Lingering Guests: Gettysburg’s Most Haunted Inns

Posted by US Ghost Adventures Contributor in US Ghost Adventures
Lingering Guests: Gettysburg’s Most Haunted Inns - Photo

Largely considered to be the bloodiest of any infighting to ever take place on American soil, much of Gettysburg became inundated with all the horrors of war, including Gettysburg’s most haunted inns. Within this nightmare, private homes, businesses, and even schools were taken over by military forces to function as make-shift hospitals and command headquarters. Although the town is quite small, the Battle of Gettysburg spread over 17 square miles, and this deluge uprooted the natural rhythms of small-town life.  Civilians leaped into action to assist in tending to the wounded as bullets ripped the once sleepy town apart from every direction. No one was immune from the heat of the crucible that was the Battle of Gettysburg. Here was forged the ghosts that haunt this town.

There are several types of hauntings reported within these inns and restaurants. One type is poltergeist activity, where objects seemingly move by themselves, or tapping is heard within the walls. Another type of haunting is of the residual variety. A residual haunting is a playback of events from another time, with ghostly images repeating actions from the past over and over. The intelligent haunting, or the classic haunting, involves the witnessing of a full-bodied apparition and, quite frequently, an interaction with the spirit.

Because nearly every building was touched in some way or another by this battle, hauntings seem to permeate every structure. What was once a quiet inn or stately home is now imprinted with a battle-hardened ghost that illustrates how infiltrating this Civil War was throughout Gettysburg. 

Looking to experience the most haunted locations in Gettysburg for yourself? Join us for a historically accurate and hauntingly fun Gettysburg ghost tour!

Hoffman Mansion

 The Hoffman Mansion, sometimes referred to as the Hoffman Farm, was originally  a 123-acre dairy farm ownedfarm was owned by the Hoffman family. It was on this farm that heated cavalry fighting occurred on July 3. This grand home was quickly converted into a field hospital for the Union to treat those injured during and following the violent onslaught of Pickett’s charge.

As you may imagine, a field hospital was not concerned with pain management or a sterile environment. Doctors were employed not for their bedside manner but for their ability to quickly patch a wound or remove a limb from a person who was still conscious. This property has witnessed many ghostly apparitions of soldiers missing an arm or leg—sometimes even a head! 

Not Civil War related, but interesting nonetheless, but one ghost said to haunt the Hoffman Mansion is one of the Hoffman daughters. She is said to have hanged herself in the home because she was told of her betrothed’s infidelities. Indeed, it does seem that all is fair in love and war. 

Gettysburg Hotel

photo shows the facade of the gettysburg hotel at night
From tavern to field hospital, the Gettysburg Hotel has endured countless manifestations since its inception. Source: Destination Gettysburg

The Gettysburg Hotel was originally constructed in 1797 as a pub named Scott’s Tavern. After a few years, it was purchased by a retired local sheriff who continued in the tavern tradition while slowly adding on rooms to accommodate weary travelers to the area. In 1863, the spare rooms on the site of the tavern were converted into medical rooms to assist with the battle site overflow of wounded and dying soldiers. Sometime during the 1890s, the tavern was purchased by a new owner who formally began construction and remodeling on the tavern’s site. In 1893, the Gettysburg Hotel officially opened for business.

It was after the construction that ghosts seem to begin haunting this place. In the early 20th century is when the first ghost sightings began to occur. There is a ghost of a Union soldier named James Culbertson that still roams around the hotel after his untimely death on the battlefield. A woman has been seen dancing in the elegant ballroom to music from the time of the Civil War. When approached, she dances off into oblivion and the music fades into silence. The most popular of these ghostly sightings are of a Civil War-era nurse named Rachel. Wearing nurse’s clothing from the Civil War, Rachel has been seen walking throughout the halls. Her ghost has been sighted on the outside sidewalks as well before disappearing entirely into nothing. She has been seen manifesting in guest rooms, opening up their dresser drawers, rearranging items, opening and closing closets, and turning the lights on and off. 

The Farnsworth House

photo shows the facade of the farnsworth house inn, its made of brick and is quaint
Once a private home, the Farnsworth House served as a nest for snipers during the Battle of Gettysburg. Source: Flickr

On the third day of the battle of Gettysburg, Union soldiers stormed the Farnworth house and killed many of the Confederate snipers who had been posted in the attic to pick off soldiers on nearby Cemetery Hill. The confrontation led to the deaths of many of the snipers stationed inside the house. As you might expect, many of these soldiers were young men who were unprepared to die, and it is these restless spirits that haunt the Farnsworth House even to this day. The spirit of a young soldier who refuses to abandon his post so many years after his death has been reported. It is also common to hear disembodied footsteps on the stairs leading to the attic and frantic pacing up and down the halls. Shadow figures also have been reported throughout this place. Guests and employees alike have caught glimpses of apparitions out of the corner of their eyes, especially in the dining room area. Guests also report invisible beings sitting on the edge of their beds late at night, some even claiming to see their mattress visibly indenting under the weight of a person, but nobody can be seen!

There are also frequent encounters with a female spirit who is thought to be the former matron of the house. She is often mistaken for a living member of the staff, but she is wearing 1800s attire. She seems to spend most of her time in the hallways between the tavern and the kitchens, seemingly assuring everything is in its place.

Welty House and Brickhouse Inn

Built in 1837 and for a time it serving as the Oak Ridge Seminary, the Welty House and Brickhouse Inn is a haunted bastion filled with Civil War ghosts. The home was so close to the battle that is received two cannonball strikes on July 1 from a Confederate volley. The Welty House was then taken over and served as a sniper’s nest for Confederate sharpshooters as they attempted to pick off the temporarily retreating Union troops. As both sides tirelessly waged their ferocious battle, the inhabitants of the Welty House along with their neighbors holed up in the basement. There they prayed for their lives as the sounds of war raged above.

Because of its location to the actual battlefield, many soldiers were hurriedly buried on this property. Soldiers in full uniform have been reported within the walls of the Welty House, as well as the sound of disembodied voices calling out in the night. 

Dobbin House Tavern

Dobbin House Tavern was an important part of the Underground Railroad. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The ghost of Alexander Dobbin, who founded the Inn, is still seen around the establishment smoking his iconic cigar. But he is not the only ghost said to haunt the Dobbin House Tavern. Indeed, it is said that many freedom seekers, escaped slaves from the South making their way to freedom in the North, still linger in this place. Apparitions of slaves have been spotted throughout the house which was used by the Underground Railroad to hide these brave freedom seekers. In the mid-1800’s, a secret crawl space served as a safe haven for runaway slaves on their perilous journey to freedom. The slaves who stopped at the Dobbin house, on their way to freedom in Canada, generally hid in small, secret hiding places that were located under the floor and in the walls. This building may have been a first stop on the Underground Railroad north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

During the Battle of Gettysburg the Dobbin House served as a hospital for wounded soldiers of both the North and the South. After the battle of Gettysburg ceased, and the armies had departed, it continued to serve as a hospital for wounded soldiers from both sides. These ghosts can still be seen, some still covered in blood-soaked bandages, while others are heard, their moans of pain echoing throughout the Dobbin House.

Brafferton Inn

In 1786, Michael Hoke built the townhome that is now known as The Brafferton Inn. The home was built before the town even existed, making it the oldest deeded house in Gettysburg. During the Battle of Gettysburg, the Brafferton Inn, like nearly every other building, was utilized as a hospital. Guests staying at the inn report the door to their rooms turning or closet doors opening and closing. What is quite odd, however, although there is this minor poltergeist activity reported, the Brafferton Inn seems to be free of full-bodied apparitions. One reason may be because shortly after the end of the Civil War, the Brafferton became a Catholic Chapel. Or there may be a hint in the name itself. The name “Brafferton” actually comes from the dark blue color that is painted throughout the house. Slaves in the South often used a paint called “Haint Blue” as protection from ghosts and other entities. It was believed that spirits could not cross water. Therefore, parts of homes were painted this certain blue color to ward off spirits who presumably mistook the color for water. This may be the reason why the Brafferton, although the oldest structure in Gettysburg, seems strangely to be the least haunted. 

The Cashtown Inn

photo shows the facade of the cash town inn
Serving good food, wine, and spirits! Source: Flickr

Built in 1797, the Cashtown Inn is one of the oldest hotels in Gettysburg. By 1815, innkeeper Peter Marck was running it as a tavern and lodge and only accepted cash for payment, creating the moniker of Cashtown. But the Cashtown Inn has become infamous because it was where the first soldier was killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. The Cashtown Inn then served as a forward hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg, treating soldiers who were too badly injured to be moved. Most of the patients at this hospital were very badly injured, mostly mortally wounded. To this day, those staying at this historic inn report doors opening and closing by themselves. Mysterious knocks on the walls and ceiling have been recounted. Some of the more dramatic ghostly encounters include phantom horses heard stamping their hooves outside of the rooms and ghostly lights in the building as well as throughout the grounds. Also, apparitions of Confederate soldiers have appeared in photographs that have been taken in and around the inn.

The Tillie Pierce House Inn

If you recognize the name Tillie Pierce, then it is probably because she became very well known for writing a book that detailed her experiences during the vicious battle of Gettysburg. She was a teenager at the time, tending to the wounded soldiers who writhed in agony throughout the town. She was witness to many things that were not befitting of a teenage girl including the battle itself, a number of amputations and many other nightmares conjured by such a bloody war.

The most haunted spot in the inn is said to be The Blue Room. People have reported hearing footsteps walking above them in the attic and have also claimed that someone was sitting silently on their bed watching them! Some guests have reported seeing a soldier who constantly walks down the stairs, enters the Blue Room and then retreats back up the stairs again, almost as though he is patrolling the area!

The Daniel Lady Farm

photo shows the large red barn at the daniel lady farm
The Daniel Lady Farm. Source: Flickr

The Daniel Lady Farm was used during the Battle of Gettysburg as a field hospital for the Confederate Army. Soldiers injured during the battle were transported to the barn on the property and officers were sent to the farmhouse, either to recover from their wounds or to die, depending on the severity of their injuries. Many of the men passing through here had massive chest wounds and were missing limbs.

The farmhouse and barn would have been the stuff of nightmares, where hastily performed amputations were carried out without anesthetic or proper medical equipment. Bloodstains remain on the floors in the house, testaments to the operations that took place. One blood splatter indicates where a soldier bled out as he laid on the floor! These types of situations, fraught with the stress of war and bodily pain, have produced ghosts seen limping about or seemingly pleading for assistance before vanishing into the night.

Quality Inn

The building that now houses the Quality Inn, newly constructed as the war commenced, served as General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters during the 3-day onslaught of the Battle of Gettysburg. It was chosen by Lee due to the close proximity to the center of the Confederate line and because it has particularly thick walls which would offer additional protection from artillery fire if it came under attack. It is a quite common occurrence for baffled guests to report to the front desk that they heard the sound of gunshots or something violently striking the building. It seems that the proximity to the action has made the Quality Inn a focal point to witness the residual sounds from the Battle of Gettysburg.

Other strange activity at the hotel includes the front door opening on its own, cabinets being opened during the night, objects being moved around in the office, lights going on and off by themselves, and 75 lb. laundry carts moving by themselves. The resident ghosts are referred to by management as “the boys,” assuming that they are long dead soldiers. 

Sources

Coleman, Christopher K. Ghosts And Haunts Of The Civil War: Authentic 

     Accounts Of The Strange And Unexplained. Barnes and Noble, 2003.

Murphy, Ronald L. On Ghosts. Camonica Books, 2016.

O’Neil, Bill. The Great Book of Pennsylvania. Independent, 2019.

Reardon, Carol and Vossler, Tom. A Field Guide to Gettysburg. University of  

     North Carolina Press, 2017.

Roberts, Nancy. Civil War Ghost Stories and Legends. Independent, 2016.

Rowland, Tim. Strange and Obscure Stories of the Civil War. Skyhorse, 2011.

Sears, Stephen W. Gettysburg. Mariner Books, 2004.

Trudeau, Noah Andre. Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage. Harper Perennial, 2003.

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