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Showing posts from June, 2014

Allison Hill's House of Mystery

Today, the Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg is regarded as a dangerous place, where gunshots ring out during all hours of the night and drug deals take place in the darkened alleyways behind rows of low-income housing. Local historians are quick to point out that Allison Hill- one of the city's oldest neighborhoods- was once the site of charming Victorian homes, magnificent gardens, and stately churches. Many of these historians, however, are not aware that Allison Hill's sinister reputation isn't a modern creation; In the early 1900s, Allison Hill was the site of one of the most intriguing unsolved murders in Pennsylvania history.

A young girl's skeleton, a rusty razor, and chicken feathers.
These were the items found in the cellar of home at 133 South Fourteenth Street, by plumbers who were digging in the basement of the building in February of 1915. The coroner, Jacob Eckinger, was summoned and immediately concluded that the girl had been murdered. Unfortunate…

Skull Crushed to Atoms!

Those of you who have a soft spot for the gory and graphic depictions of accidents which often appeared in the newspapers of yesteryear will be interested in the following story about a train accident which took place in Harrisburg in 1839. Though morbid, it is nonetheless fascinating that news reporting from the 19th century was full of such ghastly details.

From the Columbia Democrat, July 6, 1839:

One of the most shocking and heart-rending scenes that was ever witnessed in this neighborhood, was presented to the view of our citizens this morning. Our paper had not been worked off, when the news reached our office that an accident had occurred on the rail-road, at the edge of town, causing the death of two individuals. We repaired immediately thither, and such a sight was exhibited as we never wish to gaze upon again.

Upon the track of the rail-road lay the dead bodies of two females, mangled in the most shocking manner; the skull of one of them being completely crushed to atoms, an…

Petrified Human Head Found in Mahanoy City!

The following is a story so weird that it ran in newspapers all over the country in the fall of 1909. The following article was published in the Suwanee Democrat of Florida on October 1, 1909:

Mahanoy City, Pa.-- At a depth of 900 feet below the surface of the earth, firnly embedded in coal, the petrified head of a man was dicovered at Maple Hill Colliery a few days ago. The head is perfect in shape, eyes, ears, nose and even the hair standing in bold relief. Workmen driving a tunnel made the find at a point over which water has been flowing for years.

It is believed to be the head of a man of prehistoric age. The specimen was carefully mined, and after being trimmed will be sent to a Philadelphia museum.

(view original newspaper article here)