Monday, March 4, 2013

John Brown's Ghost

John Brown
The War Between the States was not something that started overnight.  Tensions were running high years before the first battle ever broke out, and in Harpers Ferry, VA (now WV) it was no different.  It was this small town on the border of Maryland that made its mark on the Civil War even as early as 1859.  It was that year when John Brown would make his ill-fated raid on the Harpers Ferry Arsenal.

John Brown was an abolitionist, who in October of 1859 led a raid designed to secure arms from the Harpers Ferry arsenal in order to supply a slave revolt.  On the night of October 16th, Brown, along with 20 men, both black and white, free and enslaved, left their planning headquarters in Maryland and marched towards Harpers Ferry.  There, Brown hoped that additional slaves and freed blacks would join, but that wouldn't be so.  By the evening of the 17th, a troop of U.S. Marines, led by Robert E. Lee would oust Brown from his "fort" in the arsenal's engine house, killing several of his men, and capturing Brown.

The first man killed in the raid was Dangerfield Newby, whose body was fed to local hogs, haunts the appropriately named Hog Alley...but John Brown himself has also been seen...

After John Brown was captured, he was accused of treason and murder and taken to Charles Town.  He was hanged there on December 2, 1859, but his ghost has been seen around Harpers Ferry.

Witnesses to the apparition have seen what appears to be a flesh and blood human being, in period dress, walking around the town, sometimes accompanied by a little dog.  This person is so life-like that many just assume that he is a re-enactor.  So authentic looking is he, that many tourists to the popular historic park will ask the gentleman to pose for a photograph.  He complies, but when the photo is developed, the man is not there....just a blank spot where he should have been.

This happened so many times that about 20 years ago, the local newspaper ran this story, and if I remember correctly, had an accompanying photo that showed a happy tourist posing with SOMEONE...someone who wasn't actually there.  The apparition of a gentleman who bears a strikingly strong appearance of John Brown is still being seen around Harpers Ferry, so keep your camera handy if you're in the area!  John is more than willing to pose for you, but whether or not he'll show up for you is debatable!

As an interesting side note, there was a photograph taken at the Haunted Cottage that shows what looks like John Brown's image peering in through an image.  Obviously, this doesn't fit his MO that he's held onto for so many years.  Is John Brown changing things up?  Is this the apparition of ANOTHER ghost of the super-haunted town-turned-park?  Or, are we simply dealing with the ol' pareidolia explanation.  Take a look and decide!

This link has a great summary of the events:
John Brown and the Harpers Ferry Raid

Engine House Today

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