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Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Wild Man Of Mahaffey

The Wild Man Of Mahaffey

Once upon a time there was an abandoned lumber camp just outside of Mahaffey. Rattlesnakes had claimed the old foundations, and people stayed clear of the area. One winter in the late 1800's, people reported sounds of strange music and seeing smoke coming from the old half fallen in stable at the location. Farmer James Johnston, who owned property that adjoined the area, said he was tending the cows in his pasture and saw a dirty bearded man jump from the thicket and run into the woods. Other people began to mention seeing a Wild Man at the spot as they passed down the road, and he became talk of the town. The locals described him as being tall, with long brownish colored hair and a beard, probably in his 40's. His identity was a mystery and everyone was curious.  As warm weather approached, Wallace McQuown & Emery Mahaffey headed towards the camp to warn the man about dangerous snakes which would soon be making themselves present in the area. Returning back to town, Mr. McQuown and Mr. Mahaffey said they were unable to find the Wild Man, but did see he had made himself at home in part of the stable that hadn't fallen in. There was a bed built from Hemlock boughs, an old banjo, and fireplace with a pan nearby. The music and occasional smoke could be seen & heard throughout the summer time and again. Mr. McQuown and Mr. Mahaffey returned to check on the Wild Man a few times during the summer, but he was nowhere to be found. By the time snow fell again the man had disappeared and no one ever saw the smoke or heard the peculiar music again... but every once in awhile someone would mention the mysterious Wild Man of Mahaffey

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Petrified Man Of Belsena Mills & Other Interesting Short Stories - Clearfield County

Wild Man
Hunters came across a wild man in the woods near Rockton. His long hair & beard were filthy, and he was wearing copper colored burlap garb. The only word the stranger was able to speak was "draft." It was assumed that he was drafted for the civil war but became a deserter instead, hiding in the forest and living off the land. Ex Governor Bigler took in the mysterious man, and there was mention he would be prepared to vote democratic in the upcoming election. -1865

Lost and Found
On January 6th John Franklin Worley, of Oil City, passed away. Before his death, Mr. Worley made a shocking confession to his wife of 2 years. He said that prior to moving to Oil City, he had lived in Janesville, Clearfield County. He explained he had been married with children, but just left them one day, and never returned. He asked his wife for forgiveness, and to please pass on the word so that his other wife in Clearfield County no longer wondered where he went. Correspondence was sent to Clearfield County right away, to track down the unknowing widow. -1867

Home Remedy
A mineral spring was found in Woodland Township. The crystal clear waters were tested and confirmed to have medicinal qualities. -1876 * In later years a number of strange looking fossils were discovered near the site. One curious discovery was a fossilized egg, found by Mr & Mrs. Alfredo Campagne in 1937. 

Double Chicken
David Mock, a farmer from Bell Township, was quite shocked when a new batch of chicks hatched from the eggs. One of the babies was a "double chicken" and had four legs and feet, but only one head. The chick was perfectly healthy and grew into a hen like all the others. Everyone who saw it felt that the farmer should donate the said freak of nature to the Zoological Society. -1877

Natures creations
A remarkable natural mineral paint mine was found on a farm just outside of Mahaffey. The colored slabs of clay were said to be colorful and very valuable. -1888

Big Foot
The talk of Kylertown was that Big Foot had been roaming the forest near town. Enormous footprints had been seen in the mud and snow by locals and they were feeling a bit nervous. 
Children were not allowed to play in the woods, and the hunters were taking extra precautions against any unwanted attacks by the beast. Late in November a man was seen wearing giant wooden feet in the forest. As soon as he was spotted, the man took off, leaving the "big feet" behind. -1888

Catamount & Cub Make Discovery
A catamount and her cub were hunting for dinner on a cattle farm in Penfield where they had been feasting lately, but instead discovered that the owner of the farm, John Place, had been waiting for them. Mr. Place quickly took action before the enormous mother cat could attack, and killed them both with his ax. -1893

Volcanic Activities
A small volcano was discovered by hunters during the freezing cold winter. It was located above Chest Creek in Burnside Township. The crater seeped steam and the ground around it was completely thawed. Stones near the crater were very hot. -1895

The Petrified Man Of Belsena Mills
Contractor Patrick McGovern, of Punxsutawney, was contracted by A.W. Lee & Company to head up a project building an extension in the Railroad from Clearfield Creek to Belsena Mills. Crews of men began clearing the way, and working on the grade. Nearing Belsena Mills there was a rocky hill in the way. As men used picks to chip away the layers of stone, about 7 feet below the surface they discovered an entombed man. The laborers alerted Contractor McGovern, who directed them to exhume the body very carefully. When they finished peeling the layers of stone away, the men could see it was the perfectly preserved, petrified remains of an ancient Native American whose arms were crossed over his chest as if prepared for burial. Mr. McGovern said he was considering presenting the exciting discovery to the Smithsonian institute in Washington Dc. After the petrified man was removed from the site, no one knows what happened to it. - 1898

Indian Treasure
Deposits of silver were found in the creek bed of the Susquehanna River in Curwensville. The old timers in the area remember hearing stories from their elders that Native Americans came to the area many years before, entered the forest, and came out with the large amounts of the valuable mineral... but until this point, no one was sure where it came from. -1905

Pot Of Gold
A destructive colony of woodchucks made themselves at home on a farm owned by Charles Harmon in Pike Township. When the farmer finally had enough of the damages, he began digging up their holes. In one spot Mr. Harmon's shovel hit a piece of iron.  He bent down to see exactly what it was and found an old pot. Inside was a pile of gold colored, very corroded coins. He headed to the bank in Curwensville, coins in tow, where the manager confirmed they were foreign coins, and real gold. -1908

Ancient Spanish Coin
While digging up the sewer at his home on Dory Street in Clearfied, Mr. James Eadie discovered an old Spanish coin dated 1781. On one side of the coin was a crown, the other was a man. -1921

Giant Tooth
A giant heavy tooth was found by Henry Salley in Morrisdale. Scientists in Philadelphia confirmed it was from a Mastodon and said to be approximately 10,0000 years old. The ancient molar weighed about 5 pounds. -1926

Prehistoric Impressions
A prehistoric, petrified piece of hemlock was donated to the Lock Haven Express and put on display. The impression of a snake was imprinted in the artifact, which had been found by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps. #143 in Karthaus. The camp was set to close in October. -1937

Abandoned Baby
One foggy evening in September, a man passing the Carlson residence on Long Ave heard a baby wailing. Not seeing anyone around, he investigated and found that a baby wrapped in blankets was lying on someone's porch swing. No one knew who the little blond haired, blued eyed baby girl was, so she was taken to the hospital on Maple Ave. After police checked hand & foot print records, her identity was still a mystery... and she was given the nickname of Judy. She appeared to be about 3 months old. Six weeks later when no one claimed the infant, she was put up for adoption by an agency in Clearfield. -1946

Dangerous Military Weapon 
Mr. Levi Shuckers, of Hand Street, was working on his yard in May, and excavated dirt near a gas station located at the corner of Dixon and Brady St. Later while spreading the dirt, he discovered a large clay covered lump that wouldn't break up. After working at it, the clay came apart and inside was a Bazooka Rocket. Some local veterans took a look, and said in the war these rockets were used by two man teams to take out "German Pill boxes, " and were very powerful. After moving the bazooka to a safe spot, the bomb squad was contacted to handle the situation. -1947

Collection Of Artifacts
Warren Lingle, of Clearfield, made a wonderful donation to the Clearfield County Historical Society... not money, but a collection of Native American relics he had dug up, starting years ago when he lived on a farm in Goshen Township. The assortment of artifacts included over 1,000 arrow heads and trade stones. Mr. Lingle wanted the Historical Society to display and preserve the items so future generations could enjoy them. -1960

Of course there were many more exciting discoveries made in Clearfield County,
 some that I have read or heard about, and probably many more that I haven't.
 If you have any great stories feel free to comment below or please email me at:
 Thank you for reading!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Creek Monster at Irvin Park - Curwensville

  The Creek Monster at Irvin Park

The summer of 1922 was sweltering hot. Warm weather continued into late fall. Families and friends gathered at Irvin Park many times as they had done in previous years, enjoying picnics, fishing, rafting, and swimming... but one thing was different this year. Early in the season a mysterious and very large creature was seen lurking in the water. Some people said it had touched them or even tried to attack them. They nicknamed it the Creek Monster, because no one really knew what it was. Men, women, and children were terrified, careful to stay closer to the bank, and if they saw the creepy swimmer, would scream at the top of their lungs, and run from the water as fast as their feet would move. 

One particular hot September day at Irvin Park, families and friends were enjoying the beautiful day. The smell of barbecue was in the air. People were talking, laughing, and tanning on blankets in the sun. Swimmers were mindful of a potential attack from the Creek Monster, but still cooling themselves in shallow waters near the bank. The air was suddenly filled with shrieks and terrified swimmers ran from the water, pointing to an area where the mysterious, menacing creature had just been seen. A brave young lady named Blanche Kelly just happened to be at the park with friends and saw people pointing towards the spot. Before anyone could stop her, Blanche tore off into the water and cornered the Creek Monster. In the blink of an eye, she snatched it up, ran for the bank, grabbed a mirror from her vanity bag, and stabbed the slimy amphibian to death. As she leaned up to catch her breath, people gathered around to see what it was... It turns out that the Creek Monster was an enormous fresh water eel, about 3 1/2 feet long and described to be as thick as a hard working mans arm. Blanche was considered a hero and everyone swam a little easier for the rest of the season. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

- The Good Old Days In Houtzdale -

- The Good Old Days In Houtzdale - 
*Click on photos to enlarge

1876 - Contractor D.C. Nelson was making progress with his crew, building the new Catholic Church in town. The congregation was so excited, that they decided to hold the first service in June, before the building was completed. Parishioners took a seat in the pews, and Reverend Father Meagher took his place in the pulpit... Suddenly a loud noise echoed through the building and the floor gave way, crashing through the next floor, and into the basement, carrying everyone with it. Mr. Nelson was in the basement when this occurred, and was killed on impact. Other minor injuries were reported, but none too serious. It was only the first "bad luck" for the church, as the next week a man was seen lighting fire to the building. The unknown arsonist got away before anyone could reach him. 

1876 - Miners at the Franklin Colliery were working hard, moving tons of coal every day. In fact, 5 1/2 tons of coal were all in one giant & terribly heavy chunk which was shipped to the Centennial to be broken. The stoke was about 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide, much larger than the men who dug it from the mines. In October the same men went on strike, demanding a raise of at least 10 cents per ton of coal. 

1877 - James F. Campbell Jr., of the Johnstown Voice, established a new branch of the newspaper in town called the Houtzdale Voice. The tabloid made its debut on October 1st. 

1881 - A "Swede"was berry picking on the mountain above town, but never returned to the boarding house. A search party gathered and headed out to look for him just after dark. The man was found in the berry patch with numerous rattlesnakes suctioned to his body. To get them away, torches were lit with hopes the snakes would recoil, but that didn't work. The men had to shoot them away with guns. The unnamed man died of his injuries, and was 
buried in the St. Lawrence Cemetery. 

1886 - A man from Houtzdale was committed to jail in May because he refused to pay 66 cents a week towards supporting his elderly mother. According to the news, another man was committed to jail for the exact same thing in 1895. Could this be true? Either way, the sheer thought of this seems silly, but 66 cents was a lot of money back then. 

1888 - A public library was erected in the community for the miners. 

1890 - President Benjamin Harrison passed through town in September. Welcome speeches were made by prominent locals, little girls threw flowers at his feet, and young boys dressed in costumes, forming a parade. The Houtzdale and Osceola Mills ovations were said to be the best. 

1899 - A strange incident was reported at the Thomas Dolan farm when, on a clear and breeze-less day, a pile of straw was picked up into the air and formed a funnel like shape, then blew away to another property and dropped on the ground. Mr Dolan though this was a bad omen that meant his hay crop for the season would be doomed. 

1904 - Jonas Anda, of the Anda Coal Company, and his family were heading back to Houtzdale via the Norge Steamship after visiting family in Norway. The ship sunk, killing about 640 people, including Mr. Andas, his wife Rachel, and children ( Nils, Ingeborg, Judith, and Gunder).

1905 - During the Pure Food Crusade, some of the grocers in Clearfield County were charged with selling embalmed food. These parties made a guilty plea before Judge Smith: (1) George Dickey, of Houtzdale, sales of embalmed bologna sausage. (2) E.J. Peters, of Dubois, sales of embalmed red raspberry jelly. (3) Al Sprankle, of Dubois, sales of embalmed ketchup. They were all fined $100. 

1911 - During the borough council meeting in May a ban was placed on the usage of all air rifles. Any offenders were to be arrested on the spot and fined. In June another ban went into effect. Due to the drought, all hoses were banned & violators would receive a hefty fine. 

1915 - William Patrick McGowan signed a contract to play baseball for the Chicago Federals. 

1921 -  The 18 month old daughter of Mr & Mrs. Jules & Ellen Frelin fell into the creek, and was swept away before they could grab her. When Mrs. Vinnie Loy saw the child in the water from her kitchen window, she wasted no time,  vaulted a three foot fence, and snatched the little girl before she was once again carried away. Mrs. Loy was considered a local hero. 

1921 - Sherriff Gormand, Deputy Sherriff Gilliland, and 3 special prohibition agents raided 2 business in town after receiving tips that they were selling alcohol in the form of medication. The first was the general store on Main Street owned by Mary Abrams. The deputies confiscated 10 cases of wine and pepsin, and 3000 bottles of Jamaica Ginger with an alcohol content of greater than 25 percent per each bottle. A "still" was located on the second floor of the building, and also taken. At another store on Main street owned by Abraham Elias, the deputies confiscated about 4,000 bottles of Jamaica Ginger which had an alcohol content of 92 percent and above per each bottle. There was enough contraband to fill two trucks, and the business owners were arrested. 

1938 - The Finney Farm outside of town had a new member in the herd, a little buck deer who was first seen drinking from a mamma cow. Soon he made himself at home, and was eating grass by day in the pasture, and sleeping in the barn at night. The farmer named him "Bucky." By August people could be seen parked along the road trying to get a peek at the little deer who had become tame and thought he was a calf. 

1950 - In October Mrs. & Mrs. Curtis Peck welcomed a second set of twins into the world. The baby boys joined the other set of twins and a brother. I bet that mom was busy for awhile. 

1952 - The American Legion Post in Houtzdale sponsored a new race track above town at the former site of the Park Hill Race Course. The track was called the Legion Speedway. James Reese was chairman of the project which was completed in September, shortly before the first race. Fans from the area came to cheer on their favorite racers for many years until 1972 when the track closed. The land was eventually sold the the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Houtzdale State Correctional Institute is now located on the spot. 

1974 - Mrs Vera Delattre won the top prize of $100,000 in the Bakers Dozen Lottery, but was hunting doe when the lottery office called from Harrisburg to inform her. 

Notorious Inmate @ Houtzdale SCI
The Unicorn Killer

Ira Samuel Einhorn was an anti war & ecological activist in the 1960's and 1970's who took part in founding Earth Day. He began dating Miss Helen "Holly" Maddux around 1972. The couple broke up in 1977 and Holly moved to New York, but was soon lured back to Philadelphia by Einhorn. She was never seen again. After being questioned, Einhorn said Holly left his apartment to make a phone call, but never came back, and he had no idea where she went... 18 months later her body was found inside a trunk in his closet. According to the Coroner's report she was alive when locked into the trunk, and had been badly beaten. Einhorn was charged with murder, and his attorney, Arlen Specter, convinced the judge to allow bail, which was set at $40,000. Miss Barbera Brofman, of the family who owns Seagrams,  posted the 10 percent bail for him, and Einhorn took off to Europe before his trial date in 1981. Over the next 16 year Einhorn lived under the assumed name Eugene Mallon, and even married, living undetected for quite some time. Back in Pennsylvania he was convicted of murder in absentia, and sentenced to life in prison without parole. In 1997 Einhorn was found to be living in France, and arrested, but the extradition process was lengthly as Einhorn claimed the courts in the United States had given him an unfair trial, that he would be given the death penalty, and that the CIA had committed the murder of Holly and framed him for the horrendous crime. In 1999 a movie was released called "The Hunt for the Unicorn Killer," which was about the murder of Holly Maddux, and search for her killer. Finally, after the US Government promised another trial, he was extradited back in 2001. In October of 2002 he was again convicted of murder. Shortly after his sentence began, Einhorn was transferred to Houtzdale SCI and remained there until 2016 when he was transferred to Laurel Highlands.