as Electronic Voice Phenomenon, or “EVP”-in an attic where no one was.

One night, after placing his camcorder in the attic over the oldest section of the building, he returned to analyze it. Out of nowhere, recorded on the tape, came the frantic voice of a little girl trying to communicate what may have been the answers to all our fears about dying:

One night, after placing his camcorder in the attic over the oldest section of the building, he returned to analyze it. Out of nowhere, recorded on the tape, came the frantic voice of a little girl trying to communicate what may have been the answers to all our fears about dying:


“I’m alive!” came her voice across the Great Chasm.
Then, shortly after that came a man’s breathless voice calling, plaintively: “Emily!”

Listening more carefully, Rick then thought he heard the little girl’s voice say her own name, “Emily.”

In another taping session, there was paranormal evidence that the house-and particularly the attic-was used during the battle. On Rick’s videotape could be heard a distinctly frightened male voice imploring, “Don’t miss!” Then comes a different man’s voice immediately afterward commanding, “Get me my gun!”

And finally, Rick may have captured the only voices that accompany a video of spirits in the attic of “The Ghost House.” In this tape one can see, as well as hear, spirit entities communicate!

It was Halloween night, 2000. Rick’s camera was set up in the attic, recording the last minutes of the tape. In the background can be seen the louvered window in the oldest part of the attic. Suddenly, from the lower right hand part of the screen come two white, glowing orbs-what some believe is spirit energy itself-one following the other, rising toward the upper left corner. Listen closely and you will hear a playful, childlike voice teasingly whispering, “Catch me!”

Could these be the spirits of the children Karyol Kirkpatrick sensed remaining in the house, the mysterious “Babes-number unspecified,” of the genealogical records, still enjoying a game of tag stolen from them by Death?

Yet another incident occurred to verify the existence-or non-existence-of children no longer living on the second floor of “The Ghost House.” Katie would keep her dog, “Chessie” on the second floor while she was working. Chessie loves her tennis ball and Katie was playing “fetch” with Chessie. She’d roll the ball along the floor and Chessie would retrieve it for more fun. Finally Chessie tired of the game. Katie rolled the ball to the other side of the room and Chessie just looked at it and lay down to rest. About thirty seconds later, both Katie and Chessie were surprised to see the ball, which had been stationary across the room, begin to roll towards the dog, finally ending up next to her. Someone in that room, after waiting to play for perhaps a century or more, apparently was not ready to cease playing with the dog.

And, like all children, they-whoever it is that remain in the house when everyone else is gone for the day-sometimes can get over-bearing.

Chessie is not a small dog, and like all dogs, is faithful and protective, confronting and barking at large men who she feels could do her family harm. Yet children can sometimes “not know when to quit.”

On her lunch break, Katie went upstairs to spend some time with Chessie, since she had been too busy to visit her since she got to work. Katie got upstairs, looked all around for the dog and couldn’t find her. She checked the door, and it was secure, so she couldn’t have run out. Calling the dog’s name, she finally saw that Chessie was hiding under the bed, a place she’d never gone before. It was as if, for the two or three hours Katie had left Chessie, the unseen “children” had hounded her, teasing, pulling her tail, playing, until the dog just had to get away. To this day the dog is visibly uncomfortable whenever she is on the second floor of “The Ghost House.”

Walking through the small, arched doorway under the sign marked “To Tours” places you in the Civil War period section of the house. Erase in your mind the bookshelves, fan, and electric lights. Replace them all with gaslights or candles, perhaps some 19th Century furnishings, and antique carpets. But make sure that some of the carpets are bloodstained. Place Confederate soldiers in the corners and leaning up against the walls, exhausted, dirty, perhaps bloody, smelling like sulfur (from the black powder they used), sweat, and fear.

Karyol Kirkpatrick mentioned during her visit that she “saw injured persons and blood” and a couple of men hiding in the basement below your feet. She heard music and instruments. (It was common for fighting men of all eras to amuse themselves-when not fighting for their lives-with song and easily carried instruments like harmonicas.) She got the impression of men from Georgia and Virginia in the house. (Documentation proves that Georgians were the troops occupying this section of Gettysburg. Virginians may have straggled here from their lines on Long Lane just a few hundred yards to the west.) And she never mentioned Northern troops as being present.

She saw a woman in dark clothing who, she stated, “did not have it all together,” but only as a ruse. She had a mission as a secret courier, acted crazy, and no one paid her any attention. She mentioned a woman named “Mary,” who loved cooking-Karyol smelled mince pie-and she “received” the name “James,” and heard a man talking incessantly about God.

Once through the first room of the Civil War section, you enter into the second (of three) rooms. Just to the right of the doorway was seen, what many people refer to as a “Shadow Person,” or dark ghost.

An associate of the Ghosts of Gettysburg Tours® had just finished spending some time in that room. It was late at night and the building was closing for the evening. An unusually large number of customers had passed through that night since there had been a book signing. Researchers have discovered that, in order to increase your chances of photographing spirit entities, you must first fill a room with people, then empty it. It seems as if the entities return, after a large crowd has left, to see what was going on. Such is just what happened that night. The associate was behind the exit door pushing it closed and had turned toward the far wall. He was alone in the room...but not for long.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw the figure of a small woman, seemingly cloaked in a long, dark, flowing dress with a wide-brimmed, black hat, standing in the corner where the counter meets the wall. He stood for a brief moment, seeing her out of his side vision, afraid to look directly at her, since he realized that entities can sometimes only be seen through peripheral vision. Indeed, when he turned to confront the dark lady, she vanished.

Could it have been the mysterious “secret courier” who acted insane as a ruse that Karyol talked about? Or was it “Mary” the cook Karyol mentioned. Remember, in the long history of the house, there was a Mary whose last name was Kitzmiller, who lived in the house for years and years....

Katie also had a frightening experience with one of the Shadow People.
It was Halloween weekend, one of our busiest, when she came into the Carriage House after attempting to close up “The Ghost House.” She was visibly shaken. She still held the day’s paperwork in her hand, which was trembling. She said nothing for a second or two, trying to find the words, then blurted out, “There’s a large dark...” Again she searched for the words. “Scary...man...or something in the book room.”My first thought was that we were going to have to call the police to arrest someone who refused to leave after closing. But something in Katie’s face told me that this was no ordinary visitor.

“Did he leave?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “The lights were all off and I was walking past the book shelves, and there was this huge, dark, form standing there that I had to walk around. Instead of going into the office, I came right over here.”

Reluctantly, Katie accompanied me to check out the intruder. By the time we got there and turned on the lights, whatever it was had vanished. Katie pointed out exactly where it had stood in front of the book shelves.

It is when things are busiest in their dwelling-places that the spirits are most active. Already dispossessed once out of their bodies, they react when they are again dispossessed of their homes...

The current kitchen area is the oldest section of the house, built as the original carriage trimmer’s shop in 1834. It is closed to the public...and for good reason.

Karyol felt what she described as a great deal of strong, negative energy coming from one particular corner of the room nearest the door leading to the outside porch.

Rick Fisher, during one of his late-night investigations, had just set up his Handicam and aimed it at that corner of the room. Before he had an opportunity to turn the device on to record, he saw, through the small viewing screen, what he described as a huge, bright, basketball-sized spirit orb emerge from the door of the kitchen and rush directly at him and his camera before veering off. He said it was the largest orb he had ever seen.

Supernatural events did not begin with the purchase of the house on the corner of Baltimore and Breckenridge Streets in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania by a company committed to the preservation and re-telling of stories of the paranormal. Ghosts may have been “living” in the house all along, throughout the fourteen decades since the Battle of Gettysburg. What we are sure of is the supernatural occurrences we can document from the recent past...and those yet to come in the house dedicated to the Ghosts of Gettysburg.

No part of the contents of this excerpt from Ghost Of Gettysburg Vi may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without the written consent of Ghosts of Gettysburg.

 

Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Walking Tours®

Ghosts of Gettysburg, 271 Baltimore Street ,Gettysburg, PA 17325 (717) 337-0445

We've added two new tours for the 2005 season!!! The Steinwehr Avenue Ghost Tour started May 7. The Gettysburg Ghost Train kicks off on Friday, May 27. Check out our Tour pages for more tour information!

VISIT GHOST OF GETTYSBURG WEBSITE AND PLAN YOUR HAUNTED VACTION DESTINATION NOW

www.ghostsofgettysburg.com

 

 

New Ghost Tour Promises “Thrills and Chills”

 

Mark Nesbitt’s Ghosts of Fredericksburg Tours, the newest ghost tour in the Mid-Atlantic Region, has set up headquarters in historic downtown Fredericksburg, VA. From a past that stretches back to pre-Colonial times, to the horror of being the focal point of four major Civil War battles that claimed over 100,000 casualties, Fredericksburg has been called the most haunted city, per capita, in the entire United States.

The walking tour begins in the courtyard of the haunted Ghosts of Fredericksburg Tour headquarters located at 623 Caroline Street.

WALK down darkened Caroline St. and hear tales of
-- long dead Fredericksburg residents who still inhabit the many historic buildings;
-- bizarre “renovations” that could only be done from beyond the grave;
-- ghostly footprints that suddenly appeared, then just as suddenly, disappeared;
-- the 18th Century phantom harpist and singer;
-- the frustrated lover who still strolls along the “Ghost Walk” once every seven years...

 

PASS by the historic tavern where
-- the original owner still makes his presence known;
-- a mysterious “floating glow” has been seen in the tavern room;
-- someone unseen pulls upon women’s skirts...

 

SEE the building where
-- a woman allegedly hanged herself after being exposed as a Yankee collaborator;
-- candles extinguish themselves;
-- silverware rearranges itself;
-- diners are surprised by an unexpected guest...

 

PASS by the church where the “Woman in White” was first seen in 1858, and again, just a year ago...

 

 

Grand opening is set for Memorial Weekend!

Tours depart Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00PM. For more information and reservations go to www.ghostsoffredericksburg.com.

 

Don't miss out on the most unique tour available in night-time Fredericksburg!

Ghosts of Fredericksburg

More History, More Battles, More Ghosts!

 

Ghosts of Fredericksburg Tours

623 Caroline Street

P.O. Box 121

Fredericksburg, VA 22404

540 710 3002


 

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