Shortly after purchasing the Inn in 2015 we received a call from a couple that wanted to discuss the possibility of using a photo of the Inn for the cover of their upcoming book. Later that week we meet with Julia and Mark Brugh to discuss their book and what photo they wished to use. The Brugh’s were getting ready to publish their first book, which describes some of the more popular stories that they tell during their ghost tours of Sharpsburg. Well, not only did they have an amazing picture of the Inn for the cover, but the the story behind the namesake of the Inn would forever be told in their book. Needless to say, we were both honored and humbled, as new innkeepers to have this publication partly about the Inn. We instantly struck up not only a business relationship, but a lasting friendship with Mark and Julia.
Mark and Julia Brugh are the owners and operators of the Sharpsburg Ghost Tour and Tarot which they started in 2011. Julia is a native of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and grew up surrounded by local folklore and Civil War legends. Julia not only grew up with this rich history of the area but developed a love of the oral history and mythology of common folk. Since the early 80’s Mark had been studying the Civil War but started to drift away from the Battle of Antietam and began focusing on the lives of people who lived in Sharpsburg during the battle. He found it fascinating to learn more about their trials, suffering and the long-lasting effects that the battle had on the citizens of Sharpsburg. Together they decided to turn this passion of history and story telling into their tour company. They offer both historical tours of the town and family friendly ghost tours with a strong historical foundation.
The tour starts at Captain Bender’s Tavern on the Main Street of Sharpsburg. After a brief introduction, Mark and Julia will lead you out and around the back streets and alleys of town stopping periodically to point out significant buildings or locations along the route. At the half dozen stops on the tour you may hear some of these stories: The Woman in Black, The Haunted Home of Aaron Good, Charley King’s War; and of course our personal favorite – The Rohrback House Remembers.
During the month of October, Mark and Julia put together special tours and we are fortunate to have them speak at the Inn for our “Ghost Stories around the Campfire” program. Together they put on a great program covering some of these favorites and always talking about the history of the Sharpsburg civilians. In 2018, they added Saturday night tarot readings to their event calendar. Julia has studied tarot since the 1980s, and knows the cards forwards, backwards, and upside down. So before most tours, May through November, be sure to take advantage of this special offer for the best, most affordable reading of your life.
So the next time you’re planning a stay at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn, look into taking a Sharpsburg Ghost tour with Mark and Julia. If it’s October, then take advantage of our Weekend Special. If you just can’t make it for one of their outstanding tours, you can take home a signed copy of the Civil War Ghosts of Sharpsburg that is always in stock and for sale at our store, the Antietam Mercantile Company.
- Confederate Soldiers’ Passageway Ghost Tour
- Children’s Alley Ghost Tour
- Graveyards, Cemeteries and Soldiers Ghost Tour
- Specialty Tours are ran in for St. Patrick’s Day and the month of October
Currently the tours run about 90 minutes long and the cost is very affordable at just $15.00 for adults, $10 for students 9-18, and for children under 9 there is no charge.
Tarot readings are offered on Saturdays when tours are scheduled. Usually that’s almost every Saturday from May to November. Readings cost just $10 and take about 15-20 minutes.
In 1763, on land called Joe’s Lott, Joseph Chapline laid out what was to be the first town in Washington County. He named it Sharps Burgh, in honor of his friend Governor Horatio Sharpe. He choose this site for the town, he noted, because of the “great spring” of water located there.
The town consisted of 187 lots on eight streets. Each lot was 103 x 206 feet, except for four slightly smaller lots in the center of town. The initial price per lot was one shilling and the town grew rapidly over the next twenty years. Over time Sharpsburg transformed from a colonial town to an industrial town. It has been home to a popular spa and resort, known as a C & O Canal town, a Civil War town and a railroad town. Today, Sharpsburg is a residential and small business community that is proud of our past. We cherish the small town atmosphere of friendliness, peacefulness and a commitment to preserving our rich and diverse heritage.
As you walk the streets of Sharpsburg it greatly resembles its original appearance. Not much has changed since those early days and from July 6-8, you can come celebrate 255 Years of History during Sharpsburg Founder’s Day!
The celebration begins by welcoming in one of the newest businesses to the Sharpsburg area – Antietam Creek Vineyards. On Friday night, Antietam Creek Vineyards will host the festivities at their new 55-acre winery. Come out and taste some outstanding hickory smoke BBQ by Brentwood Smokers from Hagerstown, enjoy live music by the Speakeasy Boys from Shepherdstown and sit back and sip some wine from our wonderful hosts, Joan and George of Antietam Creek Vineyards.
A full day of activities and events are on the scheduled for Saturday. It’s only fitting that we start out with a dedication ceremony to Sharpsburg’s founder – Joseph Chapline. After the 9:00am wreath laying at Mountain View Cemetery, the festivities start at 9:30am around the Town Square. North Mechanic Street will be filled with vendors holding an artisans and farmers market. Some of the vendors include Kelley Farm, Cedar Ridge Soaps, Millhouse Candles, Pheasant Run Farm, and The Farm at Stillwater Spring. Throughout the day there will be demonstrations on how to make soap, candles, and rugs, as well as preserving food and a blacksmith demonstration. The Washington County Historical Society will also have children’s crafts and demonstrate butter making. On the the back deck of Victory Garden Ranch live music will be playing throughout the day by Voices of Vets and the Hancock Civil War String Band.
Alongside the market, local organizations will be there to provide information on their groups, their mission and upcoming activities. These will include the Sharpsburg Historical Society, Save Historic Antietam Foundation, American Legion Auxiliary Antietam Unit 236, C&O Canal Assoc., Rural Heritage Museum, Shepherd’s Spring, Keedysville Historical Society and BSA Troop 51.
Across the street at the Town Hall, the Sharpsburg Heritage Museum will be open, displaying old pictures and artifacts of the town. Be sure to sign up for one of the walking tours that start at the Town Hall. Mark Brugh from Sharpsburg Civil War Ghost Tours will take you through the back alleys and streets of town to share some of its history and interesting stories. Vernell Doyle of the Sharpsburg Historical Society will walk through some of the town cemeteries and talk about the preservation of these sites. A.C. Ash will offer tours of her house – the Chapline/Biggs House, and you can also visit Tolson’s Chapel.
Before leaving the Square, stop by the Living History area to see a French & Indian War era camp and learn about the ‘Military through the Ages’ from living historians portraying soldiers of all eras.
Throughout the day, historical lectures will be held just up the street at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn. Rev. John Schildt will start things off at 10am with his talk, “Drums along the Antietam“, followed by retired Antietam Chief Historian, Ted Alexander who will discuss “Sharpsburg before & after the battle” at 11am.
Over the lunchtime intermission the New Horizons Band will hold a free concert on the lawn of the Inn at 1pm and all attendees will receive a ticket for a free Kiddie Cone at Nutter’s Ice Cream.
Following the concert, local historian Tim Snyder will talk about the “Sharpsburg Rifles” at 2:30pm and at 4pm Antietam Battlefield Guide and relic collector Stephen Recker will share the story of “O.T. Reilly: Sharpsburg Relics & Remembrances”
All these activities and events are bound to make you hungry. Both Captain Benders and Pete’s Tavern will be offering Founder’s Day Specials throughout the day. At the Square you can get BBQ chicken or hamburgers from Boy Scout Troop 51, a hot dog meal from Victory Garden Ranch, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will have some homemade baked goodies.
On Saturday evening if you’re not up at the battlefield for the Salute to Independence Concert, sign up for the Fireworks Ghost Tour with Mark & Julia Brugh of Sharpsburg Civil War Ghost Tours. This special 90-minute tour begins at 8:15pm and will take place under the night sky of the fireworks.
The weekend events will wrap up on Sunday morning with a Homecoming Community Church Service held at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church at 10am.
The Sharpsburg Founder’s Day celebration would not be possible without the sponsorship of the Mayor and Town Council and the support of these great businesses and organizations – THANK YOU!
If you have been to the Inn in October than you know that we LOVE to decorate for Halloween. The side of the house is transformed into a “Spooky Graveyard” with tombstones, skeletons and other things that go bump in the night. We thought it would be great to show the rest of you Halloween at the Inn.
Like clockwork, on the first of October, the young residents of Sharpsburg start watching the yard to see the transformation begin. Each day tombstones are arrayed across the side yard. Skeletons appear, both animal and human, along with rats and birds hoping for a meal. Every year one or two new tombstones are erected with a catching epitaph like – “I Told You I Was Sick” or “U. R. NEXT“.
Each year we try to change some of the displays around or add something new. One year the push mower ran over a member of the ground crew and his feet were kicking from under the mower. This year we have three new guests – our Civil War Veterans and a girl in the well.
The front of the Inn is covered with spider webs and spiders moving to the prey they caught.
At the top of the stairs, our scary doorman awaits to greet arriving guests as rats run across the porch, away from another gigantic spider.
On the other side of the Inn, a crime has been committed! Police tape has closed off an area and little yellow tags marking evidence have been laid out. In the center of the area, the poor victim is wrapped in a shower curtain. The evidence markers reveal several possible murder weapons – a frying pan; a meat tenderizing mallet; and a baseball bat. Off to the side is a recent newspaper with the headline reading, “LOCAL INNKEEPER MISSING”.
If the decorations aren’t enough to scare you, then maybe ghost stories are. Around the middle of the month, once things start to cool off and the sun sets earlier, we hold our “Ghost Stories around the Campfire” in the backyard. Mark and Julia Brugh, who run the Sharpsburg Civil War Ghost Tour Company, come to tell the stories of local interest and folklore. Mark is dressed as Arron Good, a town resident who took on the task to identify the location of the burial sites of all the soldiers from the Battle of Antietam. He would be sought out when family members returned to recover their soldiers and when the government had the dead removed from the field and interned into cemeteries. Julia is dressed all in black, portraying a young woman in mourning as was the practice of the Victorian period.
Throughout the month of October you will see Mark and Julia in front of the Inn during their Ghost Tours. Once their guests are done scoping out the ‘Spooky Graveyard’, Mark spins the tale of Jacob Rohrbach and his murder in the house by Confederate raiders here to steal his horse. Off to the side of the yard guests can view the gravestone of Jacob Rohrbach. There towering above is the skeleton of his horse Jack, whose eyes light up red as he gives a scarey whinny and snort. If that’s not enough to scare the wits out of you, I’m not sure what will.
Finally on Halloween night as Trick or Treating begins, we get dressed up in our costumes. Haunting music begins to play around the Inn and fog goes drifting throughout the graveyard. Witch Amy is down on the walk passing out candy from her cauldron as a Scarecrow (Chris) stalks back and forth through the graveyard waving at children as they pass by. And of course Maya and Zoey make an appearance as the “Rohrbach Witches”. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!
In September 1862, fighting from the Battle of Antietam spilled into Sharpsburg’s streets. Residents were left to bury the dead from both sides. Today, locals report lingering echoes of that strife, from the faint taps of a Union drummer boy named Charley King, to the phantom footsteps of Confederate soldiers charging up the stairs of the Rohrbach House.
On October 16, come hear tour guides Mark and Julia Brugh craft a vivid portrait of Sharpsburg in the Civil War and bring to light stories of the ghosts for whom the conflict never ended.
Mark and Julia are also the authors of Civil War Ghosts of Sharpsburg, which features the story of Jacob Rohrbach.
Julia Stinson Brugh is a native of West Virginia and grew up surrounded by Civil War legends. She was exposed at an early age to the rich history of the area, and lived in a haunted house in Harpers Ferry as a small child. Julia’s father was a historian with the National Park service, and growing up included frequent visits to Antietam with her parents and younger sister. Julia has a love of oral history, folklore, and ghost stories, which combined with Mark’s passion for history, makes the Sharpsburg Tour Company special.
Mark P. Brugh has studied Civil War history for more than thirty years. This passion led to the inception of the Sharpsburg Civil War Ghosts Tours, which offer both historical tours of the town, and family friendly ghost tours with a strong historical foundation. He is a member and volunteer for the C&O Canal Association and the Sharpsburg Historical Society. He is also a member of the Hagerstown Civil War Roundtable and the Save Historic Antietam Foundation. Mark has recently start a podcast about the Chronicles of Aaron Good and other fascinating stories of Antietam.
Join us on Wednesday, October 16 at 7:00 pm around a campfire in the side yard of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn to hear these intriguing Civil War Ghost stories. This program is free and open to the public. Please bring a chair or blanket to sit around the campfire. Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets. Check our Facebook page for updates. For further information call (301) 432-5079.
Mark P. Brugh has studied Civil War history for more than thirty years. This passion led to the inception of the Sharpsburg Tour Company and the Gravediggers and Ghosts of Sharpsburg Ghost Tour, which offer both historical tours of the town, and family friendly ghost tours with a strong historical foundation. He is a member and volunteer for the C&O Canal Association and the Sharpsburg Historical Society. He is also a member of the Hagerstown Civil War Roundtable and the Save Historic Antietam Foundation.
On Wednesday, August 16th, Mark will present his Summer Lecture Series talk – “The Woman Soldier at Antietam”. Mark will discuss the work of Aaron Good among the field graves of Union and Confederate soldiers from 1862 to 1868. In 1862 Good started his own survey of field graves and accumulated a vast list. In the spring of 1863, Good started guiding relatives of the dead to the locations of graves, and charged outrageous fees for his services. In May, 1865 Good showed up at the first Trustees’ meeting to establish the Antietam National Cemetery. He turned over his list of more than 1500 locations of field graves, and was hired by the Trustees to continue his work and locate graves. Mark recently uncovered what is Good’s biggest discovery, from June 1865: a report to the Trustees about the remains of an unknown female Union soldier. Mark will present anecdotal support indicating a female Union soldier was killed, and follow the known evidence to the furthest possible point in an effort to narrow down an identity for the soldier. He will also discuss Good’s work locating field graves for Confederate soldiers in 1867 and 1868, and the possibility that Good may have found remains of a female among them.
Come join leading historians and Antietam Battlefield Guides as they discuss intriguing topics of the Maryland Campaign of 1862 and the Civil War during our Civil War Summer Lecture Series.
These Wednesday evening programs are free and open to the public. They will be held outdoors on the grounds of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn at 7:oo p.m. Feel free to bring a chair or blanket to sit around the event tent. In case of inclement weather talks will be held at the Sharpsburg Christ Reformed United Church of Christ on Main Street. Parking is available on Main and Hall Streets. Check our Facebook page for updates.