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Showing posts from March, 2013

Spontaneous Human Combustion?

According to this story, published by the Scranton Tribune on December 16, 1896, Sarah Mullen's unusual death was caused (according to the coroner) by "inhaling flame".  However, the evidence presented by the newspaper seems to indicate that Mrs. Mullen may have died as a result of spontaneous combustion.  Read the following article and draw your own conclusions:

Young Son Makes a Ghastly Find

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

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

Truly bizarre ghost story

The September 24, 1903 edition of the Bloomsburg Columbian featured a short but interesting story about ghostly images which appeared on one family's ceiling in the village of Otto, in Northumberland County.  These images, which were of the faces of Simon Fisher's two children, appeared while the children were sick.  Oddly, the children whose faces appeared on the ceiling died shortly thereafter.  Spooky!

The article reads:

A ghastly and ghostly story is given to the world by an undertaker at Otto, near Herndon, in Northumberland County.  He states that six years ago and 18-year-old girl of Simon Fisher was ill and her likeness appeared mysteriously on the ceiling.  It was visible to all but her and she died the next day.  The likeness remained although the paper was removed and the ceiling whitewashed.  Last week a son died in the same room under identically the same circumstances and both pictures are now to be seen.

(view the original newspaper article here)

Sunbury man wore shoes made of human skin

All kinds of materials have been used to make shoes, from blue suede to alligator skin.  In 1907, one man from Northumberland County favored a pair of slippers made from human skin- at least according to this article which appeared in the January 24, 1907 edition of the Bloomsburg Columbian:

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

Several years ago a railroad man was killed at work near Williamsport.  None of his relatives could …

Strange Drowning

To the casual observer, the Susquehanna River is a scenic wonder, lazily meandering through the Keystone State.  Yet this majestic river has snatched away countless lives throughout history, including the life of a Danville man named Charles Gibbons who, in 1905, lost his life in a most peculiar manner.

Here is the story which appeared in the August 17, 1905 edition of The Columbian (Bloomsburg) newspaper:

Charles E. Gibbons of Danville, drowned in a very strange manner in the Susquehanna River at a point near the Pennsylvania Railroad water tank, a short distance below Catawissa, Friday night.  The body was not discovered until Sunday morning.  It was standing in an upright position with the legs imbedded deep in the mud.

It seems that Gibbons and Oliver Wertz, also of Danville, started up the river in a row boat Friday morning in quest of some valuable drift wood.  Neither of them was seen in Danville again until Saturday afternoon when Wertz appeared there making inquiries concernin…

Murderer Sells Own Body to Showman

Of all the murder trials that have occurred in the history of Lycoming County, few became as famous as the murder of trial of William Abram Hummel.  In the fall of 1899, Hummel, a rag peddler from the borough of Montgomery, was arrested for the gruesome murder of his  new wife and her three children.  The murder trial became a national sensation, and Hummel was sentenced to death by hanging.

According to newspaper accounts of the day, neighbors found the bodies of two of the children inside Hummel's barn beneath a stack of hay; the heads of the children had been crushed.  The body of Mrs. Hummel was found in the outhouse.  One article reported that the body of the third child was located with the aid of a spiritualist; the medium instructed authorities to dig in the horse barn- where the corpse was later found.

Hummel was hunted down by an angry mob and arrested, in spite of his claims that the children were still alive.

The shocking story took a bizarre twist in June of 1900, wh…

Gruesome Playthings

Throughout history, young boys have found countless ways to keep themselves entertained.  This story, which appeared in the March 25, 1895 edition of the Scranton Tribune, provides a chilling account of how a group of boys from Lackawanna County kept themselves entertained:

An orderly of the Lackawanna hospital found two fetuses in the possession of a crowd of boys in Raymond court Saturday.  The boys supposed their gruesome playthings, which are thought to have been four and one-half months old when delivered, were dead kittens and were dragging them about by strings.

The orderly stopped the lads' amusement and hurried to inform one of the hospital physicians of the find.  The physician secured the fetuses and discovered that they had been pickled and had probably been cast aside by a doctor or stolen from his office.

They are now secured in a jar in the operating room of the hospital.

(the original newspaper article can be viewed here)