Ghost Hunters & Gettysburg

Written by: Jennifer M.

Last night Syfy showed a new episode of Ghost Hunters.  If you are not familiar with this show it follows a paranormal group from the Atlantic region of the U.S.  The group is known as TAPS or The Atlantic Paranormal Society.  Yesterdays show was aired at Gettysburg, PA during the 150th Anniversary of the battle.

I personally did not feel anything strange during the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.  I thought it seemed quiet for a change while my family walked around the battlefield last year during the anniversary.  I was thrilled that so many came to visit during the anniversary and to support the park itself.  The park had so many events honoring the men who risked their lives during the battle.  I am glad that my family and I took the opportunity to take part in it.

Since  I was one of many who visited Gettysburg last year that adds to my disappointment of how the Syfy series showcased the area.  First they went through the history of the area briefly and some of the facts were wrong.  Second I think there is too much publicity on one of the locations that created the Orphanage. Lastly I think they are loosing the point, personal view  of ghost hunting and paranormal study.

The National Homestead Orphanage was established after the death of Sergeant Amos Humiston of the 154th New York Volunteers. It was original made up of an old homestead owned by the Hoffmans.  Later the homestead was expanded and two structures made up the Orphanage.  Mrs. Humiston  was the first matron of the school and living facility that made up the Orphanage in 1866.  Through out her leadership all three of her children lived within its facility and until their mother remarried in 1870. Rosa J. Carmichae was hired in 1870.  During her leadership she became abusive to the orphans.  By May 1876 Mrs. Carmichae actions became known and the closing of the Orphanage occurred by 1877. In 1878 all of its items were auctions off, but what history was left was the cruelty that occurred.  Not the founding of the orphanage or the good works of Mrs. Humiston.

Since then the publicity of the Soldier Museum has increase throughout the years.  It has been ghost hunted and marketed 100 of times while its counter part is being forgotten.  The soldier museum of what I have found was the school part of the orphanage where the boys learned a trade particularly focused on agriculture while the girls learned needle and thread.  It is one of many private owned museums in Gettysburg that displays private collections of the war, mini scenes of the battle and etc.  Before visiting any of these facilities I would suggest you view their reviews.  Many of the reviews I have found on the Soldier Museum are negative and sounds like you should not waste your time.

The other part of the orphanage was the living quarters which use to be a travelers lodge. In the past it has been  ignored and run-down whereas the Soldier Museum next door has been maintained.  My family and I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to stay at the Homestead Orphanage.  It was managed by a very friendly lady who had several memorabilia from its time being part of the homestead.  She took time to tell us the history of the house and showed us around the house.  Sadly the house is in between owners and slowly going into disrepair’s. During my visit this past year (2013)  I am happily to report that it looks like someone was living/working in it; that some remodeling is occurring. Hopefully in the future we will see some good use to it.

Ghost Hunters also mentioned  that they support the claims of the rise of children ghosts.  That the Jennie Wade house and the Orphanage facilities were right across the street.  Based on my memory I did not believe the Jennie Wade House, Soldier Museum and the Homestead Orphanage were across the street from one other.  So I decided to do my own research.  Based on my research online as well as google maps note that the National Cemetery is right across the street from the orphanage homestead not the Jennie Wade House.  The address for the both of the homestead are 777 and 785 Baltimore Street Gettysburg, PA while Jennie’s house is 548 Baltimore Street.

Over the years the series is showing less on what ghost hunting is all about.  During the early days most home viewers never had the opportunity to ghost hunt or heard of ghost hunting. Ghost Hunters and movies like the Blair Witch Project were made up of scenes of the darkness and less on the guide.  As an audience you would get comfortable in your home chair maybe even make the room go dark while looking at a dark screen only having the ghost hunters flashlight as your companion.  When out comes a strange shadow, light or mysteries noise.  You hear the ghost hunter scream or make a noise with the viewer. That is what gave Ghost Hunters their fame.  That is what drove some of their audiences to become ghost hunters themselves.  In those days viewers felt like they were personally ghost hunting. Now its so much talking and the view of the ghost hunters themselves that they are loosing their audience.

As a viewer I understand you won’t get paranormal evidence at every ghost hunting experience.  At times I think these ghost hunting series are all about the evidence and not about the experience.  That is what is missing from these series to the point that they are not getting as popular as they once did and not being taken as seriously.  I truly believe if they focused on the experience less on the evidence their popularity would rise or balance more or less.  The experience is the history of the location, talking with the client, ghost hunting, editing the photos/video/sound and showing the evidence if any.  Its not about the reaction of a human being or seeing/hearing crazy things in the dark.  At the end its asking the question is their another world out there or what happens after we die?

References: Civil War Blog | Historical Marker Database |  Waymarking.com | Ghost of Gettysburg Book III by Mark Nesbitt |

—COMMENT—

After posting this article online… I have been discussing with others who also visited Gettysburg last year during the 150th anniversary which is the time that Ghost Hunters visited the site.  While collecting our memories we remembered that we passed the Orphanage site on our way back to the car after participating at the illumination on the National Cemetery.  The inside of the house was on and you could see right inside the house.  It looked like they have been renovating which I mention above. But while writing the article it did not become clear that it could be a reason why there were so many occurrence occurring with children at the Soldier Museum & Jennie Wade House.  It also supports that the homestead site was the original orphanage site and not the soldier museum if you could based supernatural occurrences as evidence. 

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