Oddities, Legends and Ghosts

 of Potter County


Spontaneous Human Combustion

It was Coudersport Pennsylvania when one of the few known cases of human spontaneous combustion occurred.  It was at the home of a Dr. Bentley, a 92 year old retired doctor. 

    Spontaneous human combustion is a phenomenon in which an internally generated flame suddenly consumes the victims flesh and bone.

    Dr Bently's walker was found tipped over against the tub and all that remained of Dr Bentley was a charred portion of his leg and foot (with slipper).




Eliot Ness

    Eliot Ness  was a famous crime fighter from the roaring twenties era. He was working to lead his agents to the apprehension of Al Capone.  Mr. Ness ended up in Coudersport working on a process to control counterfeiting.  Eliot Ness was in need of money so he agreed to work with Author Oscar Franley on a book detailing his crime fighting exploits.

    He died of a heartattack, shortly before the book was published.

    Paul Heimel has recently published "Eliot Ness,  The Real Story" that can be purchased from Knox Books of Coudersport.

Giant skeleton

    In December 1886, W.H. Scoville, of Andrew's settlement, discovered a mound in Ellisburg. On exploring, it was found to contain parts of a skeleton of a man measuring between seven and eight feet tall. A large birch tree grew on top of the mound, and around it were hemlocks two and two and one half feet in diameter

Joshua Jones

    The first murderer in the county was committed on the morning of August 11,1838 by Joshua Jones. He shot his wife in her bed, shooting her in the head with his rifle. After committing the crime, he went on with his daily duties, hoping a neighbor would stop by and find her body and think that she committed suicide.  He later confessed to his crime and sold his body to Dr. Amos French of Coudersport. It was said that he bought candy and luxuries with the money and became fat while in jail.  On the evening of 5/21/1839 he escaped his jail cell.  He was recaptured and hung 5/31/1839 on the courthouse square. It seemed that when he sold his body to Dr. French he had stipulated that the Doctor should resuscitate him; which gave idea to a poem which appeared sometime after the hanging, purported to have been written by Joshua's ghost.

    This was the first and only execution in Potter County.  Joshua Jones' skull can still be seen in the Historical Museum in Coudersport.

 The Ice Monster


      One winter, of 1990 or 1991,a strange ice formation grew from a small hole in a hose that led from the spring house on the hill. The water continually squirted and froze until this odd sphinx-like formation occurred. There was no human contribution to this phenomenon, it  just happened by chance. It stood about 20 feet tall. It was a beautiful  masterpiece.


The Tale of the Card Creek Monster

      In the hills of Potter County, many years ago, the people lived a fruitful, prosperous living. The land provided wood, railroad, wildlife and now they suspected oil! Things were great! The town of Keating Summit was overflowing with prosperity. People were relocating to the area in order to find a better way of life.

They picked an area where oil was suspected. They began the construction of the workers shacks, so they could stay there and work during the weekdays and travel back home to spend the weekends with their families. Most of the workers were poor single men with no families. They lived life on the wild side, late nights out tossing back the gin and occasionally traveling to Austin to spend some of their hard earned money on a few hours of pleasure.

           Many nights the men would hear noises and would blame it on the gin. After being out on the town for several hours all but two of the men decided to go back to their shanties and get a reasonable nights sleep before the next busy day. The boss was a little angered at them when they were late rising in the morning, The men could not afford to lose their jobs, especially one that paid as well as this one did. The other men stayed out until the bar closed it's doors. The night was damp and cool. The moon was full, giving a eerie glow to everything.

          When they got back their shanties were dark and more quiet than usual. The other workers and the boss was nowhere around. They saw a strange glowing light deep in the woods and could hear a "thump, thump, thump," like a heart beat echoing through the hills. The Noise would stop only briefly for a long forceful gasping wail. The two men were terrified. At first they though their fellow workers were playing a trick on them for staying out so late. When they got closer to one of the shanties, they could see that one of the walls were completely ripped from the remaining structure, The other men's things were still there, undisturbed; yet there was no sign of human life. The other shack was in worse condition, it was barely standing. The oil derrick had been literally picked up and tossed to the ground. The men stood there for a moment In amazement, then ran for their lives and never returned to Card Creek again. None knows what happened to those men that night. The men were never seen or heard from again. You'll not find any evidence that it happened at all, unless you go to Card Creek.  But If you go.... stay a good distance from the swamp, it is said that the spirits still sleep there. So go, but go quietly and don't forget The Card Creek Monster makes the rules in Card Creek.

 Cyrus Turner/ Thunder Mountain

           According to "Forbidden Land - Strange Events in the Black forest" by Robert Lyman, Cyrus Turner lived in a giant hollow sycamore tree that was  situated near a bubbling spring. It was located east of the mouth of the Card Creek at the base of Thunder Mountain. Indians were said to hold this area sacred because they believed that an angry god lived there (actually the thunderous noise was  the rumbling of the escaping gases from the spring). Cyrus lived for many years in the comforts of the tree.  It is said that he even kept an occasional guest . Apparently Cyrus had been married 7 or 8 times before inhabiting the giant sycamore. Was he insane or just eccentric?  Imagine, living in a tree!