The Gettysburg Files
Day 1 Monday April 21, 2003
We left New York around 7:30 in the morning. Over the course of the ride, I wondered what we might be in for. Having never taken a “haunted “ vacation, I had no idea what to expect or even what to reasonably hope for. Amy and I talked about her experiences in Gettysburg and we discussed a tape she had lent me on “Haunted Gettysburg.” I was more excited about the trip than I thought I would be. For someone who thought this type of trip was not for “serious” caseworkers, I sure was excited about it.
We decided to drive straight through rather than stop. We figured we could eat once we got up there. We were hoping we would get lucky and be able to check in right away. We made good time; it took about four and a half hours. Once we landed just outside Gettysburg, we stopped for gas. Since she came from Connecticut, Amy had driven over three hundred and fifty miles already. We pulled into a little gas station and she asked the attendant to fill the tank up. I was surprised that they offered full service. I had not seen that offered in a gas station in many years. However, I figured that Pennsylvania must be different from New York and thought little of it. Having not had a cigarette in over four hours, I got out of the car and walked to the end of the station by the phone to have a quick smoke.
I watched the attendant fill the tank thinking to myself that he looked a little “odd.” There was something that seemed off, almost as if he was from another time. That is the best way I can describe him. Anyway, once the car was filled up, Amy drove over to me and we headed into Cashtown. When we reached the famed Cashtown Inn, I was struck by its beauty. I love things old, especially houses and this one was quite old. Established in 1797, the Inn was used by Confederate Generals during the battle of Gettysburg. Needless to say, the place had more than a little history to it. I am sure that old building had a story to tell. I hoped I would have the time to listen.
The Cashtown Inn is located in Cashtown, Pa, approximately eight miles from the battlefields at Gettysburg. The Inn is now run be Dennis and Eileen Hoover, two of the nicest people you will ever meet. We met Dennis upon our arrival and he graciously allowed us to check in early. In addition, he told us we were free to walk throughout the house and look at the other rooms since they were all presently unoccupied. After dropping off some of our stuff, we took him up on that offer. We toured the house and took a lot of pictures. I was using a digital camera and was able to see my pictures immediately. Amy used a 35mm camera with regular film and she also used one loaded with infrared film. I was struck by the beauty of each room. Each room was different but each held its own special beauty. We could not help but wonder what it must have been like to live in that house. I have to admit that my senses were tingling a bit as we walked through the house. I am not particularly psychic but I do have some sensitivity when it comes to things paranormal. Those sensitivities would prove very helpful over the next three days.
We did not bring all of the equipment we usually use on an investigation. Besides cameras and other recording devices, we brought various thermometers and meters. I also brought along motion detectors but we quickly realized that we could not use them in the Cashtown Inn. Being an old house converted to a bed and breakfast, noise could be a problem. If the detectors went off for some reason, we would have wakened the dead, not to mention the living. Another thing we realized was that we would have to be very quiet when we walked around late at night. The hardwood floors were beautiful but they were not designed for stealth. There was virtually no way in which you could walk silently. Even walking barefoot would have been somewhat noisy. However, that was a minor issue.
In each room at the Inn, a small diary is kept. In it, guests list any paranormal incidents they experienced in the room. We took some time to read the diaries. Some of the entries were fascinating. After that, we returned to our room. We had room # 1, the Brigadier General Pettigrew room. Once we had settled in, we took EMF readings throughout the room. The baselines were minimal, as would be expected. In the corner by the desk, they were considerably higher but that was due to the power lines coming in at that point. A short time later, the EMF meter began picking up higher than baseline readings near the foot of the bed. One minute, the readings registered 8 milligauss and then a few seconds later, they dropped back to the baseline. However, as Amy approached the door to the room, they shot up again. The readings remained high for a few seconds and then started dropping again. As she walked towards the foot of the bed, they went up. We would encounter these moving fields many times over the next few days. We took many pictures during this time but none were remarkable.
We went out shortly after that and took a tour of the Military Cemetery, among other places. As we entered the car, Amy found a neatly folded twenty-dollar bill under her seat. That was odd. How often do you find money in your own car? How often do you find money anyplace? I jokingly told her that it was a gift from the ghosts. She thought I had planted it there but that had not been the case. Well, if it were a gift from the ghosts I thought, perhaps they would start leavings fifties and hundreds. With that, we went on our way and eventually stopped for lunch at the Farnsworth House where we would be staying on Wednesday night. They have a marvelous bookstore there where you can find tons of books on both the Civil War and the haunted Gettysburg. After that, we returned back to the Cashtown Inn to relax for a couple of hours before heading out to the battlefield. Amy had also purchased tickets to the “Mourning Theatre” held at the Farnsworth. There, you are treated to some very good ghost stories, stories that are both humorous and fascinating. They are not terribly frightening so it is safe fun for children as well.
Nothing paranormally remarkable happened that day until we returned to the Inn and decided to call our spouses. Amy asked me where my cell phone was and I told her I had left it on the desk. There she found it along with a can of deodorant that she had placed in the bathroom. Laughing, she asked me if I had used it. I hadn’t so we chalked that one up to the ghosts. It certainly hadn’t been left there because the last thing I did before we left was organize the papers on the desk. The can was certainly not there at that time. Anyway, using my cell phone, Amy called her husband, Dave. After their conversation, I called Pat. I started telling her about our trip up and what we had done that day. While she was talking to me, her voice suddenly changed and she sounded like a gravelly voiced old man. The words were hers; the voice wasn’t. That lasted for about twenty seconds. I asked her why she was talking like that and she denied that she was. Realistically, I doubt she could have faked a voice that deep and gravelly had she wanted to. Well, I figured it must have had something to do with the connection and thought little else about it. At that point, we rested awhile and then set out for the battlefield.
We did not stay there too long. We wanted to have dinner and see a few other places. We were planning to spend a lot of time on the field on Tuesday so this was pretty much a trip to help us get an idea of the layout of the area. We returned to the Cashtown Inn and sat around talking for an hour or so. It was close to 8:30 at night and we wanted to go to the Mourning Theater. As we were leaving the Inn, I took a digital picture on the porch and was pleasantly surprised to get a picture of an orb. I immediately took a second picture but the orb was gone. Amy took several shots also. We would have to wait for the results of those.
The Mourning Theater
The Mourning Theater is held in the basement of the Farnsworth House. The story telling lasts about 45 minutes and it is a lot of fun. The room was packed that night and Amy suggested that we sit in the back so we could “people watch” in case something paranormal happened. One of the stories told was about a little boy named Jeremy who had died in the house. He was involved in a carriage accident and was brought to what is now the bathroom in the Sara Black Room. (That was where we would be staying on Wednesday night.) His ghost is said to still roam around the house. The storyteller mentioned that during some sessions, women who have sat in a certain section of the room have been touched, apparently by Jeremy.
We learned that the Farnsworth House is home to 14 ghosts, along with over 150 bullet holes left over from the battle. We were treated to stories of guests who have fled in fear because of the ghosts, in some cases leaving behind their possessions. One guest was said to have fled in his underwear, running down the road to the Holiday Inn. I imagine he may have had some trouble checking in there, unless of course, he had the presence of mind to stick his credit card in his underwear. We also heard plenty of stories of other incidents that have happened over the years there. It certainly sounds like an active house.
Once the session was over, we talked to the storyteller for a few minutes. He graciously allowed us to take some pictures in the basement. I took a few shots with my digital camera but nothing unusual came out. However, we later found out that Amy got a nice picture of an orb right at the spot where Jeremy is said to have touched the women. Pretty cool, right? You love to see validation in this business. Since those of us who work in this field are subject to considerable, almost non-stop criticism, it is always great to capture something on film or tape, something that supports your beliefs. No matter how many things you see or experience, no matter how many pictures or tapes you get that have something anomalous in them, you always appreciate them when you get them. I don’t care if I get 1, 000 good pictures. The next one will make me as happy as the first one. After that, we returned to Cashtown to settle in for the night.
Once we got back to the Cashtown Inn, we decided to take some pictures of the house and the area around it. There was an electrical storm taking place at that time and the forecast called for heavy rain. We were both hopeful of getting some good pictures since paranormal activity tends to be at its strongest during electrical storms. However, we wanted to work quickly before the rains came. As we split up to take our pictures, we heard an odd cry. It was loud and it repeated itself a few times. I teasingly Amy that maybe it was a farmer and his having at it. If that were the case, with the way she was screaming, I think Amy wanted to meet him. For the record, it turned out to be peacocks.
After that, we started taking pictures. I stood across the street from the Inn to take a shot of it. Right off the bat I got a hit. There was a nice orb above the porch. As is my custom when I get a hit, I took another shot. As before, the orb was gone. I then shot into the woods. My first shot revealed several orbs. My next shot had more. I immediately called Amy. “Amy, come here. I’ve found orb city!” Indeed I had. I took God knows how many pictures and got orbs in most of them. Amy did too. It was really quite amazing. I took two Polaroid shots there too. What was noteworthy there was that neither picture developed. They remained seemingly unexposed. Interesting. Sometimes what does not happen is as interesting as what does. We left orb city for the night and returned to our room, tired but happy. Day number one had been pretty special.
Day 2 Tuesday April 22, 2003
If anything paranormal happened during the night, we were oblivious to it. Speaking for myself, I was so tired on Monday night that an entire regiment of ghosts could have paraded around the room, complete with drums and I doubt I would have heard them. Amy pretty much felt the same way. After all, we were both up at the crack of dawn on Monday, had driven for hours and had a full day. Sleep came easily as a result and for me, that is nothing short of miraculous.
Amy was up and dressed long before me. Breakfast was served at 8:00 so she was up early. When she initially woke me, I declined breakfast. Sleep is one of the few real pleasures in life and the thought of getting up early was less than wonderful. However, I woke up again a few minutes later and decided to go to breakfast with Amy. It was a good choice. The food was plentiful and quite good. Knowing all that we had planned to do that day, starting off with a good breakfast was necessary. After we ate, we returned to our room to make our final plans for the day.
We were sitting on the bed with our maps spread out between us, deciding where we would go first. Suddenly, we heard the doorknob turn. We both looked at the door, each thinking that the cleaning people were about to walk in. However, something did not make sense to me. I quickly realized what it was. There was no sound in the hall outside the door. That was impossible given the wood floors. They creaked when you walked on them, not to mention the loud footsteps that would have resulted. Again the knob turned. We watched it for a second and then it stopped. Amy grabbed a meter and walked to the door, throwing it open. As expected, there was no one in sight. The meter however, was off the scale. Then just as suddenly as it started, the meter went quiet. Amy walked back into the room and immediately the meter took off again. She was able to follow the field. It went from the hall into the room, stopped briefly by the foot of the bed and then moved towards the desk area. Then it turned and headed towards the door again. Once in the hall, the meter went silent. It appears that we had been visited by a ghost. Once we realized that, we were exhilarated. After all, that is what we went down there for. It was really nice to score, so to speak.
After that incident, we headed out. We went to the Visitors center and watched the electric map presentation. It was a beautiful experience. To say that our appreciation of the history of Gettysburg was growing was a tremendous understatement. After that presentation, we went to the Eisenhower Farm. That too was a moving experience. We walked through the house in awe. To think that we were in the house of one of our countries greatest men was a tremendous feeling. I could picture Ike sitting in his den, or watching TV with his dinner. In an odd way, I felt like an intruder. My only regret and it was a small one was that we could not take pictures inside. However, we were allowed to take them outside. Amy captured an orb on the digital in one of the barns. The only other odd thing that happened occurred outside the house. Amy wanted to take a picture of me in front of the house. She remarked that maybe Mamie or Ike would appear in the picture. Well, she took her picture then listened as her camera clicked away, frame by frame, finishing the roll. When the film was developed, we were sorry to see that nothing came out in them. Just the same, it was a great trip.
The rest of the day was a blur of activity. We went to the cemetery again, hit several gift shops and ate lunch. By early evening, we were tired but happy. Once again we made phone calls to our spouses, filling them in on the events of the day. Pat and Dave were both very excited for us. They knew we were having the time of our lives. Pat was especially thrilled at how relaxed I was and by all the material I was getting for the site. We stayed in the room for a couple of hours, just resting before heading out to the battlefield again.
We planned to find a rock near Devil’s den that had the inscription of P. Noel carved into it. According to the legend, Pauline Noel was killed in a carriage accident. (They seem to have been quite common in those days.) Apparently, she had fallen off the carriage and was decapitated by the wheels. According to the legend, if you trace your fingers through the letters at night, you may see her walking near the area, minus her head. Although we doubted that would happen, it would be fun to try. I later learned that tracing your fingers can bring on bad luck. Oops! We had just pulled into the park when the gas gage on Amy’s dashboard began to flash, indicating that the tank was almost empty. This threw us because she had filled up when we pulled into town on Monday. We had driven a total of about 60 miles. The tank could not possibly be empty.
We considered the possibility that the gage was broken but decided to find a gas station just the same. It was a good decision as the tank was indeed empty. Now we feared that she had a punctured gas tank. That would be a problem. We looked under the car but it was apparent that the tank was not leaking. We would watch it carefully, just in case. I considered the possibility that someone siphoned the tank on us but that would have been very difficult with the security features designed to prevent such a scenario. With that, we went back to the park. We wandered around the battlefield for a few hours, taking many pictures. We both got a few more shots of orbs. The spirits were cooperating nicely with us. We attempted to find the rock with the inscription of P. Noel but we had no luck. The smart thing would be to find it by day. It was dark and cold so that made searching more difficult. Of course, it was quite likely that I was sitting on it while I pondered which way to go. She must have been getting quite a kick out of it. Eventually, we left the park and headed back to the Cashtown Inn.
Once there, I took a couple of shots across from the Inn. Once again, I got a few orbs. Orb City was still open for business. The night was quiet until we turned the lights out. As tired as I was, I did not fall asleep quickly. Amy was across the room in the bed but I did not know whether she was awake at the time. I was lying on my left side when I felt something touch my right shoulder. It was a light touch and at first I was not sure I really felt it. Then the light touch returned and it clearly felt as if someone was lighting rubbing my right shoulder towards the back and then making little circles between my shoulder and neck. I was amazed! I considered calling out to Amy but I was afraid that if I did, the touch would stop. Whatever was doing the touching continued to trace light circles on my shoulder. In my mind, it was a feminine touch, caressing, gentle. It seemed to last close to five minutes and then it stopped.
A few seconds later, I heard what I can best describe as the sound of a glass marble hitting the wooden floor. It bounced one and then was silent. I sat up in my sleeping bag and the light suddenly went on. Amy sat up on the bed and asked me whether I had heard the sound. I told her that I had and I asked her to describe what she heard as we looked around the room. She also described it as sounding like a marble had hit the floor once and bounced. We looked all around the room but there was nothing on the floor. Amy turned on the Gauss meter and we got reading between 7 to 10 mg throughout the room. At that point, I made a note in my journal and we turned off the light. Neither of us slept right away. I think we were both hoping that something else would happen. However, the room was silent.
It was then that I heard the sound I can best describe as a rushing sound, like air rushing near me. I knew what that meant; I was about to have one of my nightmares. Actually, nightmare is a misnomer because it always happens when I am still awake. I refer to this phenomenon as “twilight paralysis” because just after the rushing sound comes, I cannot move any part of my body. This is usually accompanied by voices, often threatening voices. During these episodes, I try to call out to whoever is around but nothing more than a whimper comes out. This phenomenon has been occurring with me for over 30 years now. Some of these episodes last seconds, others hours. This happened to me a few times on case I have worked. In one incident, it lasted close to an hour. One night in that same house, I decided to set up the night vision camcorder in case it happened again. It did and it exceeded the two hours that the tape ran. When we played it back, you could see me on the bed, unmoving. All you could hear was me whimpering while trying to call out for help. The duration of it made Pat cry when she saw it. Pat has learned to tell when these episodes occur and can usually pull me out of them. That night in the Cashtown, Amy got a crash course herself. She had to get out of bed 4 different times to get me out of them. After the fourth episode, she sprinkled holy water on me and I dropped off to sleep almost immediately.
I was pretty tried in the morning and so was Amy. Just the same, we went down to breakfast at eight and then we had to pack up and check out. For two people only staying for two nights, we had an amazing amount of stuff. Of course, 80% of it was equipment but just the same, there was a lot to pack. Before we left however, Eileen Hoover took us into the basement so we could take some pictures. While down there, Amy mentioned the odd sound we heard. According to Eileen, that sound is often heard in that room. Amy then mentioned that I was touched. Before, she could elaborate, Eileen asked me whether it was a feminine touch and did it roll its fingers in circles on my shoulder? I was amazed and just smiled. I was not the only guest to report such a phenomenon. I love validation! Sadly, we left the Cashtown Inn.