The route of the Jennie Wade Ghost Tour takes visitors not only to the Jennie Wade House but a few other spots along the way from the meeting place on Baltimore Street in Gettysburg, PA. Some of these other sites include a Civil War era home and a location once occupied by a campsite for soldiers during the battle. Reports of activity at this area include smells of tobacco and campfire smoke.
Our guide was of the ilk that all things that go bump in the night are of paranormal origin. During our visit to this campsite of long ago, she directed the group’s attention to the scent of tobacco smoke, wondering if we were experiencing the sensation as well. We did smell the cigarette of a man in a Nike sweatshirt a short distance from the group.
We later arrived at the Jennie Wade House. What is unique about this tour is that groups are allowed inside after hours. This was actually the home of Virginia “Jennie” Wade’s sister. She had just given birth and Jennie was visiting to help with the newborn baby. On the morning of July 3 1863, a sharpshooter’s bullet entered through a window in the house, went through a wooden door and into Jennie’s back and she was making bread to pass out to the soldiers. Famously, she was the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg.
Some reports of activity include a clock on the mantle that supposedly stopped at the time of Jennie’s death and all attempts to restart it have been futile, the clock always stopping at that time. A young girl is said to take the hands of or tug the clothing of visitors to the house. I do not recall any explanation of this supposed spirit’s attachment to the property.
Our group consisted of 15-20 people, all crammed into this tiny building. While rooms and objects are roped off warning guests not to touch, inevitably, someone is going to at least brush against the ropes. As we moved from the front room to the kitchen, our guide looked back into the front room and noticed that the thin chain surrounding the bed was moving. “She’s here with us”, our guide exclaimed. Or was it the very real 21st century boy I saw playing with the chain during the storytelling?
We were lead upstairs to the second floor of the house. There are reports of ghostly faces being photographed in a mirror on the wall. Also, during some restorations to the building, workers reported coming on site in the morning to find tiny footprints in the dust on the floor where they had been working the day before. I am not certain but it just felt slightly creepy and sad up there.
Lastly, we descended to the basement. There are mannequins down there depicting Jennie’s family keeping vigil over her lifeless body, as she was moved to the basement until such time as she could be buried. Our guide informed us that the lights would be turned off and that we could take pictures. People had previously reported movement of the mannequins and light anomalies appearing in photographs. This is a limestone basement, which is a reflective surface. All the camera flash created a strobe effect making the mannequins appear to be moving. It was still pretty scary in the dark basement, if only because it was a dark basement.
We always enjoy the evening walks, storytelling and history lessons. This tour was unique in that we could visit the Jennie Wade House after hours and delved deeper into the history of the location. However,there were still some gaps in her story and that of the property remaining. I do not wish to discourage anyone from taking any ghost tour. I want to be an advocate for them all! However, if this is your first time ghost touring in Gettysburg, I would encourage you to save this tour for a later visit.