Sunday, October 9, 2011

3rd Day of Twisted: Guest Post by Hollister Ann Grant

Today we have with us Hollister Ann Grant, author of Haunted Ground: Ghost Photos from the Gettysburg Battlefield  Enjoy!

Good morning, everybody. A special thanks to Rachel for having me here today.

Ghosts. Just say the word and I used to be the world’s biggest skeptic. I always thought that people who claimed they’d had a ghostly encounter were making it up or had ridiculous imaginations.

My late husband Jack and I used to live in Washington, D.C. On Saturday mornings we would jump in our little green Hyundai and drive 90 miles north to Gettysburg to hike and photograph the boulder-strewn hills. The July 1863 battle was the American Civil War’s bloodiest fight with 51,000 casualties (killed, wounded, missing, and captured).

Jack was a nature photographer and military history buff who’d served in the armed forces, so he was always reading a pile of books about the war. One day he told me he’d read about a haunted triangular field on the southern side of the battlefield.

“People say a ghost interferes with cameras and video equipment,” he said.

The idea of a camera-wrecking ghost made me gleeful.

“Oh, wow, let’s go, then,” I told him.

We were using a film camera with new batteries at the time. When we came to the Triangular Field, we walked through a weathered wooden gate into waist-high grass. Thick woods bordered the field on two sides. We passed several overgrown pits that Jack told me might be old burial pits; the military later came back to exhume the dead and bury them in cemeteries. The field had an ominous atmosphere that seemed to grow with every step we took. When we reached the bottom, we stood on a flat rock to get out of the weeds.

“Well, here goes,” I said with a laugh. “Let’s see if the ghost messes up our camera.”

I clicked the camera and the batteries died. They not only died, they died with a loud descending sound as if something had drained them on the spot.

“I can’t believe this,” I said, irritated.

Then I thought maybe the camera would work if I adjusted the batteries. I popped them out, put them back, and tried to shoot again. The batteries made the same sound and died completely, as if something had drained the final drops of juice out of them.

“Well, maybe there is a ghost,” I said, a little uneasy, but I was mostly annoyed because we couldn’t shoot any more photos.

We drove to the town, bought a disposable camera, the kind you wind after every shot, and returned with our new toy to the same flat rock.

“Okay,” I said, feeling foolish. “If really there is a ghost here, show us why our camera died and what happened on this rock.” Then I shot the flat rock, half-expecting the disposable camera to stop working, too, but it held up.

Later, after we developed our film, we found a strange photo of a misty cloud hovering over the rock. Jack thought the cloud seemed to be in motion, as if someone had been running and fell when they were shot.

That’s the story of our first ghost photo. On the book cover you can see another photo Jack shot in the woods beside the Triangular Field. When I showed the photos to the head photographer at the newspaper where I worked in Washington, D.C. and asked her if there were any camera defects that might cause effects like that, she shook her head no.

Over the years Jack took thousands of photos of the Gettysburg battlefield, including mysterious mists, orbs, and a spiral that resembles the tunnel some people say they passed through in near-death experiences. He used both film and digital cameras. I collected some of the best photos and our personal stories in Haunted Ground: Ghost Photos from the Gettysburg Battlefield, an ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and other retailers. The book includes directions to each photo location, a summary of the battle, and travel information about the town of Gettysburg and the National Military Park.

After hiking across the battlefield, I changed from a skeptic to a reluctant believer. We all have our opinions about ghosts and life after death, whether we’re skeptics or believers, but in the meantime there’s just one reality, and we know very little about it. Life is a mystery. I’ve learned to be more open-minded. I’ve come to believe that some people are so traumatized at death that they can’t let go of this world. I also think that the ghost in the Gettysburg Triangular Field interferes with cameras to let us know he still exists.

Have you seen a ghost or taken a photo of one? I would love to hear from you. Email me at and visit me at

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