Friday, October 29, 2010

Hans Graf Cemetery and the Haunted Dogs

It’s not only human spirits that haunt the little borough of Marietta. Just a short drive away in the neighboring small town of Rowenna, lies an old family grave plot thought to be haunted by dogs. The Hans Graf Cemetery is the plot of the Graf family, one of the first families to occupy Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The graveyard is very old and mysterious. The graves are encompassed inside a crumbling stone wall. Local legend states if you circle the perimeter seven times by the light of a full moon you will perish. Most of the tales stemming from the cemetery involve phantom canines. A ghostly apparition of a dog has been spotted by numerous visitors near the grave of Hans Graf. Several paranormal investigators have experienced odd phenomenon as well. Several EVPs of dogs barking have been caught on audio, and during numerous visits dogs were often heard when encountering the cemetery.It’s not known why dogs would haunt this cemetery. Perhaps they’re protecting the Graf family from unwanted intruders

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ghosts at the Fulton Theatre Lancaster, Pennsylvania

If you prefer to hunt your ghosts with a little more style, take a stroll to the nearby Fulton Opera House in Lancaster city. This historic playhouse is a hotbed for paranormal activities. The Fulton was built over the foundation of an old prison. In 1763 the prison housed 14 Conestoga Indians who had escaped the Paxton Boys Massacre. The prison was meant to protect the natives, though all it did was made it easier for the mob to torture and kill these poor souls. On a quiet night you can still hear their screams coming from the corner of the building.

In 1852 the theatre went into operation and since than has hosted thousands of plays. Many top actors and actresses have passed through here, including Mark Twain, W.C. Fields and the infamous John Wilkes Booth. But a few of these thespians may still be hanging around the theatre. It’s believed that the ghosts of Sara Bernhardt and former silent movie start Marie Cahill still call the theatre home. Apparitions have been spotted by numerous guests throughout the theatre. Actors and workers at the theatre have also witnessed pianos playing themselves and have heard phantom applause.
If you do attend a show at the Fulton, don’t be too shocked if you feel you’re being watched, too.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spirits at the Strasburg Cemetery

Annie Gonder doesn’t always prefer to stay at home. The nearby Strasburg Cemetery where her remains are buried also seems to be a favorite spot for her. As you approach the rusty iron gates of the cemetery, you feel a presence around you. The bats flying overhead make your pulse race higher as you approach the old, worn tombs of the Gonder family. Something seems afoul. The gravestone of Annie is placed in the opposite direction of the rest of the family. Was the family so ashamed of Annie they turned their backs on her even in death? Or was Annie getting the last laugh on the Gonder family, and shunning away from them? If you hang around the Strasburg Cemetery long enough, maybe you can ask her for yourself!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ghosts in the Gonder Mansion: Strasburg, Pennsylvania

The modest town of Strasburg is mainly known for its historical railroad. Thousands flock to this small town every summer to take a leisurely stroll through the Amish farmlands, not realizing the nearby town is rich in ghostly tales of the afterlife. After-hours this town comes alive with spirits. Ghost carriages have been spotted on Main Street carrying Union Civil War soldiers who are on leave. There’s also the nearby John Funk house which dates back to 1789 and is thought to be haunted by him and his wife. Mr. Funk is such an active spirit; conversations with him have been recorded. He’s also been known to wait on customers in the store that now occupies his former residence. But there’s another nearby home with a past so full of mystique, it’s where urban legends are born.

The Gonder Mansion was built by a local railroading tycoon. The Victorian home was built right next to the very modest home the family formerly resided in. But when moving next door, they left something behind in the former home. The wealthy brother had left his sister Annie to live in the home herself, secluded away from the rest of the family. Annie was thought to have several mental disabilities that the family seemed to be embarrassed by. Eventually Annie moved away from the town and her family, but vowed revenge.
A few years later, Annie took her own life by drowning herself in the nearby Pequea Creek. Since then, it seems as those Annie has kept her promise. Her spirit is said to haunt the Gonder Mansion and is particularly fond of scaring men of the house.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lancaster Cemetery and Augusta Bitner's Grave

Take a late night stroll through the Lancaster Cemetery and you’ll feel the history of the city engulf you, but be cautious of what else you may encounter in this plot of graves. Late night passersby tell tales of encountering a woman in a Victorian dress strolling the hallowed grounds. This woman is thought to be the spirit of Augusta Bitner, a young woman who died during childbirth and has yet to come to rest. Her grave is one of the most exquisite in the cemetery: a large statue of the Virgin Mary, which is thought to come to life during full moon nights. If you visit on the eve of her death, you may even witness tears of sorrow slowly weeping from the statue’s eyes. It’s thought Augusta will never rest until she learns the fate of her precious child who cost her, her own life.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Haunted Lancaster County Prison

The City of Lancaster gets commended for striving to keep the history of the city. Most downtown businesses are in buildings dating back over 150 years. Given all this history and the fact that most still exist, leaves the City of Lancaster ripe with ghost tales.
Originally built in 1737, the Lancaster County Prison, with its castle façade, is a great representation of this. Yet behind that façade that houses criminals, many strange happenings are going on.
The prison held public hangings until 1912 and those sentenced to death were chained to cinder blocks right behind these castle walls. The cells and chains used to hold the prisoners are still in existence, and some believe the prisoners might not be far behind. Late nights in the cells are sure to send a shiver through anyone. Whispers, scratching and chain rattles are a normal occurrence. I’d rather not spend an evening in the prison to find out. I recommend that you don’t either.

Monday, October 4, 2010

River Witch of Marietta, Pennsylvania

Located along Front Street in Marietta is the former home of one of Pennsylvania’s most famous co-conspirators. Nellie Noll, a/k/a the “River Witch,” helped play a very key role in the murder of Nelson Rehmeyer. Nelson’s neighbor, John Blymire, had fallen on some very hard luck. He became convinced that someone had cast a hex on him. He was also able to persuade two teenagers that they, too, had been hexed, that’s the reason for their failing crops. Mr. Blymire contacted several local witches and was convinced that he had been hexed by someone near him. The trio then consulted with Nellie Noll as a last ditch effort. For reasons which are still unknown, she told the men they had been hexed by the Witch of Rehmeyer’s Hollow – Nelson Rehmeyer. In order to break the hex, she informed the men all they would need to do was to retrieve Rehmeyer’s spell book and burn it or get a lock of his hair and bury it six feet underground. The men’s plan eventually came to fruition after they murdered Nelson Rehmeyer in his home. They were never able to retrieve the spellbook of the imposing Rehmeyer, but his hair – and the rest of him – made it six feet underground. The ensuing murder trial made national news and was a media sensation. The Philadelphia Record called the trial “the weirdest and most curiously fascinating in the history of modern jurisprudence.” And to think all this mayhem occurred due to Nellie Noll, the River Witch of Marietta.