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Showing posts from January, 2017

A Confederate Major in a Yankee Cemetery

The Story of Major George Calhoun Pope

Among the rows of grave markers at the Covenant Greenwood Cemetery in Lebanon County (also known to locals as the Ebenezer Cemetery) is a simple gray headstone carved from granite. It's modest appearance is similar to that of any given 20th century marker in any given burial ground. Look a little closer and you will see that this headstone marks the final resting place of George C. Pope (1843-1913) and his wife Alice (1854-1935). Pass by this grave sometime around Memorial Day and you will see a tiny American flag, and the bronze emblem with its green patina denoting the grave of a veteran. Look a little closer and you will see that George C. Pope was a veteran of the Civil War. Look closer still, and you will see that George C. Pope did not fight for the Grand Army of the Republic-- but for the Confederated States of America.

This would be the grave of Major George Calhoun Pope, a Confederate officer buried in a Yankee graveyard.

September 2…

Mummy found in a garbage dump

A rather strange discovery was made at a Pittsburgh garbage dump in the fall of 1886-- a 3,000-year-old Peruvian mummy. As they always say, one man's trash is another man's museum specimen. The following story appeared in New Castle's Daily City News on October 14, 1886.

The Corpse Found in a Garbage Dump at Allegheny City Turns Out to be a Mummy 3,000 Years Old.

Pittsburgh, Pa., Oct. 14.-- Yesterday afternoon intense excitement was caused in this city and Allegheny by the announcement that the remains of a woman in a nude condition had been found in a box at the Allegheny City garbage dump. The evening papers gave much space to the "ghastly find", alleging that marks on the box indicated its recent arrival in New York by a Pacific mail steamer, and that it had been forwarded to this city by the Adams Express Company.

In rolling over the side of the dump the box was broken and the remains rolled out into the water. The body was that of a medium sized person, and wa…

A schoolhouse built atop a graveyard

The Little-Known History of a Frankford Historical Landmark

In 1885, when the foundations of the Wilmot Consolidated School began sinking into the earth, building inspectors and construction workers were befuddled-- until they discovered that the schoolhouse had been built on top of a forgotten cemetery.

For twenty years the colored children of Philadelphia's Frankford neighborhood received their education at the Wilmot School, a small but handsome stone building at the corner of Meadow and Cherry Streets. Little did the pupils or teachers know, however, that they recited the alphabet and learned to read while precariously perched atop the bones of their own long-dead ancestors.

It was no secret that there was something strange about the schoolhouse. It had been slowly sinking into the ground for months, if not years. By the summer of 1895 the sinking had caused numerous cracks to appear in the walls and it was finally decided that a contract would be awarded to a local builder to m…

The Bellevue Hotel: Kulpmont's Notorious House of Ill Repute

Having spent the first 18 year of my life in Kulpmont, I was certain that I knew all there was to know about the history of my hometown-- even the seedy parts, like the mob murders of 1939. But one thing I recently discovered was that the tiny borough of Kulpmont once had within its boundaries a rather notorious brothel, which was the scene of numerous State Police raids throughout the 1930s.

The Bellevue Hotel Raid of 1930

At around 10:00 on the evening of Friday, March 14, five state police troopers, under the command of Sgt. Merryfield of Sunbury, swooped down upon the Bellevue Hotel at 640 and 642 Chestnut Street, executing a plan that had been in the works for several weeks. For quite some time the residents of Kulpmont had been complaining to the authorities about suspicious and illicit activities rumored to be taking place within the walls of the establishment.

After troopers were positioned at the front and rear entrances, Sgt. Merryfield and two troopers from the vice squad b…

The Unsolved Mystery of Barnesville's Lakewood Park

Who Murdered William Laughlin?

Unpunished murders have always been a blight on Schuylkill County, especially during the 1920s and 30s. The official record indicates that between 1925 and 1932, the lives of eight individuals were snuffed out by killers who have never been caught. In some cases the murderer was identified but eluded capture, disappearing into the night, never to be seen again. Other cases, such as the famous "Broad Mountain torch murder", remain unsolved to this day.

The peculiar death of William Laughlin remains another unsolved Schuylkill County mystery-- more than three-quarters of a century after it took place.

Death of a Candyman

Nobody had seen William Laughlin since Tuesday, March 25, 1930. After three days had passed, a group of fifty local men, led by several police officers, scoured the woods and mountains around Barnesville looking for the 39-year-old man, who worked as a confectioner at a candy shop in Centralia owned by his father. Laughlin's …

A strange occurrence in Altoona

From the January 28, 1889 edition of the Pittsburgh Daily Post:

Timing is everything

The following news item, from the January 13, 1901 edition of The Philadelphia Times demonstrates that being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be fatal.

The York County UFO Sightings of 1973

"Oval-shaped objects, sitting there spinning, then moving like crazy." This was the description given by one witness-- one of the many-- who witnessed strange sights in the skies over Felton on the night of Sunday, October 14, 1973.

This particular sighting, witnessed by two boys and two adults, happened at around 8:45 pm and coincided with several other reports coming in from eastern York County. Still more reports came in on Monday evening.

Detailed descriptions, however, were provided by the Felton witnesses who saw the UFOs just west of town near Lebanon Lutheran Church. Descriptions were provided by the two boys, Jeffrey Christenberry, 14, and Mark Anderson, 10. Christenberry stated that the oval-shaped spinning objects had "a white circle around 'em and a red beam that comes down" and he said that the objects were visible for about five minutes, before they suddenly disappeared.

Anderson said: "They were all over the sky, moving like crazy... really br…