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Duncannon Record, Thursday, February 21, 1974
Sam Boyer, the author of the following story, is a former RD, Duncannon resident and a son of the late S. Edgar Boyer. Boyer's brother, Herman, of Roseglen, recently sent him a subscription to the Duncannon Record. Boyer, who now resides in Newton, North Carolina, immediately submitted this story which describes an experience which he and several of his buddies had years ago along the road near Kings Mill. Boyer is retired from General Electric Company and teaches English and writing subjects at Catawba Valley Community College. He specializes in writing about the supernatural.
The Phantom Two-Horse Brougham
by Sam Boyer.
One night in August of 1912, about 9 p. m., my two teenage brothers Herman and Russel Boyer and I, age 8, along with two other teenagers Charley and Ike Peters, started walking the dusty and lonesome Juniata Creek road from Duncannon to our homes about two miles distant at King's Mill (Pa.). When less than a mile out of town, near the old Lindemuth home on our right, we were startled by a sudden burst of gunfire that sounded like pistol shots. We stopped and scanned the area, but observed nothing unusual.
We again started walking, puffing furiously on our penny corncob pipes that we had purchased in Duncannon, and wondering what the shooting was about. We had not yet reached the Lindemuth house, when two trotting horses pulling a weird appearing carriage appeared from around a sharp curve in the road beyond the house. It was sharply visible in the moonlight filtering through the trees along the dirt road.
We quickly stepped to the right side of the road to let the horses and carriage pass safely, at the same time hiding our smoke pipes behind us because we would be punished if our parents found out that we had been smoking. Too, I was getting a bit dizzy from puffing too hard on my new pipe, although the Tuxedo Pipe tobacco smelt very enticing beforehand. The older boys had purchased an ample supply of it and other brands while in town.
When the strange two-horse carriage came close to us, we saw that it was a black Brougham that resembled a light stagecoach. Although the horses were trotting, the vehicle was moving as though in slow motion. This gave all of us ample time to observe it closely.
A lamp was glowing dimly on each side of the enclosed cab, which had a door on both sides. It would seat two or more people comfortably. However, we were too engrossed with the weird external appearance to determine if the dark interior of the cab was occupied.
The top beautiful horses pulling the Brougham were black like the strange vehicle, and their heads were held high by a checkrein attached to the tops of the bridles and back to the body girths. The bridles had no blinders. The breast collars and breechings were broad black leather like the rest of the elaborate harnesses. Neither of the horses seemed to be breathing hard as would be normal during trotting.
The lanky driver, hollow-eyed and cadaverous appearing with an aquiline nose, sat grimly in an exposed seat in front of the cab and over the two front wheels. He was rigidly holding the reins attached to the horses' bits between the bony fingers on both hands. Wearing a linen-white colonial type uniform with matching three cornered hat and black accessories, he drove like a wax figure and looked neither to the right nor left. In the pale moonlight it was a ghastly scene. A large antique pistol swung from his waistband. We were too scared to move, but stood and watched in awe as the weird, driver with black horses and Brougham moved slowly by us on the route to Duncannon. Finally it dawned on us that the Brougham was making no noise nor was it raising any dust from the dirt road, where the rock bed was covered with from one to three inches of fine dust at that time of year. It was simply impossible to drive horses and carriages on the road without making noise or raising dust. Something queer was happening before our eyes!
We headed for home in a hurry after the ghostly coachman and his weird carriage passed us, but kept a sharp lookout to make certain nothing spooky was following us. Partly to rebuild his own courage and to also relieve the group's fears, Russel who was four years older than I, asserted "Aw, that was nothin' but a Pennsylvania State Policeman in disguise. He's out trying to catch them fellows doing that shootin' at night."
After a few minutes of silence except for the clomping of our rapid footsteps, we heard the clatter of a fast trotting horse and buggy coming up back of us from Duncannon. It pulled up beside us and the driver yelled "Whoa!" to horse. It was a neighbor, Buck Jones (not his real name), a yard brakeman for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He had come from Harrisburg on a late train, then got his horse-and buggy from the local livery stable, and was driving to his home near King's Mill. Buck said, "Hop on, boys, and I'll give you a ride home. "Let's go now!" He was in his mid-twenties, small in size but tough, and often short on temper. We quickly and gladly piled into his buggy, two boys standing up back of the single seat with Herman and Charley in front beside Buck, while Herman held me between his knees. We were due for a fast ride when the driver pulled tight on the trotting horse's lines. What a relief to our scared group of boys!
The Juniata Creek road had no pull-out places from where we met the phantom two-horse Brougham on into Duncannon, except for a horse-watering place. So it was impossible for the weird rig to turn off before getting into town, for the deep creek bank was on the right, and a high wooded bank on the left. It could not have reached Duncannon before Buck was well on the road, so we knew that Buck Jones and the phantom carriage simply had to pass each other.
We could hardly contain our curiosity, but none of us wanted to invite the sarcasm of Buck Jones. Finally, as we neared home, Herman Boyer, my oldest brother, ventured the question, "Buck, did you meet anyone on your way out from Duncannon?" With some hesitation Buck Jones replied, "Naw, didn't meet nothin' a'tall on the road tonight. But I did see a crazy lookin' carriage and two black horses standin' on the hill this side of the dam. That's where the old road used to go by 'Potter's Field' this side of the Cemetery (now Union Cemetery). Can't figure how they got up there through that heavy barbwire fence, or what they were doing at this time of night. That old road has been cut-off for years. There was some lights on the carriage."
Screwing his face up in a frown, he added, "Didn't want to stop. Too many things have happened there, like that man that hanged himself over in the woods. Even your Mother (Boyer) heard him crying before hanging, "GOD have mercy on my Soul."
Glancing at Herman suspiciously, Buck asked, "How come you want to know if I met anybody on the road tonight?" Receiving no reply, Buck demanded, "Did you'n's see anyone or meet someone on the road?" Our silence peeved him further, so he threatened us with, "If you are not real careful, I'm going to tell your Dad (Boyer). I don't know what you have been into this time!"
Buck Jones's question had gone unanswered to avoid an argument. At times he was hostile, a loner that that we never took into our confidence. No use telling him that the coachman and two-horse black brougham were phantoms. We knew because no dust arose from the rotating wheels of the carriage, and the horses' hooves made no clatter as they trotted. Instead we had heard only a soft swishing sound, especially clear when the ghoulish coachman with the two horses and black carriage passed us. Alighting at King's Mill we hurried home to tell our parents about the exciting experience.
Duncannon Record, Thursday, March 7, 1974
Apparition In A Blue Pin-Stripe Suit
by Sam Boyer
"Sam, there is that Ghost in the blue pin-, stripe suit!" exclaimed my wife Rose as we first gazed into the casket of my 86-year old father, "Pappy" (S. Edgar) Boyer, who lay in an ornate setting in Nickel Mortuary in Duncannon, Pa. This was in November of 1959. Twelve sons and five daughters and their families were present, grieving at his final departure, which he had calmly announced a few months previously would soon take place.
I, too, had quickly recognized that Pappy's aristocratic appearing corpse, and even the most minute' details of his grave-apparel, matched exactly features of an Apparition, or Ghost, that had vigorously awakened me 24 years beforehand in the same room in which Pappy had recently died. Even Pappy's temples bore the same peculiar markings as that of the Apparition. Strange that I did not recognize the similarity in my puzzlement over the years about the dramatic encounter. I had repeated the story many times to my close relatives.
The blue pin-stripe suit that Pappy was wearing to his grave had identical rolled lapels, and rounded waist bottoms, to that worn by the wraith. His shirt collar had the unique rounded-tip front, and the tie was the same shade of blue and gray design that I remembered so well following my never-to-be-forgotten experience. Memories flooded by mind as I recalled my eventful visit to the four-block distant haunted house years beforehand.
Our memorable visit to the above house was in 1935, when it was owned and occupied by my sister Alice and her husband Howard Swartz. The two and one-half story building, originally a monastery, is constructed of hand-hewn beams and framework. The exterior was covered with ancient weather-beaten yellow siding, which had not until recently, changed appearance since I delivered newspapers there in 1911, when I was 7 years old and living on Sandy Hill nearby.
During our visit in 1935, the dark, forbidding wine-cellar seemed to be the destination of uncanny, running footsteps heard by our group several times. Investigation showed all cellar doors to be locked from the inside, so no material person could have escaped. Too, we all heard weird music played in our room in the middle of the night by invisible musicians. Unseen fingers would snap to the sound of music, but nothing could be seen.
Tradition is that a former owner was found dead of a broken neck at the foot of the steep and treacherous stair-steps. Perhaps he, too, was fleeing from some specter. Many strange accidents had occurred on those steps (now completely removed), but space does not permit further narration.
It was on July 3, 1935, that sister Alice assigned me and our 7-year old son James the back upstairs bedroom, overlooking the beautiful Susquehanna River and mile distant Peters Mountain on its opposite shore. My wife Rose and 9-year old daughter Patsy slept in the upstairs rightwing room. Sister Alice and her husband Howard Swartz slept in the upstairs leftwing room, while their small daughter Verdie and other close relatives slept downstairs on pull-out beds.
We all went to bed about 11:00 p.m. that night, and I was sleeping with our son James, lying on my right side facing him with his back towards me. My back was towards the North window, and the foot of the bed was close to the East window facing the perhaps 500-foot distant Susquehanna River. We planned to meet Pappy and Mother, along with other close relatives, for a family picnic the next day, Sunday July 5, 1935.
About 1:30 a.m. something slapped me vigorously three times on my left shoulder, but failed to awaken me; again I was slapped three times on my left shoulder, so I became more vaguely aware that someone was trying to awaken me. The third time that I was slapped vigorously and shaken, but not painfully, I awoke, turned over and got to my hands and knees in bed, and looked to the right to see what was happening.
The room was bright like a blue-white fluorescent light was burning, but all lights had been turned off when we went to bed. I could not see the source of the unusual light. Then I saw a man sitting in an armchair beside by bed, with his arms upraised and looking upward. I gazed in wonder!
Then he dropped his arms, palms of his hands down, outstretched upon the arms of the chair; his eyes closed and his head then rested against the chair back, and his feet were side-by-side on the floor. He was wearing a blue pin-stripe suit, with peculiar rolled lapels and rounded coat front below the waist, unlike any style that I had ever seen at that time. His shirt collar had unique rounded front tips, and the tie was blue and gray design. The specter was wearing soft appearing patent leather slippers, and his hair was neatly combed. He sat within three feet of me.
There was something familiar about the man's appearance and the peculiar markings about his temples, but I could not recall who he actually resembled. So after gazing intently at him for awhile, it finally dawned upon me that no one was supposed to be in my bedroom. Then I suddenly realized with a shock that the man was now dead, and I had actually watched him die in the chair beside my bed.
I let out a loud scream and jumped over the bed headboard towards the light switch in the hallway, for I could not get out on my side of the bed because the apparition was sitting too close When I snatched on the light, the corpse and the chair along with the mysterious blue-white light had disappeared. Sister Alice came running into the hallway demanding to know what was wrong. I was too shaken to tell her, and I did not sleep another wink that night.
At the family picnic next day, my brother-in-law Paul Miller, of Hershey, Pa., kept asking about what was bothering me. So about lunch time I told the entire family about my encounter with the ghost that had died before my eyes in the bedroom. Later, sister Alice told me privately that she knew what had aroused me, but did not want others to know about the haunted bedroom. Since that time two of my brothers have told me about their weird experiences in that house.
Then about 1956, sister Alice, who was a registered nurse, and her husband Howard Swartz converted the haunted room into a nicely equipped hospital ward to care for aged "Pappy" Boyer He was recovering from a broken leg and hip sustained in a freak accident while in Harrisburg, (Pa.) Mother Emma Boyer had quietly died in a Harrisburg Hospital in 1944, and Pappy Boyer had been living alone near Roseglen, Pa.
In July of 1959, "Pappy" (S. Edgar Boyer) announced, "I am tired and it is soon time for me to go Home to my Maker. Surely none of you children will mind me going to my Eternal Rest. Of course I am not going to die right now, but it won't be long. He added, "Sam, I have made all of my funeral arrangements, and you will be notified when the time comes." Pappy looked forward to death like going on a pleasant trip.
On November 9, 1959, about 1:30 a.m. Pappy died sitting in an armchair in the same room where the Apparition had enacted the death scene for me 24 years before. Sister Alice said that he mumbled something like "Goodbye" to her, raised his hands up in the air as though to meet someone, then dropped his arms to the chair armrests, dropped his head back in the chair and was dead. When we viewed Pappy's body at the Nichols Mortuary, he was dressed exactly like the Apparition in the haunted bedroom.
A few years before his death in 1972, Howard Swartz informed the writer that all hauntings and weird noises in the house had ceased shortly after 1960. His wife (sister Alice Boyer) had died in 1963 in a Harrisburg Hospital.
The old Swartz house has been completely modernized, both inside and out, and the treacherous central hall staircase has been entirely removed. A bright and cheery living room now extends from one side of the house to the other, and the atmosphere is one of peace and comfort throughout the home. I was amazed at the change when I briefly visited there in June of 1973.
Duncannon Record, Thursday, May 16, 1974
No fish tale
Enclosed is another true story that you may publish if you so wish. I spent most of March in Tampa, Florida with brother Charles and our families, the reason I have not finished the promised article on "The Walking Bed-Bolster."
On a previously published story, "The Phantom Brougham", apparently it was well received publicly. Brother Herman had difficulty in remembering the incidents described, but gave relatives copies of it. Brother Russel is quoted as saying to other relatives, "Yes, every word of that story is true."
Sister Violet and her husband Paul Miller and others visited the old Swartz home a week or so ago, where the incident about "The Apparition in Blue Pin-Stripe Suit" occurred. Brother-in-law Paul Miller, a top supervisor at Hershey Chocolate Corp., said that the things divulged in the story were no secret to members of our family, and that the Ronnie Holland family living in the beautifully re-modeled house, were not concerned unduly. However, the mysterious "finger snapping" returned shortly before Howard Swartz's death, and still is frequently heard.
Editor's Note: The following is another "true story" written by Sam Boyer, Newton, North Carolina, who formerly resided at Duncannon. He is the author of "The Phantom Brougham" and "The Apparition in Blue Pin-Stripe Suit," which appeared in previous issues of the Duncannon Record.
THE MAD MUD DUTCHMAN OF SHERMANS CREEK
By Sam Boyer
We first heard about wily "Mud Dutchmen", the huge fish in Shermans Creek, when we moved from Kings Mill to Little Boston, a small village at the foot of Cove Mountain across the bridge from Lower Duncannon. This was in the spring of 1914. Stories were told of catching these monster fish on corn-bread balls, soaking them in tubs of fresh water for a few days to expel the mud before skinning them, and then baking the filets in hot ovens preparatory to a delicious feast.
I had seen many carp weighing up to several pounds, but never a "Mud Dutchman" purportedly weighing twenty to forty pounds. Accordingly, I asked Grandpap Boyer (Samuel S. Boyer) about the fish stories. Grandpap, as we called him, had worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad for 36 years before retiring. He knew a lot about fishing, having fished up and down the Susquehanna and Juniata Rivers. To my questioning, he replied gently, "A carp iss a carp, und a mud dutchman iss a mud dutchman. Dhay are not der same, und dhere iss considerable difference in size." (Grandfather Boyer was Pennsylvania Dutch. He spoke no English until after 8 years old. He was a fluent talker despite his Dutch accent, deeply religious, and had many, many friends among Duncannon's oldsters).
My brother Russel and I often fished together, or with George and Ted Bolden, who also lived in Little Boston. Our father Pappy (S. Edgar Boyer) allowed Russel and I to fish in the shallow waters around the steel bridge, and also around the old railroad bridge piers where the trestles were destroyed in the June flood in 1889; but we were strictly forbidden to venture up Shermans Creek to the deep waters of Flat Rock, or go near the six arches where the Shermans Creek flows into the Susquehanna River. So we had little opportunity of catching a large Mud Dutchman.
Pappy's strict orders to keep away from deep water had not dampened my desire to catch one of those large fish. I guess that is why Grandpap would call me "Der Wunnernauser" when my curiosity got the best of me. I did, and still do, have a wondering nose about many things, as Grandpap implied. Accordingly, I made secret plans for a thrilling fishing trip alone.
I got my chance one sunny but cool day in early May of 1915. Unobserved, I rolled up my fishing line and put it in my pocket. Then I sneaked out to our garden where worms were plentiful and filled an empty smoking tobacco can with them. The can went into my opposite coat pocket.
Casually strolling across the "Commons" front of the apartment house, where Lawrence Mutzybaugh lived with his grandparents, I dashed across the old railroad bed adjacent to the vacant pier. Walking down the natural steps made by the cut-stone abutment, I was out of sight of everyone in the village, and needless to say, was quite excited.
The deep water at "Six Arches" was my destination. It was about five hundred feet distant, where the four main tracks of the Pennsylvania Railroad crossed Shermans Creek at the junction of swift Susquehanna River. By taking off my shoes and stockings, and rolling my pants legs up to my thighs, I was able to wade across the submerged mud-flat that parallels the creek. The main stream was on my left, and a several acre mud pond was on my right.
The water was cold, but I had no difficulty in reaching the huge cut-stone sixth arch of the "Six Arches". This was the arch fartherest downstream adjacent to the Susquehanna River. I had picked up a fishing pole from a tree branch along the mud pond. Climbing to the fourth stone, which formed a table-top sized step on which two or three people could easily stand, I replaced my shoes and stockings.
Rapidly tying my fishing line to the improvised pole, and then baiting the hook, I was soon enjoying deep-hole fishing. Although the day was sunny, it was rather chilly because of early spring. I was wearing long stockings, knee-length pants and corduroy coat, with a tight fitting cap. My shoes were high-top buckle type popular at that time, so I was comfortably dressed for the cool weather.
The cut-stone upon which I was standing was perhaps six feet above the water. Rock piling lined the water's edge next to the arch abutment, and sloped sharply into the deep water about six feet distant. The rock piling extended through the arch and curved downstream at the river's edge. I fished for perhaps an hour without even getting a nibble. At least the Rock Bass should have been biting, but I had planned on bigger fish that day. It was near my eleventh birthday!
Suddenly a large fish arose from the deep water, came slowly to the rocky bank and stared at me. Its huge body seemed normal with fins and scales, but its head amazed me—it actually looked like the head of a wrinkled old man!
The freak fish staring at me was baffling. I decided to catch it and drag it home to show Grandpap. Perhaps he could tell me what kind it was. The fish stayed close to the top of the water, and not more than eighteen inches from the rocky bank. I almost placed the hook in its mouth, which certainly was not shaped like that of a carp, but it wiggled its head from side-to-side and continued to stare at me unafraid. I made several attempts, but it would not take the bait.
I snatched the hook by its mouth in withdrawing my line from the water. Since the wily monster wouldn't bite, I decided it must be a "Mud Dutchman" and would be a prize catch. I began removing the single hook with the intention of applying a "three-hook" and snagging it under the mouth. A few weeks previously I had caught a large pike, that wouldn't strike, in that manner.
Concentrating on changing hooks on my fishing line, with my back towards the water and standing firmly upon the large platform-like cut stone, I was shocked when suddenly a mighty force swept me off my feet and I landed out in the twenty foot deep water, on my back, about ten feet from the rocky shore. The current was swift at that point and the water was cold. Too, I had on all of my clothing including coat and heavy shoes. Drowning seemed inevitable to me! Nobody had observed me slipping out to that lonely fishing place, nor had anyone observed me falling—if it could be called falling—into the stream. And I couldn't swim!
My struggles took me out to midstream of the sixth arch, the deepest part of Shermans Creek. I was still on my back but with my head above water for some unexplained reason. Then I heard a voice saying to me, "Swim!" !!Swim!"
I obeyed the voice without questioning its source, and threw myself forward with wild over-arm strokes while kicking violently with my feet. My shoes seemed to weigh a ton and my coat hampered my arm movements, but I actually swam through the swift current to the rocky ledge underneath the Sixth Arch. There I removed my clothes and wrung the water out, and poured the water from my shoes.
Yes, I had fallen into the most dangerous part of Shermans Creek—perhaps I should say either that I was dragged or thrown in—where the swirling creek waters join that of the swift Susquehanna River. If I had merely fallen backwards, I would have landed on the jagged rock abutment below that extended about six feet out from the rock wall. Instead, I landed in the water at least fifteen feet from where I was standing. Did the Mud Dutchman have anything in a Supernatural way to do with the accident? I do have my suspicions about the matter.
By the strangest of miracles I was saved from a watery grave. Where the voice came from that said "Swim!" "Swim!" is another thing that I cannot explain. However, I do know that it was of Supernatural origin because no one was within sight during the entire episode. Neither was I hallucinating. I am convinced that the "Voice" was of Devine origin as opposed to the Evil Force that threw me into swirling Shermans Creek at its most treacherous point.
I had not yet learned to swim when I hit the water, but was able to do so when the "Voice" commanded me to "Swim!" "Swim!" I never again encountered the Mud Dutchman that I had made mad by trying to hook him.
When I sneaked back home, Mother soon discovered my wet clothes. I truthfully explained. Pappy Boyer gave me a hot tongue lashing instead of a well-deserved walloping. Grandpap Boyer smilingly approved of my account of the "Voice" and following the command to Swim. He said, "Yah, little Sammy, mem namesake, vhen you hear dhat Woice again, dhen you chust listen goode, real goode!"
Duncannon Record, July 1, 1974
The Walking Bed Bolster
by Sam Boyer
Our Boyer family was still living in Little Boston, across Shermans Creek from Lower Duncannon during the "war boom" years of 1915-16. However, the village became so crowded by influx of transient iron and steel mill workers that we felt compelled to move back to the country. Accordingly, a year before moving, I was allowed to work on the Clarence Reed farm near our former residence at King's Mill. In the fall of 1916 I once again attended Sulphur Springs Public School, adjacent to the Ohio Oil Co. Plant. It was at school that I first heard excited talk among teenage students about "the ugly bed-bolster that walks at night in Myers Hollow, near Raub's Road Forks."
Teenagers Lawrence Hoover and Abraham Fry, who then lived with their parents on farms close to Montebello Park, both had encounters with the weird specter when returning home with close relatives at night after shopping in Duncannon. The thing was described as being about six feet long, white to grayish-white, and round like a bed-bolster. The frightening object was repeatedly seen at night in Myers Hollow, near Raub's Forks, sometimes on the higher road that led past Raub's Farm, at other times on the lower road that led past Myers' Farm, but at a point about one hundred feet from where the roads forked; there was only a few feet distance between the two roads that ran nearly parallel from the fork to this point. People were going armed for protection against unknown danger at the haunted spot in the roads, when travelling the Juniata Creek road leading to Montebello Park, or when going through Myers Hollow towards Roseglen. Naturally, this applied to both foot and horse-drawn traffic in both directions.
People generally ruled out the possibility of the ghostlike object being an animal of the cat family for two main reasons; first, the tremendous size and length of the mysterious thing; second, the weird object's peculiar habit of lying across the road at night and blocking both
foot and horse-drawn traffic that attempted to pass, until it slowly crawled or walked off into the nearby woods or simply disappeared. Several persons claimed to have shot at the specter without visible affect.
During this time our family continued to live in Little Boston, but Pappy (S. Edgar Boyer) was trying to locate a suitable place to raise the growing family. In March he came by the Reed Farm and informed me that he had rented the Dan Snavely farm, up in the hollow above Lawrence Myer's farm. This was about half-way between Raub's Road Forks, on the Montebello Park road leading to Newport and Roseglen. The family would move there about April 1,1917, and I was to quit the Clarence Reed farm and come home to help with farm work.
Although I was only 13 years of age, and the work on our newly rented farm rough and tough, yet in a few months available land was plowed, harrowed, and planted in a variety of crops. I could easily plow with one, two or four horses or mules. We rented the heavy plow teams from our fine neighbor, Charley Raub, and by midsummer had plenty of vegetables and produce. I also worked part-time on the Raub farm, as the United States had entered World War I; the man-power draft had drained the country of most able bodied men, so I found work readily available.
Almost daily some of our family would pass by Raub's Road Forks, where "The walking bed-bolster" was reported frequently seen, but none of us had yet encountered the frightening specter. Lawrence Myers's son "Felty" told us that while out horseback riding with two friends at night, their horses became terrified by the spooky thing stretched out across the road. The horses stopped snorting and balking after "the walking bed-bolster- disappeared into the wooded roadside.
Then one Sunday evening in late June of 1917, Russel and I were returning from Kings Mill to our home on the Snavely farm in Myers Hollow. Ike Peters and George, his younger brother (deceased), were going along with us to inspect some shot guns we had bought for the fall Hunting season. The night was fairly bright with moonlight, and when we arrived near Snyders' Fork which was perhaps 500 feet before reaching Raub's Forks, we observed something white and wooly lying in the center of the road. At first we were scared of the mysterious thing before us.
Approaching the white object carefully after throwing a rock at it, I gingerly sneaked up and grabbed it. The object proved to be a new white fur coat, the fur, or hair, was about four inches long. I hung the coat carefully over my arm, and the four of us started walking up Myers Hollow Road past Raub's Forks.
We had reached the edge of the woods on the upper side at the corner of Myers Farm, when we heard a group of young fellows approaching from the opposite direction. We knew that it was my brother, Herman Boyer, returning to Chester Steele's dairy farm, where he worked, George Leonard (who died shortly after entering the U. S. Army) returning to his job on the Harry Krick dairy farm, Charley Peters (who shortly afterwards entered the U. S. Army and served in France) returning to his home on the Logtown Road beyond Kings Mill, and another young fellow whose identity I don't recall. The four in our group decided to have some real fun!
My brother, Russ Boyer, Ike and George Peters, and I quickly climbed the bank above the road. The other three hid in the bushes while I donned the white fur coat and pulled the collar up over my head. I hid behind a scraggy pine tree, but got hold of a low limb hanging out over the road. We waited quietly for the oncoming group to reach us.
The four young fellows were talking earnestly about the war, so did not see us. They were returning from a visit to our home up in Myers Hollow. When they were directly underneath the tree, I swung out on the limb and dropped to the middle of the group. Three of the young fellows ran, but brother Herman Boyer just stood still temporarily in shock. I knew that he wouldn't stay in shock long, so ducked!
Herman came at me swinging both fists, but hilarious laughter from our group probably saved me from what could have been serious injury, for Herman carries a terrific wallop in either fist. He really raked me over the coals, saying to me, "You are going to get yourself shot sometime for those stupid tricks you pull on other people." Our group knew beforehand that Herman's group was not armed. The other three came back grinning sheepishly, and Herman soon regained his usual good humor. They proceeded towards King's Mill, while Russell and the other two Peters boys and I walked slowly after them.
About half-way between Raub's Forks and Snyder's Forks we met Marie Hoover, Lawrence Hoover's sister, returning from Duncannon. She was driving a horse and two-seated covered carriage. We gave her the fur coat which she said had dropped from the carriage on the way into Duncannon with friends. Marie asked the four of us to get into the carriage and ride past Raub's Forks, as she was afraid to ride through the woods on the winding upper road alone. The "walking bed-bolster" was still up to its usual habit of blocking the two parallel roads at night. We rode through the woods with her, all of us alighting at the Myers Farm upper entrance, then returned to our homes for the night.
Then on Saturday evening, September 1, 1917, Russel and I started from our home in Myers Hollow to Duncannon. School opened on the following Monday, and I was scheduled to attend at Roseglen instead of Sulphur Springs. We chose to walk rather than be bothered with horse-and-buggy. Russell was armed with his British Bulldog .38 pistol, and I was carrying an unloaded H. & R. 32 pistol. Russ didn't want me carrying a loaded pistol into Duncannon, so took my ammunition away from me until we returned home. Our rapid pace carried us past the Myers Farm and almost through the woods on the roadside, to within about a hundred feet of the upper and lower road junction at Raub's Forks. Suddenly I came to a screaming halt and grabbed Russel's arm, for I had spied a long grayish-white object stretched across the road about 15 feet in front of us. It was long as an average size man, but round and shaped like a bed-bolster.
While we stared in fright, the object seemed to change back and forth from a transparent vapor to a hideous solid form. At times it resembled a huge glow-worm, stretched across the road with its glowing head on our left, staring at us with fiery eyes. I was on Russel's right, and we both whipped out our pistols, although mine was unloaded. Russ always had nerves of steel and was a dead-shot with both rifle and pistol (two years later he won a gold medal for being second best marksman in the Far East while in the U. S. Army). He took careful aim at the thing's head and his big .38 pistol seemed to roar like a cannon! It was impossible to miss at that close range.
At the gun's flash, the ghostly object did a complete backward somersault, rising perhaps 12 to 15 feet in the air slowly through a perfect arc. It landed on top of a huge log on the right side of the road, just over a barb-wire fence alongside of the dirt road, its head facing us.
Russ yelled, "COME ON, SAM!" as he started sprinting down the road past the frightening specter. He had a head start on me, for I had stepped to the extreme right as he fired. I started running after Russel and had to pass within no more than three feet of the thing's devilish-looking head. It was in crouching position on top of the log, its horrible eyes glaring and its long fangs gleaming in the twilight. The fiendish thing's head was nearly the size of a football. I still believe it was some devilish thing from the occult realm of darkness. One look was enough. I started running with a terrific burst of speed to catch up with Russel, who seemed to be flying. My hair actually stood on end—no fable—and my cap rose with it. I felt light as a feather, and I actually believe that I could have outrun anything in existence at that time.
We were near King's Mill before we stopped running. There we met George Peters, his brother
Ike Peters, and Ike Peters Sr., their father. He had long experience as a hunter and trapper. When we told of our experience, Ike Peters Sr., said ours was the same report many persons had made of their frightening encounter with "the bed-bolster that walked." We all decided that particular spot in Myers Hollow was haunted. It was the only logical explanation of our encounter.
Duncannon Record, Thursday, September 26, 1974
A Demoniac Visited Us
by Sam Boyer
We never had seen the mysterious stranger before he was observed approaching on foot on the dusty, unpaved Juniata Creek road from Duncannon to Kings Mill, a distance of about two miles. He was then about 500 feet distant, but from the way he was eyeing our house, it was obvious that he intended stopping at our spacious two-story residence. He carried a suitcase in one hand and a walking cane in the other. Tall, well dressed and apparently dignified, he presented a scholarly appearance. We surmised that he was not a peddler, but if anyone had suggested he was a demoniac, we would have hooted in derision. This occurred around early June of 1912.
Instead of approaching our home by continuing up the road to "P. C." railroad station located directly in front, and then climbing the few steps to a broad path leading to our front porch door in the center of the house, he took the "shortcut" we often used. In doing so, he climbed through Sam Rumbaugh's barnyard bars, then started walking diagonally towards a small gate at the barn. It opened to a 200 foot path through a grassy lawn, and led to both the side door and front door of our residence.
Then a strange incident happened. About 20 head of young cattle in the barnyard became frightened at his appearance— perhaps because of his black derby hat—and began running and snorting. A young bull, who had never molested any of us passing through the barnyard as we often did, began pawing the ground as though preparing to charge at the man.
We expected the long-legged stranger to run, but he merely stopped and turned to face the infuriated bull. Quickly transferring his cane to his left hand which held the suitcase, he made a few motions towards the animal as though talking to him. To our surprise, the bull turned and calmly walked over to the other cattle in the far barnyard corner. The man then walked through the gate to the long footpath leading to our house.
He was about six feet tall, weighed about 160 pounds; he was attired in a well-fitted black suit, black derby hat, white shirt with detachable celluloid collar and black tie. He was wearing black patent leather shoes, showing no signs of dust from the dirt road.
Stepping up on the front porch, our visitor set down his new and beautifully grained dark suitcase. He removed his derby hat and held it in his left hand with the peculiar shaped walking cane. We saw that his hair was jet-black and thick, except a circle about half the size of a saucer had apparently been shaved out above his forehead. He was about 30 years of age, smooth shaven, somewhat pale as though staying indoors too much. His rather deep set eyes were black, sharp, but somehow dreamy appearing. He could easily have passed as a minister or undertaker of that period.
Ignoring Grandpap (Samuel S. Boyer) sitting in a rocking chair on the porch and eyeing the stranger suspiciously, he calmly knocked several times on the door. (Yes, all of us several children were sneakily peeping out the windows).
When Mother (Emma Boyer) answered his knock at the door, he first met her gaze firmly for several seconds, then smiled and said soothingly, "Hello, Emma! I don't suppose you recognize me, but I am your Uncle Jacob Swartz's son Mark. So I am your Cousin Mark." He repeated smoothly, in a hypnotic tone of voice, "I am your Cousin Mark!" Then he added, "And you, Cousin Emma, are the daughter of Civil War Veteran Captain Jacob Stump and his wife Margaret Swartz, sister of my father Jacob Swartz. You were born at the Swartz Homestead in Mannsville (Pa.) in 1881. I was born on a farm near there in 1882."
Although Mother could not easily be deceived, "Cousin Mark's" uncanny ability to name her relatives including her grandparents, Daniel and Sophia Swartz, seemed to prove that he was indeed her cousin. He was invited into the living-room (parlor) and introduced to the children, who had overheard every bit of previous conversation. "Cousin Mark" said he would like to visit for a few days, so he was shown to a private bedroom at the head of the front entrance hallway and beautiful staircase. Outside entrance to the hall was from a door and small porch located on the front corner of the house, but on the side facing Rumbaugh's barn previously mentioned.
Mother and Sister Alice (later Mrs. Howard Swartz) prepared a hearty dinner, which included several freshly killed fryers. So far, Mother was really delighted with "Cousin Mark's" visit, for she was an ardent genealogist and loved to discuss family history. (Recently uncovered records in Cumberland County Court House have proven Mother correct, even to the most minute details, about her Byers-Swartz-Livingston-Carpenter ancestors. Perry County did not separate from Cumberland County until 1820).
After dinner our visitor seemed to become quite restless, and his quick darting eyes took in every detail of our house. "Cousin Mark" often peered out the windows as though expecting someone, which soon aroused our suspicions. While some of the children spied on him sneakily trying on Grandpap's best suit and fine black hat, Russel and I sneaked up the back stairs and peeked into "Cousin Mark's" suitcase. It was empty, containing not even a pair of socks!
Grandpap Boyer was furious when our visitor borrowed his shaving equipment without asking. Even our father, S. Edgar Boyer (we all called him "Pappy") would never think of borrowing Grandpap's straight-bladed razor or brush. Later, we saw "Cousin Mark" posing before the full length mirror in the hallway; then as we continued to watch unobserved, he began making rapier-like thrusts with his cane at Grandpap's coat hanging on the hall clothes rack. It was quite obviously a sword-cane and had a latch near the handle, but the blade was not exposed when we spied on our imposter.
When Pappy came home about 4 p. m. from work at the Sulphur Springs Oil Plant, he was greeted warmly by "Cousin Mark" who said, "Hello, Ed! I have not seen you since I met you at Aunt Margaret's (Margaret Swartz Stump) before you married Cousin Emma. You are really looking fine! "
Pappy smiled and shook hands, then all the family was seated in the parlor. Pappy very skillfully questioned "Cousin Mark" but he had the perfect answer to every question. From Pappy's half closed eyes we could tell that he was in deep thought about something, perhaps the stranger's manner of answering in a very peculiar hypnotic tone of voice. From his well groomed appearance and polished manners, "Cousin Mark" had been probably either a stage magician or hypnotist, or even both.
However, few people could match wits with Pappy and win, for he had a brilliant mind, loads of experience, and was well educated. Besides, he was an old hand at trading horses and knew many professional stage tricks. It was a real treat to us children to hear Pappy asking probing questions without divulging his suspicions, and to hear "Cousin Mark" parry the questions in that intriguing tone of voice that he used in answering.
Finally, about 5 p.m. or shortly thereafter, "Cousin Mark" excused himself and went to the outside toilet after first looking up and down the road. While he was outside, Pappy said to Mother, "Emma, that man is a fake and I don't know what he is up to doing here. I never met him at your Mother's home as he claims. And if I recall correctly, your Uncle Jacob Swartz never had a son named Mark. If so, he died young like your three brothers buried at Mannsville." He added, "Watch me get rid of that rascal!"
When "Cousin Mark" returned, Pappy said very casually, "There was an inquiry to "Red" Bryant, the telegrapher at the Oil Plant, from the state police if any of us had seen a stranger around in this area. He is wanted for something, but I didn't get the details." Pappy then changed the subject and waited for expected reaction from our pretended relative.
Apparently too agitated to read Pappy's mind, as he had Mother's, "Cousin Mark" rushed upstairs to his assigned bedroom and hastily returned with his suitcase, derby hat and cane. He blurted out, "I just remembered that I am due at the home of Cousin Lucy Asper at Pinegrove tonight (Mother's older sister). Goodbye now!'
Leaving our house at a rapid pace, he headed towards Newport. About a mile up the road he stopped at the Charles Raub farm, pretending to be a relative of Mrs. Raub (Teresa Myers). Some of the Myers family present thwarted his pretensions. He did not visit Aunt Lucy Asper's home as we learned later. We never saw "Cousin Mark" again, but news about him reaching us a few days later was shocking.
A Harrisburg newspaper told of criminally insane person escaping from the State Hospital there. The public was warned to be on the alert as he was regarded as potentially dangerous. This description of the escapee fitted "Cousin Mark", but how he obtained the new suit and other possessions is unknown. Later it was reported he was captured near Williamsport and returned to the insane institution.
Our relief over the capture of "Cousin Mark" was short lived, for Grandpa Boyer became suddenly very ill and refused all food. Dr. McKenzie examined Grandpap but could find nothing abnormal. It appeared he would waste away and die shortly. Although reluctant to believe God would permit evil spirits to take over human personality, we were forced to believe the visiting lunatic had implanted destructive thoughts in Grandpap's subconscious mind. Accordingly, "Cousin Marl" was a demoniac!
Hearing of Grandpap's illness, Mother's sisters Aunt Kate Campbell and Aunt Dora Johnson, along with a beautiful golden-red haired Mrs. Pea, came from the Aqueduct to visit him. They brought huge baskets of fruits and other delicacies. Then with Mother joining them in prayer to break the spell, Grandpap made a remarkable recovery. After the visitors departed, he called all of us into his bedroom to share the baskets of goodies. Grandpap shook his head and told us, "Ach! I knew-Dhat fellow vas a dangerous humbug. He had der evil eye!" He was right; for other strange troubles of Supernatural origin soon followed the visit of "Cousin Mark"—the demoniac.
(to be continued)
Duncannon Record, Thursday, October 10, 1974
Visit from a demon
by Sam Boyer
An appalling aftermath of the lunatic's visit to our home at Kings Mill (Pa), in early June of 1912, proved beyond a doubt that he was Demon possessed. Strange and incredible events began happening to various members of our family, several of these incidents bordering on the brink of death for those involved.
Shortly after Grandpap Boyer's miraculous recovery from the strange illness that threatened to take his life, another weird incident occurred which reminded us that although "Cousin Mark" - the Demoniac, had departed, the Powers of Darkness were still active in our midst. Near the last of June, a group of neighborhood boys including brothers Herman and Russel were enjoying a swim in the Juniata Creek, all naked, at "the deep hole" located about fifty feet below the stone-arch bridge at Kings Mill. My six year old brother John and I, then eight, were fully clothed as we were not allowed in the twelve-to-fifteen foot-deep swimming hole.
All of the group, ten or twelve teen-age boys, were standing up on top of the bank laughing and talking, while John and I stood alone several feet above the diving place. Suddenly John, unnoticed by any of the others, made a run and dived into "the deep hole" leaving me paralyzed with fright. He sank out of sight quietly.
I saw him rise to the top of the water and go down two times slowly. I tried to shout a warning to the others, but I could neither speak nor holler. Running to Charley Peters standing with the group, I punched him in the ribs and pointed to John, who had risen a third time to the water top. Charley Peters ran and made a fast dive into the treacherous water hole, and brought John to the surface on first attempt. Out on the grassy bank, he was soon revived although dazed.
Later when John was questioned about the strange happening, he could give no reason for his action that nearly cost his life. He merely repeated several times that he was compelled by something unseen to dive into the deep water. Apparently one or more of the Demons that possessed "Cousin Mark" elected to remain in the vicinity of our home after his hurried departure, where they could torment members of our family. (For instance refer to Holy Bible, Mark 5:9, where Jesus asked of the Demons tormenting the two men of Gadara, "What is your name?" The chief Demon answered through one of the men, "Our name is Legion, because we are many.").
Although scoffers may laugh at my allegations about Demon possession (I once did, too) yet Satan and his Demoniac followers never give up their efforts to harm and beguile, humanity. Accordingly, about two weeks after the near drowning incident, wheat was being cut by a binder in the twenty acre field around and above our house. Brothers Herman and Russel were stacking the sheaves discharged by the binder, driven by Charles and George Rumbaugh, Sam Rumbaugh's nephews. Charley Peters was instructing Ike Peters and me on how to gather and stack the wheat bundles. I received ten cents daily for my work, glad for the opportunity to earn money, as work was honorable in those days. No Government hand-outs existed, which would have been a disgrace to receive.
Charles was not a large man, but was strong physically and a devout Christian. As the bull rushed him the first time, he side-stepped while turning to face it. Grabbing up a good sized tree stump laying nearby, he met the bull on its second charge with a terrific wallop between the eyes, although Charlie narrowly missed being gored in the stomach. The enraged animal backed off and made several more attempts to gore him, but using the stump as a hammer and two projecting roots as handles, the bull was whipped into submission and ran off to join the other cattle in the barnyard. The fight was a display of manly Christian courage pitted against brute Demon Power, as I prefer to call it. The bull didn't bother any of us afterwards.
Space does not permit me to relate all of the evil incidents that occurred in our neighborhood within a few months time. However, from my notes written years ago, the next event involved two teenage boys, one my brother Herman Boyer and the other Raymond Sterner, who was staying with his Grandparents, the Sol Peters family, who lived close by in a house later owned and occupied by Saline Krick and her husband.
The two boys became involved in a heated argument, and put on light weight boxing gloves to settle their differences. The fight drew perhaps thirty or more spectators. It was a bloody battle as Herman and Raymond tried to annihilate each other. After Raymond's nose was apparently broken, the battle was stopped by some older persons present. Normally, the two boys were good friends, but the evil influence causing the fight remains a mystery. (Recently Herman expressed his extreme regret to me that the hassle ever took place).
The next event occurred about the first week in September, 1912, when I was returning home from the Sulphur Springs school. I was met near Snyder's Boat Landing by a neighborhood boy about my age of 8 years. He started calling me all kinds of vulgar names, and followed me to near Sam Rumbaugh's Mill. When I resisted, he hit me above the left ear with a large stone.
I was knocked to the ground, and then staggering to my feet, found something wet running down my back to my heels. It was blood. The sharp stone had cut through the heavy cap I was wearing. Weak from the loss of blood, I walked with brother Russel to Dr. McKenzie's Office in Duncannon where my scalp was mended, then walked the two miles back home at Kings Hill. Demon Power had scored again!
Then about the middle of September, 1912, a group of us on the way home from Sulphur Springs School were surprised to see Pappy Boyer, with his fists clenched, chasing the Oil Plant superintendant around the coal house. Pappy had a mean look on his face and meant business, but the wiry plant official was running like mad and escaped injury. We all wondered what the ruckus was about. (Our good friend, Earl G. Thompson, was not Superintendant at that time).
When Pappy Boyer came home that evening, sick and disgusted, he sadly informed us that his job was given to a farmer to whom it had allegedly been previously promised as soon as his farm work was finished that fall. Pappy Boyer had worked on the steam boilers all spring and summer during the hot weather, so he had a very justifiable grievance. After the first outburst, he accepted the embarrassing decision quietly, although badly hurt inside. It was an incident that he never forgot.
We were in the process of securing a loan at The Duncannon National Bank, but without a job, the request was turned down. Pappy had planned to purchase the farm of Hokey Owens about a mile above us (later the L. G. Myers Farm), and we had our livestock already bought and at the farm. We had cultivated the farm that year, so Pappy losing his job was a terrible blow to us. All of our many troubles had started with the Demoniac's visit to us in early June of that year, and apparently Satan's followers were working overtime to harass our family.
Pappy now had nine children to support and the tenth was expected about March of 1913. To go back to his old job as Puddler in the Duncannon Iron Mill was repulsive to him because of the explosion that claimed the lives of some of his friends about 1907 or 1908 (there are conflicting reports about that date that my inquiries have not resolved). Too, the Iron Mill was operating only intermittently at that time, prior to World War I. So Pappy Boyer and brother Herman took a contract of rebuilding the barbwire fences around Charlie Raub's large farm. It helped buy supplies until other arrangements could be made about employment. Of course, Grandpap Boyer always contributed generously from his modest P. R. R. Retirement check.
About the first of October, 1912, we observed a very stylish rubber-tired carriage, drawn by two fine horses, pull up by our mailbox at the hitching post back of the tiny "P. C." railroad station in front of our house. The carriage (or buggy) was of the closed type used by most Mennonites. Two men alighted and tied the lead horse to the post.
When they started up our walk, we were completely mystified by their attire. Evidently they were some kind of priests or ministers, but unknown to us. Both were attired in Prince Albert type coats, black derby hats, dark shoes and ties, with white shirts and stiff collars. The taller of the two wore black gloves, and carried a large Bible in his hands in front of him. The shorter man carried a smaller Bible and some papers.
They removed their hats and knocked on the door. The tall man was smooth shaven, wore "nose pincher" glasses with a small gold chain attached to his lapel. He was about fifty-five years of age, and quite gray-haired. The shorter man was average height, had dark hair and wore a huge handle-bar moustache, and was slightly bald in front. Mother, quite composed as usual, smilingly opened the door and greeted the unorthodox visitors. We wondered what was going to happen this time.
They introduced themselves as Ministers of the Gospel, and the tallest had title of Bishop. My notes do not state what denomination, but simply one was from Newport parish. Invited inside the house, they very gently informed us that they had heard of the weird set of events plaguing us since moving to Kings Mill, and wanted all of the family to join in Prayer and Communion, preparing for the Rites of Deliverance.
We all had to get down on our knees at chairs and elsewhere, and I believe that those two Ministers, or Priests, prayed at least four hours. I was worn out from continuous kneeling, but dared not arise. Some of the words used were over my head, but our home and all of us were Exorcised of the evil influences that seemed to have taken possession of our affairs. In conclusion, we were all admonished to obey GOD, attend some Church regularly, and to make an Offering even though it was no more than five cents weekly. We were free of Demoniac influences after their visit.
Duncannon Record, Thursday, December 5, 1974
As ghost story is told
Historic sites revisited
By Sam Boyer
In the spring of 1914, when we moved from Kings Mill to Little Boston (Pa.), a small village across Shermans Creek from Lower Duncannon, we were introduced to a weird ghost story that was irretrievably interwoven with the area's past history. Mute evidence of destruction by fire, floods, and steam boiler explosion still existed there. The story was that phantom wooden blocks, jet black and shaped like wooden moulding forms for furnace doors, would dash out of old Duncannon Iron Mill ruins at night and harass passersby by dancing and prancing around them This was at the scene of a boiler explosion in 1906, in which one man was killed, one died a few days later, and several were injured (A special "thank you" to Clyde E Cook for an excellent letter recently received giving long sought details and date of the explosion.)
In addition to the fatal boiler explosion, there were several other tragic events that could have contributed to the unexplained appearance of the phantom blocks, said to include three at times. Accordingly, I shall review a bit of Lower Duncannon history as told to me by Grandfather Samuel S. Boyer, whom we all called "Grandpap" in our family (Grandpap Boyer was Pennsylvania Dutch, spoke both the "High German" and the Pennsylvania "Dutch Dialect"; he transposed "V" and "W" in his ordinary speech like most Dutchmen.
About the middle of July in 1914, Grandpap said to me, "Little Sammy, vender Good Lord calls me, I must go. But some business matters must be taken care of first. I vant you to koom mitt me now vhile I make mein vill (will) up at Heckendorn's at der Grist Mill."
Dressed in his best suit, salt-and-pepper color, and wearing his fine black hat, Grandpap got his dress walking cane and said. "Kommen mitt me now, mein namesake, ve vill valk up town." Leaving our home in the middle of Little Boston, we walked the Dusty Highway to Shermans Creek bridge. About two-hundred feet above the bridge on Boston side, lay ruins of the Stave Mill that made staves for nail kegs assembled in the old Cooper Shop further upstream, and used in the Nail Factory. The Stave Mill burned in 1894, throwing perhaps twenty people out of work, as it was never rebuilt. It was tragic because jobs were scarce at that time.
Nearing the middle of the wooden-plank floored steel bridge, Grandpap pointed downstream a few hundred feet to where one span of the old railroad trestle still remained on the abutment and on one midstream pier. Two spans had been swept away in the June Flood of 1889, taking with it the railroad engine and crew. Some engine parts were still projecting above the mud below the cut-stone pier, which had escaped damage. Grandpap, who was special watchman for the railroad for 38 years before retiring, said, "I vrned tdhat engineer not to cross dhat trestle because of danger, but he said he would back der train safely across first. He almost made it, but when der engine reached midstream it vent mitt a terrible roar. Dhose poor fellows—both vere drowned."
On the upstream side of the bridge could be seen deep water above the shoals. Floods had washed away dams built to supply water power for first the old forge, then the old Duncannon Iron Mill and Nail Factory built about 1839. Remains of wooden pilings could be seen along the creek bank, part of the dam that was destroyed by a flood in 1860 and never replaced. The Iron Mill and Nail Factory then converted to steam power, using waste heat from furnaces to supply steam boiler energy.
Arriving at the end of the bridge nearest Lower Duncannon, Grandpap began chuckling, then pointed to a mud flat below the bridge abutment, saying "In dhat mudflat, at der start of Civil War, iss vhere I broke-in a big black stallion for Colonel Vooster (John Wister, President of Duncannon Iron Company). Der fine hoss vas vild, but I vore him out in der mud, vhere he couldn't buck and pitch much," He added, "Colonel Vooster rode dhat hoss throughout der Civil War. He also owned dhat fine farm and mansion in der Cove dhat we call der Smith Farm. I vorked for Colonel Vooster until 1865, vhen I started working for der Pennsylvania Railroad." (Grandfather Boyer was then 76 years of age and needed a cane for walking).
Perhaps two-hundred feet beyond Shermans Creek bridge, we arrived at a spot in the black cinder-dust covered road adjacent to the corner of the Old Duncannon Iron Mill. Grandpap stopped and his face took on a grim look, while he muttered, "Dhem dirty Rebels—here iss vhere dhey butchered Sam Musgrove's three fine hunting dogs." He waved his cane as though he still wanted to give the Confederate soldiers a thorough thrashing.
At the time of the brutal slaughter of the dogs, about 1863, Grandpap and his close friend, Sam Musgrove, were working for John Witster and were rooming in the Wister Mansion, the Mansion was located about three-hundred feet ahead of us on our right, directly across the street from the old Nail Factory, so Grandpap stopped and described the incident to me. He said that Sam Musgrove was a giant, standing about 6’ -6" in his stocking feet, while Grandfather was only about 6 feet tall and usually weighed about 180 pounds.
From their room in the Wister Mansion, they observed a group of Rebels, some mounted on horses and others on foot, coming down through Lower Duncannon past the Wister Mansion. Musgrove's three hunting dogs ran out in the road and began barking at them, but were brutally bayoneted on the spot. Sam Musgrove grabbed his scatter-gun, used for hunting ducks, and attempted to shoot through a window at the Confederates. Grandpap grabbed Musgrove and wrestled him and the gun to the floor. This saved both of their lives, for a hail of bullets came through the window, covering both men with shattered glass. The group of Confederate soldiers then crossed Shermans Creek into Little Boston, and headed up the mountain road towards Carlisle. They were said to be both scouting and foraging for supplies. This was about the time of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Grandpap and I continued walking slowly for another fifty feet, which put us directly in front of a large opening in the ruins of the Old Duncannon Iron Mill. Stopping and facing the opening from the middle of the road, and tapping a chosen spot with his prize cane, he said, "Here iss der exact spot vhere Sam Musgrove killed der town bully. Too badd, but mein friend Musgrove hadd to protect himself."
It was told that a former prize-fighter and bully, an English millwright that worked at the Old Duncannon Iron Mill, kept trying to pick a fight with Musgrove so that he could have the reputation of whipping the largest man in town. However, Sam Musgrove always begged
off by saying that he was not a fighting man. Not satisfied to leave the quiet Musgrove alone, the millright walked out of the mill and again challenged him as he walked down the road, breaking in a new pair of shoes.
Musgrove again declined to fight, so the English bully spat tobacco juice on his new shoes. When he did, Sam Musgrove struck him a mighty blow between the eyes and kicked him at the same time in the stomach. It was told that the English bully was dead by the time he hit the ground. Grandpap said, "Der Judge let him off free, but bonded him to never hit or kick any man again."
We were now standing in the middle of the road, and in front of where the Old Duncannon Iron Mill exploded in 1906, killing one man instantly, another died a few days later, and several were injured. The end of the mill facing Shermans Creek was still in ruins at that time, with part of the roof and supports blown away. The brickwork for most furnaces was still partly in place, but remains of all steam boilers had been removed. Parts of machinery lay everywhere about in the old mill. Yet this was only part of several accidents on or near this particular stretch of road. Another explosion had occurred there in 1894, seriously injuring two men. All of the foregoing tragic happenings were in the immediate area where the so called "Dancing wooden blocks" were purportedly seen by frightened passersby at night. We continued our slow walk to the Grist Mill, and as we passed the Nail Factory on our left, Grandpap said, "Sam Rumbaugh, of Kings Mill, vas foreman of dhat old Nail Factory for quite a few years."
His reminiscence continued as we walked past the old Iron Mill Store, almost directly across the street from Wister Mansion Annex (or wing), then past the Duncannon Iron Mill Office. Huge maple trees along the sidewalk had tilted some of the large stones used for pavement, so we had to walk carefully to prevent Grandpap from tripping. We crossed the broad dirt highway in front of the Witherow Mansion to the Grist Mill. After waiting outside of the office while Grandpap made out his will, we returned home after about two hours. I was taught more about Lower Duncannon history on our way to Little Boston. (From which I made notes years ago).
During our walk, the story was again told of how my father, S. Edgar Boyer, was probably saved from serious injury or death at the time of the fatal explosion. In 1906 we were living on the "Bill Willis Farm" near the Aqueduct, but "Pappy" was working in the old Duncannon Iron Mill, close to the furnace that exploded. When he was preparing for work that morning, Mother Emma Boyer begged him not to do so, for the night before she had a dream of a fatal explosion there. "Pappy" Boyer very reluctantly complied with Mother's pleading, and by staying at home probably saved his life.
Although our family had many other incredible encounters with the Supernatural, yet none of us had seen the "Dancing Wooden Block" until about September, 1914, about two months after my trip to the Grist Mill with Grandpap.
Then one Sunday night, brother Russel, sister Selina, and I attended services at the Bethel Church of God on Sandy Hill. On returning home about 9:30 p.m. on very dark night, we walked through Lower Duncannon where only two or three very dim street lights were burning. The last light passed just before reaching the Duncannon Iron Mill Store.
From there we went about 150 feet before reaching the corner of the Mill where the Nail Factory was located, on our right, as we returned home. The Wister Mansion was heavily shaded by huge hedge apple trees along that side of street on our left. We walked down the incline in the road perhaps 300 more feet which brought us even with the large opening in the side of the old Duncannon Iron Mill, where Sam Musgrove had kill the town bully, and about where his dogs had been bayoneted by Confederate soldiers, it was also the sight of the fatal furnace explosion of 1906. But the three of us were walking along unhurriedly, discussing the prayer meeting at Bethel Church, and not thinking of ghosts or apparitions.
Suddenly something black came darting out of the old Iron Mill on my right, from where the exploded furnace had stood. It ran in a half-circle and came up back of me as though to jump up like a dog. I let out a terrified scream, then yelled, "Get the Hell away from me, you black s-, o- b-.” At the same time I made a vicious kick at the black object, but my foot just seemed to pass right through the thing's body without resistance. It was a phantom! (Yes, I was the "big cusser" in our family, but the Good Lord finally bridled my unruly tongue).
The black phantom that harassed me ran back into the old mill real fast, but about that time brother Russell yelled. “There’s a black thing on my left beside me. It's running along with me!” Russell had grabbed Selina's left hand, and I grabbed her right hand as we started running madly for home.
We ran about two-hundred feet to Shermans Creek bridge and started across. Here we could see much better because of light reflected by the water. To our amazement, running about ten feet ahead of and to our left on the bridge was what appeared to be a black wooden block, but it had no head nor tail. It seemed to dance, then skip and hop along, but made no effort to molest us. We tried to run a little faster!
The thing disappeared about the middle of the bridge, but we kept running and almost tore our front gate and door down getting into the house. We fell on the floor of our living room, completely exhausted from running but perhaps mostly from fright. We then knew that the "Phantom wooden blocks that danced" were a fact— not fiction. They were not "flesh and blood" nor were they composed of any material thing like wood or metal. They did resemble the extremely light wooden moulding forms, painted black with lamp black or graphite, that as children we played with in the sand-casting room of the old foundry, located adjacent to where the explosion took place in the Old Duncannon Iron Mill, and where other tragic events occurred.
Duncannon Record, Thursday, March 4, 1975
The Gory Ghost of Mahanoy Valley Part 1
By Sam Boyer
In the spring of 1906. we moved from the old Bill Willis farm near Losh's Run to a farm in Mahanoy Valley located about a mile below Pinegrove on the dirt road towards Losh's Run. It had about 30 acres cultivated land and about 50 acres in good timberland. We purchased the farm completely equipped with both machinery and livestock, even including chickens and ducks, and a large quantity of feed-stuff. We should have suspected something wrong there, because of the ridiculously low purchase price which included a fine old log-house and ample-sized barn. However, so many strange happenings had harassed our family in the past, that we looked upon the recently acquired Mahanoy Valley farm as a new found Paradise. We did not know that the old log house was haunted and that the farm was apparently the stomping ground of evil, discarnate forces.
Some of the strange happenings that had previously bothered our family were as follows. Due to unfavorable business conditions, and also reduced income after retiring from the Penn Railroad in 1903, Grandfather "Grandpap" Samuel S Boyer sold his large home saddle shop, and blacksmith shop at Clark's Run in Upper Duncannon, then he and Grandmother Boyer came to live with us and help run the Willis farm.
But when the old Duncannon Iron Mill had the explosion in 1906 our father, Pappy' S. Edgar Boyer, was again without a job. To help supplement the small farm income in supporting our growing family of seven children, Pappy Boyer got a job on the Penn Railroad, and worked with the track maintenance crew at Losh's Run. On the job only a few months, and while helping replace a crosstie, he was accidently struck in the back with a pick and severely injured. The inexperienced worker ahead had swung his pick too far back overhead, which struck Pappy between the shoulder blades as he was leaning forward. Unable to work for several months, he lost that job, too. Demonic forces were surely working overtime against us, it seemed.
So Grandpap Boyer decided it was time to move again, but this time to a more stable home. Accordingly, he and Pappy pooled their resources and purchased the Mahanoy Valley farm. It was located directly across the highway from Grant Baker's farm, and adjoined the John Baker farm, which was on the Losh's Run side of us. A widow, Mrs. Holmes owned a small farm on the Pine Grove side. In "the Valley" we had many wonderful friends and neighbors.
The farm house into which we moved was located on a small plateau about 900 feet from the dirt highway, which it faced. The barn was about 200 feet to the right and also faced the road. A lane led across a small stream to the road, and back of the barn, extended all the way up to the mountain top in the rear of the property. We later used the lane and mountain road extensively in logging paper-wood and hauling bark to the, tanneries at Newport. Besides farming, we soon had a nice business in timber products going for us. Ulney Kretzinger, who bought Grandpap's home in Duncannon, did the log hauling for us with his heavy-wheeled wagons and draft horses. He and his teamster lived at our farm during work days only.
The old log-house was probably built before the 18th century, for it was constructed of hand-hewn logs, then chunked and-daubed with wood chips and mortar as in Colonial times. The interior was broad tongue-and-groove chestnut wall boards. The floors were tongue-and-groove yellow pine. Ceilings were exposed beam, except where boarded over and wall papered. The summer kitchen in back of the house was entirely rustic in design, that is, left rough finished with exposed framework.
The front door, with wrought iron latch, led into a short hallway, with kitchen and dining-room directly ahead. Left of the entrance hall was a generous sized room used by Grandpap and Grandmother (Muzzy) Boyer as a bed-room. In rear of their room was a chestnut paneled living room, which had double windows giving a splendid view of the pale-fenced garden and 200 foot distant barn, and of course, the upper dirt highway with rolling wooded hills beyond.
To the right of the front door, upon entering, was a door opening outward from a winding staircase to the second floor. A small landing was at the head of the stairs, having a window that gave a view of Mahanoy Valley toward the John Baker and adjacent Oliver Byrd farms on the Losh's Run side.
From the landing a door led into two bedrooms that spanned all back of the house, and whose windows exposed the view of ore-mine pocked Mahanoy Mountain on the back of our farm. However, the ore holes had long been abandoned, perhaps for reasons that will be exposed later. (Both the house and barn were razed years ago).
To the left of the upstairs landing was a door that led into a long bed-room spanning the entire front width of the old log house. Two wide windows in this spacious room faced the front yard and the 300 foot distant dirt highway, or road, that paralleled the farm front. A small stream (we called it "The Run") ran parallel with the road, but about 100 feet on our side of the right-of-way. We later made a small dam in the stream next to the John Baker line for swimming.
One beautiful sun-shiny day in the spring of 1909, I lay sick of a sore throat and cold on a bed in the front upstairs bedroom, but at the opposite end from the entrance and the attic door. Some time before noon, Sister Alice (later Mrs. Howard Swartz) brought me a glass of saltwater to gargle my throat. She later brought some sweetened coffee, but I refused her offer of food because of difficulty in swallowing. Before leaving the bedroom, Sister Alice said very kindly, "Now Sammy, just call if you need me. But I’ll come back after dinner "
After Sister Alice had gone downstairs and I was alone, I took the pillow and bed blankets to make a pallet near the stove pipe where it arose through the floor and entered the chimney above head height, thereby warming the room. The sun was shining brightly through the front windows, bit I moved closer to the heat because of a chilly feeling that would not let me sleep.
Shortly afterward, the attic door latch lifted and the door softly swung wide open by an unseen force. Almost immediately a sickening odor seemingly from putrefying body of some kind swept into the room. The stench was so strong that I actually gagged. But I kept my eyes glued apprehensively to the attic stairway. Psychically, I sensed that something of a supernatural nature was happening. Then with horror I saw a hideous form about the size of a man drifting into the room from the attic stairway. It seemed to float all the way across to the bedside, in an upright position, barely skimming the floor. In broad daylight, with the window shades full open , the horrible object turned and faced me. It was covered from the top of its head to bottom of its feet with a white, filmy sheet that had great splotches of red blood appearing on it somewhat resembling a quilted bedspread.
Neither the face, hands, feet nor body were visible because of the filmy white blood-splotched covering. Blood splotches appeared where eyes nose and mouth should have been. The apparition came to a stop about five feet from me. I was paralyzed with fright. After staring spellbound for a few minutes, I began screaming hysterically and pulled the blanket over my head to shut out the gory sight. The THING was between me and the door so I could not escape.
Both Mother and Alice came running in answer to my screams of terror and when they entered the room Mother exclaimed Phew' "What is that awful odor in here." She addedm "It 's horrible, like from someone dead and decayed. Alice, tend to Sammy while I prop these windows wide open." Mother slammed the attic door shut before propping both windows open with window sticks in use at that time. Although the attic door was standing wide open when Mother and Sister Alice came into the bedroom the ghastly apparition had disappeared before their arrival. But I could not regain enough composure to tell about the cause of my fright, and was taken downstairs. After being consoled by a stick of candy taken from a pound sack of Arbuckles Coffee, I blurted out the story of my encounter with the Gory Ghost. I was only five years old at that time.
Our family was seated around our large dining room table that noon and I was trying to tell what actually happened upstairs to frighten me. I had told it several times, I guess, upon repeated questioning by the family. Suddenly a loud banging noise was heard coming from the upstairs bedroom where I had been confined with illness as described. Pappy, lithe and active as a cat (that is why the Duncannon Iron Mill workers nicknamed him Stiffy), went dashing upstairs to investigate.
Upin his return to the table Pappy said to us with a puzzled look on his face, "I found the attic door wide open and the window next to it shut. The window stick was lying out on the bedroom floor. I don't know how it got there. It must have been the window slamming that made the noise we heard before I went upstairs. I checked all the smoked meat (hams and shoulders) hanging on the attic rafters, but none of them had fallen. I found none of then spoiled or smelling bad either."
After we had finished eating, (I ate a few bites), Pappy took some burning coals from the wood stove and placed them in the ash scuttle, he carried the live coals and a jar of sulphur to the front upstairs bedroom, where he burned a tablespoonful of sulphur “to help purify the air,” he said. He sprinkled pulverized gum asophaedia on the logs inside the attic door "to ward off bad spirits.”
Following the appalling event of the Gory Ghost, I never would sleep in the front upstairs bedroom again, but usually slept with my grandparents in the downstairs bedroom adjacent to the front door. With them I had a sense of security from harm because of Grandpap's morning and evening prayers. Too, his pow wows instilled in me a deep sense of divine protection against evil happenings. But for some reason unknown to us, demonic harassment continued for several more years.
End Part I -To be Continued
Duncannon Record, Thursday, March 20, 1975
The Gory Ghost of Mahanoy Valley Part 2
By Sam Boyer
The last line of Part 1 of The Gory Ghost stated, “For some reason unknown to us (our Boyer family), demonic harassment continued for several more years " Our encounters with ghosts, demoniacs, apparitions, even witches and other evil supernatural phenomena was merely evidence of oppression and harassment, and not demonic obsession or demonic possession so prevalent in the world today. At the time of the encounters with the Gory Ghost and other malevolent forces, we were reluctant to discuss these experiences with others for fear that we would be considered ignorant and superstitious, or perhaps "off our rockers "
However, there seems to be such a tremendous interest in the world of today in occult matters, some of it extremely unhealthy mentally, physically and spiritually, that I have no further reluctance in exposing the many weird things experienced by our family in the past. None of the stories written by me will ever be a "how to" in the occult realm, except in dealing with exorcism where the true curative power must come to the exorcist from The Living God. (A word of caution here exorcism can be extremely dangerous business-best leave it to professionals).
After my encounter with the Gory Ghost, our large family relied heavily upon Grandpap Boyer s prayers, and especially upon his pow wow's, for protection. We believed Pennsylvania Dutch pow wow to be special miracle working power sent from God, to those of faith who knew how to use it, for protection and healing in case of illness, and to protect livestock, personal possessions, and crops.
We, like many other Dutch families, also regarded "hex" as satanic power used by practioners of black art or witchcraft to put harmful "spells" on innocent people or enemies, animals, crops, and on most any object animate or inanimate. We believed properly invoked pow-wow to be a kind of divine faith healing that could overcome any kind of "hex spell" regardless of its potency, or could heal sickness and injury. But we also believed in proper medical attention when needed.
Accordingly, I persistently begged of Grandfather Boyer, "Grandpap, pow wow that bloody old ghost out of our upstairs, because I am scared of it. Won't you do it for me, Grandpap?'' Won't you do it for me, Grandpap?"
After some deliberation, Grandpap slowly replied, "Ve shall see, as der blind man sez." By this he promised to take action at the appropriate time, but he also meant for me to stop pestering him about the matter. I recognized the implied solemn promise, so let the matter rest for awhile. I greatly feared to be alone in that front-upstairs bedroom, but knew that Grandpap would chase it away (exorcise) in due time.
Grandpap Boyer was typically Pennsylvania Dutch, inheriting all of their staunchness of character. While he clung to old religious precepts and beliefs of his sect (United Brethren in Christ), yet he never adopted the picturesque clothes of the "Plain People" or "Brethren". He did have very high regard for Amish and Mennonites, Pennsylvania's unique and loyal citizens.
Grandfather simply adored our Grandmother Boyer (Selina Jane Milligan), whom we all called "Muzzy", a pet name from the German "Mudder" meaning Mother. She was mostly Irish, and born on the western frontier which later became Iowa, she was the granddaughter of a wealthy Indian princess, who married into the Harrison family that founded Harrisonville, Kentucky. Grandmother Muzzy" was well educated, and taught at Galesburg Women's Seminary before coming east as a public school teacher. Grandpap met her in Duncannon and married Muzzy at Port Royal, in 1872. Their son, our father, S. Edgar Boyer, was born in Duncannon in 1874. Grandmother Muzzy " had taught the German language in school, and naturally, our father Pappy" was also fluent in German. (Pappy is Dutch for the English word Poppy or Pop).
Grandpap had rather long, gray-black hair, and neatly trimmed moustache and chin-beard, all of which exaggerated his piercing blue-gray eyes. He was about six feet tall, weighed approximately 170 pounds, and never needed nor wore glasses. He had a firm set mouth, lean jaws, but always burst into chuckles at good clean humor. He detested profanity and filthy jokes. He had a decided Dutch accent to his speech, even when making morning and evening prayers. On bended knees upon arising each morning, he would begin. "Der Lord ist mein Shepherd. I shall not vant." (Like most Dutch, he transposed V's and W's in speech.) Often the older children would wait a few minutes after prayer at mealtime, then would say, Grandpap' You have forgotten to pray "
He would apologize, or sometimes merely say. "Ach Veil!" Then would repeat his prayer while we all bowed our heads, much to our delight. However, Mother Boyer did not approve of our pranks of this nature I think, though, that Grandpap was onto our tricks and perhaps liked to go along with our little jokes of the harmless kind. To us children, Grandpap and Muzzy were the greatest!
About a month after I was frightened by the Gory Ghost, and despite our happy home environment, some of the other children became badly upset by the appearance of the blood-splotched ghost in the front upstairs bedroom. Mother then called the family together, and in her calm, melodious voice said, "When I was a little girl about twelve years old, my widowed mother sold the "homestead" at Mannsville and we passed down the road by this old farm when we moved over into Logtown in 1893. It was there that I met and married your Daddy. (Moved first to Newport, then Logtown).
Mother continued, "I remember when we passed by here in a carriage, the old man driving pointed to this old log-house and said to Mother (our Grandmother Swartz), 'I wouldn't live there for any amount of money, because if that old house could talk, what a terrible story it could tell. The place looks nice, but I wouldn't take it as a gift—it's haunted!'"
"He went on to say that ore miners batched in the old log-house sometime near the 1880's. Then while two miners were away hauling ore up winding and treacherous Ore Mine Hill into Newport to market, the two remaining at home became involved in a hot argument at the dinner table. In a rage, one of the miners spat into the other's dinner plate during the dispute."
"The infuriated miner grabbed the butcher knife from the table and made a lunge at the other, but missed. The intended victim ran to the front door, but could not lift the heavy latch quickly enough, so fled upstairs and into the attic stairway hotly pursued by the other miner.
"About midway up the attic steps he was overtaken and stabbed through the back, then several more times as he lay on the steps. The murderer grabbed a sheet from one of the beds and threw it over his victim, and then fled from the farm.
"In the meantime, the two miners that hauled the four-horse load of ore to Newport, stabled the horses in a livery stable and went on a prolonged drunken spree. When they returned finally, buzzards were circling about the old log house. The body of their partner, badly decomposed was found lying on the attic steps covered by a bloody bed sheet.
"The murderer was later caught, and confessed to the entire episode. But he received only a light sentence because of the circumstances surrounding the fight. The slain miner seems to have started the argument.
Mother added. ''How much of the story is true, indeed I can't say. But the dark stains on our attic steps, and the bloody ghost, speak for themselves. Too, all of you know that our mountain back of the house is a regular buzzards roost at times. '' Then Grandpap, who had been listening intently, took charge by saying. "Der poor man's Spirit iss not at rest. But ve vill fix it by pow wow—der Good Lord villing. '' Then to me in precise Deutsch he directed, 'Kommen sie mit mir. Sammy, mein namesake. Ve must go get der vheelbarrow und tools from der shed.'' I went with Grandpap to the wagon shed to get our wooden wheelbarrow, carpenter tools and nails. Tools and nails were then carried in a tote box to the attic stairway entrance.
Standing in the front upstairs bedroom Grandpap opened the attic door wide but did not enter the winding stairway to the attic. Motioning me to be silent, he began pow wowing by first making the "Sign of the Cross" three times with his right forefinger, then in fluent German he began by saying, "Wundervoll Ich Bin. ''
Perhaps realizing that I did not fully understand, he suddenly reverted to precise English with the customery "Dutch accent" (a habit of Grandpap s that often proved hilarious on less formal occasions) and again began pow wowing by saying, ''Wonderful I am, Divine Creator of Heaven and Earth, Great Lord of all visit, bless and protect this house and family. Banish and wipe out the foul deed of darkness that occurred in this room and attic stairway. Put the poor Earth-bound spirit to rest. '' Once again Grandpap made the "Sign of the Cross" three times with his right forefinger towards the attic stairway. That ended the pow-wow. Then he carefully removed three of the blood-stained attic steps, which were taken to the barn floor on the wheel barrow, to be used as patterns for marking out the new triangular shaped replacement steps. After this was done, the old steps were taken to the edge of the woods and covered with dirt under a huge white oak tree. After the step replacement job was completed, Grandpap said, "Now the poor man's spirit is at rest, and will trouble us no more."
Again reverting to his "Dutch accent", Grandpap carefully instructed me (he was teaching me the art of pow wow), "Vhen you vant pow wow to really vork, you must think and feel der wery vords you must use vhen you are using dhem. Dhat iss der secret of goode pow wow."
The troubled spirit, or Gory Ghost, was evidently put to rest for none of us were ever again bothered by it. But other supernatural encounters, of perhaps even more frightening nature, were not long in developing at the old log-house in Mahanoy Valley. (Details of these encounters to be revealed in future stories.)
The Times, New Bloomfield, Pa., Tuesday, August 29, 1879
THE SQUIRE'S GHOST
Darkness was gradually closing over the sedate little village of Edgeville, and night was drawing on apace. The subdued twilight was giving place to gloom deep and opaque; night was settling down over Edgeville and its quaint old church under the hill, on which the bell was now tolling.
Nearby the little church being, in fact, only separated from it by the churchyard, was a small, neat cottage, the dwelling of the sexton, a little, withered old man, who, having been born in the village, and never having made a day's journey away from it, was a sort of pensioner of the village, who considered him a village institution, and withal looked up to him as an oracle.
Adam Hill was town-clerk as well as sexton, and postmaster besides although his postal duties consisted in distributing the half-dozen or so of letters which arrived weekly by the mail-rider. As he could actually pronounce the majority of the polysyllable words scattered through the columns of the newspaper which occasionally strayed into Edgeville from the great outside world, and as he was known to have quoted Latin once in his youth, he was considered a person of boundless sagacity and erudition, and was a prominent man in Edgeville.
While the bell had been tolling, Adam Hill's hale old wife had been composedly knitting, in the demure society of the smoldering fire, the purring cat, and snoring hound curled up on the red brick hearth raising her head ever and anon to glance out of the window across the graveyard to the church where her good man was tolling the bell in memory of 'Squire Lovell, who had departed from Edgeville and this world five years before, at the age of sixty-one. On the anniversary of his death, the church-bell was tolled every year. Why, no one could tell; for, though the 'squire had been rich, he had also been snug, if not miserly, and exacting, as many an unfortunate tenant of ills and he had owned half the village could testify perhaps the reason was that as 'Squire Lovell had been held in awful respect by the simple villagers during life, their veneration for him resulted in keeping his anniversary by tolling the bell as it had been tolled at his funeral five years previously.
There hung a mystery over his death. He lived in the old family mansion on the skirts of the village, and, although known to possess wealth, had lived entirely alone, as he had no relations. True, he had a nephew, Eugene Lovell, a harum-scarum boy of sixteen, who, having rebelled against the authority of his severe and exacting uncle, ran away, and had never since been heard of. This occurred a short time previous to the 'squire's death. The old man, brooding and revengeful by nature, cut his nephew off without a shilling, leaving all of his accumulated wealth to the son of his old nurse. The will was drawn on the 9th of October, 184-, and the next morning the 'squire was found dead in his bed.
Stricken by heart disease, some said; apoplexy, suggested others. But not a few whispers floated about that, as the 'squire had been of robust habit, and on the day of the drawing of the will had been in excellent health, his sudden death was marvelous and suspicious. But no marks of violence were perceived on his person, and the old 'squire was buried, the house was closed up to all saving bats, owls, rats, mice, and spiders, and the fortunate heir obtained possession of his fortune.
But although the 'squire was dead, he was not forgotten. On every anniversary, when Adam Hill tolled the church-bell at sunset, the villagers would think kindly of the stern old 'squire, whom in. life they feared, and speculate on the cause of his death. Each succeeding anniversary augmented the number of those who believed the old man had met with foul play, until finally, on the present one, not a man or woman in the village had a different opinion. But suspicion attached itself to no one, and no attempt was ever made to ascertain the cause of his death. As previously mentioned, the 'squire bequeathed his entire property to the son of his old nurse, Gilbert Ray. Prior to the 'squire's death, "Gill Ray," as he was familiarly called, had been employed by the neighboring farmers in common farm labor. He was a young man of industrious habits, but close-fisted and moody; and, being, morose, vengeful, and averse to the society of his acquaintances, had acquired the name of "Dark Gil," though he was never addressed by this sobriquet, as he possessed a terrible temper, and visited vengeance on those who provoked it.
After the 'squire's death, Dark Gil went out to farm service no more, but shrewdly invested that portion of the inheritance which consisted of money, and employed himself in attending to his tenants.
The tenantry had deemed the 'squire an exacting landlord, but Dark Gil proved far more so. Woe to the unfortunate delinquent, for he showed him no mercy. On rent-day he regularly appeared, and coldly demanded the rent, if it was forthcoming, he received it in silence; if not, no matter how reason, able the excuse advanced by the tenant, it was no avail, for Dark Gil would seize household goods to its equivalent value. He was inexorable, and the villagers' dislike of him increased every rent-day.
It was a subject of occasional comment among the villagers that Dark Gil never visited the mansion-house. Indeed, he seemed to avoid it; for since the 'squire's death he had not visited it, and allowed it to run to decay quietly. The sexton's wife sat knitting until the bell ceased to toll. Soon afterward the door burst open, and in came Adam Hill, excited and trembling, with a look of awe and alarm on his wrinkled face.
"Husband I husband!" cried the goodwife, as Adam sank into the nearest chair.
"Nannette, I've seen the 'squires' ghost!" whispered the old sexton, involuntarily looking over his shoulder in the direction of the church.
"Seen the 'squire's ghost!" gasped his frightened helpmeet.
"Ay! Just as he used to look when he and I were young and rivals for the favor of my Nannette. I was pulling the rope on the last stroke - the sixty-first - when a current of cold air swept over me, and looking up, I saw the 'squire's face (no more), looking as he looked at twenty-one. The blue eyes looked calmly onto mine for barely a moment; then they disappeared, and I left the church -losing no time, I can tell you."
"Lord preserve us! And you are sure you saw his young face?"
And the expression of awed conviction on the old sexton's face left no doubt in his wife's mind.
A pause ensued, during which the old couple looked at the smoldering fire. Then said Nannette:
"What does it mean, Adam?"
"Foul play!" responded old Adam gloomily. "
"Mercy on us!"
"I always thought the 'squire didn't die a natural death, and now I know it!" declared Adam, striking his knee, with his clenched fist. "For why did his young face appear to me but to remind me of the boyish love we bore each other, and for the sake of that love to set wrong right, that an old man might rest easy in his grave? Nannette, the 'squire was always good to me, always - though I did get the lovely Nannette, for whose sake he lived and died a bachelor and now I'll do a good turn for him if I can; and to boot! Get the lantern, Nannette, and my oak stick, and sit here by the fire until I get back - there's a dear girl - for I go to the squire's house tonight."
"Lord preserve us! You surely can't be so mad!" cried Nannette, as Adam rose. "To the 'squire's house! Why, do you know they say it is haunted?"
"I know they say it is haunted, and after what I've seen I know it is! It is haunted by the spirit of an old man who can't sleep easy in his grave because foul play goes unpunished." Then he said sturdily: "Don't be skeered, Nannette; the 'squire's ghost won't harm old Adam Hill, his best friend."
But Nannette clung to him. "Adam! Adam!" she implored; "do not go - don't! You'll never come back again if you do, promise me you won't go."
"No, Nannette," said Adam sturdily,” it is my duty to go, and go I must and will. Don't be afreed, old lady, the 'squire's ghost will never hurt the squire's best friend!"
So saying, Adam bustled about, procured his lantern and oak stick, and, resisting the entreaties of his anxious spouse, set out on his expedition, leaving Nannette by the hearth, shaking like a leaf, with her face buried in her hands. Up the quiet, grass-grown, village street, Adam Hill's lantern bobbed and glimmered, casting fantastic shadows round about, and giving to his moving legs a shadow resembling a piece of machinery.
The squire's house was situated at the other side of the village, at the extremity of a long, wide lane, between two rows of lofty poplars, which threw the lane into dense obscurity. Even in vivid moonlight - and this night was dark and murky - the lane was of inky darkness, and, as it led to the old house. It was avoided by the simple villagers who regarded it with dread. Perhaps for several years no human foot had trodden the lane after darkness had fallen, and the children feared to frolic in its shades, though its attractions to them were manifold.
But Adam Hill, though superstitious and usually as afraid of the ghostly lane as his neighbors, neither looked to the right or left, as, plunging into its obscurity, he strode toward the old house. His eyes were bent upon the luminous spot made on the ground by his lantern, and he was deeply pondering over the cause of the apparition which had alarmed and amazed him so in the church. He finally became abstracted, and was abruptly brought to his senses by a concussion which caused him to look up.
He had run against the crazy old gate which of yore used to exclude the cows of the villagers from the tasteful grounds, but since the squire's death the premises had gone to decay. The fences rotted and fell in many places, leaving great gaps which afforded the village animals ingress to the luxuriant herbage of the lawn. Like the fences, the gate was crazy, and, with a slight push, Adam passed through it, and strode steadily up the graveled walk toward the house.
As he walked along, he could not fail, even in the deep gloom, to observe the decay and desolation that had fallen over the grounds, and to contrast them with their former elegance. The last time he had set foot on the premises was on the day of the 'squire's burial, when house and surroundings were well-known and attractive; and now, as he looked about on the decadence, old Adam felt sad at heart.
He walked up the graveled path, and soon arrived before the house. The mansion was large and rambling, of two stories, with a piazza on the ground floor extending the whole length of the house, and a corresponding one on the floor. Numerous doors and windows opened out on these open piazzas, and in its former days the house was a pleasant one, facing the south, commanding view of pretty Edgeville nestling among its groves, and of a smiling landscape beyond. The roof was square, like the house, slanting gently up to a graceful cupola, which had a window in each side. In this cupola the 'squire had been wont to sit in the dying day, smoking his pipe and reading his book for 'Squire Lovell had been happy in a refined literary taste. Many a time, in passing by, Adam had seen the 'squire's gray head in the window of the cupola; and now, as the remembrance occurred to him, he mechanically raised his eyes to the place.
What was his alarm - ay, terror - at beholding a white face framed in the window! - the face of the 'squire as he had looked when a boy of twenty. The face was plainly visible, albeit the night was dark and the atmosphere thick, and so distinctly did Adam see it that he shuddered under the dark eyes which were steadfastly regarding him with a look of deep significance.
Perhaps the sexton may have had some lurking doubts whether he indeed saw the face in the church. If he had, they were not dissipated; for in the cupola above him where it had formerly been seen was the Squire's boyish face turned steadfastly toward him.
For a moment old Adam was terrified, notwithstanding his natural fearlessness, and the firm belief that the 'squire's ghost would occasion him no evil; for there is something in the apparition of a dead friend which appalls the stoutest heart. But Adam's terror was only momentary. With a strong effort he collected his senses, and regained his courage, as the face slowly faded, became a nebulous blur in the window, and finally disappeared.
Adam looked steadfastly at the window. He now could only determine its locality by distinguishing the white window-casing through the gloom. One keen look satisfied him that the face had disappeared. Then, grasping his oak stick more firmly, he sprang with youthful agility upon the piazza.
"It is a chain! a chain!" he cried "He appeared to me in the church, and again here. Does that mean for me to follow him here? Of course it does and old Adam Hill will follow 'Squire Lovell in death as he did in life!"
With this declaration, the sexton shifted his cudgel to his left hand, and tried the ponderous front door. Adam himself had securely locked the house after the 'squire had been laid in his grave, and he clearly remembered securing this one with bolt and lock. He was confident that no one had entered the house since that time, for the villagers would rather have risked their lives than venture in the grounds after nightfall, and studiously kept aloof in broad daylight; and no pedestrian travelers wandered to Edgeville, for it was remote from the bustling towns of the world. Nevertheless, to his surprise, the door yielded readily to his arm, and swung back with a dismal creaking, an unusual sound, which caused a scampering of rats and mice throughout the hall and the adjoining rooms.
There is no sound so dismal, so creative of awe, so fraught with dread, as a night wind moaning through a deserted house. But Adam Hill strode sturdily down the hall, striving to repress the indefinable fear that was gradually pervading him. He essayed to whistle; although he could whistle like a flageolet his lips refusal to obey. He was well acquainted with the house, and went directly to the broad staircase at the further end of the hall, for he had determined on ascending to the cupola, where he had first seen the face. His foot was on the lower step, when he halted abruptly, and listened, while icy chills traversed his spine, and crept among the roots of his hair.
Was it the night wind that had caused the unearthly sound at the door? Adam looked, and every particle of color forsook his face.
Standing by the door, distinctly visible in the doorway, was the youthful figure of the 'squire, standing with white face turned toward Adam, who shook like a leaf. One arm was extended, pointing to the floor; and old Adam could not refrain from a startled outcry as he remembered on that very spot the 'squire had been last seen alive.
Adam's courage departed, and, sinking on the stairs, he buried his face in his hands. He was stricken with terror. Down the hall came heavy foot-falls, directly toward him. The apparition was approaching him, but he was unable to move even to fly. Terror had paralyzed him.
The footsteps advanced to his side, and a hand was laid upon his shoulder. Adam screamed.
"Fear not," said a calm voice, whose accents he well recognized. "Have you then quailed so soon? Have courage; No harm befalls the innocent but justice shall overtake the guilty. Cast off your terror, for which you have no cause - and follow me."
The calm voice and evident friendliness of the speaker, if not dissipating Adam's terror, so far reassured him that strength returned to his limbs, and, rising, he mechanically followed the apparition, which stalked up the stairs.
Ere they had reached the landing above, Adam became vaguely aware that the apparition was a strange spectre, for his gait resembled that of a living person, and his footfalls equaled his own in heaviness. To Adam, the idea of a ghost was a draped vapor, in the semblance of a mortal, gliding through the air noiselessly, penetrating walls and passing through doors with the greatest facility, and speechless; whereas the 'squire's spirit had spoken, his footfalls sounded heavily on the stairs, and, on arriving at the landing, he was obviously short of breath.
Without even looking to see whether the sexton was following, the spectre stalked up the long "upper-hall," as it was called, and entered an open door at the further extremity of the 'squire's room, Adam saw by the dim light of his lantern. The room was precisely as it had been left after its occupant's burial.
The furniture was disarranged, and the book he had been reading on the evening before his death lay on the stand by his bedside, in company with his half-smoked pipe, tobacco box, the lamp, and match-safe. His slippers, unmolested by mice, lay on the floor by the bed, his dressing-gown was lying across a chair, and the bed itself - mildewed and thickly covered with dust - was disordered precisely as the neighbors had discovered it when they lifted the 'squire from it to lay him in his shroud. A monstrous rat leaped from under the bed, and ran across the room, passing between him and his ghostly companion. The incident was trial, but it sent Adam's heart throbbing in his throat. A bat flitted about the room, and his knees shook; and his hair fairly rose as a blind banged in a distant window, and the high-wind moaned through the corridors. Then the conviction came overwhelmingly upon him that he would never leave the haunted house alive.
The spectre had been standing by the bedside, gazing steadfastly down upon the bed; but he now stalked toward a closet across the room. As he did so, he looked significantly at Adam, who, divining his meaning, followed him.
The door of the closet was ajar, and, as he observed it. Adam remembered that in the excitement consequent upon the 'squire's, death the closet had not been opened. Extending his arm, the spectre noiselessly opened the door, and motioned Adam to enter.
The sexton obeyed tremblingly, and when he arrived in the door he raised his lantern and looked about the closet. Articles of wearing apparel were hanging about the room, which Adam passed over with a cursory glance; but on the floor were two articles which elicited a cry of surprise and anger from him. One was a peculiar handkerchief of dark material, decked with sickly yellow squares; the other was a vial, whose label bore a death's-head and cross-bone s, and the startling warning, 'Prussic Acid: Deadly Poison!"
"Foul play! I knew it!" screamed Adam, almost dropping his lantern in his excitement. “And, O Heaven! I know the murderer."
The spectre spoke.
"Your coming in this house of dread and ill omen, at dead of night, and in the face of hereditary superstition and simple apprehension, is laudable, and shall be rewarded. It is not strange that you quail. But listen, and know all."
The village clock had struck the hour of twelve before Adam returned to his Nannette, who, terrified by his prolonged stay, was almost frantic. Sobbing for joy, she flung herself into his arms with the ardor of a bride. Although Adam returned her caresses, he did so, mechanically, for his manner was preoccupied.
The worthy old soul, not lacking in the voluble inquisitiveness of feminine old age, harassed Adam with a legion of questions, which he evaded as well as he could without giving offense; but the good dame, piqued at her master's seeming churlishness in refusing to satisfy her curiosity, finally went to bed in a pet, while Adam absently followed her example.
Nannette fidgeted all night, unable to sleep a moment until Adam should reveal the secrets of his expedition. That something strange had happened she well knew by the unusual thoughtfulness of his face, but to her persistent questions he merely returned a shrug of his shoulders.
They were sitting at breakfast, when Adam suddenly struck the table a mighty blow with his fist.
"I never would have dreamed it!" said he, with another blow.
"Dreamed what, Adam?" eagerly inquired Dame Nannette.
"That the moon was made of green cheese!"
Nannette grew red and her eyes sparkled; but, restraining her anger, she essayed one more question.
"Adam, tell me; what did you see last night?"
"The Evil One," replied Adam. Thereupon, Nannette burst into tears and flounced away from the table in high dudgeon.
Adam apparently did not notice his wife's indignation, but ate his breakfast absent-mindedly, rose from the table, got his oak stick, and left the house, leaving poor Nannette bathed in tears, and seething with curiosity.
Adam Hill walked briskly across the village toward Gilbert Ray's residence, with eyes downcast in meditation, and bringing his oak stick down with a thump. The landlord, pursuant to his close disposition, lived hermit-like in a desolate cottage on the opposite side of the village from the mansion-house. Adam soon arrived at the cottage, walked up to the door, and knocked sharply.
"Well come in!" was growled, rather than spoken, by a voice which the sexton recognized as that of Dark Gil. He entered a small, meanly furnished room, cold and cheerless, and saw Dark Gil seated at his desk poring over his rent-roll.
"Well, what do you want, sexton?" demanded Dark Gil sharply, eying Adam savagely. "Want your cottage repaired, I suppose. I generally receive a similar petition every day. Pest! as if they couldn't live in a house as good s their landlord's. They are better than mine," he continued, casting a glance round on the bare floor.
"Which is not saying much," Adam thought.
But he discreetly kept his own counsel, only saying, as he took a chair:
"Since you won't invite me to sit down, Mr. Ray, I'll do so uninvited?"
"What is your business?" again demanded the landlord impatiently. "Be quick, for I'm hurried this morning."
Adam cast a look out of the window. Three men were approaching the house; he turned again to Dark Gil.
"What do you suppose I saw last night?"' he inquired, looking steadfastly at the other.
"Pest! How should I know?" snapped Dark Gil.
"The ghost of 'Squire Lovell!"
"What!" shouted Dark Gil, starting to his feet with an ashy face, and over-turning his chair.
"The ghost of 'Squire Lovell!"
Dark Gil made no other comment, but glared in fury and terror at Adam, who bore it without flinching.
"Yes," resumed the sexton, casting a second look out of the window, "and facts have come to light which prove that the 'squire met his death by foul play. Murder will out."
" Murder! It Is false!" cried Dark Gil, with white lips. "'Sq-- he died of apoplexy."
"He died of poison!" thundered the sexton. "See, here are the accusers, -- silent, but, oh, how true!"
And he took from his breast the peculiar handkerchief and the vial he had seen in the closet of the 'squire's room. Dark Gil glared at Adam and his face was terrible to see.
'"Where did you get them!" he gasped.
"Where they had been dropped by the murderer. Ha! Hands off! Help!"
Dark Gil had sprung upon Adam to seize the accusing articles. The force of his attempt was so great that the old man was hurled to the floor but three men rushed into the cottage, and throwing themselves on Dark Oil, secured him after a desperate struggle, bound him with stout cords they had evidently brought for that purpose, and laid him upon his bed. Then one young man advanced -- so precisely like the spectre of the previous night that even if Adam had not formed his acquaintance he would instantly have recognized him.
"Villain," he said sternly, "your deed is discovered, and the hand of Fate brought it about. I am the nephew of 'Squire Lovell, returned from foreign lands to avenge murder. Listen, all," he said, addressing his coadjutors and Dark Gil, to whom he related the marvelous occurrences which had led to the detection of 'Squire Lovell's murderer.
Eugene Lovell, having run away from his uncle, betook himself to a seafaring life, and by diligence and ability had attained the captaincy of a New York vessel plying between that port and Liverpool. During his last voyage a mutiny occurred among his crew, which he suppressed, mortally wounding the ringleader, and a desperate man, who, accidentally discovering that Captain Lowell was a nephew to the 'squire, made a startling dying confession. Five years before he had escaped from prison, wherein he had been confined for smuggling. He fled to Edgeville, and the officers were on his track, when Dark Gil, who had reasons of his own for assisting him, harbored him until the officers abandoned the search. Then he demanded a requital, and on the day the 'squire's will was drawn in his favor, he prevailed upon the man, by the guaranty of a large sum, to steal into the 'squire's bedroom at night, stupefy the old man with chloroform, and then take his life by poison.
Brutes can be grateful, and so was the felon. He did the deed but, fearing the gallows, surreptitiously used for administering the chloroform one of Dark Gil's peculiar handkerchiefs, well known throughout the adjacent country, and after the deed was done threw both handkerchief and vial into the closet, in order to divert suspicion from himself. Strange to state, the closet was never opened, and had not the marvelous chain of events led to the detection of the murderer, Dark Gil might have lived and died unsuspected by the simple villagers.
By the time Captain Lowell concluded, Dark Gil was raging, and in a few hours' time was a raving maniac. He was immediately conveyed to the mad-house at the neighboring town of Ware, where he may be seen to this day (for we believe he is yet alive) raging in his cell. He is "dangerous," and his insanity consists of his laboring under the mortal terror of an imaginary enemy, who is constantly attempting to apply to his nostrils a handkerchief saturated with chloroform, in order that he may poison him while in a state of stupefaction. He lives in continual terror, starting up out of his sleep, shrieking, and beating off his implacable foe; and the sight of a bottle or handkerchief will throw him into convulsions.
Captain Lovell succeeded to the property, and liberally rewarded Adam Hill for his zeal. The mansion was entirely repaired and refurnished, the grounds were rejuvenated, and the premises underwent a general and beneficial change. And now, on every anniversary of the 'squire's death, old Adam Hill is the lion of the day, which he spends in relating the story of The 'Squire's Ghost.
The News-Sun, Newport, PA, Thursday, December 4, 195_
The Evil Eye
(Written for the News-Sun by Dr. Charles M. Steese)
Among the many superstitious believed by our Pennsylvania German ancestors was the “evil eye” which they called the design on the tail feathers of the peacock. It is true that this design does somewhat resemble an eye, the early German settlers believed that it was bad luck to take the feathers of the peacock into their homes.
In the early years of the nineteenth century it was a common thing for farmers to have several pea fowl around their barns. These birds were often used as food (roasted as a turkey or chicken) but their feathers were never used as decorati9ons in any way by the Pennsylvania Germans. When the tail feathers were removed from the peacock they were always kept in the barn or some nearby shed, never in the house. This superstitious belief continued until late in the nineteenth century.
About 1815, just after the war with England, Gregory Watts who had been a tenant farmer in Chester County moved up to a farm in the valley back of Montgomery’s Ferry in Cumberland (now Perry) County. He rented a large and well cultivated farm from an elderly German couple whose age prevented them from doing the farm work. An agreement was reached whereby the old folks were to remain in the house and eat with Watts family.
The farm was stocked and Watts brought very little with him from his former home, but he did bring a peacock and hen, which he housed with the chickens in the barnyard. Before many months there was a small brood of pea fowl. That fall in corn husking time the peacock was killed and prepared for roasting as a treat for the neighbors who were helping harvest the corn crop.
Mrs. Watts carefully plucked the tail feathers of the bird and was approaching the house with a large handful when the old man who owned the farm saw her and exclaimed, “Don’t bring the peacock feathers in the house, they have the evil eye”. Then he explained the superstition, telling young Mrs. Watts that he had always heard his father say that, and that it was a belief which his people had brought with them from the Fatherland. The feathers, of course, were not taken into the house, but were carefully preserved in the wagon shed near the barn.
About two years later the two old people went on a visit to some relatives who lived over the mountain in the Cumberland Valley. They planned to be gone for about a month. One day during their absence, Mrs. Watts remembered the peacock feathers. She had never believed the superstition connected with them and taking several, she trimmed a hat for her daughter. The effect was so pleasing that she decided to decorate her own bonnet as well with the highly colored feathers.
When Gregory Watts came in to dinner that day he saw the two hats and at once berated his wife for bring the feathers into the house. Now he did not exactly share the superstitious belief with his old landlord, but he did respect the old man’s wished. His wife promised to get rid of the millinery decorations, but in her house work such forgot it for the time. She did, however, put the bonnets out of sight in the little used “sitting room”.
That afternoon, although the usual fall weather prevailed, a very hard thunder shower came up suddenly, and during the storm a stroke of lightning struck the house and it burned to the ground. The wife and children were able to escape, but they only saved a few bed clothe. As they had no near neighbors, they were forced to move into the wagon shed as a temporary home until plans could be made.
During the night they were awakened by howls which they knew were made by wolves, although none of these animals had ever before come near the farm building. In the morning they found that every one of their valuable flock of sheep had been killed, and many of them entirely devoured by the wolf pack whose howls they had heard the night before.
It was then that Gregory Watts determined his bad luck to have come from the “evil eye” on the peacock feathers. In his anger he killed all of the remaining birds and burned their plumage at once, adding to the blaze the collections of old feathers remaining in the wagon shed.
Not wishing to face his landlord, he wrote him an account of what happened and packing his few remaining goods returned with his family to the vicinity of his former home in Chester County. Nothing was ever heard of him afterward and it remained for his Perry County neighbors to tell their story of the bad luck from the “evil eye”.
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