Deep in the heart of Southern York County, lies a strange area commonly known as Spring Valley County Park. What’s so scary about a County Park? Nothing really, except the fact that this land encompasses an area famously known as Rehymeyer’s Hollow or Hex Hollow. There’s been numerous books written about this area, including a 1988 film called “Apprentice to Murder” starring the great Donald Pleasance. I recommend this film, though it’s difficult to find.
Upon entering the park you’ll see a lot of small tributaries of the Codorus creek, which at night have been known to take on a blood red glow. To all you anglers out there, this place is actually one of the top fishing spots in the area! It’s very easy to get lost in this park if you are unfamiliar; there are many intertwining dirt and stone roads, which at times are so narrow their difficult to navigate. Throughout the roads you’ll find some old foundations from homes long gone.As for the park itself, there is a lot of hiking and horseback riding, but that’s about it. There is still a home that stands in this area though and it’s got quite a history behind it! It is the former home of Nelson Rehmeyer.
Nelson was what is commonly known as a Powwow Doctor. Today he may be referred to as a sorcerer or a witch. There were many of these types in this area in the early 1900’s. My father himself has told me stories about his visit to powwow doctors as a child and the things that would be done to cure him. For example, he was told to put a shirt in the door to rid a wart that was pestering him for quite a time.
One of the Nelson’s neighbors at the time was having a run of bad luck; his name was John Blymire. Ancestrally I’m actually related to this guy. John had gone to see a witch by the name of Nellie Noll, a/k/a River Witch. Nellie had told him that his problem was Nelson. Nelson was causing all the difficulties John was having. In order to fix his situation, John would have to steal Nelson’s spell book and a lock of his hair and bury them 6 feet under the ground.
On a rainy dark night in November, Blymire - along with two teen accomplices whom Blymire had convinced that Rehmeyer was the source of their hard times as well – went to Rehmeyer’s house. They stayed up late telling stores and in the morning after staying the night, Blymire tried to convince his young friends to go to Rehmeyer’s basement to retrieve his book of spells. The boys were too terrified to proceed. The next night the three returned, but this time Blymire was more determined then ever. It took all three men to tackle the imposing Rehmeyer who stood over 6-feet-tall. Upon refusing to give up his spell book, they hitched a rope around his neck and proceeded to beat Rehmeyer to his death.
The three were still too hesitant to invade Rehmeyer’s basement. Instead they covered his body in lamp oil and set him ablaze. Stepping out into the rainy November chill, they left poor Nelson to lie ablaze with his body charred. Nelson was murdered and word traveled fast about the witch being killed by his neighbor. The story grabbed National headlines and was the taboo tabloid story of its time.
The Rehmeyer house withstood the fire, though a hole in the floor around Nelson’s body leaves a constant reminder of the horrors that occurred here. Today the great-grandson of Nelson owns the home and is actually trying to make the house a historic exhibit. Although with the place becoming a tourist attraction, it may lose some of its eeriness. It would make for an interesting Bed and Breakfast.