Skip to main content

The Infamous "Shorty" Jones

Shamokin Cemetery, the final resting place of Shorty Jones


During the late 19th century, farmers in northern Dauphin County were terrorized by a gang of mountain-dwelling bandits led by the colorful Thomas Frohm, better known as "Shorty" Jones. Shorty was killed in a shootout with a vigilante posse on the third of September in 1900, and here, from the September 13, 1900 edition of the Middleburgh Post, is the story of Shorty's last stand:


Thomas Frohm, alias "Shorty" Jones, of Sunbury, a member of the band of robbers who shot and seriously wounded Lafayette Strayer and Frank Grim, farmers, last Friday night near Elizabethville, was shot and killed on Berry's Mountain by a posse of Dauphin county farmers. Frohm was detected by Harry Stine, of Elizabethville, hiding behind a log on the mountainside, and was ordered to surrender. He refused, and fired eight shots from two revolvers at Stine, none of which took effect.

A posse was quickly organized, and the alleged robber was soon surrounded by a great crowd of armed and determined men. He again refused to surrender and fired several shots at the party. The farmers opened fire on Frohm in every direction, literally riddling him with bullets from head to foot. He fell in his tracks and died soon after.


Frohm was 38 years old, and formerly lived at Shamokin. He is alleged to have been the head of a trio of robbers who have been terrorizing the farmers in the vicinity of Elizabethville for some time. One of his companions, Frank Venaski, was arrested Saturday and is in jail here awaiting the result of injuries of Strayer and Grim. The posse is scouring the mountains for "Whitey" Streusser, the other member of the party.

Popular posts from this blog

Mount Carmel's Mysterious Suicide Cell

Tucked away at the head of North Oak Street in Mount Carmel is a quaint shop housed in a tiny historic brick building. The Shop at Oak & Avenue is a must-see destination for visitors, offering an impressive variety of gifts and handmade jewelry. It is a gem in an otherwise drab coal town whose glory days faded away with the demise of the steam locomotive and the trolley.

While this quaint small town gift shop gives off a pleasant appearance, the history of the building-- one of the oldest in the borough-- is tinged with horror and death. For this tiny building, erected in the 1880s, served as Mount Carmel's first city hall and jail, and this jail had a rather dark distinction of being the site of the cursed and mysterious "suicide cell".

History records six suicides taking place in the basement cell, along with scores of other attempted suicides. For a reason that has defied explanation, this tiny jail in this tiny town seems to bring out the darkest demons lurking wi…

Natalie, Pennsylvania: A Murderer's Paradise

When a miner named Michael Wanzie was murdered in June of 1905, it was evident that something wasn't quite right in the tiny village of Natalie. Although the scenic mountain village had a population of less than two hundred, the slaying of Michael Wanzie was the fourth murder committed in the village in less than a decade.

By 1924 the population had nearly doubled, thanks to a building "boom" that saw the construction of 40 new homes during the preceding year by builders employed by the Colonial Collieries Company, owners of the Natalie Colliery. Twenty of these homes, many of which still stand today, were built by the Evert Construction Company of Kulpmont. In 1923 there were 56 homes in the village, housing 375 residents. By April of 1924 that number would swell to just under 400 residents and 93 homes.

Although the building boom lent a measure of respectability to the village, Natalie was still imbued with a notorious reputation as being one of the most lawless places …

The True Story of Shamokin's Famous "Mystery Head"

Hardly a week goes by that I don't receive an email from a Pennsylvania Oddities reader asking me to write about the Shamokin "mystery head"-- yes, the very same human head, complete with curly hair and mustache, that was put on display in the window of the Farrow Funeral Home (presumably to show off the establishment's embalming abilities) and later displayed at a local mining museum. The head belonged to an unidentified murder victim whose headless body was found in the woods near the Hickory Ridge colliery in 1904, and the head has been a source of local pride and urban legend ever since.

I've resisted the urge to write about the "mystery head" for a few reasons. Having grown up in the area, I heard about it so many times that the story has worn thin. Secondly, the erroneous local legends and false claims are probably a lot more entertaining than the actual truth about the "mystery head". These local legends run the gamut from plausible to …