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A sensational suicide in Lavelle

With a population of approximately 750, the tiny village of Lavelle in Schuylkill County is easy to miss. There are no traffic lights or Walmart Supercenters, just a few scattered houses and a couple of gas stations, giving travelers on Route 901 one last chance to fuel up before getting on the Interstate. Not much goes goes on in a place like Lavelle, so when a man ends his life as spectacularly as Ray Feltzer did in 1924, it tends to be the sort of thing folks talk about years after the deed was done.

Ray was a young man, just 28 years old, a husband and father, living in a modest home at the west end of the village. Around 2 o'clock on the afternoon of November 2, his mangled body was found in a shanty behind his home by Miss Clara Hubler and two of her friends, who had dropped by to visit Clara's sister, who happened to be Ray's wife. Much to Clara's dismay, her sister and the two young Feltzer children were not home. Clara and her two friends went behind the house…
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John C. Bell: Pennsylvania's 19-day Governor

The names of many governors in Pennsylvania history are familiar to most of us. Some are memorialized in the names of our counties (Mifflin, McKean, Snyder), while others are memorialized in the names of our cities, villages and townships (Shunk, Findlay, Wolf, Hastings, Bigler). Two of our governors even have state forests name in their honor (Sproul, Pinchot) while the names of many more grace our streets, highways, bridges, buildings and schools.

But when it comes to state governors, there's one name you won't find on a street sign or football stadium, however-- and it is a name that even many Pennsylvania historians might not recall.

That governor is John Cromwell Bell, and if you don't recognize the name, it's because his tenure as governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania lasted just 19 days-- making him the shortest-serving governor in state history.

A Philadelphia native, Bell came from a family with a political pedigree; his father served as Pennsylvania Atto…

An interesting story from Marietta

The following comes from the Harrisburg Telegraph on April 26, 1913.


A sword-wielding apparition in York

The following story appeared on the front page the Jan. 30, 1897 edition of the York Semi-Weekly Gazette.


Solved: The mystery of Pennsylvania's rock cairns

Hidden in the woods throughout Pennsylvania are countless man-made rock piles. These mysterious structures can be found in a variety of shapes, from beehive-shaped mounds to neatly-stacked piles. They appear to be quite old, which has led to numerous theories on their origin, ranging from the mildly plausible to the downright ridiculous.

The most mundane explanation is that these rock piles were created by 18th and 19th century farmers and pioneer settlers attempting to clear their planting fields. Others have suggested that the mysterious cairns are monuments or markers created by Native Americans. Still others claim that Pennsylvania's man-made rock piles are relics of an ancient, unknown civilization, comparable in size and construction to other mysterious cairns that have been discovered in Wales and Ireland.

These rock cairns can be found throughout the state, but the most well-known examples are found in the remote wilderness of Susquehanna County. Other cairn fields have been…

Notorious Pennsylvania Outlaws: Eatabite Tibbs

Crime and colorful nicknames go hand in hand, from Babyface Nelson to Prettyboy Floyd to the Sundance Kid. While these outlaws may be more famous or their exploits more sensational, few criminals have been endowed with a nickname as unusual as Angus "Eatabite" Tibbs, the eccentric and charismatic bandit who terrorized western Pennsylvania in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, while managing to escape from mental asylums and jailhouses and surviving gunshot wounds that would have killed a normal man along the way.

Eatabite Tibbs first earned notoriety as a result of Uniontown's Jasper Augustine scandal of 1895. Augustine, a wealthy and powerful member of the local community, was arrested for keeping "a disorderly house" and was sentenced in November to one hour of jail and a $500 fine. The investigation revealed that Augustine's brothel was frequented by many of Pittburgh's most prominent businessmen. These revelations, along with the striking beau…

A ghostly tale of Mt. Carmel's Reliance Colliery

Reliance Colliery, located south of Mount Carmel on Locust Mountain, saw many tragedies since its construction in 1867. Of these, the explosion of September 2, 1926, is perhaps best remembered, which claimed the lives of four miners and badly burned several more.

However, one remarkable tragedy that took place in the shadows of Reliance Colliery didn't involve a miner at all, but a middle-aged Lithuanian woman named Annie Metzgas. Her death in 1903 didn't warrant more than a few sentences in local papers, but the stories of her ghost haunting the surrounding hills kept the residents of Mount Carmel inside their homes at night for weeks after her unfortunate demise.

On Friday afternoon, July 10, a powerful thunderstorm swept over the area. It came suddenly, catching Annie Metzgas by surprise as she was picking huckleberries on the hill near the colliery. Annie had arrived in the country just a few months earlier, and barely spoke a word of English. She shared a home with her dau…