Thanks Val and Wildsound.
You can see it here.
Val Cole Performs BillLawrenceOnline Story
For those looking for it here it is: http://billlawrenceonline.com/flatulent-fred-ghost-story-2011/
Four Mile Creek meanders through the woodlands of Northern Erie County Pennsylvania and empties into Lake Erie. Over the eon’s it’s slow moving waters has cut a large swath of land, and one of the more spectacular creations of the small creek is a mile long ravine called Wintergreen Gorge.
From Prehistoric until Colonial times the Gorge and creeks path provided a clear route to the Lake for both the local Native Americans and European Settlers. Ancient Indian war trails line both sides of the Creek, trails that were used by the Seneca Indians as they waged their war with the local Eriez Indians before the white man entered the area. Many intrepid amateur archaeologist and even professionals from the local Penn State Erie have found a rich stash of pre-Colonial Native American artifacts lining the paths and cliffsides of the small waterway.
My friend Tim grew up in a small house on the banks of Four Mile Creek near the thousands of acres that made up the Penn State Erie’s Wintergreen Gorge. Tim Randall grew up hiking and exploring the endless trails that crisscross the ivy covered cliffs of Four Mile. From the age of six onward there was hardly a day that passed that you would not find him with walking stick in hand on his way to have a new journey.
And many of his adventures were fruitful indeed.
He had found a treasure trove of arrowheads and discarded pottery near ancient Indian campsites, as well as early European coins and sword hilts. Perhaps the most spectacular discovery he made was an out of the way vale on the Westerns side of the Gorge far off any path that was covered in thick foliage and had hearty vines from which you could safely swing out into across the vale. In this mystic sanctuary it was hard to believe that you were less than a mile away from a major Interstate Highway and close to one of the largest cities in the State of Pennsylvania.
Most of the time in his journeys of exploration he had the constant companionship of a large Newfoundland Dog named ‘Dutch’. ‘Dutch’ was a birthday gift for Tim from his father on his 10th birthday. From that day the two were inseparable. Despite its formidable and imposing size the large black canine was the most gentle of creatures that I had ever encountered. With thick webbed feet, the dog is specialized for water rescue and there were numerous times while traversing the slippery smile covered slate of the creek bottom that Tim would fall into a nearby pool. Dutch would inevitably jump into the pond no matter the depth, to rescue his little master. Dutch lived a very long life and died at the age of 14 years. Needless to say Tim was devastated. Though many women had come and gone in his life, Dutch was his best friend and constant companion. Moreover, the loyal Newfoundland was a constant assurance of unconditional love in a life filled with turmoil and difficulty.
For you see, throughout his life Tim was in and out of trouble in one way or another. In Grade School he was the practical joker who held the attention of the entire class. He ended up many times in the principles office and there were many calls to his parents concerning his disruptive behavior. In his teens Tim moved from being the class clown to be the chief stoner, sampling any kind of illicit substance that came his way. Gradually his meager funds could not keep up with his veracious appetite for illegal pharmaceuticals and he turned to crime. First it was shoplifting and then it escalated into burglary. Sadly,when he was 17 he was sent away to a juvenile detention facility a few months after he was caught shoplifting at the local mall.
But even this close brush with the law did not stop Tim’s lust for mind altering pharmaceuticals. By his early 20’s he was dealing drugs and breaking into houses to sustain his addiction. At age 24 when Dutch died, his downward spiral seemed to escalate. In response, he ventured into harder drugs in order to find the release that he could no longer find in marijuana and LSD.
Newtown Square, Pa. was farm country in the 1950s. Newspaper stories involved dogs killing sheep and dairy cows getting loose, and, of course, traffic accidents. A car carrying a man, wife and teenaged son was struck by a drunk driver one Christmas shortly after midnight on West Chester Pike. They were killed. They were coming home from Christmas Eve services. The occupants of the striking car, two young men who will remain nameless since family members are still alive, survived with minor injuries. They were looking for another party.
The driver’s family had political connections and he escaped with a slap on the wrist. Accounts say he liked to joke about it and the deaths he caused.
Within six months, he was back on the road boozing and burning rubber. Within a year, he was dead overturning his 1938 Plymouth hot rod on the trolley tracks that went along the highway. Yes, it was early Christmas morning; yes it was near the place where he killed the family; and yes, his passenger was the man with him in the first crash and he also died.
Spooky, huh? But not a ghost story, at least not yet.
That part of West Chester Pike is patrolled by Pennsylvania State Police and municipal police from Newtown Township. Reports soon appeared of a recklessly driven ’38 Plymouth that they couldn’t manage to bring down. As the years passed, it became quite unusual to see that type of vehicle on the road yet the reports and police chases continued. The chase always happened in the early morning albeit it was not dependent on the season. Roadblocks would be set but the quarry would never arrive.
Once an officer did manage to pull alongside the Plymouth and see the occupants. He wrote that they were “two young men in strangely out-of-style slicked back duck-tail haircuts, with expressions of absolute and abject terror and pain, as though they were seeing Hell and knew they could never escape”.
That’s the ghost story.
This is rather similar to the first story although it takes place in Springfield about the turn of the millennium and involves two young ladies. Well, three if you count Kristina.
Somehow a story got around that a ghost child named Kristina lived in a particular house in Springfield, Pa. and that if you called her name, she would appear to you. All that summer and fall youth from throughout Delaware County would pass the house — on feet, in cars, on bicycles, on skateboards — shouting “Kristina, Kristina” at all hours of night and day annoying the neighbors to no end. Of course, Kristina never appeared.
Well, maybe once.
The young ladies — we’ll call them Aimee and Lisa, although they aren’t their real names – – were popular, attractive, and by all accounts, rather mean. They were returning from a Saturday night party early Sunday morning and as they passed the house, Lisa, the passenger, yelled out “Kristina” through her open window. Aimee saw a little girl appear in front of the car and was certain she hit her before managing to come to a stop. As she feverishly tried to figure a way out of the mess, the girl appeared at her window. “Hi,” she said. “I’m Kristina. You’re both going to be dead by this time next week. Prepare yourselves.” She then vanished.
Initially shaken, Aimee and Lisa soon began giggling. They credited the event to the drugs they had been taking. They talked about it all that week at school. “Ha Ha,” they joked. “Say goodbye to us. Kristina said we are going to be dead.”
And while returning from a party early Sunday morning, Aimee drove into a maple tree killing them both.
Some say you can see them in a ’38 Plymouth, the unhappy dates of two unhappy men.
You can be certain these stories are true. They are on the internet.
Copyright 2009 © BillLawrenceOnline.com
For Anthony and Miranda
The building on Route 252 in Newtown Square is soulless and old today but in the 1980s it was soulless and new and the site of a suite of offices for a software company full of buzz and hope. Dawn was cracking on the PC era, and this small company was going to make millions on the database they were designing as businesses throughout nation replaced their expensive minis and mainframes and downsized to the desktop.
At least that’s what the owners claimed. And they managed to convince some moneymen to cough up enough capital for them to rent their suite and hire some staff, one of whom was a tragically overweight coder named Fred.
Fred did know his code. He was also a generation older than the young owners, had poor personal hygiene and a strong tendency to flatulence especially under pressure, a circumstance in which he often found himself at this company.
One of the owners, whom we will call Brett, liked to think of himself as an expert coder but it was his gift of gab and his aggressiveness as a salesman that provided his value to the enterprise. He was slim with slick backed hair and wore suspenders.
Fred’s existence offended Brett’s sense of aesthetics.
Brett would mock Fred’s physique and dress, often in front of the young and pretty receptionist. He’d make artificial deadlines and start screaming at Fred as they approached. He’d find flaws in Fred’s work that did not exist.
This would often bring on a gas attack much to the dismay of the rest of the staff.
One day the bullying became too much for Fred’s heart and it gave out. Paramedics pronounced Fred dead at his desk.
With deadlines approaching, the loss of Fred increased the load on the other programmers. Late nights became common. One young coder found himself working past midnight. He quit the next day not even bothering to come to the office but calling in his resignation over the phone.
Another coder also quit after a late night never explaining why.
Brett declared he would show them how it’s done. In his cool self-confidence, or perhaps obnoxious arrogance, he said he’d finish the project in a couple of all-nighters. Brett’s body was found by the pretty, young receptionist after the first one. His face was twisted in torment. A wastebasket filled with his vomit was next to him, as if some horrific smell caused him to gag and wouldn’t let him stop.
To this day, it is not uncommon for the unexplainable whiff of something the smells like a cross between rotten eggs and angry skunk to ruin the workday at this particular suite. It has also been scented by the vending machines where Fred liked to graze during his late nights.
Copyright 2011 © BillLawrenceOnline.com
The fields of Newtown Square are now largely asphalt streets and tract homes but it’s said a confused young woman in strange clothes can still sometimes be found looking for something lost under the leaves.
And some still say they hear the panicked hooves of a driven horse in the pre-dawn on Chester Pike 10 miles to the south. The rider, they unlikely realize, is rushing to save the life of the woman.
Elizabeth Wilson was born to a family of respected farmers in East Bradford Township 13 years before the Revolutionary War. Her family, unfortunately, sided with the British and the respect was lost along with with much of their land.
So Elizabeth sought affection where she could find it and she found it while working as a barmaid at the Indian Queen Tavern in Philadelphia far from her home. A patron of the tavern left her pregnant just as the war ended and when her condition became obvious she was forced from her job. She returned to her parents’ home where she gave birth to twins sons.
As soon as she recovered enough to travel she returned to the Indian Queen to look for her lover, who upon seeing her feigned joy and promised to marry her.
With a smile on her lips and a sparkle in her eyes she returned to the farm to gather her children and rendezvous with the groom-to-be at the crossroads of Newtown Square.
The happy meeting never happened. Elizabeth disappeared for a week and when she finally did surface she was disheveled and incoherent. Her children were not with her. Their bodies were discovered buried beneath leaves a short time later about 3 miles west of the Square off Goshen Street Road in East Bradford.
Elizabeth was charged with the murders and she was placed in the City of Chester’s 4th Street Jail pending a trial in the Chester Courthouse. Chester at the time was the county seat as Delaware County was yet to be broken off from Chester County.
The trial began in June 1785 before Justice William Augustus Atlee but as Elizabeth wouldn’t say a word in her defense her attorney prevailed to have the trial postponed until fall.
It restarted in October and Elizabeth still refused to offer a defense. The jury had no choice to convict and Atlee sentenced her to hang on Dec. 7.
Elizabeth’s parents abandoned her upon sentence but she had a brother, William, who was apprenticed to a stone-carver in Lancaster County and had been unaware of what happened. When he found out, he rushed to her side arriving on Dec. 3. Elizabeth finally related the details as to what happened. Rather than meeting her in Newtown Square, her lover surprised her in the woods west of the town. He asked to see the babies, then ordered Elizabeth to kill them. She refused so he trampled them to death, then held a pistol to her chest and made her swear that she would never reveal what he had done.
On Dec. 6, William took Elizabeth’s statement to the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, which at the time was the ruling authority in the state and presided over by Benjamin Franklin with Charles Biddle as the vice president. They agreed to postpone the hanging until Jan. 3.
William began a search for the lover and found him on a farm in New Jersey. He denied ever knowing Elizabeth. William then sought witnesses who could connect the lover with Philadelphia and his sister and successfully found several. Around Christmas, however, William became violently ill and was incapacitated for a week. He lost track of time. On his next visit to his sister, he was horrified to learn she was scheduled to hang the next day.
He rode to Franklin’s home in the city to request another postponement. After a wait of several hours, Franklin determined it was improper for him to act and referred him to Biddle who granted the postponement.
William then began his desperate ride to Chester. The Middle Ferry across the Schuylkill River was not in operation as the river was high and filled with ice flows. The Revolutionary War pontoon bridges over the Schuylkill River had by now all been removed. William had no choice but to order his horse into the frigid waters. The animal drowned 50 feet from the western shore and William swam the rest of the way. By the time he reached land he was 2 miles downstream from where he entered the water. William found another horse and continued to Chester.
Elizabeth, spent the morning with several clergymen and received holy communion. She was moved to the hangman’s lot at Edgmont and Providence avenues where she would be hung from a large, wild cherry tree.
Authorities had suspected a pardon might be forthcoming and stationed flagman along the Queen’s Highway (24th Street) — the most obvious route from the city — to provide a fast signal.
William, however, was coming down Chester Pike. He rode into the lot shouting “a pardon, a pardon” but it was 23 minutes too late. He fell from his horse and collapsed beneath his sister’s swaying feet.
“For my own part, I firmly believed her innocent,” Biddle would later write. “The next day when Council met, and we heard of the execution, it gave uneasiness to many of the members, all of whom were against her being executed.”
William moved west and became a recluse eventually settling in a cave on Swatara Creek in Dauphin County where he would live until his death in October 1821. He wrote frequently, usually on religious matters. He kept himself clean but wouldn’t shave and would acquire a long, white beard. He became known as the Pennsylvania Hermit.
For Anthony and Miranda and Christopher and Cynthia
This is not a Delaware County ghost story, but a Chester County one and involves an historic 19th century farmhouse north of Downingtown.
We heard it nearly three decades ago from the home’s owners during a Christmas week festivity featuring a crackling fire, fancy cheeses and much Beaujolais Nouveau at the subject house.
“I exist because of a ghost,” the wife said.
“Actually, a monster,” said her husband who knew what was coming.
“The house is haunted,” said the wife. “It was built by my great grandfather and has been in the family since.”
“But your monster has only appeared once,” said the husband.
“It was a ghost,” she said.
“OK, tell the story,” he said.
“It was a dark and stormy night,” she said ignoring the chuckles from her husband and, confessedly, myself. “Grandfather was courting Grandmother and things were not going well. He had been visiting with his friend . . .”
“It had been a Christmas party just like this one don’t forget to say,” said her husband.
“Yes, it had been a Christmas party and there had been a row and Grandfather and his friend were leaving with Grandfather swearing he never wanted to see her again. They walked around back to where his buggy was and saw a figure in an upstairs window. They walked closer for a better look and saw that it was grotesque. It had the body of a man and head of a bird. It opened the window and started gesturing making perverse, undecipherable noises.
“The men immediately ran back to the party to warn the occupants. The house was searched and nothing found. After the initial panic, Grandmother thought it funny and rather sweet what Grandfather did. Things warmed up and here I am.”
Her brother, who had joined us for the story, smirked.
“That’s not the only ghost story here,” he said.
“Oh, you’re not going to bring up Darren, are you?” she snorted. “That was drug induced.”
“Oh, bring Darren up,” said her husband.
“Darren was my college roommate,” said her brother. “He was a bit of a lost soul. I let him spend a Christmas break here. And no, he didn’t do drugs”
“He had a green mohawk,” said the wife.
“And safety pins in his checks, don’t forget that,” said her husband.
“And safety pins in his checks,” said the wife.
“He still didn’t do drugs,” said her brother. “At least not here, anyway.”
The brother explained that they were sharing his old bedroom which was around back, when Darren woke him up.
“Dude,” he said, “I had a weird dream.”
“Sure you did,” mumbled the brother. “It was about two guys with umbrellas.” The brother noted he just being sarcastic and said the first thing that popped in his head. He merely wanted Darren to shut up and go back to sleep.
Unfortunately, it did not have that affect.
“Yes!” Darren said. “YES!! Dude, it was about two guys with umbrellas.”
Darren started pacing the floor. As Darren slept naked, this in itself was troubling, the brother said. Darren then, however, walked to the window.
“DUDE,” Darren shouted. “There they are. The two guys with umbrellas.”
The brother said he buried his head beneath his pillow and prayed Darren wouldn’t wake his parents.
He then heard Darren open the window.
The brother reminded us that this was a December night. He was not happy. When he looked up he was even less so.
Darren was leaning halfway out the window waving his arms frantically.
“DUDES,” he was shouting. “DUDES!!! WHOA DUDES!!!”
After a bit, Darren stopped. “Whoa, that was intense,” he said, then went back to bed.
“This meant I had to get out of bed to shut the stupid window,” the brother said. “No, I didn’t see anybody outside with umbrellas.”
“It was drugs,” the wife said.
I left thinking that a circle got completed and the wife owed Darren a thank you.
Pennsylvania Witch Trial — Pennsylvania had its own witch trial that beat the more famous — and far more deadly — ones in Massachusetts by a decade.
It was presided over by William Penn, himself, and it happened in Delaware County in Ridley.
Margaret Mattson, the wife of Neals, was accused of bewitching cows and indicted for the dastardly deed on Feb. 27, 1683. She pleaded not guilty and was remanded to trial with a jury of 12 and Penn as the judge.
Penn asked her “Art thou a witch? Has thou ridden through the air on a broomstick?” Margaret, a Swede who did not speak English very well, answered “yes.” Penn pointed out that riding a broomstick was not illegal. The jury went out and came back with verdict of guilty of “having the common frame of being a witch” but not guilty of bewitching the cows. Her husband and son-in-law pledged 50 pounds each to guarantee her good behavior for the next six months. Presumably they never lost their money and Margaret lived to a nice old age.
This was Pennsylvania’s first and only witch trial.
Just gives us one more reason to feel superior to New England, we feel. Quidditch is cool in The Keystone State.
Pennsylvania Bigfoot Sighting
The British Daily Mail is reporting a Bigfoot sighting in Pennsylvania, namely the boonies of Bradford County.
John Stoneman, 57, of Bradford says that while he and his girlfriend were returning from the Kinzua Bridge Fall Festival, which was Sept. 21-22, via Kinzua State Park he saw two seven-foot-tall beasts just a few yards from a main road. He slowed down the car and took several photos such as the one above.