Driving on US Route 340 from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, as soon as you cross the Potomac River and enter Maryland, at the first exit after the bridge, there is a sign for the John Brown Raid Headquarters. Also known as the Kennedy Farmhouse, this restored and preserved log cabin—about five miles from Harpers Ferry—is where John Brown planned his daring raid on the federal arsenal housed in (at the time) Harpers Ferry, Virginia.
Brown arrived in Maryland in 1859 and rented the property for about three months under the name of Isaac Smith. He and his raiding party stayed at the home and slept in the attic.
The Kennedy Farmhouse, also known the John Brown Raid Headquarters. Photo taken by author.
The cabin is haunted; people have heard footsteps pacing the floor in the cabin. There are also reports of groups of people walking up the steps; sounds of talking, snoring, and breathing have also been reported. Most likely, the strange activity is probably some form of “residual haunting.” To be clear, I do not consider myself to be any type of authority on ghosts or hauntings. But, with that being said, I believe I understand the phenomenon—at least to a degree. I would define a residual haunting as an event that continues to repeat itself, almost like a movie playing over and over or a song on a loop. Residual hauntings can be unsettling; witnesses often hear footsteps, voices, and observe doors closing on their own. Unlike “intelligent hauntings,” though, the phenomenon involved in residual hauntings does not interact with the living; instead, it “sticks to the script,” so to speak. It almost reminds me of an actor performing right on cue.
Imagine having around 20 people crammed into the tiny house for months; they were unable to leave during daylight hours to avoid suspicion; all of this while planning a violent attack on the federal government—a plan considered suicide by Frederick Douglas, who Brown tried to recruit—perhaps all of the energy concentrated in the cabin preparing for the raid left some sort of signature still active to this day. Who knows? What is known, though, is that John Brown left an impression in the history books and in the very fabric of the tristate area.