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Showing posts from May, 2013

40 Injured at Funeral in York

In 1907, a double funeral for two murdered boys at a church in York County turned to a frightening scene of chaos, which resulted in babies being thrown out of windows and the contents of the caskets spilled onto the floor.  When it was all over, dozens were injured- some fatally.  From the November 28 edition of the Fulton County News:


Forty Injured During Frantic Stampede in York- Ghastly Scene in a Church

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

Cause of the Panic

The panic occurred shortly after 12 o'clock and at the most solemn part of the service.  When those present heard a creaking …

Human Hand Found in Lycoming County

The following is from the September 6, 1895 edition of the Bloomsburg Columbian:


A Mystery in Lycoming County-- Part of the Remains of a Corpse Discovered in the Woods

The citizens of Cammel have been living in a state of suppressed excitement since Thursday evening, because of a miraculous yarn told by a young man of 20, who, while coming through the woods from English Centre, came across a ghastly find- a human hand.

The wayfarer lost his way when about two miles from Cammel, which took him into the wildest recesses of the forest.  Evening was fast approaching, and as the young fellow did not fancy the idea of spending the night in so undesirable a place he kept pushing on, trusting more to luck than anything else to bring him to English Centre or some habitation where he might rest free from the dangers which lurk in this region.  

In pushing his way through an opening into a spot less densely grown with shrubbery and trees, the young fellow declares that he found a vest lying on the …

Cut in half and disemboweled!

This is one of the more gruesome newspaper stories I've stumbled across thus far (from the Dec. 27, 1895 edition of the Bloomsburg Columbian):


Cut in halves and disemboweled, the body of a young man 18 to 20 years was found Friday evening by the crew of Central train drawn by engine 319, midway between the Catasauqua and Lower Catasauqua stations of the railroad.

The men came across the ghastly sight about 6:30 o'clock.  The body was lying across the tracks near Bower's slaughtering house.  The corpse had been cut in two by the wheels of the cars.  The entrails lay scattered about.  The body was still warm.  It was supposed the young man had fallen off that same train and met his horrible death.  The body was removed to Undertaker Stewart's morgue and Coroner Yost was notified.

The circumstances connected with the case are extremely sad.  The youth, who was still a mere boy, was handsome and well-dressed.  He wore a blue suit, tan shoes, blue overcoat, and derby hat.  Fr…

"A Troublesome Ghost"

In 1891, a family from Schuylkill County put up with nightly paranormal activity as long as they could; but when the ghost began climbing into bed with them, they decided that it was time to move.  From the July 25, 1891 edition of the Shenandoah Evening Herald comes this report of a haunting in Mahanoy Plane:

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

They say the nightly revels commence at about the hour "when church yards yawn and graves give up their dead", at which hour there …

Man's Eyes Blown Out By Dynamite

Considering the dangers of living and working in the Coal Region during the late 1800s and early 1900s, it's amazing that anyone ever lived past the age of 20.  In the "good old days", death seemed to lurk around every corner.  A man could survive a mine cave-in, only to be trampled by a spooked horse while crossing the street, stabbed in a drunken bar-room brawl, or stricken with cholera.  No matter how lousy your job may be, it's pretty safe to say that you won't end up like John Dorrish.  From the Oct. 22, 1912 edition of the Reading Eagle:

John Dorrish, 50 years, employed at Packer No. 5 colliery*, was caught in a dynamite explosion and had both eyes blown out, his head badly injured, and both hands so badly mangled that they will have to be amputated.  His condition is critical. 



*Colliery was located about one mile east of Girardville.

Was the Queen of Babylon Buried in Fayette County?

In the summer of 1878, a group of boys from Fayette County made an astounding discovery.  The story, which first appeared in the Brownsville Clipper, was later re-printed in other newspapers.  The following is the article which appeared in the August 7, 1878, edition of the Somerset Herald.

The Brownsville Clipper publishes a remarkable story of the discovery of a mysterious cave, on Dunlap's creek, near that place.  It appears that some boys had been given some powder by a party of sportsmen, who were engaged shooting glass balls on the Fourth of July.  The boys went down to the creek, dug a hole in the bank, and fired a charge of powder in it.  It made a terrific explosion, and after the smoke cleared away, they discovered a large hole in the ground.  The boys had dug down till they came to a micaceous sandstone.  The explosion shattered this stone to pieces which covered up the entrance to a large circular hole extending nearly six feet into the sand rock, at an angle of about …

Bellefonte's River of Beer

Not all of the newspaper stories we feature on this blog have to do with gruesome acts of violence or gory accidents.  The following, taken from the May 2, 1901, edition of the Middleburgh Post, is one such example:

River of Beer Wasted

Mathew Volk, proprietor of the Roopsburg Brewery, near Bellefonte, who was granted a brewer's license at the recent License Court, was unable to raise the $259 necessary to pay the license fee, and therefore left for other climes.

The failure to renew the license left the internal revenue collector with about one hundred barrels of beer on hands.  Being possessed of no legal warrant to sell the stuff, he settled the matter by emptying the whole lot into Spring Creek.