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 18, 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 18 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.