Thanks to Dave Juliano of South Jersey Ghost Research and The Ghost Hunter Store(theghosthunterstore.com)
for inviting us to the GAR museum in Philadelphia, PA. We went in to the back parking lot of the museum and
went inside to meet everyone.
The building was originally built be Dr. John Ruan and was known as the "Ruan House". Built around
1800, this place has been many things over the years.
MISS YOUR FAMILY...YES
SON NAMED WILLIAM???
History of the
Grand Army of the Republic
Museum and Library
amid row homes on a small street in Northeast Philadelphia , the Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library has
often been referred to in newspaper articles as “one of the hidden treasures of Philadelphia.” The museum, which
occupies a three story brick building built by Dr. John Ruan in 1796, is home to a unique and historic collection of Civil
War and Grand Army of the Republic artifacts, books, and memorabilia. In 1985, the building was placed on the Register of
National Historic Sites and designated as the “Ruan House.”
This treasure trove was originally the
property of G.A.R. Post #2 of Philadelphia and the G.A.R. Department of Pennsylvania.
A large and influential
Post, they had maintained a collection of artifacts acquired mainly from the contributions of individual G.A.R. members. Their
holdings also included a well-stocked library of books relating to the conflict and early activities of the G.A.R. A full
time curator inventoried and displayed the collection as well as overseeing the operations of the library.
time took its toll on the membership and in 1926, the aging veterans of Post 2, realizing they could not continue, formed
a Pennsylvania corporation entitled “Philadelphia Camp Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War”, designating their
descendants as governing members. (Despite the wording of the title of the Corporation, it is a separate entity from the National
Organization of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War). Although still incorporated under this name, the Board of Directors
decided to use the name “G.A.R. Civil War Museum and Library” as being more explanatory of our role in the community.
In the years following 1926, investments left by G.A.R. Post 2 to assist with the upkeep of the artifacts and
building lost their value. For many years, due to the lack of funds and staff, the building was used chiefly for meetings
of Civil War hereditary groups. Unable to maintain the original very large building, in 1958 the Corporation moved to the
current premises. Again, limited finances curtailed the service they could offer the public.
In 1982, a new Board
of Directors was elected and immediately faced difficult decisions as to the best method to save the collection. Artifacts
had not been accessioned in many years , additional display cases were needed, portraiture and pictures were in stacks on
the third floor, the library required cataloging, and the building had not had any repairs or renovations in many years. Obviously,
preservation efforts had to be mounted on many fronts as the museum faced the same problems being encountered by similar repositories
of history around the country, particularly those functioning solely with volunteer help.
Of foremost importance
was the need to set up a supporting membership program to raise funds to pay routine expenses. Volunteers were then enlisted
to make basic physical improvements to the interior of the building to make it more aesthetically appealing.
guidance and advice sought from preservationists and historians, we began accessioning and labeling hundreds of artifacts,
with some of this information being computerized. This was a fascinating project as volunteers looked at the blood-stained
strip of the pillowcase on which Lincoln lay dying and the handcuffs found in John Wilkes Booth’s suitcase which were
originally intended to be used to kidnap President Lincoln. There were tree trunks from the Battle of Chickamauga imbedded
with cannon balls; Confederate canvas shoes with wooden soles found on the Gettysburg battlefield; a dented quarter from the
breast pocket of Gen. Gideon Clarke which absorbed the impact of a bullet fired during battle; hand-painted drums; swords;
pikes; 6th PA Cavalry lances; Gen. George G. Meade’s hat and headquarters chair; flags; and a porthole from the U.S.S.
Maine, the list is endless. A rare artifact is a post from the stockade at Andersonville Prison.
includes some oddities giving one pause to wonder how they found their way to Post 2. A piece of epidermis from the back of
President James Garfield removed during his autopsy resides in a glass container; a framed display of small items included
a piece of John Paul Jones britches and Madam Lafayette’s cloak.
Basic measures were taken to protect the
artifacts through special shields on light fixtures and window coverings to protect them from damaging light and the procurement
of donations of artifact cases to display items safely.
Many paper items including original letters, photo albums,
CDVs, and cabinet cards, are presenting another challenge. We are currently sorting and encasing them in archival material
and scanning them as an aid to research. A grant enabled us to replace the bindings of original copies of the Philadelphia
Inquirer printed each day during the war. Another grant provided funds to begin to rebind some of the volumes in the library,
a project that we are continuing on our own. All of these items will eventually be cataloged in our computer. G.A.R.
Post information is difficult to find. We are fortunate to have the minutes of Post 2 meetings, partial information on a few
other Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Posts, copies of National and Pennsylvania Department encampment proceedings, and descriptions
of Memorial Day ceremonies in the area.
The condition of our historic building, listed on the National Register
of Historic sites since October 1985, continues to be important as a safe haven is needed for the collection. Many fund- raisers,
donations, and several grants have financed roof replacement, window restorations and repair of the outside brick walls. To
enhance the comfort of our visitors, air conditioning in the second floor meeting room and ceiling fans throughout the building
were recently installed.
The Board of Directors consists of nine persons, one third of them elected to three year
terms each year at the annual meeting of the membership. Many of the members are also descendants, of veterans although anyone
can join. We have five classes of supporting memberships; Individual for $20 per year; Family $30; Colonel’s Guard $40
(includes a premium); and General’s Staff $50 (includes a premium); and Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army $100 (includes
a premium). A newsletter is mailed three times a year to members across the United States to keep them informed of activities
and decisions made by the Board.
In keeping with our mission to help preserve our history, our slogan is “Where
the Civil War Comes Alive”. The museum is open the first Sunday of each month from 12 to 5 p.m. when a program on some
aspect of the Civil War is offered at 1:30 p.m. Uniformed guides will offer personal explanations of the exhibits to all visitors
and assist them in research. We also now have volunteers who open the museum on Tuesdays from 12 noon to 4 p.m., other days
by appointment. It is suggested prospective visitors verify these weekday openings before coming to the museum. Appointments
can be made for individuals or groups to view the collection and our outreach program provides speakers to schools and community
Anyone interested in volunteering or seeking further information can either write to the G.A.R. Civil War
Museum, 4278 Griscom Street, Phila. PA 19124-3954; leave a message on the tape at 215-289-6484, or e-mail us at GarMusLib@verizon.net.
As a non-profit organization, all donations are tax deductible.
WANT US TO GET OUT...YES
Ok, while we were in the Ruan House, we had good luck with EVPS. In the
Attic, we found a man and a woman. The woman idnetified herself as "Elizabeth" John Ruans first wife.
While I am not sure if she was still alive when this house was built, why wouldn't she follow her beloved. She answered
that she had died young and knew about John's 2 other wives after her. She and John had a son who was a confederate
soldier. WHen I asked about this the answers were a little loud and we got "Get out" and "now leave here".
second floor, we got a laugh from a guy in the class room, but not much else. However in the basement, that was a different
story. As you walked in to the back room off to the right, you could feel the air get heavy. At first no one had
any luck, but then my stomach got upset, and I knew that someone was ontop of me with negative energy. After much
battery loss and a few loud "get outs", I was determined to find out why this guy was angry. When I asked
him this directly he said "What happened" and it is very clear. I also wanted to know his name, so maybe
we could help him. At one point he says "Phillip" fairly well and later I would find out that other teams
had only gotten the PH sound and could not get a full name. Well there you have it, his name is Phillip and he does
not understand what happend to him. Not unusual. Upstairs we ran into high EMF's in the roped off room and also
got some nice EVPS from a boy. Check out the EVP's below by clicking on them!
SAY HI TO DAVE
NOW GET OUT
NAME PLEASE...I TOLD YOU ALREADY
IS YOUR NAME PHILLIP...YES IT IS
SAY HI TO DOUG