Freedom's Corner Haunts & History
The legends, lore, and ghost tales of Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton & Philadelphia counties.
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HECKEWELDER'S GHOST (Bethlehem, Northampton County) Morovian missionary John Gottlieb Ernestus Heckewelder not only Christianized the Delawares, but he helped calm the souls in Bethlehem, too. The townsfolk, who took their cattle and livestock to the shores of the Lehigh River to graze and drink, were chased away by a ghost that haunted their grassy banks. Well, ol' Heckewelder, who had braved the British, the Colonials, and the Indians, would have none of this; no mere misty apparition was going to scare him off. He demanded to know why the spirit was spooking his people. She told him that she had a cruel husband in the old country; to escape, she drowned their baby child and fled to America and Bethlehem. But remorse caught up to her, and she drowned herself. Her punishment was to remain a ghost until her natural time to die was reached. Heckewelder returned to the townsfolk, told his tale, and returned to their usual routine, knowing that she was serving a penance and wasn't out to harm them. When her appointed time finally came and she was freed, none of the people even noticed that she had gone. Ghosts Of Christmas City
HEILBRON MANSION (Middletown Twp., Delaware County) "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all" should be the motto of this house. The first home built on this site by the Murchisons burned to the ground a few years after its' construction, and its' foundations can still be seen on the property. Seven Murchisons died in the blaze, and their crypt was built on a hill under an oak tree within sight of the current house. A new home was built by the Edwards family in 1837, called Chroledale, on Rose Tree Road. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad. In 1864, 14 year old Margaret Edwards was supposedly raped and murdered under a large maple tree in the yard. She was lured out of the house by Elisha Culbert, a farmhand on the estate. He was lynched by the other workers when the body of Margaret was discovered in the creek. Her distraught mother began spending her time in the library, Margaret's favorite room. She eventually hung herself from a beam above the third floor window (some say it was at the nearby creek.) All three spirits are said to haunt the mansion. Culbert and the mom can be heard, but not seen. Culbert's footsteps can be heard approaching the front door from the coachhouse, while the mother's footsteps retrace her final act sometimes, and just wanders the halls looking for daughter at others. They are heard going from the library and up the stairs to the third floor where they stop. It's said that the library is her private domain. If anyone enters it, it's said a book will fly off the shelf and hit the floor with a bang like a gunshot to show her displeasure with the unwanted visitor. Margaret has been reported seen upstairs. The basis for this tale is an out of print book released in 1977 titled Night Stalks The Mansion, written by Constance Westbie and Harold Cameron. It's purported to be non-fictional and based on their experiences from living there for two years in the 1960s. Unfortunately for wraith fans, the Philadelphia Inquirer squelched a great ghost tale. The primary evidence is that Margaret showed up in the 1870 census, six years after her alleged death. She seems to have survived her murder quite well. And with no crime, no spooks. Other locals, though, remember an old legend of a murder-suicide there, which may be the basis for the book. There was talk of building a B&B there years ago, but the home burned down in 1987, leaving a few foundation stones, and a housing development popped up on the old estate instead. But it's said the bad vibes remain. Del Co Ghosts
HENSELL ROAD (Buckingham Twp., Bucks County) If you park your
car at night on the short rural road and shut off the engine and
lights, it's said you can see the spirit of a green figure in the
woods, carrying a lantern. There's also been sightings of ghosts in
the trees and swirling red lights. This is close to gravity hill, so
maybe you can kill two birds with one stone and take in both. There's not much room for
the spooks to operate anymore, as the roadside has been built up by a
suburban development. Obiwan's post
HEXENKOPF ROCK (Raubsville, Northampton County) Hex Rock has been held in awe by the locals since the early 1700s, when it was reputed to be the hangout of the area witches. They would sing, dance, and of course plot against their more saintly neighbors, causing crop failures, miscarriages, illnesses, and farm animal deaths. Dubbed "Misery Mountain," it used to cast an imposing shadow on the lives of early German settlers. Some nearby residents still refuse to stray too close to the rock at night, especially on Halloween, when the witches party at Hexenkopf Rock. One story claims that a witch who lived on the forested hill placed a curse on her neighbors for nebbing into her affairs. When people started falling sick, the villagers took justice into their own hands and hanged her. She was later seen wandering the hill seeking her vengeance. An older bit of lore says that local shamans would perform rituals ("pow-wows")to draw the evil spirits out of the sick. These evil spirits would then be imprisoned in the mountain. It is said the hill used to glow at night from all the evil trapped inside it. The hill has long lost its eerie night glow. Skeptics speculate that the glow had been caused by a coating of a mineral that has eroded away. But some say it's because the spirits aren't in the rock anymore—they're out roaming the woods, looking for a new body to inhabit. Other witchy spooks have been allegedly spotted there, along with a the ghost of a headless hunter and various locals who have met their doom there. There have also been sightings of strange floating lights and the sounds of eerie noises have been reported. Witches Head abounds with local lore of ghosts, disappearances, demons, insanity, and suicides. One legend we'll pass on is that of a one-legged farmer, who fell to his death chasing (or fleeing from) a demon; it's said you can still hear the tap-tap-tap of his wooden leg in the area. Now it's largely deserted, with the ruins of a few old farmhouses left in the woodlands. But occasionally a crop circle will pop up on one of the local farms. It's blamed on the whirling witches leaving their ghostly imprint on the field after their Hexen Danz. If you really want the whole story, Ned Heindel wrote a comprehensive history of the place in 1976 , "The Hexenkopf Mystery, Myth and Legend." Hexenkopf
HEX HIGHWAY (Berks County) No, we don't believe the Hex Highway (Old Route 22) winding through northern Berks County is haunted. But it's a great example of do-it-yourself ghost protection. The Pennsylvania Dutch adorned their barns with colorful hex signs to ward off the evil spirits they suspected were lurking around every corner, and it seemed to work pretty well for them. If you get the chance, take a trip along the highway to see the folk art that protected them against the voodoo of the mid 1800s.
HILL SCHOOL CHAPEL (Pottstown, Motgomery County) The private Hill School was founded in 1856 and the dark Romanesque Alumni Memorial Chapel was built in 1904. John Meigs, the son of founder Rev. Matthew Meigs and headmaster from 1876-1911, donated the organ. That's not all he left behind. The story goes that Meigs, suffering from severe depression, hung himself from a Chapel light fixture. Since he committed suicide, he couldn't be buried in the cemetery's sacred ground, so he was laid to rest outside the Chapel's side doors. It's said that if you're in the Chapel late at night, you can see the light he hung himself from still swaying. The stairwell to the bell tower is covered with the signatures of former students. They seem to have hung around, too. There's been reports of screams, chiming bells, and voices speaking Latin coming from the stairs. The Shadowlands
HILL'S GHOST (Plumstead, Bucks County) The legend goes that as a farmer finished up his day's work and headed home, he noticed a shadow arising from John Hill's tombstone in the neighboring cemetery. Summoning up every ounce of his flagging courage, he asked out loud "who's there?" The answer has been heard many times over the years. Hill's ghost arose and chanted "I was killed" over and over again. Hill was supposedly murdered in the 1800s, and his killer was never found. Apparently his spirit won't rest until that day comes and so Hill harangues everyone that passes by his grave, crying out for justice. Philly Burbs
HOLLYHEDGE ESTATE (New Hope, Bucks County) Built in the 1740s, the 20 acre Hollyhedge Estate now hosts house guests and swank affairs. It also hosts a spook or two in the building, generally manifesting itself through poltergeist activity, usually between 2-3 AM. The back bedroom is the busiest spot with a closet door that opens and shuts itself without any human hand. The estate building is filled with cold spots and orbs and the reception area sometimes fills with the aroma of a smokehouse from its' former life as a kitchen. Investigators have also spotted a shadow outside the house. These activities were reported by the PGHA.
HOLY INFANCY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (Bethlehem, Lehigh County) This K-8 school was founded in 1894, but it's ghost dates from a more recent era - disco. While putting up a disco ball in the school auditorium, a girl was alleged to have gotten caught in the wiring and accidentally hung herself. Her ghost has been reported haunting the school. Another student was supposed to have drowned in the pool, but there's no report of him making a splash at Holy Infancy. Unsolved Mysteries
HOTEL BETHLEHEM (Bethlehem, Lehigh County) Bethlehem's first house was built on this site in 1741, to be later replaced by the Eagle Hotel in 1823. In 1922, Charles Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel, decided he wanted more modern digs to live in and the Hotel Bethlehem was born. It even had running water! But it came with more than hot and cold water. Over the years, people have reported being tapped on the shoulder by the unseen, bodiless voices have called out employee's names, there are reported cold spots, and even sightings of unplugged vacuum cleaners gliding across the rugs (and do we wish we had one of those haunting our carpets!) The oldest spook is Mrs. Brong, the wife of an innkeeper dating back to the Eagle Hotel days. She's been spotted in the kitchen and the restaurant. They know it's her because she's barefoot, just as she liked to be in her flesh and blood days. One famous spook that never checked out is that of actress & songbird of the 1890s, May Yohe. She grew up in the hotel that her grandfather once owned, and has been seen on the third floor gazing out a window and playing the piano in the lobby, reliving her childhood. Francis "Daddy" Thomas, who lived in the hotel during colonial times, is another ghost that likes to play pranks on the staff in the boiler room. In fact, one engineer refuses to work in the area. There's also a woman dressed in Victorian garb that appears in the kitchen and floats out to the dining room, only to disappear. Ghosts of children have been reported throughout the Hotel. Some guests have requested room transfers because of the spectral shenanigans in the building. In room 932, for example, a couple saw a spook standing by the bed in his boxer shorts and undershirt. Another time, guests saw a man at their bed, and he wanted to know what they were doing in his room. The hotel has decided to tap into this history, and offers a "Rooms With A Boo" package. One set of potential spirits they won't discuss is that of the five elderly guests who died in a fire there in 1989, caused by a faulty iron cord. They haven't been heard from, so apparently they crossed over peacefully. But it doesn't look like they could convince the other hotel spooks to join them on their journey towards the light. (The Brown & White "Eerie Pennsylvania," October 30, 2007)
HUFF'S CHURCH CEMETERY (Hereford Twp., Berks County) There's a park and pavilion on the grounds, so you can make it a day when you go ghost hunting here. There are supposed to be voices heard here, speaking in either German or Pennsylvania Dutch and places where there are huge temperature drops. The star spook is the spirit the Berks-Lehigh Paranormal group call Phil. They suspect there are other ghosties afoot, too - the cemetery is brimming with the victims of a century old flu epidemic that claimed many area lives. Berks Lehigh Paranormal
IMMACULATA COLLEGE (Immaculata, Chester County) Immaculata legend says that a turn of the century nun became pregnant. When her condition was discovered, she threw herself off of the fourth floor balcony of the Rotunda. It's reported that the glass tiles, no matter how often they're replaced or repaired, remain shattered where the sister landed. The students living on either side of the Rotunda can feel cold spots and the sounds of a woman crying. They also report a little boy on the steps, playing marbles. It's said, according to a Ghosts of America board, that he fell from the balcony to his death, and won't leave. One student claimed to have seen the spirit of a nun in an old habit walk past her and into the Rotunda. A professor has sighted three glowing ghosts on the lawn, and an exhibit of Duffy's Cut artifacts was accompanied by knocking sounds in the library, both attributed to the spirits of the Irish railroad workers who died of cholera in 1832. The Shadowlands
INDEPENDENCE HALL (Chestnut Street, Philadelphia) The Hall, built in 1753 as the Pennsylvania State House, has seen more history than most of us were ever taught. It also has a couple of spirits to add to the Philly collection. Ghosts are supposed to haunt the first floor of the Bell Tower, once home to the Liberty Bell and now housing the Centennial Bell. It's reported that you can see half visible shapes and hear the low buzz of endless debate. Another spook, allegedly of Benjamin Franklin, has been seen in the gallery where the Declaration of Independence is displayed, sending one guard into an early retirement after the sighting. The spirit of a man dressed in 18th century clothes has also been reportedly been seen several times. It's reported that you can hear the footsteps of soldiers upstairs where there was once a Revolutionary War infirmary - or maybe they're from the outside burial pit for those killed in the fighting. Oddly, Benedict Arnold is also supposed to haunt the Hall, perhaps trying to make amends for his treachery. Visit PA
INDEPENDENCE PARK BEST WESTERN HOTEL (Old City, Philadelphia) The Chestnut Street hotel was built in 1856, so it's had a chance to pick up a few eerie vibes over its life. They've had phantom phone calls, swinging chandeliers, disembodied voices heard by its clients, and vibrating beds, but it's most known for its pack of giggling children roaming the halls. They're loud enough for the customers to complain, but have never been seen except as shadows, just the opposite of how they should be - seen and not heard. (Philadelphia Weekly "An Old City Haunt," February 8, 2006)
INDIAN CURSE (Bushkill Twp., Northampton County) Deep in the woods, back in the days when settlers and the Native Americans warily coexisted, a farmer caught an Indian on his property and killed him. The Native Americans didn't avenge themselves with the tomahawk; instead they laid a curse on the farmer and his family. One night soon after, the farmer woke up in the dead of night, grabbed his axe, and chopped his family to bits. Then he killed himself; the legend says he split his own skull. It's claimed that if you're in Bushkill Corners at night, a complete silence envelops the area, and you can see the dark shadows of the settler and his family flit past. Lance told this tale in a Ghosts of America post.
INDIAN FIELD (Bethel Twp., Delaware County) Early hunters from Bethel were aware of a strange stone in the field behind the Ford-Harry Hanby homestead on Marsh Road near the state line. It was thought to be sacred to the Indians, and there was much native lore about the area. Hunters avoided it, especially on moonlit nights, because the ghost of an Indian supposedly would make his appearance then. The area became known as "Indian Field" in the brave's honor. Bethel Township History
INDIAN ROCK INN (Upper Black Eddy, Bucks County) The Inn is located on a bend in the Delaware River known as the Pennsylvania Palisades, across from scenic New Jersey. It's built at the site of a former Lenni-Lenape pool that the Indians used to store fish as far back as the 1300s. It's been offering rooms and cold brews since 1812 under a variety of venues - the Rising Sun Hotel, the Farmers and Travelers Inn, the Narrowsville Hotel, and the Indian Rock Inn since 2002, taking its' new name from a rock formation that's said to resemble an Indian's face. It was also a speakeasy back in the days when the Delaware Canal was being built, and it's said that the bodies of brawlers killed there were buried in shallow graves outside the building. Some poltergeist activity has been noted, like doorknobs rattling as if someone's trying to get in, water taps turning themselves on and off, and knockings. Shadows and apparitions have been reported in the B&B. It was also the home for a cast of actors that performed in a haunted tour attraction (since closed) across the road. It's possible some of them didn't give up their spooky roles in the afterlife. Given its' long history, whom the ghosts may be is anybody's guess. The Shadowlands
INDIAN ROCK PARK (Springfield, Delaware County) This is a spook tale of fairly recent vintage. It's said that partying teens used to gather around a lantern at night in the park to drink and do drugs. One girl OD'ed on heroin in the 1980s, and it's said that her spirit can be seen walking slowly through the woods, carrying a lantern. The Shadowlands
INDIAN TOWER (Nazareth, Northampton County) The Indian Memorial Tower is the final resting place for four Morovian Indians and sixty of their brethern. The second story is supposedly haunted by shadow figures, and you can hear footsteps going up and down the steps when no one is present. Michael in a Ghosts of America post said that one night he and his friends saw a floating figure that told them to "Let my people rest." Local lore claims that if you look from the Tower top, you can see figures in the grounds around it and in the nearby cemetery.
THE INN AT CRIER IN THE COUNTRY (Glen Mills, Delaware County) The Inn was originally built in 1740. It later was a private residence and in the 1940s, it became a retirement home. It's been a restaurant since 1968. The story goes that the building was once owned by a woman named Lydia Penell. She loved the house she had happily shared with her husband for years, but was forced to sell it when she hit on hard times after his death. But that didn't mean she had to leave it. She sets the chandelier to swinging on the first floor, can be heard singing in the second floor dining room (once her bedroom and now appropriately named Lydia's Room), and wrecks havoc with silverware and place settings if left alone. Lydia's been seen in the mirror of the upstairs Men's Room - how unladylike! - dressed in an old fashioned gown. Another spook has been seen in the kitchen. The staff thinks this is the spirit of Henry Saulnier, who bought the house from Lydia. Metroblogging Philadelphia added that the sounds of ghostly dinner parties can be heard when the Inn is closed. It's also reported that the lady's room is haunted by the spirit of Lydia's daughter. And once it was said that a black mist try to wrap itself around a guest, which would be the only malicious action we've heard a spirit take at the Inn. That room was the servant's quarters once, and the spirit there is decidedly hostile. Once a German Shepherd sensed a presence and began snarling and growling. The dog backed across the room, began whining and leaped out the window to its' death. Its' owner, who was in the room, watched the scene play out but saw no spirit. Del Co Ghosts
THE INN AT PHILLIPS MILL (New Hope, Bucks County) This restored 18th century stone barn is listed on the National Historic Register. The Inn has a permanent female guest. She's been seen wearing a long dress with a high collar, and she likes to haunt the stairway where she'll occasionally bump into someone. She also enjoys rocking herself in an old rocking chair in the corner of the Inn. (The Bucks County Courier Times "A Haunting We Will Go," September 20, 2007)
THE INN AT ST. PETER'S VILLAGE (St. Peter's Village, Chester County) The Inn was originally established in 1881 as the Excursion House by quarry master Davis Knauer. It was used as a lab during WW2, and became the Inn at St. Peter's Village in 2005. It features the popular Fox Den bar, harking back to the days when foxes were raised in the basement to supply the local hunting crowd. The old hotel left behind a few visitors. It's said that you hear the cries of an infant from the Inn. You can also hear the sounds of creaking and footsteps from the 2nd floor from the spirit of a lady that allegedly hung herself there. It's been reported that the ghost of an elderly, bent over man can been seen walking the hallways and street outside the Inn. The Shadowlands
THE INN PHILADELPHIA (S. Camac Street, Philadelphia) The row houses that were joined in 1924 to create The Inn Philadelphia were first built in 1824 in the middle of a thriving red light district. The neighborhood cleaned up its' act, but the Inn has a few permanent guests that still enjoy the ambiance. There's the usual poltergeist activity - swinging chandeliers, doors opening and closing, voices and footsteps. The footsteps are alleged to belong to the father of a previous owner. He helped his son restore the building and became fond of the place, but suffered a heart attack the day before the Inn opened and died. The footsteps that belong to him have a peculiar stomp and drag rhythm to them, and he was known to favor heavy work boots and walked with a noticeable limp in life. Staffers have seen a woman's ghost, dressed in a long skirt, on the upstairs hallway. People at the bar have seen a shadowy apparition exit the cloak room and walk straight through the bar's wall. The cellar has tunnels in it used by the Underground Railroad and perhaps smugglers. Footsteps have been heard going through them when they were empty. Customers have had their hair pulled or been pinched. You never know who - or what - you'll run across at The Inn Philadelphia. Del Co Ghosts