Losing life in war can be sudden and unexpected for everyone involved.
When special places are reconstructed, spirits are pleased.
When spirits decide to stay, sometimes family stays too.
The Henry Hill House is an 1870, large, rectangular, two story, wooden slat home that was more or less a copy of the original 1812 house; with perhaps a few changes to please the new Hill family occupants, who reclaimed their home. It is a simple, farm house that was solidly rebuilt to withstand time. The first floor was the common area with a fire place, sitting area and dining area. The second floor holds the bedrooms and probably a sewing room.
When Tom and I visited the Henry Hill House in July of 2016, only the first floor was open. There were displays of the battles, history of the Hill family and other related items on display. The structure is used strictly as a historical display; an extension of the Manassas Welcome Center up on the hill. Walking through the plain wooden door, there is a staircase on the left, and the fireplace is in the left corner of the common area.
In 1812, Thomas King built the original two story wooden home and established a farm with many acres. In 1828, Henry Hill bought this house and its large estate for his wife, Judith, and his future children, John, Hugh and Ellen. At first they had a lot of acreage and a big farm. Henry either had trouble farming or wasn’t good at handling money. Every year, he came up with the tax money just in time so they wouldn’t loose their farm. When Henry died suddenly, Judith was forced to sell most of the farm’s acres. Both of her sons left farming and became successful school teachers; loved by their community and the children they taught as well.
Ellen stayed with Judith during Judith’s elderly years, taking care of her. On July 20th 1861, they hired an African American young woman, Lucy, to help with the chores. John came down to visit them for the day. Judith was 85 years, and bed ridden. She expected to die in the house she loved; about the only thing left of the once grand farm, along with a few acres.
As luck would have it, the first battle of the Civil War began on the fallow fields of Judith Henry’s farm on July 21st, 1861 at 5:30 am. The first battle of Manassas, known as Bull Run, toward the end of the fighting moved onto Henry Hill, opposite of the Henry home. The Union forces and the Confederate forces tried to force each other off this strategic spot. Uh oh! It became evident that the Hill family and Lucy needed to flee to a safer place. The first plan was to move Judith to the neighboring house of Robert Lewis, about a mile away. However, the battle probably was in the way of their escape. So, they moved her to the farm’s Spring House that was southwest of the house and in a depression, a less likely target.
Judith pleaded to be brought back to her home, and when they realized that the Spring House wasn’t much safer, they followed Judith’s wishes and put her back in her bed. John left and took Lucy to safer ground while Judith and Ellen stayed behind; being concerned about her mother. After John left, the house became engulfed with the battle raging around the house, putting both Judith and Ellen in mortal danger.
A Union military commission, not happy that an ailing senior citizen was killed in her bed, held an inquest to find out why the house was targeted in the first place with a cannonball by the Union troops. Union Officers testified the house’s involvement in the battle, and the following story was recorded. They had no idea that civilians were still inside.
Confederate snipers entered the house to take pot shots at the Union Army. A Union soldier entered the home to try to stop the snipers, but was shot dead in the hallway at the feet of Ellen. A terrified Ellen wisely sought refuge in the chimney. The inevitable happened. A Union cannon ball came through the wall of Judith’s bedroom, knocking her out of bed, injuring her head and neck, and blowing off a foot. Poor Judith; she just had hours to live.
The battle ended when Confederate reinforcements arrived and caused a hasty retreat of the Union Army. Judith died later that day, becoming the first civilian casualty of the Civil War. Ellen miraculously survived in the chimney, despite having most of the house had come down around her. However, she was deaf because of the shelling. John was very distraught, and laid face down on the ground mourning his mother’s death.
Photo taken of Henry Hill House after the Battle of Bull Run
In the front yard of what was their home, they buried Judith in a new family grave yard, so she could rest on the land she loved so well, and in front of her ruined house that would be rebuilt sometime after the war. Years later, daughter Ellen and son John were also buried there. The Henry family deserted what was left of the house; just skeletal remains and the fireplace. These skeletal remains of the house were totally destroyed during the second battle that took place at Manassas in August of 1862; just a little over a year later. Loose pieces of wood from the house were carried away by souvenir hunters.
On June 13th, 1865, Union veterans dedicated The Henry Hill Monument to their fallen comrades. The Henry Hill Monument was built behind the ruins of the Henry Hill House with the approval of the Hill family, who still owned the property. In 1870, the Henry Hill House was rebuilt, probably by the Hill family siblings. Some of the rebuilt home sat over the original house foundation; perhaps it was expanded in size to include a kitchen or more living space. After it was completed, Hill family members moved back inside. Perhaps Ellen took up residence with her husband and family, or perhaps the grandchildren of Judith.
In 1890, members of the Hill family were able to charge a fee to take people on a tour of the Manassas Battlefield; finally able to make lemonade from their deadly and destructive lemons that were handed to them as a consequence for being a little too close to the Battle of Bull Run.
In 1922, The Sons of Confederate Veterans bought the Henry Hill House from the Hill family, and used it as a Manassas Battlefield Welcome Center, in an effort to keep the memory alive of what occurred there. In 1940, they donated the Henry Hill House to the National Park Service, probably because it was a fixer upper opportunity in need of restoration, and there was no need to have their Welcome Center to keep the memory of the Battles of Manassas alive. The battlegrounds of Bull Run and the second battle of Manassas were going to be forever preserved as a National Park.
As late as 2012, the Henry Hill House was closed to the public, but visitors could peek through the windows. As of July of 2016, the first floor is open to the public. On display is information about the history of the Hill family, and what happened during the Battle of Bull Run. The second floor is still closed, perhaps because it still needs to be restored. It also maybe still occupied by a spirit or two.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
While it is not known who or how many spirits may visit or stay in the Henry Hill House, listed below are some guesses why spirits may still be here; and who they may be.
Loosing your life in war can be sudden and unexpected for both soldiers and civilians alike. Spirits who were suddenly out of their bodies or were surprised at their death, perhaps don’t want to believe they are in spirit and will hang around the land where they died, especially if they lost their lives in structures on or near the battlefield. If the destroyed structure is rebuilt, they may decide to move back inside. They go back to their duties and/or goal they were doing before being killed; doing the best they can in spirit form.
A Union soldier was killed in the hallway, trying to shoot the snipers.
Judith Carter Hill received fatal wounds from a Union cannon ball.
Looking at a picture taken by Matthew Brady of what remained of the house after the Battle of Bull Run:
Besides the Union soldier, Confederate snipers may have died in the house as well; perhaps burned alive or blown to bits. While the house where they died was completely destroyed, it was rebuilt on this same land, just nine years later.
People who loved their special structures in this world while alive, sometimes come back to visit or stay when their favorite structure is restored or rebuilt where it once stood.
Judith Carter Hill adored her house where she and her husband lived and raised their family. She had many fond memories of her life there, and was probably relieved that she could still have her house after having to sell a large chunk of the farmland.
This house was loved by Ellen as well.
When family members who die decide to stay in their family home as a spirit resident, sometimes their family members also decide to stay as well to keep them company and take care of them.
As Ellen was an attentive daughter while alive, she perhaps is still keeping her mother, Judith, company as Judith spends her afterlife in her favorite home on the land that she loved.
Possible spirits who stay or visit the Henry Hill House: Entity of Judith and/or Ellen?
Visitors have seen a woman looking out a second floor window, smiling at them. The window was the one in Judith’s bedroom. She may have welcomed visitors when she was mistress of Henry Hill House.
Other photos show other faces looking out the windows on the first floor too.
Date: February 13, 2014 12:02PM
“Hello, Well my husband and I drove to the Manassas Battlefield to check it out last week. I took a bunch of photos because it was impressive, and for the hope to maybe catch something on film. I came home, looked at the pictures and at first glance nothing caught my eye. But this evening upon looking for the third time I saw something. We looked inside the Henry house that still stands there. It was locked so we just looked in the windows and took pictures from the outside. Look at the bottom two windows carefully. On the left, the lower middle pane you can see the faint image of a face, two eyes and nose defined. On the right, second pane from the bottom left you can see a face also. It almost appears to be a female face smiling.”
On a digital movie camera, the misty yet clear form of woman in a bonnet and long dress has been caught going out for a stroll along the path near the Henry Hill House.
As there were no homes near them, it is probable that it is the spirit of Ellen or even Judith.
On the website fairfaxunderground.com, another person from a family visiting the Manassas National Battlefield who took film footage explained their experience:
“My family and I were on vacation in DC and we went to the Manassas battlefield. We video taped there, and later that day we were watching the tape and we noticed the woman dressed in white walking along the fence-line. There were no reenactments going on that day, and we didn’t see her there. If you look to the left of the house, you will see a small black fence with a marker that encloses the graves of Mrs. Henry, her daughter, and her son. The ghost is walking away from the graves to just an open field. We are convinced that this was a paranormal experience.”
Perhaps so. While there aren’t enough personal experiences reported or hard evidence caught to say that the Henry Hill House has residents or visitors in spirit form, what has been seen and caught on film strongly suggests that at least Judith and perhaps Ellen are present in their beloved home.
No experiences on the second floor have been made public. It is unknown whether Confederate soldiers and the one Union soldier are still fighting the war; and/or enjoying the peace and beauty of the countryside and the home as well – as a consolation prize for their death.
However, the odds are strong that these spirits are still here. Every house that was involved with the American Civil War battles has wound up with spirits in the aftermath of the killing and pain that war always brings to, not only bonded to the land where it took place, but structures too close to the mayhem of death as well. These structures inevitably became hospitals, or places to attack the enemy.
When spirits bond with the land, they can inhabit any building built on this land as well. This has happened on other battlegrounds. People who unwisely build on such land find out what the risks are in doing so.
No official paranormal investigators have been allowed to investigate anywhere on the Manassas National Battlefield, and the staff are tight-lipped about any ghostly activity at the structures found on the battlefield. As the Manassas National Battlefield Park is a memorial and probably a large graveyard where some of the dead are still buried, the idea that it is haunted is denied, and no encouragement to investigate these claims is offered.
The only evidence presented publicly came from visitors to the Henry Hill House through their photos and two very unique films whose main purpose was to film the Henry Hill House area.
As a sensitive and empath, I found the atmosphere to be a bit thick on the first floor, and got the feeling of being observed by a pleasant entity or two, doing their part to watch visitors to the Henry Hill House.
on the intersection corner of Route 234 and Lee Hwy, Route 29.
The Henry Hill House can be found on the Manassas National Park Battlefield. From the Manassas National Park Visitor’s Center, it is west down the hill, past the row of canons. In its back yard there is a memorial for the Union soldiers who died there. In the front yard there is a small family graveyard.
- https://www.nps.gov/mana/learn/education/upload/Res10_DeathofJudithHenry.pdf – Resource #10: Untimely Death of Judith Carter Henry. The following has been adapted from an unpublished manuscript, “Some Events Connected with the Life of Judith Carter Henry,” from the files of Manassas National Battlefield Park:
- m.youtube.com – video of female entity caught – story 1.
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr