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Showing posts from February, 2015

A 1918 Boy Scout's Camp Diary

With the recent wave of single-digit temperatures bringing yet another slew of school closings and cancellations across central Pennsylvania, I couldn't help but remember my childhood as a student at a Catholic elementary school, distinctly recalling mornings so cold that the nuns let us wear our winter coats at our desks. Hell, there were some mornings when the classroom was so cold that we could even see our breaths. These days, however, it seems that they just don't make kids as tough as they did when I grew up.

Last year I read an article about a parent somewhere who had sued a school district because they made her kid play outside for recess. Although it was a mild 85 degree day, the parent raised hell, claiming that her poor kid could've suffered a heat stroke. Other recent newspaper articles describe parents filing lawsuits to take games like dodgeball and red rover out of gym class, while others are on a crusade to remove gym class from schools entirely.

Yes, it a…

The Murder of Daisy Smith

On a Monday morning in early October of 1898, about two miles below the iron railroad bridge which crosses the river to Selinsgrove, a farmer's horse had fallen ill.  Henry Smith sent out his teenage daughter, Daisy, to gather some sweet fern.  Hours passed and the Daisy had not returned with the medicinal herb so Mr. Smith decided to look for her after dinner.  He discovered the body of his beloved daughter next to the highway not far from the barn, face down beneath a large chestnut tree; her throat cut ear from to ear.

Of all the murders that took place in Northumberland County, it is the murder of pretty Daisy Smith which has become the most famous, largely due to the brutality of the crime. Daisy, who was just sixteen at the time, was found with a gash across her neck so deep that her backbone was visible, and her body had been riddled with several loads of buckshot.  It was the type of death befitting the most heinous of villains, and the fact that this fate had befallen su…

Headless Body Found in Mud Pond

An Unsolved Mystery Near Rickett's Glen

In 1911, George Snyder of Jamison City was fishing in Mud Pond, just north of Lake Jean, when he made a chilling discovery-- a headless body. Though badly decomposed, the corpse was dressed in expensive clothing, except for his pants, which were inexplicably missing. The victim was also found carrying a woman's handkerchief and a letter written in a foreign language. To date, the identity of the victim has never been ascertained. Was it murder? Suicide? An unfortunate accident? Perhaps you can solve this century-old mystery of Rickett's Glen!

From the Laporte Republican News Item, July 21, 1911:

While fishing in Mud Pond, about six miles from Jamison City on Friday of last week, Geo. Snyder of Elk Grove came upon the badly decomposed headless body of a man. He first mistook the body for a log, finding it in one of the most secluded spots on the pond, a place over which the brush hung heavily.

Making the startling discovery that the hea…

Who Beheaded D.W. Stoddard?

On the afternoon of August 13, 1916, the headless body of a man from the town of Dauphin was found just north of the city of Harrisburg, in the mountains between Robert's Valley near the Rockville Bridge. The man was identified as D.W. Stoddard, originally of Ilion, NY. After a short investigation, Stoddard's death was ruled a suicide. But how did he manage to lose his head? Some claimed that his body was chewed apart by wild animals, while others suspected foul play.

On August 14, the Harrisburg Telegraph printed the following story about the discovery of the body:

Try to Unravel Mystery of Man Found Beheaded

Coroner Suspects Foul Play, but Thinks Wild Animal May Have Torn Victim

Hidden in a valley between two mountains, and more than a mile from the nearest house, Aaron S. Payne, of 1709 Market street, yesterday found the decomposed body of an unidentified man, with the head and right arm cut off, and lying about three feet away.

County authorities are at a loss to determine jus…