Victims of the massacre, some of whom were buried in the main
courtyard, can’t forget the betrayal and their painful ends.
Fort William Henry Museum is completely reconstructed, an accurate representation of the 18th Century British Fort that once stood here. The fort stands today thanks to archaeologists who carefully found out exactly where it originally stood so many years ago. Fort Henry Foundation have rebuilt an exact replica of the fort.
Tom and I visited Fort William Henry Museum in the fall of 2021, and took the official tour of this fascinating place. The fort’s buildings, all two stories tall, are found around a large central courtyard.
“Its walls were thirty feet (9.1m) thick, with log facings around an earthen filling. Inside the fort were wooden barracks two stories high, built around the parade ground. Its magazine was in the northeast bastion, and its hospital was located in the southeast bastion. The fort was surrounded on three sides by a dry moat, with the fourth side sloping down to the lake.” (Wikipedia)
Because it was built to hold just five hundred people, a lot of its personnel were in entrenched camps around the fort, very much like it was at Fort Stanwix in Rome, New York.
The entrance leads to a large lobby, staging area that runs the length of the side of the fort facing the street.
Visitors will find large displays of soldiers in uniforms, a cannon, a diagram portraying the six day siege on the fort, and other documents of interest. At the end of the lobby is the Gift Shop.
As it was with other military installations, Fort William Henry was like a small city, built to take care of the needs of the soldiers and their families stationed there, by giving them living space and providing the services and materials, as well as supplying the military tools for defense and offensive endeavors in military missions. There were storage areas for armaments, and gun powder was stored in The Powder Magazine, needed for cannons.
The structure that faces the north side of the courtyard, and shares a wall with the lobby, and is parallel to the entrance, is the enlisted men’s West Barracks and its second floor West Barracks Loft. Both floors are now the home to the main part of Fort William Henry Museum.
The West Barracks first floor has displays showing what life was like here and a large array of tools and weapons, including artifacts found in the ground before the reconstruction was started. Archaeologists also found a boatload of tomahawks that are now on display on the second floor in a large display case, all lined up in a row.
A nice collection of canoes can be found in this loft as well, along with a duty roster for historical effect, displayed by museum staff. A list of names of the soldiers stations here also appears.
Other structures around the courtyard had a variety of uses, such as the Officer’s Barracks, eating areas, a hospital, supply store, barber, kitchen, and repair shop.
Near the East Casement entrance is a military crypt that was built here to honor the five skeletons of the soldiers who were found by archaeologists in their initial dig.
Toward the eastern part of the courtyard is a large garden patch to grow fresh vegetables that has been reconstructed.
During the French and Indian War, Fort William Henry was a wooden and stone British structure, constructed in 1755 near the base camp established by Sir William Johnson. This strategic spot on the south shoreline of Lake George was seen as a plus. A fort built here would counter the influence of the French Fort Carillon located in the north part of Lake George on a large rocky ledge, attached to Mount Independence between Lake George and Lake Champlain.
British military engineer William Eyre of the 44th Foot oversaw the construction. According to Wikipedia, “Fort William Henry was an irregular square fortification with bastions in the corners, in a design that was intended to repel Indian attacks, but not necessarily withstand attack from an enemy armed with artillery.” Oops!
The existence of this new British fort made the French forces uncomfortable. As the structure of Fort William Henry would be easy to attack with artillery, a plan to do so was hatched. So, the French recruited six Native American tribes, one of them being the Mohawks, by enticing them with the prospect of having the pick of the plunder if they helped the French capture the fort.
In the spring of 1757, the new commander of Fort William Henry was George Monro, who has under his command a garrison drawn from the 35th Foot and the 60th American Foot. By June, the population of the fort swelled to one thousand, six hundred soldiers due to the provincial militia companies from Connecticut and New Jersey.
The old Johnson camp southwest of the fort became the area where the overflow of soldiers made an entrenched camp. When the French were about to attack, the total population at the fort and at the camps outside swelled to two thousand, three hundred men. Conditions were poor and many men got sick.
A huge French force of 8,000 was made up of soldiers and included two thousand Native Americans from six different tribes. The siege started on August 3rd, and when Fort Edward didn’t send any reinforcements, the garrison surrendered on August 8th.
The French had promised to pay the Native American warriors by the spoils of war. However, the French let the defeated British troops take their stuff with them, but not their bullets. Most of the tribes were annoyed by had no other choice but to accept this lie. However, this put the Mohawks and some other Native Americans in a foul mood, wanting revenge. They felt that they had to send a strong message to the French.
The French didn’t fully understand the cultural aspects of some Native Americans and the Mohawk tribe, not realizing that if they didn’t follow through in paying them via the agreement, they would revert to how they’d always done business with defeated foes. Uh oh!
The Mohawks first hunted down the unarmed British soldiers and their families on their way to Fort Edward. There were 180 brutal deaths, though the French soldiers accompanying them managed to beat back the Mohawk attack and saved many lives.
Secondly, the warriors returned to the fort, after drinking a lot of alcohol. They found the eighteen wounded British and American soldiers in the infirmary, their families, and other British personnel, in the West Casement where they tortured and brutally killed them, including women and children. No one was spared, as all were considered vermin who had encroached on their land.
On the other side of the courtyard, they found more people hiding in the East Casement. One wounded soldier was beheaded and his head was taken as a prize.
The bloody massacre was unimaginable to the French, who must have been horrified at the carnage. Too much blood had been spilled there.
The French buried what remained of the dead without markers and burned the entire wooden fort to ash.
The land stood vacant until the mid-1950s, when money was raised to build a sturdy reconstruction of the entire fort, which must have pleased the spirits of the massacred.
In 1953, teams of college students, led by the trained archaeologist Stanley Gifford, carefully conducted an archaeological dig. When they found the five skeletons in the East Casement area, private contractors built a Military Crypt to hold the remains. One skeleton had no head: the hard evidence that proved the urban legend that a brave cut it off as a trophy to be true!
When many other bodies were found in mass graves in the ground around the fort, it was classified as a Cemetery, a deceptively peaceful place with green lawns and attractive shrubs.
Despite the efforts of the living to make the land respectable in this way, many spirits are restless due to the way they were killed.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
When a structure is destroyed completely, spirits who have bonded to it for a variety of reasons, may bond instead to the land. When a reconstruction of their structure takes place, the spirits are ready on the spot to move back inside to work through what is making them restless in their search for eternal peace.
Custer House, ND (This reconstructed house museum, built from Custer’s own blueprints, brings comfort to the Custer family and other casualties of the Battle of Little Bighorn.)
Fort Stanwix, NY (Land-attached spirits moved into the reconstructed fort buildings that were built on land that had one had other buildings built there.)
Fort Abercrombie, ND (When Fort Abercrombie was rebuilt on vacant land, spirit who had once bonded to it moved back inside the rebuilt structures.)
Fort William Henry Museum, NY (When this fort was so carefully reconstructed, the restless souls who were buried in the unconsecrated land around it moved back inside.)
When people lose their heads when executed by a bad hanging or are otherwise murdered brutally, they often are restless and upset about this mutilation of their bodies.
The Old Faithful Inn, WY (A bride was cruelly murdered by her husband, who cut off her head.)
Walker House, WI (The unpleasant spirit of William Cafe was decapitated when it popped off from a jarring hanging. His spectre flaunts his head in front of the living, as well as engaging other obnoxious activity.)
Bobby Mackey’s Music World, KY (Two satan-worshipping dental students, Jackson and Walling, were members of a cult who practiced in this building. They drugged Jackson’s pregnant girlfriend, Pearl, and tried to perform an abortion to remove her five month old fetus. When they failed to do so, they cut off her head while she was still alive and awake, as she tried to fight them off. She searched this structure for her head, and her baby. Her killers are stick here with her.)
Fort William Henry Museum, NY (When the French didn’t pay their Native American forces with the spoils of war as agreed, the betrayed tribes flew into a rage and brutally killed the wounded British troops and everyone else who was left behind in the fort. One Native American cut off the head of one of the wounded for his personal trophy.)
Spirits of those who are massacred with no mercy often seek peace from the trauma of their brutal deaths by residing in a structure or place where they once had that peace.
Mission San Miguel, CA (The spirits of twelve people who were brutally murdered by greedy thieves in 1848 still linger here. These spectral victims still try to forget their horrible demise by remembering their good times here.)
Kahler Grand Hotel, MN (A spirit who was brutally killed by underworld thugs, visits/stays here in search of peace and possibly justice.)
Lumber Baron Inn & Gardens, CO (The spirits of two young women who were brutally killed still reside here in their shared bedroom, restless and wanting justice. They find some peace from the sympathy given them by other spirits in the structure, and by watching the living.)
Fort William Henry Museum, NY (The spirits, restless from their traumatic deaths, find ways to make themselves feel better here by working through their trauma, reliving their pleasant memories, continue in their service, distract themselves by the exhibits, and may even take out their frustration and anger on the living.)
When people are buried in mass graves, are buried with no headstone or in unconsecrated ground, their spirits can be restless.
Sacramento Cemetery, CA (Plague victims were buried quickly here in a mass grave. Their remains were forgotten and wound up being underneath other graves.)
Manassas National Battlefield Park, VA (Soldiers killed here were often buried where they fell, with no markers.)
Fort Ticonderoga, NY (A lot of dead soldiers were buried in the grounds around the fort and were not marked.)
Fort William Henry Museum, NY (Soldiers and their families who were killed during the siege, or on the trail to Fort Edward or inside the fort’s casements, were buried in the grounds just outside the fort, without markers.)
Spirits can become attached to special items they owned while alive. Or, they may be attached if the item caused their death.
Cleveland Grays Armory Museum, OH (Some spirits who once were members are attached to some of the artifacts on display here.)
The Museum of Shadows, NE (Some of the items on display here have been used to kill others. The spirits of the people killed have sometimes attached themselves to the murder weapon.)
Union Train Station, UT (Weapons on display in their military museum have the original spectral owners keeping an eye on them.)
Fort William Henry Museum, NY (Weapons on display may have spirits attached to them. Tools used to everyday chores have spirits attached as well.)
The spirits who reside here are upset and restless, and try various things to find some peace from their brutal memories.
The Spirits of Soldiers
They make personal appearances in front of staff and visitors, especially in the West Barracks area, the East Barracks, and the lobby.
Apparitions that are see-through, dressed in their uniforms, can be a startling sight.
A soldier appears as a shadow person around the entrance to the West Barracks.
On the top level by the Bastions, the sounds of soldiers marching have been heard.
Visitors have been pushed there, not allowed or wanted in this military area.
Part of their duties is to protect the other spirits here by draining batteries of cameras and the recording devices of paranormal investigators who are suspiciously regarded as intruders.
They follow suspicious visitors around as unseen presences, to let the living know they are watching them: using cold spots, standing close so they will be noticed, and letting the living hear their footsteps.
They will also give verbal warnings via EVPs to ghost investigators if the angry presence that resides here is thinking of nasty revenge.
The spirit of the soldier who managed the Powder Magazine Station is still on the job.
He allowed his picture to be taken, showing off his axe.
On the first floor of the Eastern Barracks, the sounds of heavy boots of three or four spirits have been heard going across the second floor, on their way to the commander’s office.
The Spirit of Private Harvey
The spirit of Private Harvey lets the living know that he is still on duty.
When the staff put six names of unknown soldiers who served here on a chalkboard Duty Roster, five names were rubbed out, leaving only Private Harvey’s name.
This happened several times, until a more permanent roster was devised.
When visitors or staff are inside the first floor of the West Barracks museum, they sometimes hear footsteps coming down the stairs from the second floor loft.
He gets his chuckles by breathing in peoples’ ears in the West Barracks loft area.
On the first floor of the West Barracks museum, tools that were used in everyday life also move around a bit.
Spirits seem to be attached to the tomahawks on display in the West Barracks loft display case. Either they are the spirits of Native Americans who owned them, or spirits that were killed by the tomahawks.
The Spirit of the Angry One
This spirit may be that of a French soldier who lost his life defending the British soldiers, and now resents it, taking it out on the living.
This spirit is a powerful force that does negative things to the living.
A docent, Richard, dresses in a British uniform when he comes to work at the fort. Recently, when he was by the cannon in the lobby, he heard a disembodied voice call his name.
Then, an unseen presence tripped him and shoved him all the way across the lobby to the other side of the room.
People on ghost tours have been shoved down in the Western Casement area.
An Unwelcome Guest
A medium who did an investigation here suddenly felt like something was tearing out her guts in the courtyard.
She didn’t seem like herself for about a week when she returned home. She was mean, knocked items off the shelves in a store and laughed, etc.
When she figured out that this unpleasant character had come home with her, she made him leave.
Western Casement Spirits
The aura is thick with unhappy energy, and many visitors have personal experiences in this area.
Screams have been heard.
Visitors have been touched, breathed on, hear disembodied voices, and feel unseen presences.
The Dungeon Area (East Casement)
This was used as the fort’s hospital, as well as having cells for the unruly.
Disembodied voices have been heard by staffs and visitors.
People have been touched, and unseen presences have been felt.
Spirits of officers are still on the job, and report to the commander’s office.
Apparitions are seen in the old Officer’s Barracks.
The Spirits of Children
Sounds of children playing on the West Barracks loft have been heard, complete with little disembodied voices and running footsteps.
Sometimes they touch the living.
Some of these spirit children relive the terror of the final massacre when they ran in the courtyard for their lives before being caught and slaughtered with no mercy.
They enjoy the merchandise in the Settlers Gift Shop, especially the wind chimes and other fascinating items that are for sale.
They like to play hide and seek with the living here.
It is confirmed by staff, visitors and paranormal investigators that the full paranormal sports package, including poltergeist activity, is available at Fort William Henry Museum, all of which is sure to make a believer out of the strongest skeptic.
There is strong evidence to back up the personal experiences reported by people. Paranormal investigation groups, famous or not, plus the fort’s own ghost tours, have been successful in experiencing and catching spirits in the act.
Both the investigators from TAPS Ghost Hunters (Season 6, Episode 22), and Jason and Kelly from the Portals From Hell TV show, investigated Fort William Henry Museum. Both groups caught some hard evidence and had strong personal experiences.
A big Yes Indeed!
The traumatized are restless and trying to find peace in a place where they met their terrifying end. They go back to the duties, they relive their terror and pain, they enjoy the good memories they still have, and they find the living a great escape from what troubles them.
48 Canada Street
Lake George, NY 12845
Fort William Henry Museum is located on the southern shore of Lake George, New York.