30 October 2012 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 7 comments

From the gift that keeps on giving–the incompetent board of appeasers of the Brandy Station Foundation–we have this delightful little tidbit.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

From Sunday’s edition of the Culpeper Star-Exponent:

By: Vincent Vala | Culpeper Star Exponent
Published: October 28, 2012
» 0 Comments | Post a Comment
The Halloween spirit visited Brandy Station this weekend as the Brandy Station Foundation offered up its annual “Spirits of the Graffiti House” event at the historic facility off U.S. 29 North Saturday evening.

Between 6 and 9 p.m., the former Civil War hospital facility was open to the public for tours, treats and tales of the unnatural that have been reported at the Graffiti House over the years.

Visitors could mix history, All Hallows Eve and having fun, all it the good spirit of the harvest season.

“We kind of combine a lot of different things for the evening,” said Helen Geisler, a member of the BSF board of directors. “It’s just intended as a fun evening for the children – and for the adults.”

Geisler said this is the fifth year for the event.

“Last year, we had well over 100 people turn out,” she said. “So this year we’ve prepared for at least that many.”

Throughout Saturday evening, tour guides talked to visitors about the graffiti in the upstairs rooms of the house, while Transcend Paranormal Investigators gave talks in a downstairs room.

A video produced by the R.I.P. Files about their overnight stay in the house was played in the house’s entry room and BSF President Joe McKinney offered up stories of the supernatural to those seated around a campfire in the back yard as they roasted and snacked on marshmallows.

“We’ve had at least three or four different paranormal investigative groups here,” Geisler said. “I’ve had experiences in this house myself.”

The photo is of the BSF’s intrepid leader, Joe McKinney, telling ghost stories.

Now, I enjoy fun as much as the next guy, and I don’t mean to come across as a funkiller. However, how is this an appropriate activity for a supposedly serious preservation organization? This is the stuff that McKinney and the Board of Appeasers brag about in the BSF’s annual report, not the success of their efforts to preserve and maintain the battlefield. Apparently, the board’s major accomplishment this year has been toasting marshmallows with ghosts. It most assuredly was NOT preventing the destruction of core battlefield land by a landowner.

And then there’s this gem: Geisler said. “I’ve had experiences in this house myself.”

Do tell?

The BSF has made itself entirely irrelevant by engaging in such activities that have substantially less than nothing to do with the core mission of the organization, which is the preservation and stewardship of the battlefield. Please allow me to suggest that by engaging in such frivolous and undignified activities at a place where men suffered and died for a cause that they believed in dishonors them and their sacrifices. For shame.

Scridb filter


  1. Todd Berkoff
    Tue 30th Oct 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Is this how we honor the veterans of the Civil War?? I never understood why is it acceptable to conduct for-profit ghost tours of Civil War sites, but no one would ever think about doing ghost tours of Omaha Beach, USS Arizona Memorial, or Hurtgen Forest. The surviving WWII vets would never allow this ridiculousness to happen.

    There is a reason why Arlington National Cemetery does not allow ghost tours. It would be an insult to those who are buried there. Brandy Station is no different.

    If the Civil War veterans knew the stewards of the battlefield were honoring them by telling ghost stories, they would be horrified, as I am today.

    Lastly, I don’t see other preservation groups, such as the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust, Friends of the Wilderness, Richmond Battlefields Association, etc., doing similar events. This is because these other groups are legitimate and serious about their mission. The Board of the BSF continues to show us they are the laughing stock of the Civil War preservation community. Step aside.

  2. Tue 30th Oct 2012 at 8:13 pm

    The only “ghost” I’ve seen at Brandy Station is the ghost of a legitimate preservation organization. The BSF is now a ghostly (if not ghastly) shadow of its former self.

  3. Wed 31st Oct 2012 at 3:32 am

    The desecration of more hallowed ground for grunts and giggles. It is bad enough we have to put up with this at Gettysburg but now at Brandy Station.

    Shameful!! Disrespectful!! It is being done by the organization that should set the example of proper, respectful, civil, observances on the site.

    It seems strange to me that Halloween has become so popular in our society these days, Okay, enjoy the moment but not on hallowed ground!!

  4. Chele
    Wed 31st Oct 2012 at 12:36 pm

    As fond as I am of ghost stories (and I believe that storytelling is a valid part of American history/culture), the obsession with ghost tours is something that frustrates me.

    Obviously, there’s a demand for it (you practically trip over ghost tours trying to walk a block in Gettysburg). And private tours are one thing, but the actual foundation hosting such a thing? Ehhhhh.

    It’s just sad that people think the stories that come from these battlefields aren’t interesting enough without adding the paranormal aspect.

  5. Jacob Jackson
    Wed 31st Oct 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Wait, wasn’t “Funkiller” a Judas Priest album? 😀

    I gew up on a steady diet of ghost and UFO shows, however the trend of trivializing and marginalizing our American hallowed ground by these ghost tours is infuriating. History should be history, it doesn’t need lurid kitsch.

  6. Heather Darwin-O'Donnell
    Sun 04th Nov 2012 at 4:15 am

    I’m stunned. The BSF capitalizing on Halloween candy & the “paranormal”, for consecutive years, as their platform to “educate” future generations of would be Historians is nothing less than BS…egregiously poor judgement and “fun-making” while roasting weenies & marshmallows on revered battlegrounds where so many suffered, died, and would have literally killed for a hot-dog, or a sip of water just makes me sick. Trivializing these most terrible years our nation fought for what both sides believed in is a disgrace, most para-normal in it’s own right as being absolutely wrong! The battlefields are places to reflect and tread softly…to be quietly grateful for the unimaginable fear & bravery of all who gave everything they had during most incredibly horrific, yet defining years of our nation’s history to make us, as Americans, the most fortunate, strong and free nation populating the world…

  7. Mon 05th Nov 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Carig’s “the ghost of a legitimate preservation organization” is the best characterization. Joe McKinney is wasting the legacy of those brave men.

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