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Home Archives Homan House, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: A Preliminary Report

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In a previous article, I had talked about the distinction between an emic (haunting context) perspective, and the etic analysis (investigator’s) of anomalous sensory manifestations at haunted locations. This field report is an illustration of the use of both of these perspectives, as they relate to observed anomalous phenomena occurring at the Homan House, on Baltimore Street, in Gettysburg. It specifically concerns the “Jeremy” haunt D.R.A.M.A. (Directed Recurring Anomalous Manifestation Assemblages). The data of the Homan House hauntings is still at a preliminary analytical phase.

A well-known “ghost story," told on the various ghost tours in the town of Gettysburg, is the tragic death of Jeremy, a little boy of about 4-6 yrs. of age. The story that circulates on these tours is that Jeremy was playing a game of “tag” with some older children in front of the Farnsworth House on Baltimore Street. The object of the game was to run out and “tag” the horses, as the carriages came down the road. Most accounts state that he was trampled by a horse-drawn carriage and was then carried to the Farnsworth House by his father, where he died in what is now the Sara Black bathroom on the second floor, facing Baltimore Street. No last name is given, nor the name of his father. His mother is not mentioned. The time period is not specified, though it is believed to have occurred some time after the Civil War battle. His death, or the accident, is not mentioned in any local (or other) newspaper account. He is said to haunt the Farnsworth House where he figures prominently in the ghost lore of the bed and breakfast. His story is also part of the Farnsworth’s Mourning Theatre ghost stories that are narrated in the basement. “Jeremy” is also said to haunt the Homan House, located directly across from the Farnsworth B&B, on the corner of High and Baltimore Streets. It now houses the Gettysburg Metaphysical Center and Journey Shoppe. Finally, Jeremy is also said to haunt the house located directly across Baltimore Street from the Homan House.

The investigation of the Jeremy Haunting centers on the Homan House, though a preliminary investigation was also done at the Farnsworth House. The conclusions from that investigation are pending. The preliminary ethnographic observations, psychic sweep, and witness interviewing at the Homan House indicated that the haunting phenomena related to Jeremy centered in specific areas, located on the first floor. The most active areas included: 1- the back room in front of the kitchen area; 2- the journey shoppe; and 3- the entrance hallway (to Baltimore St.) and stairs. Preliminary engaging (emic) rehearsal activities were used. These had two purposes: 1- determine if any resonating activities and/or use of target objects could produce an anomalous reaction (sensory response); then 2- if they did, to use these activities and target objects as a basis for developing the Jeremy ghost script, that would be emically-sound.

The etic background to the investigation of the haunting centered on the development of a haunt theory, associated comparative models, an investigative field methodology, and the operationalization of the research design. The last element focused on developing emic characteristics associated with models in order to test various preliminary hypotheses derived from each of these developed models. 

Etic Methodological Framework:
1. Theory: There may be a pattern of anomalous sensory manifestations that are contextually-discontinuous occurring in certain spatial locations in the Homan House on Baltimore Street in Gettysburg.
2. Comparative Models:
German Folkloric Tradition Interactional Haunt Entity
-Jeremy’s ghost story is a traditional account: A young boy was tragically killed in a carriage incident while playing with other young boys on Baltimore Street. He returns as a ghost due to:
-complete a task (obey father = looking for a male figure) basic underlying format that circulates among members of a: afraid to “go to the light" = disobeyed his father. 
-the sensory manifestations reflect the playful antics of a young boy of the mid-19th c.
-majority of accounts contain similar common elements: who does not know he is dead.

The Jeremy haunting is an interactive ghost who has not crossed-over.
-father/not named
-Jeremy: no last name
-no mention of mother
-no date/historical period
-no media account
-story contains basic elements of folklore:
   -part of local oral tradition (ghost storytellers)
   -basic underlying format
   -different variations (type of play/age of participants/time period)
   -origin of story is anonymous
   -story tends to be formalized (play-fatally injured-dies-haunting behavior)
   -related to the carriage-making industry, dominated by males of German descent

Anthropological view:
-story serves as an educational tool for parental control/responsibility to societal norms (German) and the occupational hazards of its principal industry (carriage industry).

Summary: Jeremy’s "death" was a symbolic and ritualistic re-enactment of the decline of the carriage-making industry in the Gettysburg area after the Civil War.

3. Methodology: Test for anomalous manifestations (etic view) at specific spatial locations (S.I.M.S. zones) identified through historical research and on-site survey and excavation through the use of five criteria:
-compare: historically-observed pattern (derived from archived accounts/witnesses) and current observations/recordings.

models: folklore vs. haunt
-holistic: three components: survey/excavation (archaeological field methods), ethnographic analysis (witnesses/observations of anomalous manifestations), and dramaturgy (development of a haunt script/performance of drama).
-systemic: Each component is interrelated (past/present symmetry; emic/etic perspective) and builds a methodological framework for field testing (engagement).
-participantly-observed: dynamic emic approach (investigator as participant in the performance of the “ghost script”), with multi-modal etic documentation system (observation/recording).
-relativity: contextual integrity of production/haunt script; no etic values ( in script, performance, or sensory stimuli); no contemporary personal or technological biases.
-Operationalization of research design ( R.E.P.E.A.T.S. = Resonating Performance to Address Targeted Spirit):
   a. ghost script = story-line.
   b. framed sequence of activities (sensory stimuli) to achieve audience (ghost) participation and complete the “story-line” (C.A.R.E. = Communicate (and) Aid (in the) Recall (of the) Event) = offer alternative to haunting behavior.

The staged engaging rehearsals resulted in two significant etic findings: In S.I.M.S. zone 1, located in the hall entry between the 2 rooms on the first floor (and significantly, near the area separating the older section of the house from the subsequent additions facing Baltimore Street), Jeremy’s presence was detected by Rev. Francine Milano, a clairvoyant-medium and the current proprietor of the Gettysburg Metaphysical Center. Here, EMF readings became elevated and started to spike, though the thermal scan detected no significant change in temperature. A series of questions were asked of Jeremy concerning his family background, in order to detect any significant emic relevance. During this interview, two digital recorders simultaneously stopped… paused… and restarted when questions were asked (there were no recorded EVP). This happened 22 different times, to 22 different questions (note: the recorders do not “auto” activate to sound). A photo taken during this session showed a bright orb anomaly located in the space indicated by Rev. Milano as the area where Jeremy was sitting and listening to the questions.

On a subsequent engaged rehearsal (conducted weeks later), a number of potentially resonating activities were performed in the Journey Shoppe. There were no observable, recorded, or measurable anomalous manifestations until I began to play with a set of marbles, a popular mid 19th c. activity for children. The following sequence of events then occurred: 1- in the adjoining hallway leading to the stairs to the second floor (where previous anomalies were recorded), one of the investigators noted an increase in EMF activity, followed by the malfunction of a lantern and flashlight: 2)- the motion detector sounded in the doorway between this hallway and the Journey Shoppe; 3-the EMF meter spiked in the Journey Shoppe near where I was playing with the marbles; 4- as I continued to play with the marbles, I asked Jeremy to join in (no EVP or temperature change was recorded or noted); 5-photos were taken during this sequence of activities which showed light anomalies (orbs) in three different photos, each orb appearing between my hand and the marbles, or among the marble grouping (as if Jeremy was playing with them). No other anomalies were noted.

These performance rehearsals revealed some interesting patterns that had emic/etic implications: 1- there were positive responses to questions about family, and family life (emic); 2- there was a detectable network of anomalous activity and movement that was etically-observed/recorded (room 2-doorway 2-Journey Shoppe; entrance hallway-doorway 1-Journey Shoppe). Based on the above, a preliminary ghost script was developed using the (apparent) emically-important themes of family and children’s games. Also, the etic placement of equipment was done based on the observed anomalous sensory and spatial patterning: two video cameras were placed directly in front of these S.I.M.S. zones (2nd room facing toward Journey Shoppe; entrance hallway facing toward Journey Shoppe). The Journey Shoppe was designated the area for the performance-framed dialogue and activity. Video monitors were placed away from these zones in a control area, which also served as a EVP station to monitor paranormal activity during the performance.

Development of “Ghost Script” and Framing Activities: To be continued next month… 

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