Learn more about the history and hauntings of downtown Lebanon during a special walking tour organized by Downtown Lebanon Main Street.
“Secrets of Lebanon: Underground Tunnels, History, Ghosts, and More” will be led by Jan Helen McGee, a local music teacher and psychic medium.
The event will be held at 5 and 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15; Saturday, Oct. 23; and Friday, Oct. 29. The tour begins at Lebanon Farmers Market, 35 S. 8th St., Lebanon, and will last about 90 minutes.
According to a release from the Main Street office, the tour “will introduce ghosts that frequent six buildings downtown,” starting with the old market house.
McGee has a keen interest in sharing her insights with tour participants.
“Ghosts are her forte, but her obsession lies with local underground tunnels and their possible use as part of the Underground Railroad,” the release states.
The release further notes that McGee’s sixth great-grandfather, John Light, “built the fortified Light’s Fort in 1742, then joined forces with other wealthy local men to dig tunnels to escape Indian uprisings. Those tunnels connected the fort with a wooded area near Stevens Towers at 10th and Cumberland, and to Peter Shindle’s home at the site of the Old Courthouse at 8th and Cumberland.”
McGee has seen tunnels in the basement of the George Washington Tavern, built in 1760, which were used to escape both Indian attacks and the raids during Prohibition from 1920 to 1933.
Another local building where tunnels can be seen is in the basement of a house at 4th and Willow. “Rumor has it that tunnels connected to Union Canal, and a local man saw tunnels sixty years ago in the basement of a building that was a men’s club on Locust Street between 7th and 8th Streets.”
Documentation of Underground Railroad tunnels, which would have been used to help escaped slaves move unseen by pursuers from the South to relative safety in the North, “is all circumstantial, but one clue comes from the 1870s, soon after the Civil War, when the tunnels under the courthouse were closed,” the release says.
“That research led to McGee’s theory that escaped slaves used these tunnels as passageways. Mennonites, of which there were many in the Lebanon area, helped black people escape slavery and provided food, shelter, and safe haven.
“Many denominations of churches helped, possibly even the church across from Stevens Towers, built two years before the Civil War. During the British occupation of Philadelphia during the fight for independence, churches in Lebanon acted as a storage place for gun powder and ammunition. McGee says, once a safe haven, always a safe haven.”
“And ghosts, well, she says they fly around the now nonexistent old courthouse columns, on the upper floors of the Farmers Trust building, around Stevens Towers and in and out of the tavern,” the release continues. “At the historical Stoy Museum, one of Dr. Stoy’s sons never left, and the wife of a condemned prisoner from the old jail inhabits the market parking lot at night.”
Tickets are $20 are are available online.
For more information, contact Main Street manager Pam Shirk by email at [email protected] or by phone at 717-376-6690.
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