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Elmwood Mansion book author: ‘I’m a determined sort of character’

Ann Small Niess grew up in Elmwood Mansion, that Memorial Hospital-owned landmark near Interstate 83 that captivates the imagination of motorists and other passersby. Her first book, the non-fiction “Elmwood House, If it Could Speak, What Stories Would It Tell,” told the history of the house. Her newest book “Hidden Secrets of Jacob’s House” is a historic novel imagining past residents of the house. This photograph comes from the inside title page of ‘Hidden Secrets,’ which is set in the Civil War era and subtitled ‘The Story of an Abolitionist.’ The book is available at the York County Heritage Trust book shop or annsmallniess.com Also of interest: Check out these stories and photographs about the Elmwood Mansion.

Anything written about the Elmwood Mansion is intriguing.

And I found this brief bio about Ann Small Niess on the back cover of her new book on the house equally interesting – and telling:

Like Grandma Moses, who began painting during her elder years, Ann Small Niess started to write in her 80’s. Her first book, “Elmwood House, If It Could Speak, What Stories Would It Tell,” combined the history of her childhood home (built in 1835 and acquired by the Small family in the late 1800’s) and her experiences with the ghosts residing within. Years later those mysterious memories challenged her to write her second book, “Hidden Secrets of Jacob’s House.” Here she uses her vivid imagination to draw the deeply hidden secrets from the very walls of her former home.

Ann Small Niess’ determination is an example to others that much can be accomplished in your senior years.

That comes through at the end of a recent ydr.com story about “Hidden Secrets:”

The self-described Grandma Moses didn’t begin writing until she was in her 80s. It took her five years to finish “Hidden Secrets,” which she said she must have re-written 10 different times.

Why stick with it?

“I don’t know,” she said. “I’m a determined sort of character.”

Elmwood’s reported ghosts play a big role in ‘Hidden Secrets.’ They might have even touched the press of the book’s printer. A sidebar from the recent ydr.com story about the book is titled ‘Creepy cover story’ and states:

When she first received copies of “Hidden Secrets of Jacob’s House” from the printer, author Ann Small Niess noticed mysterious watermarks on the book’s cover. The images — which Niess said look like lace from an old dress — appear on a photo of one of the staircases at Elmwood Mansion where she experienced several ghostly encounters. The watermarks are not on the original photo of the staircase sent to the printer, and the printer said he hadn’t altered the photo, either.
“Weird,” Niess said.
“What do you think happened?” I asked her.
“I’ll let you worry about that yourself,” was her reply.


‘Hidden Secrets’ is Ann Small Niess’s second book on Elmwood. Check out information about her first work (also self-published):
‘Elmwood House.’

Also of interest:
York County landmark Elmwood Mansion: ‘Do you know where the house originally stood?’