Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Ghost Of Foster Spicer - Potter County & Tioga County

A caretaker at the Phenix Cemetery (nowadays Phoenix Cemetery) arrived one foggy morning with his tools, preparing to do some work before the upcoming Memorial Day. As he entered the graveyard, the man's jaw dropped along with his supplies... a terrifying sight was ahead. The wooden casket which previously held the body of notorious Foster "Fawtt" Spicer was now empty, tipped on its side over a mound of dirt. There were clear drag marks, but no sign the dead mans remains.  People were soon gossiping over who could have done such a thing. As shocking as it was, they weren't entirely surprised that Spicer's corpse was stolen and disposed of, especially considering the controversy over his burial. 

Going back in time - Spicer was a hardened criminal and looked the part. His tall, muscular build accompanied by dark piercing eyes, unshaven face, and aggressive ways were enough to make everyone cower in his presence, including the law. The list of illegal activities committed by Spicer was a mile long and included counterfeiting, bootlegging, assaults, robberies, and he had been suspected in two murder cases which were never solved. About 10 years prior to his death, Spicer and his son had brutally attacked and robbed Mr. and Mrs. John Bates in Chatham Township, Mrs. Bates was said to have been left in a delicate condition. The infamous villain & his son were sentenced to serve time at the Eastern State Penitentiary. Upon early release, the elder Spicer began to cause trouble again right away.

In 1894 the law caught wind of illegal activities at a pigs ear in Galeton, but because Spicer was said to be involved, no Sheriff or officer of the law wanted to make an attempt to even find out. Constable James Higgins of Austin was not scared of anyone, and so he was called in to take the lead. He headed to Galeton with a personal weapon, his prized and pearl handled, 38 caliber, Smith & Wesson revolver, which cost $20 (expensive for those days). After a deadly duel there was only one man standing, Constable Higgins. As the smoke rolled off his gun, relief from the surrounding communities was felt. Soon the evil Fawtt Spicer would be 6 feet under... but the question of the day was, where? No one wanted his body in a cemetery at their town, or even their county. People in Tioga County felt because his death was in Potter County, that the burial should be there. Citizens of Potter County felt because he came from Tioga County, that it should be there. In the end he was buried in the closest graveyard to the county line, Phenix Cemetery. 

Spicers missing corpse was never found but talk from back then was that his body had been dumped in Phenix Creek in Pike Township where the stream crosses under the road. For years people thought his dark, vengeful spirit wandered the lonesome stretch and flowing creek from one end to the other... seeking revenge and continuing to scare the daylights out of people. His ghost was the blame for a number of tragedies which occurred in the following years along Phenix Run. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Haunted homestead on Kinney Road...

One old homestead once located on Kinney Road, along the Irish Creek, was a scene for many strange events and tragedies. The house and barns were built by a Mr. William Cuningham (*not Cunningham) and his wife Ellin in the 1850's. The couple claimed to have migrated from Ireland like many who settled in the area, but didn't really fit the mold for many reasons. Either way, they were eccentric, kept to themselves, and remained in the area raising 5 daughters on their farm. Four of the girls moved out at the earliest age they could survive, not really saying why. Bridgit was the only one who stayed and was not seen in public after some point, no one ever knew what happened to the girl. Mr Cuningham passed away not too long after his wife supposedly did, and the daughter who was inheriting his property already had plans to sell the creepy farm... The McGinnis brothers signed a purchase agreement at the same time as his death. The men moved in, and soon moved out, reporting they could hear the sounds of crying and felt like they were living in the house with some unseen evil force. While the lot was vacant, passers by reported a ball of light in the window on occasion. Later the home was passed to a granddaughter who again leased the farm, this time to Frank O'Donnell and his new bride. The couple laughed at the rumors of a haunting. Soon they were hearing the cries of a girl or woman, seeing unexplained lights, hearing noisy footsteps from no visible person, and after Mr. O'Donnell saw a dark shadowy figure in the kitchen disappear before his very eyes, they were packing their bags. Mr. & Mrs. O'Donnell were able to get some of the money back after a court hearing at the local JP office. Again the house was vacant and later re -leased to a family. The young mother went insane shortly after and eventually she committed suicide in the home... and after that a murder took place on the farm. Eventually the old homestead and barns were tore down. Nowadays there is nothing left but an old well on the property and restless wandering spirits. There was always speculation as to what happened to Bridgit. No one really knows if she was the mysterious presence haunting the homestead on Kinney Road or could it have been something or someone else. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Potter County Commissioners make a shady deal...

County Commissioner Charles Austin made his rounds in August of 1913, checking to see if there was anyone who fit criteria for placement in the Potter County Home. He stopped at the residence of Mr. John Hill in Summit Township, and saw an opportunity. Explaining to the elderly man that a deal could be made, John was quickly convinced to sign over the deed to his farm (valued at $1,800.00 - nowadays about $45,000 ) and all assets such as farm equipment, animals and such. John would get a safe place to live for the rest of his life, along with his daughter Cynthia, who was one of his many children still alive but continued to live at home with her Dad. Commissioner Austin also said he would make sure the $300 mortgage left on the property would be paid... No time was wasted contacting family members, the commissioner returned to the Potter County Home with the two new inmates in tow.  

Mr. Hill passed away from heart disease about two weeks later. The agreement already in place kept Cynthia from leaving. She died of Chronic Nephritis ( basically a urinary tract or kidney infection that went untreated ) in 1924 when she was only 51 years old. 

In Memory of John Hill & his daughter Cynthia