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Phillip Pry House

Phillip Pry House paranormal

Photo by: Marianne Donley
Location submitted by: sdonley on 07/23/2017
DBA Approved: Y

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PANICd#: 1871

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A building that went from a home to a hospital and headquarters in less than twenty-four hours: explore the Pry House and discover the war changed lives both in battle and on the home front.

18906 Shepherdstown Pike
Keedysville , MD 21756
Phone: 301-416-2395
Open to the public: Yes

Lat: 39.4762112
Lon: -77.7133531

Database Summary:

Demographic Rank: 6
History: 3
Stories: 2
Claims: 13
Evidence: 1
Resources: 7
Retrievals: 8961
Vistor Rating: 0.0
Votes: 0

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History information is some background and history about the location. This is meant to be a basic summary. Below the history records you will find sources in which you can click on to find out more information. There may be multiple history records per location.

The Philip Pry house was built in 1844 by Philip Pry and his brother, Samuel, on high ground west of Keedysville, Maryland. The house is a two-story, L-shaped brick structure on a stone foundation with a steeply pitched roof with two single chimneys. At the time of the battle, the farm grounds included then a barn, smoke house, cave house, a springhouse and a toll house. Because of its panoramic view of almost the entire Antietam Valley around Sharpsburg, Pry's prosperous farm and home was taken over by Union commander George B. McClellan to use as his headquarters during the Battle of Antietam.

After the battle, the Pry House served as a Union hospital, as well as the headquarters for Maj. Jonathan Letterman, Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac. It was here that Letterman reorganized the army's medical department, including codifying field hospital administration and developing medical logistical operations of the Army of the Potomac, procedures that are still used in one form or another in the modern military, 150 years later.

Today the Pry House is home to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Exhibits include a re-creation of an operating theater, interpretive panels and objects relating to the care of wounded and the effects on the civilian population in the area. Take the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln who visited the house two weeks after the battle to visit the mortally wounded Israel Richardson, Union general who died in the Pry House on November 3, 1862.

Added by: sdonley on 07/23/2017 DB#:285

Phillip and Samuel Pry
Phillip and Samuel Pry
Image courtesy of Betsy Web

It is difficult to tell the story of the Pry House Field Hospital Museum without including both Philip and Samuel Pry. They built the Pry House together in 1844. In 1847 they bought a nearby grist mill, but a few years later Samuel was the sole owner of the mill. The Pry brothers even married sisters. Philip married Elizabeth Cost, and Samuel married Mary Cost. Additionally, both of these Pry families had their properties taken over for use as Union hospitals during the Battle of Antietam in 1862.

Samuel and Mary Pry's daughter was Alice Cost Deaner, and Alice's daughter was Parepa Deaner Jesser. The donated artifacts are items which Samuel's granddaughter, Parepa, took with her to California when she left Keedysville, MD, in 1901. We were fortunate that along with the Pry artifacts, we also received accounts of some of Parepa's recollections of her grandparents.

Added by: sdonley on 07/23/2017 DB#:286

A knock on the door on September 16, 1862, forever changed the lives of Philip and Elizabeth Pry. For almost twenty years, the Prys prospered on this 140-acre farm along Antietam Creek while raising their family of six children. With Confederate forces gathering on the other side of the Antietam, Gen. George McClellan positioned the Union Army on this side and selected the Pry home to serve as his headquarters.

Thousands of soldiers and horses descended on this farm. Fences were knocked down, crops trampled, loads of hay confiscated, livestock taken to feed the army, and the house and barn converted into field hospitals. The Union Army remained in the area two months, adding to the hardships experienced by the Prys and other local families.

After the battle, Phillip Pry field numerous claims with the War Department for damages to his farm. Portions of the claims were paid, other charges were disputed and there was an investigation of over payment. The financial burden proved too much. In 1874 the Prys sold their home and moved to Tennessee.

Added by: sdonley on 07/23/2017 DB#:287
Placards outside of location


Stories are just that. Stories and personal accounts that have been reported about the location.

Located overlooking the battlefield is the Phillip Pry House, a brick farmhouse that was commandeered by Union General George McClellan to use as his headquarters during the battle. It was also the place where General Israel B. Richardson died of wounds that he received in the battle, more than 6 months later.

The house today is owned by the National Park Service and is not open to visitors... although this has not stopped strange stories from being told about the place. In 1976, the Pry house caught fire and about one-third of it was gutted. It was during the restoration of the house that many strange events were recorded.

One day, during a meeting of park personnel, the wife of one of the men in the meeting met a woman in old-fashioned clothing coming down the staircase. She asked her husband who the lady in the long dress was but he had no idea who she was taking about. A short time later, workers arrived at the house to see a woman standing in an upper window... the same room where General Richardson had died. They searched the house and after going upstairs, they realized that the room where the woman had been standing had no floor! Could the ghost by that of Richardson's wife, Frances. who cared from him on his deathbed?

It would not be the last time the ghost was seen, and on one occasion, a new contracting crew had to hired when the one working in the house caught a glimpse of the spectral figure and abandoned the project.

Another piece of reported phenomena is that of phantom footsteps that have been heard going up and down the staircase. Could they have belonged to worried generals, pacing up and down in anticipation of battle? Or perhaps to Fannie Richardson as she climbed the stairs to check on her dying husband?

No one knows for sure.... but those who have heard them are convinced there are not just the sounds of the old house settling.

Added by: sdonley on 07/23/2017 DB#:1241

Most of the Pry House's ghost stories center on Brigadier General Israel B. Richardson. He was wounded during the Battle of Antietam and brought to the Pry House to be treated. Though his wound was serious enough to take him out of the battle, he was expected to recover. He was settled into a room on the second floor of the Pry House to recuperate. His wife, Fannie, traveled from Michigan to care for him, and stayed with him at the house. In October, he was even visited there by President Abraham Lincoln! Unfortunately, General Richardson developed pneumonia and died in that room in November of 1862.

After the war the Pry farm passed to a couple of other owners before the National Park Service acquired it in 1974. In 1976 there was a fire in the house, which is the source of one of the ghost stories. While battling the blaze, several of the firefighters reported seeing a woman in 19th century clothing standing at one of the second-floor windows to the room where General Richardson died. After the fire had been extinguished, it was discovered that the floor around those windows had collapsed. No one could have been standing there. No bodies were found in the house.

The local legend is that the house is still "visited" by the spirit of the General's wife, Mrs. Richardson. Over the years many people have reported seeing a woman in Civil War period clothing in the house. Sometimes she is seen walking down the stairs, sometimes she is standing at a window, and other times she is reported to walk across a room and through a wall!

After the fire the NPS hired contractors to begin the process of restoring the house. Some of the workers recounted a similar story to the firefighters. When they arrived at the house, they spotted a woman standing in a second floor window. Once again it was a window to the room where General Richardson had died, and once again when they went inside to investigate they discovered that there was no floor beneath those windows!

In 2005, the NMCWM partnered with the NPS to open a museum at the Pry House. That's when our museum staff started experiencing some strange sights and sounds. Our Executive Director, George reports that on his first day there he needed to clear out some items from the interior of the house to make room for the exhibits. It was a nice day, so he opened all the doors to make it easier to carry things outside. Starting at the front door, each door slammed shut in succession until they were all closed again. While the wind could have swung the front door shut, it wouldn't have then caused all the interior doors to slam shut. He opened them all again, and this time the back door slammed shut first followed by the rest of the doors, in order, to the front.

Our Director of the Letterman Institute, April, had an issue with one of the doors as well. In her words, "While running an overnight program at the Pry house, during a bad thunderstorm my small group bedded down for the night in the Pry House. After making my rounds and locking up for the night, I fell asleep, downstairs in what is now the store only to be awakened around 1:30 am to the sound of pacing on the front porch and a strange metallic scratching noise. When I opened my eyes, I realized that the key was turning in the lock. It was an old skeleton key that was difficult for me to turn as I had locked up hours before. I'm not sure whether the key was turning to let whoever was outside in, or to keep them out; but either way, I didn't want to know then."

Guest Services staff member, Garrett, recently spent a night in the house and heard some strange noises as well. He reports, "I was up rather late after work, in the office above the bookstore. I was on my computer. All doors were locked, and had been since around 5 pm. Suddenly, there was a loud banging noise from the front of the house, sounding like it was coming from the front upstairs hallway between the Richardson room and the green room. Initially, I thought it was just one of the random noises that the house makes, but several more loud thumps and bangs followed the first one. I thought it sounded like someone was pacing back and forth along the hallway. This back-and-forth continued off and on for about an hour. I never went to go check it out.

Starting a little bit after the thumping, banging, and stomping, I began to hear what sounded like a couple of indistinct voices having a conversation in the house. Most of the voices sounded like they were coming from the formal parlor. I could definitely identify a male voice and at least two separate female voices, but could not discern anything they were saying. I barricaded myself in the bedroom for the night. I had a lot of trouble sleeping, and was glad to see the morning when it finally came."

Other museum staff members have reported hearing footsteps in the house and out on the porch, having doors slam and lock behind them, hearing voices, finding the house lights turned back on after the house has been locked and alarmed, and seeing lights moving through the house after dark. The Pry Barn is included as well! People have seen lights in there too, and have heard voices talking and singing in the barn.

Added by: sdonley on 07/23/2017 DB#:1242

Paranormal Claims

Here are the paranormal claims for this location. These have been found through Internet research, reports from members, or reports from personal interviews. To add a claim, please contact, and we will review and add your information.

Claim # Added Added By Claim
2374 07/23/2017 sdonley An apparition of a women in period clothing has been seen in the window of the room where a general died.
2375 07/23/2017 sdonley Footsteps have been heard up and down the steps.
2376 07/23/2017 sdonley An apparition of a women in period clothing has been seen walking through the house.
2377 07/23/2017 sdonley Exterior and Interior doors have shut on their own.
2378 07/23/2017 sdonley Doors have appeared to be locked and hard to open.
2379 07/23/2017 sdonley Banging, thumping, and stomping noises have been heard in the house and on the porch.
2380 07/23/2017 sdonley A lantern has been seen walking down and old road by itself late at night.
2381 07/23/2017 sdonley Voices and conversations have been heard in the house when nobody was there.
2382 07/23/2017 sdonley Lights have turned on in the house after the whole house was turned off and alarmed for the night.
2383 07/23/2017 sdonley Lights have been seen in the barn.
2384 07/23/2017 sdonley Voices have been heard in the barn.
2385 07/23/2017 sdonley Singing has be heard in the barn.
2461 07/30/2017 sdonley EVPs have been recorded in the house.

Paranormal Evidence

Paranormal evidence is based on claims that have been reported for this location. There can be several types of evidence; however, we have grouped them based on media type for better organization. Here you will find evidence that are logs, audio, video, or photographic.

To add evidence for a claim, you must submit it to for approval to be entered into the database.

CLAIM #: 2461 - EVPs have been recorded in the house.

Evidence Type: Audio
Encounter Type: EVP
Hauting Type: Unknown
Investigation Status: More Investigation Needed
EVP Recorded during tour.
Submitted By: sdonley On: 07/30/2017
DBA Approved: Y

Additional Resources

This is a collection of Internet resources for this location. This section will house links to other websites that contain information related to history, claims, investigations, or even the location's website.

Official Website
Added: 07/23/2017 By: sdonley
The official website for this location.
Library of Congress Photos
Added: 07/23/2017 By: sdonley
Photos of the house in the archives of the Library of Congress.
Library of Congress Photos
Added: 07/23/2017 By: sdonley
Photos of the house in the archives of the Library of Congress.
Antietam Time
Added: 07/23/2017 By: sdonley
A blog post about artifacts that were donated to the museum by decedents of the Pry family.
Reporter haunts Pry House
Added: 07/23/2017 By: sdonley
Article by a reporter who spent the night in the house and on the grounds.
Israel B. Richardson
Added: 06/11/2022 By: sdonley
Israel Bush Richardson (December 26, 1815 – November 3, 1862) was a United States Army officer during the Mexican–American War and American Civil War, where he was a major general in the Union Army.
“[A]s he lived for others, so did he die:” The Life of Israel B. Richardson
Added: 06/11/2022 By: sdonley
Author’s Note: This is the first in a series of posts relating to various medical and military personnel who were known to provide or receive treatment at the Pry house in the aftermath of the Battle of Antietam. Israel Bush Richardson was born in Fairfax, Vermont on December 26, 1815.

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