Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Keystone State Odd & Macabre


A few odd & macabre newspaper clips from Pennsylvania's days of yore:

From the Bloomsburg Columbian, July 19, 1878:

THE SEA SERPENT OR ONE OF HIS PROGENY IN MUDDY RUN

Milton, Pa - On Wednesday, Lawrence P. Shutt, of this place, having nothing better to do, concluded to take a quiet fish in the mill dam at Kemerer's Mill, about two miles above Milton. Accordingly he armed himself with rod and line and proceeded to the objective point.

He commenced fishing early in the morning and had continued until ten o'clock, with indifferent success, when all at once a huge monster rose partially out of the water about fifteen feet in front of him, displaying a head as large as that of a horse and having a mouth at least a foot and a half across. To say that Mr. Shutt was astonished but faintly expresses his emotion.

He was nearly paralyzed for a moment and during that time the monster turned and lashing the water into a foam for rods around, darted into the middle of the dam and disappeared. Mr. Shutt called loudly upon Mr. Irwin and Mr. Bruch, both of whom were near, but before they could reach the spot the monster had disappeared, and all further search for him proved unavailing.

Mr. Shutt is a truthful man, and there is no reason to doubt that the statement he makes is true in every particular. He says he knows the animal was there and he believes it is still in the dam and, as poor as he is, he avers that he would give five dollars toward capturing it, that he might know what it was that proved such an astonisher to him and created such a commotion in the ordinary peaceful waters of Kemerer's Dam.

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From November 28, 1907 - Fulton County News:

FORTY INJURED DURING FRANTIC STAMPEDE IN YORK - GHASTLY SCENE IN A CHURCH

York, Pa. (Special).-- During the progress of the funeral at Quickel Church, near Zions View, this county, of William and Curvin Hoover, the youths who were murdered Saturday at Pleasuresville, a panic occurred among the several thousand persons assembled and about 40 were injured. A rumor that the roof of the church was about to fall in, followed by a creaking noise and the collapsing of several stoves, caused a mad rush for the exits.

Cause of the Panic

The panic occurred shortly after 12 o'clock and at the most solemn part of the service. When those present heard a creaking noise several among them began to cry: "The roof is falling in!"

Instantly the several thousand persons arose in their seats and made a wild dash for the exits. The windows and doors of the little church are small, and they were soon clogged with writhing forms. Men, women, and children were trampled upon and mothers, in their frenzy, hurled their babies to those outside. Other women, becoming separated from their little ones, attempted to force their way back into the building.

Near the pulpit, where the caskets had been placed, a pathetic scene was presented. The parents of the murdered youths, as soon as the rush for the doors and windows began, jumped quickly in front of the caskets and tried to fight off the maddened crowd. Their efforts, however, were unsuccessful, both coffins being overturned and the bodies, rolling upon the floor, were trampled on by hundreds.

As soon as the crowd on the outside of the church realized what had happened the work of rescue began. Chief of Detectives Charles S. White and Detective Cookes ran to a number of the most cool-headed and tried to stop the stampede. In this they were partially successful, but not until several score had been hurt, some of them fatally.

A Ghastly Scene

At the rear exit, where the stampede was the greatest, the bodies of the injured were piled several feet high. Revs. S.G.W. Enders and Adam Stump, of this city, remained at their posts, and when the panic started they cried out that everything was safe and that the crowd should stop. Seeing that their commands were not obeyed, the two ministers then started to help in the work of rescue. Finally everyone had left the little church, and a glimpse inside revealed a ghastly scene.

The two bodies of the murdered boys were lying upon the floor surrounded by overturned and broken benches. The bodies were restored to the caskets and taken outside. When the quiet was restored, Rev. Dr. Adam Stump , from the doorway of the church, preached the final sermon.

The bodies were then taken to the adjoining graveyard, where internment was made.

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From July 25, 1891 - Shenandoah Evening Herald:

A TROUBLESOME GHOST

Mahoney Plane, Pa - From "red-row", a row of houses owned by the P. & R. company and situated on Railroad Avenue, opposite the round house, Mahanoy Plane, comes a gruesome tale of ghoulish revels and hideous scenes enacted at the watching hour of midnight within the walls of a large double house. Up to within two or three weeks this house was occupied by a very respectable family. The sights the members of the family claim to have seen during their residence in the house are calculated to make the flesh of the most unsuperstitious person crawl.

They say the nightly revels commence at about the hour "when church yards yawn and graves give up their dead", at which hour there emanates from the cellar a series of unearthly groans and wails, after which there is silence, followed by the sounds of ghostly footfalls slowly climbing the cellar stairs and passing along the hallway. Then they proceed upstairs to the attic, accompanied all the way by a clanking as of rusty chains dragged across the floor of the attic. The soul-harrowing groans are renewed with an occasional interval of demoniac laughter that would freeze the blood of the bravest man. This is followed by a sound of muffled sobs and wails, and then the footfalls are heard again coming down, passing from room to room, finally reaching the cellar, where the performance ends with a series of hair-cudling sounds too horrible for description.

These little pranks on the part of the ghostship did greatly disturb the tenants, and they were becoming accustomed to the nightly peregrinations when the ghostship allowed its curiosity to get the better of its judgment. The tenants objected when it entered the sleeping apartments, got under the beds and, humping itself, spilled the occupants upon the floor, and then disappearing, groaning horribly amid a suffocating atmosphere of sulfurous fumes. It was too much and the family moved out.

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From Scranton Tribune on December 16, 1896:

YOUNG SON MAKES A GHASTLY FIND

Scranton, Pa - A ghastly sight met the gaze of Edward Mullen, a 16 year old lad, as he entered his mother's home on Hemlock Street late yesterday afternoon. Seated at a table in the summer kitchen attached to the house was the dead body of his mother, Sarah Mullen, a widow of about 60 years old, whose upper body was burned to a crisp and whose clothing was still smoldering.

The flesh was blackened and so badly burned that it was with difficulty the body could be handled later. The hair was burned from the head and the features were not recognizable. There was no other person in the house when the son arrived.

A daughter, Tessie, reached the house a few moments following her brother and she too saw the gruesome sight.

Mrs. Mullen is the mother of five children, two of whom do not live in the city. She was in Clarke Bros.' store on the West Side during the afternoon and returned home about 4 o'clock bringing with her a quantity of articles purchased.

Probably an Accident

From the appearance of the rooms, the woman's death was probably due to accidental burning. On the ground floor are three rooms, the kitchen in the rear connecting with a summer kitchen. Mrs. Mullen had evidently started a fire in the stove in the main kitchen. She used kerosene, a can of which stood near the stove.

In lighting the fire the flames spread to her waist. She rushed from the room and into the rear kitchen, where she was overcome by shock and flung herself into a chair alongside a common wood table.

Death was probably painless, as her son found her with her elbows resting on the table and her head pressed between her hands. Her lower clothing was not burned, but from the waist up the body was literally broiled. Smoke was curling upward from the sickening mass when the son made his discovery.....

...Coroner Longstreet and Deputy Pennypacker were engaged until a late hour at Rendham on the sensational case of death from fright, which is reported elsewhere... Death the coroner said was caused by inhaling flame.

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From January 24, 1907 - Bloomsburg Columbian:

SUNBURY MAN WORE SHOES MADE OF HUMAN SKIN

Sunbury, Pa - A pair of house slippers made out of a man's dermis and epidermis- to be more plain, made from skin taken from the body of a man. The very thought makes creepy graveyard chills ripple up your spinal column causing an uncanny ghastly sensation. But nevertheless this is true and a Sunbury man is the possessor of these very same slippers, which the members of his family will not allow him to wear around the house, forcing him to keep them locked in his room and to carry an insurance policy against nightly visitation of ghosts. There is an interesting story connected with the slippers, as follows:

Several years ago a railroad man was killed at work near Williamsport. None of his relatives could be located and as no friends came forward to claim the body and give him a decent burial the body in some manner reached a hospital in the northern part of this state where it was dissected. One of the doctors at the hospital was interested in a tannery and securing the skin from the man's body he sent it to the tannery and had it tanned. It was then taken to a Muncy shoemaker who made from it several pairs of slippers and a number of pocket books and tobacco pouches.

The shoemaker displayed these goods at his place of business and told from what they had been made. As a result the good people of Muncy were so horrified that the shoemaker was boycotted and he was forced to leave the town. Just at this time the Spanish-American war had started and he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving through the war as an orderly to Rear Admiral Bob Evans. Some time after the close of the war he took sick and died but before his death he presented a pair of slippers to his cousin and it is this cousin who now resides in Sunbury and who still has the slippers.

In appearance, the slippers are of a saffron color and are very soft and pliable. In telling of the slippers the owner stated to a newspaper representative that he had refused an offer of one hundred and fifty dollars for them.

Weird Pennsylvania: Your Travel Guide to Pennsylvania's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets

Pennsylvania Ghost Towns: Uncovering the Hidden Past

Pennsylvania Off the Beaten Path®: A Guide To Unique Places (Off the Beaten Path Series)

Supernatural Lore of Pennsylvania:: Ghosts, Monsters and Miracles (American Legends)


'CHICAGO PHANTOM' - FLYING HUMANOID SIGHTINGS

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