Freedom's Corner Haunts & History

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The legends, lore, and ghost tales of Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton & Philadelphia counties.

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NEWBURG INN (Nazareth, Northampton County) The Newburg Inn has been an area landmark since it was built in 1750. The Inn has enjoyed a long and colorful history, dating back to when William Penn owned the ground on which the inn is located. He later gave the land to his sons, John and Richard. The Inn has also served as an Indian trading post as well as a stagecoach stop. It's had auditory phenomena, like disconnected phones ringing and footsteps on the roof, which had an area to fight off Indian raids. Customers, workers and tenants have claimed to see apparitions including those of a former owner named Newt and an Indian reportedly hanged in the rafters of the attic. It's also home to a large dark apparition, and one of the waitresses has even claimed to have had a conversation with one of the Inn's ghosts. The Inn even features a doll that reportedly moves itself around. (Express-Times "Paranormal Investigators Try To Help Newburg Inn Owner Unlock Mystery of a Haunted Past," August 3, 2009)  City Lights Paranormal

THE NEW HOPE HITCHHIKER (New Hope, Bucks County) If you're ever motoring into New Hope, keep your eyes peeled for a young, blonde haired man with blue eyes.  He'll have on a brown leather jacket, bellbottoms, and will be carrying a knapsack.  He was killed around the curve at the south end of town by the Lambertville Bridge in a late night accident while thumbing for a lift.  Legend has it that he's still there, looking for a ride home. (The Bucks County Courier Times "A Haunting We Will Go," September 20, 2007) 

NEWPORTVILLE ROAD SPOOKS (Bristol, Bucks County) The first spook on the street resides in a home south of Bristol (LC says it's now a Head Start pre-school). She's been reported as a woman's spirit dressed in a white dress with a blue sash. No one's quite sure what her story may be. Not far from there at the intersection of Newportville and Ford Roads are two decidedly rougher ghosts. They're the spooks of two horse thieves, a man and a woman, that were hung by Neshaminy Creek during the Revolution, and they've been spotted haunting the area where they met their doom. Phantom Paranormal

NESHAMINY MIDDLE SCHOOL (Langhorne, Bucks County) The school legend is that there was once a janitor who was a satanist that worked in the building.  His occult activities eventually drove him to commit suicide in 1978.  It's said that his spirit has been spotted roaming the halls of the building by students and staff. The Shadowlands 

NORRISTOWN STATE HOSPITAL (Norristown, Montgomery County) The campus of the mental institution consists of 26 Victorian buildings built mainly in the 1870s and 1880s, all connected by a complex tunnel system.  It's said the ghosts of  escaped inmates still roam the tunnels trying to find their way to freedom.  The facility is still in use, but most of the buildings are deserted now while others are decrepit and collapsing as the state brain trust decides what to do with them.  The Shadowlands   In a Ghosts of America post by Angel, she writes that late on clear evenings you can see a young woman, blonde with a pony tail, skipping across the entranceway, dressed in a poodle skirt and wearing bobby sox and white shoes. Holy Fonzie!

NORTH CEDAR HILL/ST. DOMINIC'S CEMETERIES (Frankford Street, Philadelphia) People report hearing "banshee" screams and a woman crying from these abutting graveyards (there's actually four of them laid out at the same intersection.)  Cedar Hill also has several spooks of Civil War soldiers reportedly seen on the hilltop, while other folks have seen a gray shadow float along the cemetery wall.  (Philadelphia Inquirer - Phillyblog "Haunted Philly" June 2004)

ODETTE'S RESTAURANT (New Hope, Bucks County) Odette's has been serving fine French cuisine since 1961, but it started out as the River House in 1794, serving the rivermen working in the area.  It became the River Hotel, fell vacant, and was revived as a hotel in the 1930s until Odette Mytril Logan, a French actress, bought it.  The old stone building is said to be haunted by the spirit of a woman who was murdered in its' River House days.  The spook has been seen by workers, and is accompanied by a strong perfume smell. There's also been reports of cold spots and people hearing their name called when no one else is around.  But the spook will be lonely now.  We understand Odette's has shut its' doors. Del Co Ghosts 

OLD BIRDSBORO BRIDGE (Baumstown, Berks County) The ghost of a veiled woman would stop buggy and car drivers as they went across the Old Birdsboro Toll Bridge spanning the Schuylkill River.  She would speak to them about the afterlife and its' wonders.  In 1927, a new bridge was built a few feet upriver and the old wooden one torn down.  But she's still there, trying to lure distracted modern drivers to join her in the netherworld.  She's stationed at her old haunts at the approach to the demolished Old Birdsboro Bridge - a road that now drops straight into the Schuylkill River. Local Hauntings 

OLD HENSINGERSVILLE HOTEL (Alburtis, Lehigh County) This hotel, built by Peter Hensinger in 1846, is haunted by a ghost called Bucky, who likes to show up in the kitchen.  There's also reports of footsteps and other activity from the bar and upstairs bedrooms.  The hotel is either closed now or operating under a different name.  Haunted Sites 

OLD MAN KERN (northern Northampton County)  This is a German folk legend from back in the early days of Northampton history.   Old Man Kern was a despised man in the community, always looking for a way to get over on his neighbors.  They avoided him whenever possible, and none of the locals were saddened when they heard that black crows were visiting his home at night, pecking on the windows.  According to their lore, that meant the Devil was preparing to claim a soul.  And sure enough, he shortly shuffled off this mortal coil.  But his ornery spirit didn't leave his house.  Neighbors that came by for the wake - they may not have liked Old Man Kern, but held no grudge against his wife - heard bodiless footsteps treading heavily up and down the stairs, rappings on the window, and doors opening and shutting.  Relatives stayed with her, but the mysterious happenings still occurred every night.  Some hardy young men then took over the vigil, staying downstairs while Mrs. Kern tried to sleep through the racket.  It continued unabated, and no one could find any natural cause.  Mrs. Kern finally deserted her home to Old Man Kern's noisy ghost. Even she couldn't put up with him anymore (after all, her vow was "until death do us part," and not any longer.)  So if you're strolling along and run across an abandoned house with an eerie cacophony coming from it one evening, well, you've probably just run across Old Man Kern's crib.  This tale was told by W.J. Hoffman in "Folklore of the Pennsylvania Germans" from the Journal of American Folklore.  Northvegr

OLD MILL FLEA MARKET (Hulmeville, Bucks County)  This antique shop has three spooks in it at last count.  One is called Jake the Fake, the first spirit found in the building.  He's a dark haired young man, dressed in work jeans and a denim shirt.  Jake's the ghost most often seen, and is believed to be attached to the building.  The other two likely tagged along with objects brought into the building from estate sales.  One's a slightly built young man in a flannel shirt and jeans.  The other is a hulking 50-ish spook with graying hair in a 1980s perm.  The building dates back to the early 1700s when it was a gristmill.  It was rebuilt twice, and the current structure goes back to 1875 when it became a rope factory.  The owner believes Jake is comfortable in the building, maybe going back to its' factory or mill days.  The other two are likely attached to some item she picked up and has in the store.  Philly Burbs 

OLD VALLEY INN (Morgantown, Berks County) The Old Village Inn was a rest stop for the rich and famous looking to escape Philadelphia and take the road west in the 1800s; now it's a Tiki Bar and restaurant.  It's said that a man and woman, old customers of the Inn, haunt its halls.  You can also see a face looking out a second floor window, which is closed and unused now. This story was taken from the Philly Blog.

OLEY FORGE INN (Oley Twp., Berks County) The Oley Forge Inn, refurbished in the 1960s, was originally the mansion of Ironmaster John Lesher who built it in the 1750s.  He was quite successful in the business, as he was the most heavily taxed resident of the County in the early 1770s.  Since the new owners fixed it up and made a small inn out the home, Lesher and some spooks have moved back in.  Colonel John Lesher has been spotted accompanied by a male servant and a large dog.  Another spirit, that of a little girl, has been reported.  She's usually singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."  Pennsylvania Researchers

ORLEANS 8 THEATER (Bleigh Street, NE Philadelphia) A young girl was an innocent victim of a drive by shooting in front of the movie house and was killed.  (LC sent us a note saying that no girl was ever shot outside the Orleans, and that's just a bit of embroidery on the tale.  The girl may have just been a regular movie-goer.)  It's said now that she haunts the projection booth.  She's still a playful youngster, often heard giggling and asking people to play with her. The Orleans 8, which opened in 1963, closed in 2007. Unsolved Mysteries 

OSTEEN'S REVENGE (Walnut & Third Sts., Philadelphia) Blind Jack Osteen was a well known figure to the 19th century workers that passed by Philadelphia's "Temple of Commerce," the Merchant's Exchange.  Jack would beg for coins while telling stories, singing, and generally entertaining the street crowds.  Not only was Osteen popular with the people, but there was a horse that took a particular liking to him, and Jack would pay him back in kind with an occasional rub and an apple.  One day, as the story goes, businessman Harold Thorn took a financial beating.  Osteen had the misfortune to walk by him then and step on the haughty Thorn's foot.  Thorn took his walking stick and proceeded to beat the poor beggar to death right on the street.  But justice was swift.  Thorn's horse, the one that Osteen had befriended, let out a great neigh and kicked its' cruel master to death.  It's said that today people in the business district sometimes see a shadowy figure outside the Exchange just before dawn.  The figure disappears when the sound of phantom hoofbeats begin to ring through the air.  Once burned, twice shy. Digest ezine 

PALMER CEMETERY (Fishtown, Philadelphia)  Also known as the Kensington Burial Ground, this neighborhood graveyard has been around since 1732 and holds tens of thousands of bodies. For a cemetery of its' age and size, it hosts surprisingly few spooks.  It's said that a teenage boy hung himself by the cemetery entrance. You can sometimes see him hanging from there at night, just after the streetlights come on, from a phantom branch that was cut down shortly after his suicide. There are also reports of a large white figure holding a baby and staring over the cemetery walls.  Shadow figures have been seen flitting across Palmer. Photographs of the cemetery have shown many orbs on the site, so there's a lot of ghosts there.  We just haven't figured out who they are. The Shadowlands 

PANTHER VALLEY GOLD (Swatara State Park, Schuylkill County) A band of Indian raiders were returning home up Panther Valley, along Swatara Creek, with their loot, which contained a large amount of gold.  While they slept, one of their number hid the gold in the woods; he knew what it would fetch from the white traders.  The other members of the group caught him after the deed, and killed him on the spot for betraying his brother tribesmen.  Bad move; they never found the gold.   It's said that the Indian's ghost still haunts the path they took, often darting from the trail back into the forest to check on his gold.  Fortune hunters throughout the centuries have tried to tail the spook to his hideaway, but none have done it yet.  This tale was taken from the Blue Book of Schuylkill County, written by Ella Zerbey Elliott.

PAOLI MASSACRE HEADLESS HORSEMAN (Paoli National Battlefield, Chester County) On September 20, 1777, a detachment of colonial soldiers were killed in the battle of PaoliOne trooper was beheaded.  On the anniversary of the attack, he rides through Paoli.  It's said his horse's hooves make no sound.  And don't be rude and stare at him, or he'll hand you his head.  If he does, the legend claims that you'll join him in death within the year.  PA Legends

PARASTUDY INC. (Chester Heights, Delaware County) Parastudy, a New Age Consciousness group moved into an old Victorian mansion and got a bit more than even they bargained for - a couple of spooks. The house itself has the spirit of a young boy that's reportedly been seen on the main staircase. There's also an older gent that's been spotted outside, usually by a tree in the parking lot or by a barn structure.  He disappears as you look at him.  Old school meets new school in the realm of the paranormal. Del Co Ghosts

PATHWAY SCHOOL (Norristown, Montgomery County) Founded in 1961 as a school for kids with learning and behavioral disabilities, Pathway has one resident that won't leave. The Valley Forge Hall dorm is the reported haunt of former student Ethan's ghost, who's been spotted and heard by the other students in the building. The Shadowlands

PENDORA PARK GHOSTS (Reading, Berks County) Supposedly, 4 people in the last 30 years have taken a leap off the Lindbergh Viaduct span that crosses over Pendora Park.  There's been reports that you can sometimes hear screaming and crying and can see shadowy figures fall from the bridge to the park below. The Shadowlands 

PENNHURST (Spring City, Chester/Montgomery Counties) Pennhurst State School and Hospital was an institution for both the mentally and physically disabled. It opened in 1908 with high hopes of helping disabled youths.  By 1982, it was in the Supreme Court for its inhumane mistreatment of patients, and again in 1986, when it shut down.  We were conflicted to include Pennhurst, because while there have been reported chat-board ghost sightings, especially in the tunnel areas, most people just consider Pennhurst to be a "creepy" place, as most deserted asylums tend to be.  There are no real phenomena associated with the place that its homeless population, who have taken to it like squirrels to an attic, and teens couldn't have caused.  Anyway, now it's watched over by a security force that's pretty good at its job from all reports, plus the police, and will open on Halloween 2010 as a haunted house attraction.  (The Pottstown Mercury "Trespassers Looking For Haunted Tunnels," April 22, 2003)

PENN MUSEUM OF ARCHAEOLOGY (South Street, Philadelphia)  The museum has been in operation since 1899, and as a storehouse of archaeology and anthropology, it holds a lot of old and dead things within its' walls.  There's considerable poltergeist activity in the building, such as moving and hiding objects, odd sounds, footsteps, and false security alarms.  The staff and guards have many stories of such events in the museum.  There are at least a pair of spooks that have been spotted in the building.  One is the sub-basement ghost, who roams the deepest bowels of the museum where the unused artifacts are stored.  It's seen as a silhouette or shadow, and some staffers think more than one spirit is down there.  The other is the shadow of George Vaillant, the museum director in the 1940s.  His 1945 death was sudden and ruled a suicide, although some people thought that he was murdered.  He's been seen striding the museum's halls purposefully, as if wanting to complete some unfinished business.  There's supposed to be quite a collection of oral lore regarding the building, so if you're ever there, find a long time staffer and get the ghastly scoop. (34th Street Magazine "A Paranormal Presence," October 27, 2005) 

PENN'S STATUE (Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia) John Penn, Williams grandson, donated a statue of William Penn to the hospital in 1804, and it's placed right in the middle of the front lawn.  It's said that at 6 o'clock, Penn's ghost can be seen leaving the statue and taking an early evening stroll through the gardens; other lore says he takes his walk under a full moon.

PENNSYLVANIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (Media, Delaware County) The Pennsylvania Institute of Technology was founded in April 1953 in Upper Darby, and after three decades outgrew the campus and moved to Rose Valley-Media. The new school was once the Notre Dame School for Girls, and PIT inherited a Bell Tower...and its ghost. The building attached to the tower has some unexplained phenomena - windows & doors that open/shut on their own, drafts, and cold spots, but that's just the warm-up act. The Tower is reportedly the home of a long-ago Mother Superior who has been sighted in her 1900's habit  looking through its windows and on the second floor in the former Library, now PIT administrative offices. Ghosts of Delaware Valley

PENN VALLEY HOTEL (Bernville, Bucks County)  Many visitors and staff reported the sound of footsteps going across the Hotel roof.  The kitchen staff heard pots and pans clanging together along with other strange sounds.  The cash register opened and closed of its' own accord at night when no one was near it.  Others have seen the spooks of children merrily passing the time at play in empty rooms.   LC found out that the old post office turned hotel is now a private residence. Associated Content

PENNYPACKER MILLS (Schwenksville, Montgomery County) In 1718, Hans Heijt built a mill over the Perkiomen Creek, beside the Skippack Pike that ran from Germantown. It changed hands a couple of times before Peter Pennypacker bought it in 1747, and it's kept his name ever since, even though he sold the mills in 1762 (the family kept some property and the mansion, which Governor Samuel Pennypacker used as his summer retreat.)  It burned down in 1898, was rebuilt, and became Pennypacker's Tea Room in 1924, then the Old Mill, and finally the Red Fox Inn.  It burned down again in 1980, and the county bought Pennypacker Mills and turned it into a museum; after all, it was another place George Washington slept during the Revolution.  The ghosts?  According to the Delaware Ghost Hunters, the main spook is Mary.  There's also a little boy, and another woman in the basement.

PEN RYN MANSION (Bensalem, Bucks County) The mansion is located along the Delaware River, and is now available for tours and rental.  The story goes that the son of the original owners fell in love with one of the maids.  The parents looked down their noses at the match and told their son to lose her.  Instead, the pair walked hand-in-hand into the Delaware River and drowned themselves so that they could be together forever.  The couple's ghosts have been spotted on the path leading from the home to the river.  The man's walking down the lane while the maid is riding a white horse.  If the legend has its' facts straight, the Bickley's would be the first family, dating back to 1744.  (The Biddles, who were reported as owners of the mansion, actually lived in nearby Andalusia.)  The ritziest owner of Pen Ryn was Lucy Wharton Drexel.  The Pen Ryn Episcopal School now occupies the building.  Spooqeyruben tells Weird USA a different version of the star crossed lovers tale, and throws in a recent grisly legend as an added bonus.  The Shadowlands 

PERKASIE RR TUNNEL (Perkasie, Berks County) The abandoned tunnel slices through a Perkasie ridge, and its urban legend involves playing chicken with a headless train conductor.  The conductor was decapitated in an accident during the 1930-40 time frame, and it's said that if you lay your head on the tracks and hear the train coming, and then race out of the south end of the tunnel, the phantom train will follow you.  If you don't make it out of the tunnel before the ghost train, though, the conductor will collect his grisly fare - your head. The lore is based on this tale: On May 18th, 1944, an engineer, Charles L. Krous, literally lost his head when he hit it off the South Portal abutment on the Perkasie side of the tunnel. The train traveled on for a spell before the firemen noticed the engineer had lost his head, and quickly applied the brakes after passing through Quakertown Train Station. And Charles has been coming back ever since...  Creepy PA

THE PHANTOM DRUMMER (Valley Forge, Chester County) The folktale is taken from the S.E. Schlosser book Spooky Pennsylvania.  A British colonel named Howell fell head over heels in love with a colonial lass named Ruth.  Although she came from a family with revolutionary ties, she too fell in love with the dashing soldier.  They met secretly, as the family would disapprove of such a match.  One night, Ruth heard martial drumming from the woods and saw a drummer boy march towards them, eventually passing through a wall.  At first the colonel feigned ignorance, and then admitted there was a legend that a phantom drummer preceded a family disaster.  The next day while in battle, the colonel was wounded.  He was nursed back to health by Ruth.  Her father grew to like Howell, and agreed to their marriage, if the colonel would leave the British Army.  After all, his son was a Colonial soldier, and it wouldn't do to have the in-laws shooting at one another.  He agreed, and decided to desert rather than wait out the long process that official separation would entail.  At their wedding, all was going well until Ruth heard the drummer.  A contingent of redcoats then burst into the church and dragged the colonel away.  They had been tipped off by a household servant who couldn't stand the thought of a British officer marrying into the family he worked for.  Ruth heard the drummer only once more.  It was moments before Howell was shot. American Folklore


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