Home Archives Homan House, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Development of “Jeremy Ghost Script” and Framing Activities

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The following investigative mise-en-scene (etic) was developed and consisted of the following elements:

  1. Sets: These included the 3 S.I.M.S. zones previously noted (Back room, entrance hallway and stairs, and the Journey Shoppe).
  2. “Props”: These consisted of the “target objects” that are historico-contextual emically-valid. These included antique photos of children from the 19th c., drawings of horses and family life (from mid- 19th c. children’s books), reproductions of 19th c. marbles, candy, and “certificates of merit” (from teacher’s manuals of the 19th c.).
  3. Actors: Three investigators were engaged in this investigative phase. One was stationed in the “control area” reviewing the monitors and conducting EVP.

Another investigator was located in the entrance hallway monitoring the activity there. I was the principal actor-investigator who would perform the content and associated activities of the “Jeremy ghost script” in the Journey Shoppe. I chose to do this because, based on the performance "rehearsals," I was perceived as an emically-significant presence (adult male) and there were anomalous manifestations to the framed activities I performed during the rehearsals. There was also a continuity person (my 16 year old daughter) who would float and record the scene, noting any peripheral sensory manifestations (time/location/performed activity/type of manifestation).

The script was based on the following scenario: “Jeremy” would be called to sit and talk with his “family” (the investigative team). Some short stories would be read to him, and some games would be played. He would be “given” milk and pudding, and then be told it was late and it was time to go to bed. He would then be instructed to go with his parents to the “light” in the bedroom.

Background music was used for atmosphere. These were melodies from the period, 1830-1870, and consisted of music that would be recognizable to children of that period. The dialogue with Jeremy contained vocabulary and phrases common in mid-19th c. America that would be familiar to children.

The Staged Performance
The theatrical performed engagement was conducted, beginning at 9:30 p.m. on July 17, 2006. Present, besides the investigators, were Rev. Francine Milano, who did a preliminary psychic sweep. Also present were Andy and Tonya Keyser from Exspiro Productions who were filming the investigation as part of their forthcoming documentary (for particulars see their Web site: www.exspiroproductions.com). The performed engaged framed sequence of activities (emic/etic) consisted of:

  1. Ppsychic sweep
  2. Auditory atmospherics (mid 19th c. children’s melodies); meditative moment (thinking of a child and his world- mid 19th c. in Gettysburg). During this time, general evp was conducted in the control area.
  3. Call to Jeremy: time for children’s hour. He was asked to come and sit and not to try to cut a few shines. A 19th c. drawing, from a children’s book, was shown. It depicted a family unit of father, mother, and two children (boy and girl) sitting around a table.
  4. Jeremy was asked various questions while being shown photos of adults and children (19th c.): “Is this your father… Is this your sis… are you alone? etc. He was then told he could stay awhile and play, and then he would have to return to his family.
  5. The activities began with a story about a horse (“Black Beauty”) and horse-drawn carriages. Both of these elements are important in the “Jeremy haunt/folklore model”. Names of German families and carriage-makers in Gettysburg were mentioned. This included the Studebaker family, with possibly a close relative of having actually lived in the Homan House.
  6. Jeremy was then asked if he would like to play some games. First, some candy was used (peppermint sticks and lollipops, both mid 19th c. “treats”) in the form of a game of tag (echoing the tag game that might had led to his death). He was asked: “Are there a boodle of boys with you? Do they want to play a game too?” “You are just a shaver compared to those other boys” (emphasizing the folkloric element of “Jeremy” playing with older boys).
  7. Jeremy was asked to go and touch the candy, and to do it faster than the other, older boys. These boys were also given German names (including the Studebaker family). The tag and speedy return reenacted the touching the horse activity of the folklore model.
  8. A marble game was played, while sitting on the floor of the Journey Shoppe.
  9. Pudding and milk were put out on the floor of the Journey Shoppe, near the marbles. Jeremy was told it was his bedtime snack.
  10. Jeremy was told "it was time for bed." His parents were waiting for him: “You don’t want to be a guttersnipe. Go up to the light in the bedroom." With this, a bedtime melody was played, and the performed investigative sequence ended, at approximately 10:45 p.m.

Results:
EVP was conducted throughout the performance in the control area. The results were inconclusive, i.e. no discernable “voice” or “words” were recorded. EMF readings indicated increased activity during the performance in steps #1,3,6,7,8, and 10. All of these emf’s were recorded in the Journey Shoppe. No significant changes (+/- 7) were noted in temperature. Two significant anomalies occurred during the performance. These were:

  1. During activity #7, an anomalous visual was seen moving across the entrance hallway (recorded on video), stopping where the candy was located. On the video, this light anomaly appeared, and began to move, as my voice was heard saying, “Ready, set, go and touch the candy Jeremy before the other boys."
  2. After the marble game was played, and Jeremy was sent to bed, the pouch in which the marbles were stored fell to the floor and two considerably larger
    (and differently textured) marbles were found in the pouch. They were not previously there, and the pouch, during the performance, was in a controlled area.

The results, though interesting, were inconclusive as to the question of whether a little boy is haunting the Homan House. The data, however, did indicate consistencies between the "rehearsals," performed script, and anomalous sensory manifestations (emically-based) that were etically-observed and recorded. This consistency was shown to be repeatable during all these engaged activities. This is etically important. However, more evidential data is needed, especially more visual (photographic/video) and audial (evp) data. This will be the focus of the next stage of the Homan House investigation, and will center on the use of binaural audial recording and peripatetic video, in this, the continuing emic/etic symmetrical investigation of a “haunted house”. This illustrates the necessity of developing a long-term investigative strategy at haunted locations.

The use of all these diversified field methods stresses the importance of the investigation of behavioral and formational systems and processes (both residual and interactive) that underlie the organizational patterning of a haunted archaeological record. The conceptualization of this patterning into a targeted “ghost script”, with resonating stimuli that is emically-appropriate, offers the ability for investigators to etically-record the observable (and “sensed”) responses. We can do this by capturing the ethnographic and systemic regional patterns of human behavior over space (a haunted landscape) and through time (memories of experiences, events, and activities). The anomalous manifestations (isolated from the “naturally occurring”) are not “random” or “unorganized”. They may appear to be because they are not observed (and/or recorded) as continuous or recurring patterns, but rather as “fragments” and “bits and pieces” of material sensory remains. The function of a thorough and ongoing scientific investigation of a haunted location is to determine the haunt patterning from these fragments, and this involves the long-term strategy mentioned earlier. If we are to develop a ghost paradigm for field investigations, the first step would be the development of this long-term strategy, and its associated goals and methodology.

Stay “tuned” for a (hopefully) repeat performance, one that will add more emically-significant data in determining whether ‘Jeremy’ is haunting the Homan House in Gettysburg, or the haunting was actually part of local German industrial folklore (the decline of the carriage-making industry in Adams County after the Civil War). 

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