James Gettys Hotel

27 Chambersburg Street, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 17325
Innkeeper(s): Patricia Morrell

Hidden Gems on the Battlefield 17 Apr 2012, 5:19 pm

Like most of the country, Gettysburg has been experiencing (and enjoying, for the most part) some unseasonably warm weather over the past couple of months.  Our thoughts and prayers are with those in the central states, whose weather has taken a turn for the dangerous recently, and with those in the northern states whose produce crops are at risk due to early budding.  Adams County boasts a good many orchards, and we have all held our breath several nights over the last weeks, hoping for a breeze on nights that could dip below freezing.

Anyway, with all of this warm weather, the trees and grasses of the battlefield are lush and green, and the peach and apple trees are blossoming, and it's just a beautiful time to get out on the battlefield and enjoy some fresh air!  I haven't had the chance to head out with my camera lately, but I was enjoying a glance through some photos I took last year.  If things weren't so green around here, I might think of trying to pass last year's photos off on you, but it would never work!

I found a few, though, that I think would make for a fun bit of trivia.  I have lived here for 20 years and never knew that this particular little gem existed, until I found it last spring.  (Steph told me that it was only reopened within the past few years, so that makes me feel a bit better.)  So, can you guess where this is???

 Clue #1:
[photo: C.Todd]

 Okaaaaaay...Let's see...bronze? copper? a railing?  Need more to go on?

Clue #2:
[photo: C.Todd]
Massively confusing, eh?  It looks like a picture of someone's crazy basement...Still need another clue?

Clue #3:
[photo: C.Todd]    
Well, whatever it is, it certainly produces some intriguing photos!  I have a couple more clues...

Clue #4:
[photo: C.Todd]  
I don't want to make this too easy, so before I offer two photos that are dead giveaways, I wanted to give you one more difficult clue. Does anyone know where this statue of General Hancock is located on the battlefield?

Clue #5:
[photo: C.Todd]
Ok, I think that this might be close to giving it away...do you know what monument sports this enormous angel?

Clue #6:
[photo: C.Todd]
Ok!  The angel stands atop a huge white monument!  General Hancock was from Pennsylvania!  THAT'S RIGHT...

[photo:  www.gettysburg.travel]


I had no idea that the PA Monument had a "secret" stairwell inside!  You can actually climb up to the top of the monument, right below the rotunda!  Nifty!  I highly recommend this short climb to enjoy some breathtaking views of the battlefields!

"We'd like to thank the Academy..." ;) 14 Apr 2012, 6:26 pm

Hello out there in Blogland!  I fell off the blog wagon there for a while (Thanksgiving was just a few weeks ago, right?), but now I’m back and ready to start chatting again about this beautiful inn, and this wonderful town!  So, let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?

Exciting news!  James Gettys Hotel was voted “Best Historic Inn” of 2012 by online readers of the LanierBB.com Travel Guide (We were also named “Most Romantic Inn” in Pennsylvania)!  Pamela Lanier is a leading travel writer who has worked tirelessly, since 1982,  to expand awareness of specialty lodging (i.e. B&Bs and inns) among travelers, and allow innkeepers to share their properties with as many travelers as possible.  Ms. Lanier literally wrote the book on B&Bs!

Each year LanierBB.com awards inns in the US and Canada (international inns also compete, but separately from the US/Canada), in over 80 categories, from “Most Romantic” to “Best Turndown Service”.  Awards are decided based upon votes cast by online readers.  Many inns (like us!) include a “Vote for our Inn” link on their websites, and visitors may also cast votes by going directly to the LanierBB.com site. 

We love our guests, and strive to make their stays with us as comfortable and memorable as possible. We sincerely thank each and every person who cast a vote for the James Gettys Hotel!  

"...set apart a day of Thanksgiving and Praise..." 24 Nov 2011, 5:02 pm

Sometimes I feel like I'm playing Six Degrees of Separation - it seems like any prominent day on the calendar has some link to Abraham Lincoln!  Thanksgiving is no exception!

On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln signed the Thanksgiving Proclamation, setting apart the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to the benevolent God who, despite a raging domestic war, had preserved the safety of America and her people from outside enemies, among other blessings.

Today, Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that is actively celebrated by the country as a whole.  No matter who we thank for our blessings, we all have things to be thankful for. 

I'd like to send out a great big, special thank you to all the men and women who serve this great nation to protect our freedoms.  I'm thankful for all of you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo courtesy of www.saturdayeveningpost.com

Seven score & eight years ago... 15 Nov 2011, 6:52 am

“…It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

In less than three minutes, President Abraham Lincoln changed our nation’s historical rhetoric forever.  On a mild afternoon in November, after hearing the eloquent Edward Everett orate for the better part of two hours, the president  strode to the front of the speakers’ platform to deliver a “few appropriate remarks.” 

Two hundred seventy-one words later*, America had had its past, present and future spelled out in blinding simplicity.  We were a fledgling nation, a social experiment that had been “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”  We were a nation at war, testing whether the experiment could be successful in the long-term.  We were a nation that would require the dedication of its people to thrive. 

It’s been 148 years since President Lincoln spoke those immortal words in a muddy cemetery to the south of town.  We are a nation that continues to face challenges that threaten to tear at the national fabric.  We still have a “great task remaining before us.”  We the people must remain resolved and dedicated to the protection of our freedom and democracy.  

Join us at the Soldiers National Cemetery Rostrum at 9:30 am on November 19th to remember, through President Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”, those who have perished to protect our nation.

Other events that day include a parade that begins at 1:30 pm, and the 9th annual Remembrance Illumination from 5:30-9:30 pm.  Please visit www.gettysburg.travel for full event listings.

Remembrance Illumination; photo courtesy of www.palincoln.org

*Lincoln authored five copies of his address - each was a little different.  I've referred to the text carved in the wall at the Lincoln Memorial, which has 271 words.

That is the Question 23 Aug 2011, 7:50 am

I'm always amused, but never surprised when I answer the phone at the hotel and hear the inevitable question, "Is your hotel haunted?"  The question amuses me, because it's often asked in conjunction with other questions about our amenities, like do we have a pool?  Do you have ironing boards in the room? What's the breakfast like? Oh, and are you haunted?

The question never surprises me because this is Gettysburg.  Any town that's seen as much death as this town's seen would field this question.  Saying that the question never comes as a surprise doesn't mean that I can answer it without getting all flustered, however.

I've found that the people asking the question don't always want the same answer.  Some people are asking because they want to stay in a haunted hotel.  Others are asking because they would like to avoid an encounter at all costs.

Now, one would think that it would be a no-brainer to tell each of these groups that yes, we are 100% haunted, or no, absolutely not, as the case may be.  How could they prove otherwise if everyone experiences things differently?  I've never felt this to be a black and white issue, so I hate to give a yes or no answer.

So, how should one answer the haunted question?  Well, it's not surprising that everyone has her own method of response.  I go for the personal approach - I tell guests that I have not personally seen anything, and that I don't really want to hear any of the stories, because I have an overactive imagination and spend too much time alone in the building at night.  This answer usually gets a sympathetic chuckle.

I mentioned that there are people who are not keen on being in a haunted building.  I simply tell those guests that I've never seen anything in a year of employment here, nor in twelve years of working in Gettysburg.  It's the truth, and hopefully it helps to put their minds to rest.

I know that everyone who works here has their own way of responding to the question.  General Manager Stephanie prefers not to shade people's possible experiences in the hotel by telling specific stories.  If you come downstairs in the morning, bursting to tell a story that is similar to any other stories she's heard, Steph is likely to tell you about it at that time.  Kristina takes a similar approach to both Steph and myself.  She typically tells guests it's for them to decide if we're haunted or not, because everyone's experience and perception is unique.

Twice each year, we host a Ghost Quest Weekend (listed as Spirit Quest on our website).  This is a special event weekend that includes instruction by Mark Nesbitt (author of the Ghosts of Gettysburg series) and his investigative team, including Investigative Medium Laine Crosby.  There are also investigations of the James Gettys, the Ghosts of Gettysburg HQ and another location in or around Gettysburg.  The weekend is always a hit with guests and staff alike.  The next event is scheduled for the weekend of September 9th to the 11th.  We do still have one slot available (book now!).  If you are unable to join us in September, please keep an eye on our website for the next date to be announced!

Don't worry, you don't have to be a "ghost quester" to enjoy our hotel any other time.  We specialize in making you feel welcome, so book a stay and come relax in one of our comfy suites.  As for the haunted question - that's for you to decide!

Clean & Comfortable:  Nightly turn-down service turns a suite into a home-away-from-home. 
Photo credits:  Catriona Todd

In Memoriam 26 May 2011, 9:13 am

Although the birthplace of Memorial Day (Waterloo, NY) was not officially declared until 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson, and the holiday itself was not made official until 1971 by an act of Congress, Memorial Day traditions had already been celebrated across the land since the end of the Civil War.  Each community has its own traditions for the celebration of this important day, and Gettysburg is no exception.  To really appreciate the traditions we uphold in our town today, it would be prudent to take a look back at those bloody days in 1863.

As we see even now on our nightly news reports, there are always one or two heart-tugging stories that come out of the battle fray and really resonate with the civilians back home.  This is exactly the sort of story that started sweeping the northern states after a Union soldier was found dead in Gettysburg, clutching an ambrotype image of his three young children.  The story of the unknown father's devotion to his three little orphans caught the emotions and imaginations of the north, and through the efforts of Dr. John Francis Bourns of Philadelphia (who had been volunteering his medical services in Gettysburg during the battle), the widow of Sergeant Amos Humiston was found in Portville, NY in November 1863.

Left to right:  Frank, Freddie and Alice Humiston as seen in this copy of the ambrotype image held by Sgt. Humiston at his death  -- Photo credit:  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The popularity and overwhelming sympathy triggered by the story resulted in a successful publicity campaign that raised enough money to open an orphanage for children of Union soldiers.  The National Soldiers Orphans' Homestead opened in Gettysburg in 1866.  Philinda Humiston, the widow of Sgt. Humiston, accepted the post as the orphanage's headmistress, and moved to Gettysburg with her three children - Frank, Freddie and Alice.  While Philinda was not happy in Gettysburg, and promptly moved away in 1869 after receiving a proposal of marriage, she did begin one tradition that is still observed each May in Gettysburg.

On May 5, 1868, General John Logan, the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic officially proclaimed the existence of Memorial Day (often termed Decoration Day).  He designated May 30, 1868 "for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion" (as stated in his General Order No. 11).

And so, on this day, Philinda walked the orphans and her own children up the hill to what is now the Soldiers National Cemetery, and allowed them to put bouquets of flowers on the graves of their fathers.  This tradition was repeated each year, and after the orphanage closed in 1877, Gettysburg school children continued to decorate the graves with flowers and petals each May.

Sergeant Amos Humiston's grave in Soldiers National Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA -- Photo credit:  www.gettysburgdaily.com
 This Memorial Day, Monday, May 30th at 2:00 pm, people will line Middle and Baltimore streets to view the annual parade as it makes its way to the Baltimore Street gate of the National Cemetery.  A group of injured war veterans from Walter Reed Hospital will be honored during the parade and consequent program at the cemetery.  Flags will be flying, marching bands will be piping out beautiful, patriotic tunes, and school children will be carrying armfuls of flowers to decorate the graves of those who so valiantly gave their lives to secure the freedom of our nation.

Thank you to those who have served, and to those who are currently serving our nation.  God bless, and Happy Memorial Day!

From the silence of sorrowful hours
The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers,
Alike for the friend and the foe
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment day,
Under the roses, the Blue,
Under the lilies, the Gray.

~from "The Blue and the Gray" by Francis Miles Finch 

For more information about the Humistons' story, please visit Gettysburg Experience or Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  -- Photo credit:  Catriona Todd


In the spring time, the only pretty ring time... 3 May 2011, 6:44 pm

Spring has sprung in Adams County!  Though we've endured one of the stormiest and wettest springs in recent memory, the rain has done wonders for the battlefields and local orchards.  The grasses are lush, the wildflowers are plentiful and the fruit trees have donned beautiful, fairy-like gowns of blossoms!

While the town is certainly already buzzing with activity as it hosts school groups and boy scout troops, the majority of visitors will see Gettysburg during the summer months.  Adams County is gorgeous during every season, but I can't help thinking that summer visitors will miss something by not getting to see springtime in our neck of the woods.

Therefore, I took a few hours last week and toured some of my favorite spots on the battlefields, camera in hand.  The day was overcast (as I said, it's been a stormy season), but I think that only added drama to the shots I took.  Enjoy!

A colorful view to the west from Confederate Avenue  /  Photo credit:  Catriona Todd
Native Redbuds mingle with Dogwood blossoms amid budding leaves near Big Round Top  /  Photo credit:  Catriona Todd
Somber yet elegant - spring settles on Little Round Top  /  Photo credit:  Catriona Todd

Between a rock and a hard place - Redbuds are everywhere at Devil's Den  /  Photo credit:  Catriona Todd

Neither precarious locations nor avid pruning can keep spring from blossoming  /  Photo credit:  Catriona Todd
I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the wildlife that grace the battlefields - always watch your step!  /  Photo credit:  Catriona Todd
 As you can well imagine, these pictures are just the tip of the iceberg, but I will share others with you as we explore other topics of interest.  If you've already planned a trip to Gettysburg, we will see you soon! If you haven't yet planned your trip, please consider visiting now, while spring is still in the air! You'll be glad you did!

The War Begins 12 Apr 2011, 1:59 pm

Bombardment of Ft. Sumter by Currier & Ives; Credit: Library of Congress      
150 years ago today, the first shots of the American Civil War were fired toward Fort Sumter -- it would be four long, bloody years before the war came to an end.

Calling All Foodies! 3 Apr 2011, 7:58 pm

It's Restaurant Week in Gettysburg - April 4th to 11th!

Fourteen area restaurants are participating, including our neighbor, Blue Parrot Bistro!  Each restaurant will showcase its delectable dishes in prix fixe lunch and dinner menus.  Lunches will consist of two courses at $5, $10 or $15, and dinners will consist of three courses at $10, $20 or $30.

If you've been looking for a reason to get away for a night, look no further!  We still have rooms available this week, and would love to host your culinary adventure!

Please click HERE for more information about Gettysburg Restaurant Week!

Bon Appétit!
Image credit:  Gettysburg Restaurant Week website

Coming Home to Gettysburg 20 Mar 2011, 7:25 pm

When I was a senior in high school in a one-stoplight (at that time) town just north of Gettysburg, I could not wait to get out of here and “see the world”.  The “world”, as it turns out, was a small city in northwestern PA, which, aside from its bus system (Gettysburg didn’t have the Freedom Transit system yet) was not very different from Gettysburg.

However, as the Bard says, absence makes the heart grow fonder. By the time several years had passed at school, I began to realize how well-connected, how recognizable, how beloved Gettysburg is.  It’s nice to have a hometown that acts as an instant conversation-starter.

I’m not widely traveled, but wherever I go, when I tell people I’m from Gettysburg, the reaction is always the same:  “Gettysburg!  I went there in ___th grade!  I love it there.”  (The grade is usually the only differing part.) 

It still amazes me that I can use such a small town as a point of reference and have it be recognized every time.  People who don’t know exactly where Gettysburg is, geographically, are always subjected to my “hand map” of PA.

This is Pennsylvania (just go with it, ok?):

And this is where I live:

(If you think that’s great, I also have a hand map for Michigan, and one for Alaska, no kidding.)

As far as Gettysburg’s being well-connected, I’ve never seen a town so capable of being a “home base” for travelers.  We are within four hours of New York City and Pittsburgh, within 2-1/2 hours of Philadelphia, Washington, DC and Baltimore, within 1-1/2 hours of Lancaster (Amish country), and 45 minutes of Hershey, Harrisburg and Frederick, MD.  We are situated close to every major highway a person could want in the East, and have some of the most gorgeous scenery lining those roads.

Once I came home from college, I started looking at the battlefields through new eyes.  I stopped looking at Devil’s Den as just a great place to climb rocks.  I stopped thinking about the battlefield roads as just shortcuts to bypass town.  I stopped making snide remarks about the recent movement to restore the battlefield to the way it looked in 1863 – “Why don’t they just put dirt on the roads through town and have done with it?!” 

I stopped doing all of those things and started really looking at the ground that had swallowed the blood of those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” for a fledgling country that turned 87 years old the very day after the battle.  I began to sense the fear, the exhaustion, the anxiety that filled those days, and it began to make me think about what our world would be like today if these events had not taken place during a sweltering clump of days in July, in a tiny town just south of my home.

Gettysburg is situated only 9 miles from the Maryland border, the Mason-Dixon Line.  Gettysburg is just a stone’s throw from Dixieland.  If the tables had not turned during those three fateful days in July, if so many things had not gone inexplicably awry for General Lee, if the Union had not won at Gettysburg, I might live in a border town, requiring a passport to move freely from my homeland, the United States of America, to my southern neighbor, the Confederate States of America. 

It’s nearly laughable to think of such a thing.  I remember Reese Witherspoon quipping in Sweet Home Alabama that people should need a passport to visit the south.  But what if?  It’s an interesting notion, and one that heightens the anxiety I feel in my chest when I look at the battlefield and allow my mind to expand.

I hope that if you have never visited Gettysburg, or even if you have, that you will grace us with your visit.  Come out and rediscover America.  Rediscover our past and be inspired.