Everyone loves a good ghost story. It’s why every October, people flock to famous haunted spots across America to tickle their fears. Gettysburg happens to be one of these places. Recognized as the most haunted town in America, it’s fittingly a hotspot for paranormal investigators. Grayson Stuber is just such an investigator. An equipment specialist at Gettysburg-based After Dark Investigations, he and his colleagues host tours across the town’s most haunted spots. Grayson recently spoke to WellWell about the town’s lore, what makes it so spooky, and why we’re compelled to visit haunted grounds.
What led to your interest in this field? Was it a personal experience you had with the paranormal?
I had a lot of paranormal experiences growing up. The first I remember involved a picture. My family lived in this small town called Millersburg and us kids were dancing around and playing at this house when some parents started taking pictures. When we looked at the pictures, there were these faces staring back in one picture. Faces we didn’t recognize. Faces that should not have been there. It was just wild.
When did you start seeking these experiences out?
Around when I turned eighteen.
Is this when you relocated to Gettysburg?
Pretty much. When I started doing this, I primarily did everything in Gettysburg. Now I’ve traveled all over visiting haunted spots but still based in Gettysburg, obviously.
Gettysburg has been referred to as America’s most haunted town. Why do you think Gettysburg is so haunted? It’s far from the only Civil War city that’s seen a lot of death.
There are a lot of theories for that and no one knows for sure but if you read up on them all there are reoccurring themes. Obviously, there’s a lot of death, a lot of anxiety, a lot of confusion, a lot of fun emotions. All of that, all the bloodshed and in such a short period of time, all these emotions come together, it just leaves its mark.
Are there any spots on your tours that still creep you out even after all this time?
Absolutely. The Grove. It’s at the base of Cemetery Hill, where the Confederate soldiers charged. There was actually an incident about two weeks ago, nearby in the woods, there’s this pond. I wasn’t even with customers, just some people I had met that wanted to see the woods. As we were standing next to the pond, all of a sudden, there was this voice. A female voice. I wasn’t even running equipment, it just came out of nowhere. The sound of a woman profusely crying, shouting something. We all heard it, screamed some expletives and got out of there. It’s still weird for me to go there, it’s eerie back there.
Did you make out what the woman was trying to say?
No, I have no idea. It just happened so suddenly. We got out of there.
Even before COVID, your tours always limited the amount of people who could take any given one. What is the importance of keeping such small groups on a tour like this?
Definitely being able to focus. If you have 30 people running around in an area, it’s really hard to focus. It’s really hard to listen, look, feel, all the things you want to do while investigating so to give everyone the best experience we try to keep it small. Even for people that have never done anything like this before, which is most of our customers, we want to give them as best of a chance of a genuine paranormal experience as possible and that requires a lot of focus to look, listen and feel everything around you.
In our research, we came across a few Gettysburg ghost hunting groups, but your group seemed to be the most legitimate. How big of a challenge is it to be in a field that’s already heavily questioned when there are organizations that may not be as genuine.
It’s very difficult. It’s tough because you have people that are essentially competing against you and it’s not you place to correct their behavior. Essentially with groups that are just trying to dupe people. But it even goes for genuine groups, one’s who aren’t just trying to take advantage of people. This field is so experimental, so who are we to say if their equipment is legit. It could be a sham or it could be cutting edge. We’re just trying our best to find out what’s out there. It’s all we can do.
Do you ever face any personal drawbacks working in paranormal investigation, a field that people do tend to question its legitimacy?
I myself, no. I’m open to criticism so if you have evidence towards an incident that proves it’s not paranormal, I’m open to have a full discussion on it. If I take a picture of something that seems paranormal but someone questions it – I’m not going to be influenced by it, I’m not going to be hurt by it. I try to consider both sides.
On your site there’s a section called Spirits Get Physical. It’s a collection of images from people who have been physically influenced by a spirit. What is the physical and mental toll of these investigations?
Personally, it doesn’t really influence me at all. There’s nights where you’re asking the spirits questions and something gets said that’ll upset you. For example, I have a recording of myself asking if there was anything I could do for them, the spirits, and one said “Take my cancer away.” Stuff like that just hits you. It stuck with me because I knew then and now that there’s nothing I can legitimately do. Some of my colleagues expressed concern to me at varying times about whether what we’re doing might cause harm. Or if we could conceivably unknowingly bring a spirit home with us. But that’s uncommon and its the risk we take.
Was this a spot on one of your tours?
Yes, it was at The John Eisenhower bridge aka suicide bridge. Supposedly, after it was built, people would go there and hang themselves off the bridge. I can tell you from experience the spirits out there and they love to talk. That’s where I get some of the most fantastic responses, that spirit saying, “Take my cancer away,” being one of them.
Clearly, this is spooky stuff, scary stuff. What is the benefit of these encounters and trying to put yourself in one of these situations?
Personally, I love being able to find out there’s more to life after death. It’s interesting to go to some of these places repeatedly and hear the same voices. Over time, you learn more about them and find some of spirits that you can trace to an actual person based on their name and where they tell you they’re from. It’s also really cool when you can inspire other people to become investigators. I can’t tell you how many people come back to me and said, “Hey, you know, all this equipment you have, where can I get it?” Connecting with the other side and being able to inspire other people to start doing that, it’s really awesome.
About Grayson Stuber
Grayson Stuber is a paranormal investigator, equipment specialist and manager at After Dark Investigations in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Learn More at www.afterdarkinvestigations.com