Jan 2



The Wills Building, located at 9 York Street, is attached to the Judge David Wills House (the red building with the white stenciling). Lincoln stayed at the Wills House the evening before he gave his Gettysburg Address. The Wills Building has an artillery shell stuck in its north wall. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.

What might be an actual shell stuck in one of Gettysburg’s structures is located in the Wills Building at 9 York Street. The shell is below the window of what at the time of the battle was Tyson’s Photo Gallery. The Tyson Brothers were one of the first photographers to document the Gettysburg battlefield, along with┬átrained Gettysburg photographer William Tipton. This shell is one of the best known artillery shells in the Borough of Gettysburg.

As we do with many local history questions, we went back to look up an article by Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Tim Smith that he wrote for the Adams County Historical Society Journal in 1996. Tim is also a research assistant at the historical society, and his article in that year’s Journal (Volume 2), “A Tour of Gettysburg’s Visual Battle Damage,” presents a good overview of the buildings we will feature over the next couple of weeks. We highly recommend that you pick up a copy at the Adams County Historical Society on Seminary Ridge in Schmucker Hall, or order a copy ($6.95) from the Adams County Historical Society. Click this link for their online giftshop.



This map shows the buildings with visible battle damage that we will be featuring over the next couple of months. We have marked the locations with red stars. #1 is the McClean House at 11 Baltimore Street. #2 is the Wills Building at 9 York Street. This map was created at approximately 6:00 PM on Tuesday, December 30, 2008.



The Wills Building was constructed by David Wills in 1860 as a two story, brick, commercial structure. The yellow utility vans are working on the interior of the Wills House. This view was taken facing south at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



Wills began renting space in his new building, and one of his tenants were Charles and Isaac Tyson, photographers from Philadelphia. The Tysons arrived in Gettysburg in August, 1859, and first set up their studio in the northeast corner of the Diamond/Lincoln Square/Circle in a former Adams County office building. The space they were renting became available when the Adams County Courthouse, and adjoining offices moved to Baltimore Street that year. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



The Tyson Brothers moved their gallery to the second story of the Wills Building in January, 1861. Their clients were the civilians in the area and any visiting military personnel. Isacc Tyson, Charles Tyson, and Charles’ wife, Maria Griest Tyson did not live at this location. Their home was on Chambersburg Street. When the battle of Gettysburg began, Charles Tyson and his wife eventually stayed in Littlestown. What happened to Isaac Tyson during the battle was not recorded. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



When the Tysons returned to their gallery after the battle, Mrs. David Wills told them that Confederates had tried to enter the building, but she had told them not to enter it because with all the chemicals inside it was dangerous. The Confederates did find alcohol in the basement of the building, and took the alcohol, but the gallery was left almost undamaged. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



The only damage to the gallery was a hole in a window caused by a minie ball, and an artillery shell stuck in the north wall. Its location is marked by the small United States flag underneath the window. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



Charles Tyson wrote in 1884 that “the shell has never been removed– is still there just as it was, ready to blow somebody up perhaps some time or other.” This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



The artillery shell is a 3″ Hotchkiss shell, probably fired from a rifled artillery battery on Oak Hill, Oak Ridge, or Seminary Ridge. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



Although Charles Tyson claimed the shell was never removed when he wrote his account of what happened during the battle in 1884, it appears to have a lot of mortar around it as if someone had removed it (hopefully to defuse it) and then put it back in place. Again, we hope that’s what happened. This view was taken facing south at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.



Of course we are grateful that the gallery was not further damaged, as the Tysons were able to take some very interesting images of the area in the weeks following the battle. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 10:30 AM on Friday, December 26, 2008.

See the following related posts:

Gettysburg’s McClean House Artillery Shell on December 27, 2008.
Christmas Decorations on the Carrie Sheads House on December 25, 2008.
Sweney House (Farnsworth House) Christmas Decorations on December 24, 2008.
Some James Pierce House (Tillie Pierce House) Christmas Decorations on December 23, 2008.
Christmas Decorations at the Gettysburg Academy on December 21, 2008.
Civil War Artillery with Licensed Battlefield Guide George Newton on November 21, 2008.
Wills House White Stenciling Completed on West Side on November 5, 2008.
Wills House stenciling, railing, steps, and shutters on October 31, 2008.
Wills House stenciling progressing well on the west side on October 28, 2008.
Wills House completion of the white stenciling on the north side on October 21, 2008.
Wills House white stenciling appearing on the north side on October 14, 2008.
Wills House needs a new manager on September 12, 2008.
Wills House first coat of red paint completely covering the north side on September 4, 2008.
Wills House red paint beginning to cover the north side on September 3, 2008.
Wills House only the west side still had red paint on August 19, 2008.
Wills House west side started to be painted red on August 13, 2008.
Wills House’s sidewalk construction on July 21, 2008.
Diamond at Gettysburg early in the morning on March 2, 2008.


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