The Daniel Lady Farm in Gettysburg offers a rare window into the past as a witness to the Battle of Gettysburg and its aftermath. Evidence of the horrors of that Civil War battle remain in the bloodstains on the floor, the engraved initials of wounded soldiers in a door jamb, and the fragments of an exploded shell in a floor joist.
The Daniel Lady Farm is now owned by the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association and is open for special events and tours of the house. But enter at your own risk … the house is reportedly haunted by the spirits of Civil War soldiers.
History of the Property
The history of the Daniel Lady Farm property begins well before the Civil War. In the 1700s, fur trader John Anderson settled on the property without a deed, an action that was commonly referred to as “squatting” back then. In 1762, King George issued Anderson a deed, and he proceeded to build a cabin-type home.
In 1785 the estate changed hands when Samuel Hutchinson settled on the property and began farming. He filed for a Warranty of Property in 1807, which was issued by the Borough of Gettysburg in 1810. The “fine stone house” that still stands was built in 1822.
Upon Hutchinson’s death, between the 1830s and 1840s, Attorney Moses McClean became the administrator for the property.
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Daniel Lady Buys The Farm
Daniel Lady purchased the property at a public auction in 1840, and added a barn 1842. In 1851, he married Rebecca Spangler, a union that produced seven children, plus an infant who died at birth.
War Comes To The Lady Farm
It’s hard to imagine, but in a little over a week in July if 1863, everything on the Daniel Lady Farm changed.
A unit of Confederate cavalry came into Gettysburg in June of 1863, and “bought” 166 bushels of his corn at a price of $1 per bushel. Unfortunately, they paid in Confederate dollars which were worthless.
In addition, many of Daniel Lady’s animals were stolen, and his house and barn were damaged by the fighting when the Battle of Gettysburg began.
Perhaps the worst damage was caused after the battle, when his house and barn were used as a hospital to treat injured soldiers. Furniture was broken and used as firewood and doors were removed for use as operating tables.
One can only imagine what it was like to hear gunfire coming from town on July 1, 1863, as the battle began and raged in the streets.
That evening, General Johnson arrived on the property and established his headquarters on the grounds. Confederate records indicate that General Ewell and General Robert E. Lee met with General Johnson at the Lady Farm to form their battle plan for Culp’s Hill.
The children were upstairs at the time, including little Sarah Jane who was four years old. In her obituary when she passed away in 1949, it says “her fondest childhood memory was at the old homestead in Gettysburg the summer of 1863 when she saw General Lee on the porch.”
House And Barn Used As A Hospital
The rooms in Daniel Lady’s house were soon overflowing with wounded officers after the second day of fighting in Gettysburg. More than 87 officers received treatment in just the two days of July 2 and 3.
In 2010 a forensic team from the state of New York confirmed the dark spots all around the room are stains from human blood. When you stand in the room, you can form a picture in your mind of how this room must have looked with men in pain and agony.
Those who studied the blood stains suspect that there were chairs in Rebecca’s parlor, and that bloody rags were tossed onto them. The stains on the floor show evidence of dripping blood forming around the legs of the chair.
Medical Discoveries That Came From The Civil War
During the Civil War, sanitary conditions were limited, and there was no knowledge of bacteria or germs that caused disease.
While the Union surgeons used a type of thread for sutures, the Confederates were forced to use horse hair due to a lack of materials. They boiled the hairs from a horse’s tail or mane to make them more pliable.
As a result, the Confederates had fewer infections than Federal soldiers, so boiling things became more of a standard procedure. In the Daniel Lady house, there is evidence of where a basin was placed next to the fireplace and a hot fire kept to boil the water.
Recent research studies confirm that the dark spots on the floor in front of the fireplace are char spots from how hot that fire was to keep the water boiling.
Daniel Lady’s Parlor
The beautiful parlor located in the front of the Daniel Lady Farm house is now set up to look like it might have following the battle. Just as pictured, furniture was moved out of the way and doors were removed from their frames and used as surgical tables.
Field hospital protocol at the time was to lay a heavy bed of straw beneath the surgical tables to help keep the doctors from slipping while performing their surgeries. As you can imagine, the medical staff worked long hours with very little sleep or time to eat or drink.
The parlor in the Daniel Lady house has large windows, which is probably another reason why this room was chosen for surgeries. Windows were necessary for fresh air because the odor of chloroform would fill a room if there was no ventilation. Open windows helped prevent the surgeons and staff from passing out and also provided additional natural light.
Windows had a more gruesome purpose as well. An arm or a leg could be amputated in as little as fifteen minutes (a long time if you’re the one having a limb amputated), and then the limb would be tossed out the window.
Disposing of limbs this way was the solution for keeping the floor clean and the staff able to continue their work.
Burials at the Lady Farm in Gettysburg
At the end of July 1863, Daniel Lady helped bury 37 soldiers who died at the farm. Twenty-two of those were not able to be identified, so their families never knew what happened to them.
The rear portion of the Daniel Lady Farm abuts the back part of what was called the Camp Letterman Field Hospital, the largest such hospital of its kind. After the battle, the occupants of the Lady Farm were moved to Camp Letterman, where the wounded and dying from both the Confederacy and the Union were treated in one facility for the first time.
In the late 1860s, the Confederates that were buried all over Gettysburg were exhumed and buried in Hagerstown, Md. More than 2,000 unidentified Gettysburg Confederate dead were moved there.
Daniel Lady Farm Ghost Stories And Hauntings
On July 2nd, nearly 5,000 Confederates were sent to take Culp’s Hill from about 1,424 Union defenders. This was the only time during the battle that the Confederates had such a numerical advantage over Union forces, and their victory was thought to be assured.
However, because they were fighting uphill, the Confederates were at a disadvantage and were instead forced to retreat. It is for that reason that General Isaac Ewell and his men are said to continue to haunt the Lady Farm where so many of the injured and dying were taken after the battle.
Historical records also report that when the Lady family returned home after the battle, they found a dead Confederate soldier still lying in their upstairs bedroom. The upstairs is reported to have the most paranormal activity.
Mark Nesbit of Gettysburg, who has extensive knowledge of all of the most haunted places in Gettysburg, visited the Daniel Lady Farm for an episode of Ghost Village.
The Daniel Lady Barn
The massive Daniel Lady barn holds just as much history as the house. The lower stable of the barn was used as a field hospital for enlisted men, while the house was used solely for officers.
Although the stone walls of both the house and the barn offered some protection from artillery and projectiles, at least one Union shell burst through the wall and left shrapnel embedded in an overhead beam.
Visitors to the barn can get an idea of how a field hospital looked by viewing the display of an injured soldier lying on the floor, and another on a barn door waiting for a doctor.
There is also visible graffiti etched by soldiers in the stable on the exterior stone wall, as well as post-war etchings that were done by soldiers who returned to this place that held so many memories.
The etchings are framed and behind glass so that visitors can see them more clearly. The etching above says BAR, 23rd Va. There is another one below that which says: ABE, 3rd NC.
Daniel Lady Farm Events
In 1999, the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association (GBPA) acquired the 146-acre Daniel Lady Farm and restored both the barn and the house.
Special events are held at the farm, including reenactments of the war between the North and South, living histories, Western events, and World War II. In addition to the annual Battle of Gettysburg re-enactment held each July, the Lady Farm also hosts a Western Frontier Living History Town.
In 2022, this event will be held on August 6 and 7; August 27 and 28; October 1 and 2; and October 29 and 30. At this event, visitors can talk with the Sheriff, and visit a Bank or a Mercantile.
There will also be Cowboys and period games, as well a place for the kids to mine for gold that can then be used throughout the town. The gold can also be traded for a “shot” of lemonade or tea at the Saloon or used to buy a souvenir from the Mercantile. They say that small skirmishes might just break out between the Sheriff and some rowdy townsmen.
On September 17 and 18, the Lady Farm will host the 160th Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam reenactment. The scenario will feature the Bloody Cornfield and Stand at Dunker Church.
Plan Your Visit To The Daniel Lady Farm In Gettysburg
Because of those who died on the property, the Daniel Lady Farm is considered hallowed ground. The house and barn also serve as a tangible link to the Civil War period of our nation’s history.
Tours of the farm include presentations on the Lady family, information about farm life in the 19th Century, and the Lady Farm’s role in the Battle of Gettysburg. Regular tours have been suspended at the present time, but are available during special events and some weekends.
The farm is located at 1008 Hanover Road, Gettysburg. Needless to say, Gettysburg has lots of history and other fun things to see. If your schedule is flexible, you may want to check out the Best Time to Visit Gettysburg.
If you’re visiting Gettysburg on a tight budget, check out this post on my favorite Free Things To Do In Gettysburg.
For those who enjoy staying at a Bed and Breakfast, consider booking a night at The Academy, one of the oldest buildings in Gettysburg that was used as a girls’ school during the Civil War. If camping is more your style, then check out the best Camping near the Gettysburg National Park.
And lastly, if you’re traveling without the kids, be sure to check out the most Romantic Things To Do In Gettysburg.