National Park Rangers who have lived in this house
have experienced a grouchy spirit who doesn’t like Nic-knackers displayed.
Other spirits go about their duties in this Civil War Hospital.
A former spirit of a spectral owner has claimed the back bedroom.
This 1840s two story farm house would get the approval of tiny house enthusiasts everywhere as it has no wasted space, and in fact was just big enough for German immigrant Jacob Hummelbaugh, his sons Leander and John, and wife Sarah. While it was just fine for the Hummelbaugh family, National Park rangers who lived there found it a bit small for modern living. It barely supported just one person, as well as spirits who are attached to this tiny house.
When Tom and I visited Gettysburg, we found the Hummelbaugh House but it wasn’t open unless a ranger was there to let visitors inside, so we photographed the outside of this house and around the property. At this time, we didn’t have any information on whether it was haunted or not, but since it was located on the battleground, we figured that there was a chance that it had a spectral resident or two. Luckily, I found the book series by Mark Nesbitt, who wrote eight books about the Gettysburg hauntings, that included nice descriptions of the haunted places.
Nesbitt, a former National Park Ranger, lived in the Hummelbaugh House. He described the interior of it in his book, Ghosts of Gettysburg: Spirits, Apparitions and Haunted Places on the Battlefield.
He described this place as “a house in miniature, very small, with low ceilings, doorways, slanted floors, a back bedroom I never used because it felt so claustrophobic in there, and a tiny attic area I never even went into because…something just didn’t feel right up there.”
Looking at a copy of the interior layout, both floors have doors leading into the spaces provided by the lean-to addition. On the first floor there were two rooms with a wall and a door separating them. The larger room leads into the small bedroom, and bathroom for rangers to use. The smaller room leads into the winter kitchen that has the customary cupboards for dishes and utensils.
The second floor has two rooms, one much larger than the other,that again are separated by a wall and door as well. Both of these rooms lead into the attic. The smaller room looks like it had many cupboards and closets for storage.
On the property, the barn/carriage house/stables building and the smokehouse are in great shape. The original hand pump also still exists. The main yard of the farm still has a white picket fence surrounding the entire perimeter.
German immigrant Jacob Hummelbaugh, his wife Sarah, and their three-year-old son John (1837-1888) settled in Gettysburg and bought some property south of the city to build their dream farm for their livelihood. He built a two-story house, a chicken house, a cistern, a smokehouse, a corn crib and a structure that included a barn, carriage house and stables.
In 1840, changes happened in this family. Sarah had a second baby boy, Leander (1840-1918). Needing more space, Jacob added another bedroom in a Colonial style lean-to addition on the back of the home.
The Hummelbaugh’s worked the land and the boys grew up learning to work hard on the farm. Tragedy came in 1853 when the boys were sixteen and thirteen. Their mother Sarah died, leaving Jacob a widower. In the late 1850s, both sons found the loves of their lives. John married Catherine and Leander married Sarah. Both sons joined the Union side during the Civil War, leaving Jacob alone in the farmhouse.
In July of 1863, the Civil War came to Gettysburg. Jacob fled mid-meal after he heard the guns beginning to fire, leaving it all behind. The Hummelbaugh House wound up being just behind the lines of the Union 2nd Corps, on the second or third day of battle. A field hospital was established on Jacob’s property by the surgeon of the 148th Pennsylvania Regiment, with the wounded laying on the outside grounds waiting to see the surgeon.
The interior of the house became the operating room where the treatment of a bullet wound was amputation because at this time, there were no medications that could stop gangrene from taking the lives of the wounded. A huge pile of amputated limbs piled up outside, as surgeons had thrown them out the window of the operating room.
Jacob had left a barrel of flour in the attic that the surgeon and his team helped themselves to it, making pancakes to keep up their energy. Confederate General William Barksdale was one of the soldiers laying on the ground outside of the farm house, waiting his turn for treatment. He had been shot up with Union mini-balls as he was leading the charge across Seminary Ridge. He was in great pain, feverish, and asked for water. A drummer boy fed him water with a teaspoon. His treatment didn’t save him as he died on July 2nd.
Besides the little drummer boy, Barksdale’s loyal dog had been by his side, never leaving. When Barksdale was buried on the property, the dog never left. When Mrs. Barksdale came to take the body back to Mississippi, the dog would not come with her, as he probably saw the spirit of his master, wouldn’t eat the food offered him, so the dog slowly starved to death next to the old grave.
On July 4th, the field hospital was moved to a bigger structure, and Union Calvary Commander General Alfred Pleasanton made the Hummelbaugh farmhouse his headquarters until July 6th. After all had left, Jacob was glad to see that his house and most of his farm was still standing, minus his windmill that was blown up with a wounded soldier hiding inside. However, I bet all his chickens and animals were taken and the government didn’t replace any of it, leaving him with no food or a means to make a living.
Leander’s wife, Sarah, wrote a letter to the state legislature, asking for relief because farmers in Pennsylvania lost their livestock and chickens to raiding Confederate soldiers. She brought out the fact that her husband Leander was badly hurt for the cause of the Union. Her pleas fell on deaf ears. The Federal Government had already decreed that anything stolen by Confederate soldiers was not reimbursable. Somehow they survived. Perhaps, her parents helped them get on their feet once again. They may have moved back to Jacob’s farm to support Jacob which would allow him to stay on his farm until 1872 when he died.
The older son John resumed his trade of being a blacksmith somewhere in Pennsylvania which means he could have supported his father as well, and had Jacob move in with him and his family.
The farm may have eventually been handed down to the next generation, or perhaps sold to another farmer, as Leander and his family stayed in the area, while John had moved to greener pastures. However, John died at age fifty, and his family may have come home to Gettysburgh and stayed on the family farm. After twenty-three years of private ownership, the property was sold to the National Park Service in 1895 when The Gettysburg National Military Park was established.
During the 1950s, the lean-to was drastically changed and renovated to add a bathroom and full kitchen, as the house was deemed suitable for one Gettysburg National Park Ranger to occupy. Park Service rangers lived there, but not alone!
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
No one knows what spirits are residing in the house, but there are reasons why spirits may still be staying, because of connections to this property.
Spirits who loved their forever home while alive, may decide to stay there in their afterlife, especially if they abruptly had to leave or died suddenly.
Grapevine Farm House, NY (Spirits of the original owners, Mr. and Mrs David Hiltz happily co-exist with the living, mainly on the second floor. David died a short time after the farm house was built).
Joslyn Castle, NE (The Joslyn family loved their forever home, and have decided to spend their afterlife there together, to continue to enjoy their favorite place. Their adopted daughter married a man who moved her far away from the people who rescued her from an orphanage).
The Hummelbaugh House, PA (The spirits of Jacob and Sarah Hummelburg both loved their life here on their farm. Sarah passed away unexpectedly before she was ready and Jacob probably had to leave his farm and move in with his son’s family).
Spirits who share their special abodes with the living sometimes insist that their preferences be honored and let the living know in startling ways.
Duff Green Mansion Bed and Breakfast, MS (These spirits have good southern manners that include speaking quietly. Loud-voiced people find themselves the target of startling personal experiences, with annoyed spirits trying to correct their behavior).
Hotel Colorado, CO (The first owner is front and center still; even correcting decor mistakes).
The Hummelbaugh House, PA (A spirit who I think was Sarah Hummelbaugh, took action when something was displayed in a spot that she didn’t approve of).
When earthly remains are disturbed and moved, this can awaken spirits in a restless mood, perhaps upset by what had happened to them while alive.
Kelton House, OH (When the remains of the Kelton son who had died on a Civil War Battlefield were dug up and retrieved by his father, his spirit became restless and moved back inside the family home. He had promised his parents that he would return from war safely but was killed in action. So, this was the second best option).
Colonel Michael Swope Townhouse, VA (The spirit of Colonel Michael Swope rested in peace in the family vault located in Philadelphia, until the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1859 struck. Pompous health officials made his family dig up all the caskets to show that no new bodies of victims had been buried there. His spirit was disturbed out of its rest, and he began to remember how angry he was at the treatment received from the British. He moved back to his townhouse to protect his property from anyone British).
The Hummelbaugh House, PA (Some spirits from the dead bodies of soldiers who were dug up and reinterred in the Gettysburg National Cemetery or moved back home to the south by relatives, may be sticking around the place where they died, upsetat their fates. The spirit of Confederate General William Barksdale is thought to still be here, upset that he died instead of surviving to go home to loved ones).
Spirits of loyal pets may still look for or remain with the spirits of their humans.
Lemp Mansion, MO (The spirit of the dog who loved his master, Charles Lemp still is looking in vain for the spirit of his master).
Morgan House, MA (The spirit of nine year old Alphie and his dog DODO still play together and are best buddies).
The Hummelbaugh House, PA (The spirit of Barksdale’s dog may still be looking for his master, or may be keeping the spirit of his master company).
That is a Stupid Display!
A female Gettysburg National Park Ranger had just moved inside the Hummelbaugh House and started to unpack her items and treasures. She found a shelf that she thought was the perfect place to display her collection of salt dips (large receptacle from which the smaller, distributed, salt dishes are filled).
After she came home from work, she found all her salt dips on the floor, as if some indignant spirit (probably Sarah Hummelbaugh) had unceremoniously thrown them off the shelf.
Sarah, used to living in minimal space, probably thought that a person only needed one salt dip, and displaying a collection of them was absolutely absurd. She couldn’t help expressing her disapproval.
Unseen Presence of a Dog
This female ranger had a dog that protected her as well as being her puppy child.
Her dog could see spirits that she couldn’t see.
Sometimes the dog reacted like he would if he saw another dog that he felt could attack his mistress.
He would go berserk, with barking, growling and even trying to attack this unseen, probably four-footed, spectral foe whom he thought was a threat to his mistress.
Grand Central Station
Shadows and footsteps were seen and heard going up and down the stairs.
Spirits of the medical team or the men who died on this property could be reliving the trauma of this nightmare surgery experience.
Spirits of the people who lived and farmed here may also be going about their business.
The spirit of Confederate General William Barksdale may be reliving his last day on earth which ended in this house.
Spirits At Home
Items that are left on the kitchen counters fly into the sink where they belong. This may be Sarah trying to be helpful.
The back bedroom is uncomfortable to the living, because of the feeling they have that it is already claimed by an unseen presence.
The atmosphere in the attic is heavy and uncomfortable, keeping the living out as well.
Gettysburg Park Rangers who have lived here, have experienced interactions with the spirits who have mostly been friendly and willing to share the house with the living. Some spirits do claim some space but will grudgingly share after giving off energy that reveals their presence and their feelings.
No paranormal investigations are allowed inside because park officials probably know restless spirits don’t need any more intrusions that could upset them. Spirits need the peace to work through their restlessness. The house isn’t open for tourists unless you know the ranger who lives there and even then he or she would have to be willing to let you inside.
Every ranger who has lived here has had personal experiences with the spirits who either love this property or are trying to deal with their painful end of life. Perhaps a spectral surgeon or nurse stays with them, still dedicated to their welfare. Medical personnel must have been traumatized by doing this kind of bloody surgery; cutting off limbs to try to save the lives of the wounded.
There are so many restless spirits of men who died in the Battle of Gettysburg that they have been attracted to both downtown Gettysburg buildings as well as any nearby farm houses used as hospitals, especially if they died there. They are trying to seek rest and a place to work through the horror of it all.
Gettysburg, PA 17325
The Hummelbaugh House is located on the east side of Seminary Ridge, near the intersection of Pleasonton Avenue and Taneytown Road.
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr
- Ghosts of Gettysburg: Spirits, Apparitions and Haunted Places on the Battlefield, BY MARK NESBITT, Published by Second Chance Publications at Smashwords, 2012.