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Author shares ghostly encounters near Antietam National Battlefield and Gettysburg

Johlene "Spooky" Riley, lead investigator and founder of the Gettysburg (Pa.) Paranormal Association, spoke to a crowd of attendees and re-enactors

September 16, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Johlene "Spooky" Riley, author, ghost hunter, radio show host, and lead investigator and founder of the Gettysburg (Pa.) Paranormal Association, told stories Sunday of ghostly encounters near Antietam National Battlefield and Gettysburg to a crowd of attendees and re-enactors in the activities tent.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Dead Civil War soldiers showing up at re-enactments and a camera that predicts people’s deaths were among the stories told at the site of the 150th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam.

Johlene “Spooky” Riley, author, ghost hunter, radio show host, and lead investigator and founder of the Gettysburg (Pa.) Paranormal Association, told stories Sunday of ghostly encounters near Antietam National Battlefield and Gettysburg to a crowd of attendees and re-enactors in the activities tent.

“It’s a historical and ghostly presentation both of Antietam and Gettysburg,” she said. “Full-bodied apparitions have been seen here, along with phantom smells, ghostly sounds, whispering in ears and chanting.”

Riley, who is also a Gettysburg ghost tour guide, gave the presentation with a member of her team, Sean, who did not give his last name. She showed up dressed as a widow from the time period and alternated with Sean telling stories of ghostly encounters.

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Among the stories told was one about a re-enactor who was re-enacting a battle at one point and thought he had been “killed” by another re-enactor. However, after the battle was over, nobody else saw the “killing” re-enactor, and Riley implied it was the spirit of an actual dead soldier who took part in the battle re-enactment, thinking it was real.

Larry Ringler, 60, of Akron, Ohio, attended the event and said that was the most interesting story to him, even though he does not believe the tales.

“They’re fun, and I like ghost stories,” he said. “These are like ghost stories you hear around a campfire.”
Ringler added, however, that the historical aspect of the stories makes them slightly more interesting.

“It adds color to it and makes it come to life,” he said.

Another story told included an old 1860s camera that took a picture of President Abraham Lincoln and came out with a mark on his head, the same place he was shot three days later. Eventually another couple used the same camera to take a picture, but it came out with a crack across the male, and just after that, he died in a plane crash.

Riley and Sean also told stories of haunted hotels near Gettysburg and Sharpsburg.

Riley, who hosts the radio show “Ghostly Encounters” and is the author of the book “Ghostly Encounters of Gettysburg,” according to the Gettysburg Ghost Tours website at www.gettysburgghosttours.com, also has been featured on television shows and insists that ghosts do exist, especially in the areas of Antietam and Sharpsburg.

“I’ve experienced spirits connecting through electronic voice phenomenon, physical contact and messages to loved ones,” she said. “It’s intriguing when coming into contact with spirits. There’s always questions unanswered.”

Debbi Neemeyer, 41, of Carlisle, Pa., also attended the presentation. She said she enjoys ghost stories and liked the presentation of the stories given.

“The stories are slightly scary and creepy, but not overdone, and she makes them very entertaining,” she said. “When my husband retires from the Army, we’re going to go live in Gettysburg, and when we went on a ghost tour there a few years ago, we think we caught a picture of something. That was a little uncomfortable.”

Judy Neemeyer, 14, also of Carlisle, Pa., said that what makes the stories interesting is how real they could be.

“The soldier who is not there is a really creepy concept,” she said. “The person you see that nobody else does is actually there. You are just pretending, and they’re really there.”

The presentation was given at 3:30 p.m. Sunday after the Battle of Burnside Bridge re-enactment. It was also given Saturday at 4:30 p.m., according to the re-enactment’s website, http://150thantietamreenactment.com.

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