- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 10, 2000

On certain nights, Cindy Codori Shultz says, you can smell peppermint oil and pipe tobacco in the air.
Pipe tobacco was used by countless blue- and gray-clad soldiers who clashed at Gettysburg for three history-altering days in July 1863. The peppermint oil, Mrs. Shultz says, was used by townspeople after the battle to mask the smell of death and decay.
For four years, Mrs. Shultz has run the Historic Farnsworth House Candlelight Ghost Walk in Gettysburg, one of many such activities in the community and surrounding towns and one of the few that runs year-round. She says she constantly hears stories from tour participants, almost to the point where she just nods her head.
"So many people have come up to me saying they saw this or heard that that we're kind of blase about it now," says Mrs. Shultz, a sixth-generation granddaughter of Nicholas Codori, whose farm became part of Pickett's Charge on the final day of the battle of Gettysburg.
"Peppermint oil is one of the most common. Townspeople put it on their clothes and hands after the battle. It's not a scent you ordinarily pick up."
Maybe it's an increased interest in local history. Maybe it's families seeking alternatives to trick-or-treating. Maybe it's the incredible success of last year's ghost movie, "The Blair Witch Project." Whatever it is, walking ghost tours are everywhere this time of year, most led by candlelight by tour guides dressed in period attire.
Old Town Alexandria has one of the better-known tours. Howard County has two, as does Gettysburg. Harpers Ferry, W.Va., has one; Annapolis has one; and Frederick, Md., started one this year.
"The competition is pretty steep," says Gretchen Bulova, director of Gadsby's Tavern Museum in Alexandria, which is participating in a one-night "Historic Hauntings" from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Oct. 28 with two other museums in Old Town. "There are tons of other sites through the region doing something like this."
The annual "Historic Hauntings," sponsored by Old Town museums and Alexandria Archaeology Museum, gives families a history-soaked alternative to trick-or-treating. This year's theme is "Escape of the Ancient Mummy" and recalls a time when traveling shows precursors to the circus served as major cultural entertainment for townspeople, even if the shows were based on folklore and hype.
Gadsby's Tavern, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum and the Carlyle House Historic Park are participating and will host different parts of the event.
Doorways to Old Virginia Inc., a sightseeing service in Alexandria, has held walking ghost tours of the historic district since 1975, says owner Stella Michals. She says the stories told by tour guides are based on research and personal interviews, even if the original stories are largely folklore.
"There's no slime, and nothing jumps out at you," Mrs. Michals says. "We recount trivia and oddities and strange and bizarre happenings from the days of George Washington and Robert E. Lee."
In Gettysburg, in addition to the Historic Farnsworth House tour, visitors also can participate in Mark Nesbitt's Original Candlelight Walking Tour, which offers three separate walks. One goes past the Jenny Wade House and the battlefield cemetery, another goes through Seminary Ridge a major battle site and the Lutheran seminary there, and the other goes through the Gettysburg College campus.
Frederick enters the ghost-walk business this year with a collaboration by Frederick Tour and Carriage Co. owner Tiffany Wilms and local historian, author and Civil War re-enactor Ron Angleberger.
"I've been to Ellicott City, Charleston [S.C.] and Savannah [Ga.] and seen what they've done, and I thought with our historic district, it lends itself to that kind of atmosphere and history too," Ms. Wilms says. "I had a lot of ideas, but one thing I didn't have was time and research. So I partnered with Ron. He didn't want to quit his day job, so he and I got together, and here we are."

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