Jennie Wade House

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

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The Jennie Wade House is located off Baltimore Street in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The Jennie Wade House wasn't Jennie Wade's home - it was actually rented by Jennie's sister, Georgia McClellan, and Georgia's husband, Louis, who was fighting in the war. The house is split into two parts, but today the entire structure serves as the Jennie Wade museum. Susan McClain lived in the other half of the house.

Jennie Wade was the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. She was killed in the house's kitchen on the third day of the battle: July 3, 1863. Along with her sister and mother, Jennie helped the Union Army by baking bread and giving water to the troops that passed by the house.

Today the house is located in the heart of the town, but during the Civil War it was far from the other houses in town, with the exception of the Snyder House which was located where the parking lot is today. Soldiers warned them several times that they should leave the house because it was right in the middle of the battle. Jennie and her family refused to leave though. The house was hit by bullets several can still see the many bullet holes in the brick walls. One of those bullets went through the kitchen door around 8:30 AM and struck Jennie Wade below her left shoulder blade. She died in minutes.

As I mentioned earlier, today the house serves as a museum and is open for tours. It also has a reputation for being haunted. People claim to see apparitions of a young woman, and some even claim to see children who lived in the nearby orphanage. The scent of rose perfume and/or bread, as well as strange noises are also reported.

When I visited Gettysburg in June 2005, I went on one of the ghost tours that actually lets you visit the Jennie Wade House at night. It was great! I didn't experience anything stange, but my dad did. Which shocked me, he isn't a big believer in the paranormal. Anyway, our tour group was in the living room. My dad, me, and a couple other people on the tour were over by the stairs in the kitchen. All of a sudden we all heard a loud bang from upstairs. No living person was up there. I was chatting about that when my dad, who was closest to the stairs, heard a child's voice say "Hey"...pretty creepy. My dad and I walked upstairs and into the other half of the house and didn't see anyone.

My dad and I also had a strange experience while searching for the source of the mysterious voice. There are chained off sections on the second floor to prevent people from damaging the antique furniture. Before going downstairs, those chains were still. When we came back upstairs, those chains were really swinging! We're not sure what could have caused that, but after talking to the tour guide we found out we weren't the only ones to experience that. I guess the swinging chains are a pretty common thing there. You could be standing in the room all alone, and for no reason they'll start swinging. Many believe it's the ghosts of the abused orphans who used to visit the house playing with them.

In June 2005, I received the following creepy story from Lisa Armstrong, a website visitor:

"Late last summer, my husband and I and 2 of my children decided to go on a ghost tour. We picked the Jennie Wade house. My husband of only a year laughed at me when I would tell him about my experiences with different ghosts. My children tease me about it. So all of them were eager to do this with me. I am a little claustrophobic so I hung at the back when we got into the Jennie Wade house. I was a little dissappointed because this was the last stop of the tour and I saw no ghost yet. We went through the whole downstairs....nothing. Then we all went upstairs. I got a little panicky as I went up there because of the large group of people. I stayed at the top of the stairs with my husband til the crowd dispersed to the downstairs on the opposite side of the house. So my husband and I and another lady and the tour guide remained. We looked at the bedroom on the Jennie Wade side, then through the doorway to the bedroom on the other side. I only walked a few feet when I felt an icy coldness all around me. I said it out loud. My husband said, "Look up dingy, there is the air condition vent." I put my hand to it and it wasn't on. Then the ropes started to swing. The guide said that the children were here. My husband looked at her strange. She told of the children ghost that haunt the upstairs. She said they are not sure who they were because only one child occupied the home that they were aware of. (Maybe she was newer or never heard that the chidlren of the orphanage went there to play.) I carefully took my hand within inches of the rope, feeling for strings. I searched to see if it could have been something mechanical. But the rope bases moved about and there were no wires. The guide just laughed and told me that there were no tricks. A few moments later both of my legs felt a numbing cold. I could tell that two little children spirits each were holding onto my leg. The guide said we must head down now. The children remained with me, holding onto my leg. As we got downstairs, the guide apologized to the others and told them what had happened. My husband, the skeptic, was like a kid who had just met a famous ball player. He must have sort of believed, but experiencing this was exciting for him. We then continued into the basement. My husband and I were the last to sit down. I still felt the kids and I just had a wonderful peace about it all. We sat on a bench near the back wall and my 2 kids sat on a bench near the rope at the front of the seating area. (My 15 & 16 made it clear from the beginning that we were not to know each other on this tour since my "gift" embarrassed them, lol.) When we were all seated and the tour guide began speaking, all the lights went off in the basement for about 30 seconds. The guide said that everyone should remain seated. Her voice was quivering a little, like she was a little nervous. She too, had numerous encounters there and she said some of them spooked her at times. I am aware that this could have been a "trick", but I knew in my heart it wasn't. The lights came back on and she told all of us that this was not a mechanical problem, and not to be frightened. My husband went to put his hand on my knee and then drew it back. He said to me, "Are they still with you?" I smiled at him and said "Yes!". He commented on the chill that surrounded my legs. I told him it was numbing but I felt so honored they took to me like this. When we got outside the guide asked me if I wanted to go back up to the bedroom. She told me she never saw the children ghost take to anyone like they did to me. I eagerly said yes. The other lady asked if she could go along and bring her young daughter too. She was afraid to go on the tour and she sat in the car with her dad. The girl hesitated. I told her it was nothing to be afraid of and how this was a cool thing. There was nothing scary about it. She agreed. By this time the children had left me. When we got back upstair I was dissappointed because no ropes were swinging or anything. Then the guide said how the children love to play with the bedskirt. She said they must "hide" under the bed. She reached over the rope and gently shook the skirt. When she pulled away, the skirt start to move on its own. I went over to do it. Part of it to play with the children and the other so I could once more see if this was a hoax. I believe in ghosts, but I also believe there are people that would falsify stuff just to get the tourist money. But to my relief, there was nothing. Just then, we saw the comforter at the corner of the bed go down like someone was sitting there. Then you could see it rise a little as the spirit must have gotten up. There in its place was the sweet impression of a childs bottom.Soon after that we had to leave. I have been researching about who these children might be. By dumb luck I found out about the orphanage and I searched for its address. There was my answer, the Jennie Wade home was 758 Baltimore street and the orphanage was 785 Baltimore St. I read how the children were abused under the care of a cruel director, Rosa Carmichael. I put two and two together that they somehow must be connected to that orphanage. I was told there were many child spirits that haunt there but I only met the two that night. I feel it was a boy and girl. Possibly siblings, but I don't know for sure."

In July 2005, I received the following e-mail from Melissa B., a website visitor, about her interesting, creepy experiences at the Jennie Wade House:

"My experience occurred on October 9, 2004. I've always enjoyed ghost stories but I've never had a major experience myself until my birthday, October 9, 2004, when I was on a midnight walking tour of the Jennie Wade House in Gettysburg, PA.

My best friend wanted to do something fun and different for my 36th birthday so she bought us tickets to walk through the "supposedly" haunted Jennie Wade House during it's October Midnight tours.

I've always felt "sensitive" regarding events, situations and people but I've never had an experience like I had at this house. When I walked in the house for our tour (a group of about 12 people) we were led into through the kitchen and into the 1st floor bedroom where a guide gave us a history of the room, the house, and the families who lived in the house. I sat down on a deacon's bench in the room listening to the stories of experiences in the room. While listening, I felt a sensation on my right hand. It felt like someone touching me, trying to get my attention. Since I was sitting, I could only guess that the "someone" would have been a child. However, there was nothing near me and there were no children on the tour. At the end of the stories, the group got up to leave the room, head through the kitchen, and up the steps to the next storyteller who was prepared to tell stories on the second floor. I did not go with the group but lagged behind to tell the 1st floor storyteller about the strange experience I just had. The man smiled and said that it was not unusual to sense the presence of children in that room and that he felt I was accurate in my description of what seemed to occur. He said that "children" have been said to play on the rug in front of the deacon's bench where I was sitting. Other visitors in the past have reported having a child tug on their coat or play with their jewelry.

I walked with the storyteller through the kitchen in order to make my way upstairs to join the group. While making my way through the kitchen, another person who lingered behind asked the storyteller where the bullet entered the house. This got my attention so I turned around while standing on the landing at the bottom of the stairs and I listened to the response to the question. Just when the storyteller explained where the bullet entered the house and it's path through the two doors (about 2 feet from me on the landing), a wooden peg that was holding up the window curtain next to me on the stairs, shot out of the wall, dropping the curtain to the floor behind me. The peg took the path of the bullet by shooting across the room. This shocked me and startled the storyteller who immediately asked if I was ok or hurt and asked what happened. I explained that I was fine, and that I didn't touch anything but that the peg seemed to shoot out of the wall. We looked around to find the peg, and found it over by the stove. The storyteller and I tried to put the curtain up again and secure the peg into the wall to see how it could possibly have gotten loose. We had a difficult time recreating what had happened and we both walked away with a confused yet amazing feeling of having experienced something unique.

I was a bit shaken and I went up the stairs to join the 2nd floor tour which was already in progress. I quietly stood in the back thinking about what had just happened.. The others in the group were unaware of what had occurred downstairs. While I stood there, thinking, I smelled a very strong odor of cigar smoke. Almost like someone was smoking directly next to me. Then, I had a hot burning sensation on my hand in the same place where I had felt something on the first floor. It was almost as if someone was dropping ashes on my hand. I smoke cigarettes (bad habit...I know) and I know what it's like when a stray ash falls on skin and how it hurts for a moment or two. This was the feeling that I got in this room. It was a continuous smell of cigar and the feeling of stray ashes hitting the top of my right hand. Kind of like I was being used as a human ashtray. I felt very uncomfortable in this room as if I had to run and get out. I wanted to leave this bedroom as fast as possible. The stories in this room were not threatening but the feeling I had in my stomach was making me sick. I felt much better on the first floor even with the occurrences down there.

The last bedroom upstairs did not bother me. The rope that sections off the room supposedly swings back and forth when spirits are around. The rope did indeed swing and we were allowed to touch the rope, stop it from swinging, push it, unhook it...whatever we wanted to do. It was interesting, but in a creaky old house, I wasn't sure if it was "ghostly" or just evidence of tour guests walking on floor boards or something else explainable.

Last stop was the basement where supposedly, Jennie's body was laid out until it could be taken for the funeral. They have a recreation of this in the basement and while it does look "creepy", and they turn off the lights for 60 seconds while we are down there, I didn't experience anything in the basement. According to the tour guides, this is the main place where things happen like orbs (probably because it's just dust from the basement floor), someone being touched, apparitions, people falling ill, etc... I felt nothing here."

If you're ever in Gettysburg, I definitely recommend visiting this house by taking one of the Ghostly Images ghost tours (they're the only tour group that takes you inside the house). For more information about the tours, call 717-334-6296, or visit their website: Ghostly Images Ghost Tours. A big thanks to Bob, our tour guide, for sharing so much information about the house with me!

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