In June, some friends and I went on an amazing paranormal adventure. The original destination of interest was the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum but, being only a few hours from Gettysburg, we made it a 2-for-the-price-of-one adventure. Since we were flying in from Texas, it made perfect sense to make the most of our paranormal vacation.
I had been to Pennsylvania before on another paranormal adventure during which my friends and I went to Pennhurst Asylum and Eastern State Penitentiary. On that trip I flew into and stayed in Philadelphia, and completely missed out on the beauty that I experienced driving around the state during our Gettysburg adventure.
A display inside the haunted orphanage.
Gettysburg was not at all what I expected. To be honest, I'm not sure what I expected to see and experience, but overall I truly enjoyed it. Everyone was friendly and we were surrounded by history. We went on a few tours and my brain was immediately flooded with images of ghastly war, death, despair, acts of patriotism, families torn apart by war, etc. Some buildings that we saw on our tours still bore the scars of the war. I was glad to see that owners didn't cover it up so it would continue to serve as a reminder of what our country endured.
One of the tours we went on through Gettysburg Battlefield Tours took us into the National Soldiers’ Orphans’ Homestead. A 2-acre property was purchased for the purpose of the home and it opened with 35 children living there.
Started in 1866, the orphanage provided a home to both widows and children left behind when husbands and fathers died fighting in the Civil War. Until that time, children were educated within the orphanage, the girls learned housekeeping and needlework, and the boys learned how to do chores and gardening. It functioned with up to 60 children at a time and a cumulative total of 200 children until a huge scandal forced it to close in 1877.
Evidence that someone was chained down in the basement.
Rosa Carmichael came to the orphanage as the new matron in the early 1870's. It seems nothing is known about her life before the orphanage........kind of odd don't you think? It wasn't long before rumors circulated around town regarding the lack of proper care for the children. In fact, it as believed that she abused the children and she was ultimately convicted of abuse in 1876. When the orphanage closed, there were still many children needing housing and care but the Rosa Carmichael scandal unfortunately robbed them of the opportunity to have a home.
My Experience on the Tour
So my friends and I did not investigate the old orphanage. We already had a big week planned between Gettysburg and our plans in West Virginia so we opted to do some tours, take some notes, and make a return trip for investigation purposes. I think next time we will do both the orphanage as well as the Jenny Wade House.
Photo from the basement with the black anomaly in the upper left corner.
The tour was interesting and informative and I couldn't help but imagine the children that lived there. In my mind I could hear them them laughing and playing, and I could see them running up and down the stairs. I also couldn't help but imagine them arriving and grieving the death of their fathers knowing they had perished in the war. Lastly I could hear them screaming and crying, locked up in the basement or in one of the barrels that were stored down there. It is alleged that some children were kept in the barrels for hours as punishment.
I did not experience anything paranormal while I was there, nor did I pick up on any specific feelings at the orphanage. I did however have one pic that has a dark shape in the corner. You can't see through it at all but I don't recall seeing anything at the time I snapped the photo (see the photo above).
I can't wait to go back to Gettysburg with my friends and conduct some planned paranormal research beyond just photos and tours. As a matter of fact, we are planning on renting a house within the battlegrounds and spending a few nights among the spirits that remain so many years after the war. If you want additional information, check out my sources at The Homestead and the Emmitsburg Area Historical Society.
I hope you get a chance to visit Gettysburg even if it isn't for the paranormal history. The entire state is beautiful and the people are welcoming. If you want any tips or recommendations, please message me and I will be happy to assist. I am preparing for another adventure this weekend so there will be a blog article coming soon about it. In the mean time............