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Showing posts from December, 2016

Dynamite and Diphtheria: The Strange Trial of Lloyd Wintersteen

In the early hours of September 10, 1896, the sleepy town of Bloomsburg became of the center of one of the most spectacular and diabolic murder plots ever concocted by the human mind. Poison, dynamite and deadly microbes-- these were the tools used by Clifton Knorr, a disgruntled son of a wealthy businessman hired by a prominent local lawyer to murder a former Congressman and poison Clifton's own stepmother.

Levi Waller was a leading citizen of Bloomsburg during the second half of the 19th century. Waller, a highly-regarded lawyer and politician, was the son of a noted Presbyterian minister, while his wife was the daughter of Charles Buckalew, the American ambassador to Peru. In spite of Waller's success, or perhaps because of it, he had many rivals scattered throughout Pennsylvania. His chief nemesis was another successful lawyer by the name of Lloyd S. Wintersteen.

Waller and Wintersteen had hated each other for years. The tension between the rival attorneys began, it was s…

Holy Rollers: PA's strange religious sect

Many of us have heard the term "holy roller". Over the years it has come to mean a term for anyone who is particularly zealous in their religious beliefs. However, this term stems from the dismissive name given to members of a peculiar group of religious practitioners who lived in northwestern Pennsylvania during the late 19th century.

The strange behavior of the "Holy Rollers" was well known throughout the country, as the following article demonstrates. The following article comes from the St. Louis Dispatch on March 29, 1896.

Scattered over Crawford, Erie and Warren Counties, Pennsylvania, and Chautauqua County, New York, is a curious band of religious enthusiasts calling themselves the "Holy Band". They are about two hundred of them. Their headquarters at at Elgin, Pa. There the leaders are stationed and religious services are held. These are so many that one meeting is scarcely dismissed before another is called.

The meetings have been held nightly in t…

The miner who claimed to have captured the devil

A rather strange story from the March 19, 1893 edition of Wilkes-Barre's Sunday News.

More on the Mystery of New Castle's Murder Marsh

In Lawrence County's Taylor Township, west of the Beaver and Pennsylvania Railroad yards and east of the Pittsburgh, Lake Erie & Baltimore yards just south of New Castle, was a putrid, stagnant swamp known as the Murder Marsh, so named because, in the fall of 1925, it was the site of a gruesome find-- two headless male bodies and the skull of a female.

To this day, the mystery of the murder marsh has never been solved. The killer or killers have never been brought to justice and the unfortunate victims have never been positively identified. Much of this can be attributed to the laziness and apathy of local law enforcement; police closed the case on October 24, 1925-- just four days after the last body was found. Calling the case "unsolvable", they claimed the number of volunteers needed to scour the swap was too small, and that the bog was too deep and dangerous.

The facts seem to point to organized crime; the murder marsh was used as a dumping ground over a period of…