Stories from the States

PENNSYLVANIA – Week of July 16


Allentown, Pennsylvania
Week of July 16

July 16, 1895


Aaron Groner, of Seventh and Chew Streets, has cut off his whiskers. If any other man in this town shaved his beard, it wouldn’t be worthy of mention. But in Mr. Groner’s case it is news.

Mr. Groner had the finest, handsomest and most luxurious whiskers in Allentown. They were the regular Taffy whiskers, the Piccadilly weepers that have become so famous since they were written up by Du Maurier. Mr. Groner’s whiskers were even handsomer than Taffy’s. Bounding a bare chin the Piccadillies swept outward in graceful, majestic curves. They gave the owner a most distinguished appearance. Now they are gone and all he now sports in the way of adornment is a mustache.

He will be just as elegant and urbane in his manners as of yore, but even his best friend must acknowledge that he has lost something important. When asked why he cut his whiskers Mr. Groner murmured something about Trilby and “a fellow in that book who had wind singers just like mine.” Mr. Groner says he doesn’t know whether he will let his whiskers grow again but it is hoped, Taffy or no Taffy, that he will.

July 16, 1885

A Murderer’s Widow Raises a Racket

Mrs. Lucke, the widow of the man who killed John Mullock near South Bethlehem and then committed suicide, is complained of by her neighbors. She now resides on Ontario Street, South Bethlehem. They say that at all hours of the night she will thrust her head out of the window and utter the most piercing shrieks and screams. The neighbors think the authorities should look after her case. Mrs. Lucke, at the time of the tragedy, was said to be partly demented.

July 16, 1895

A Barber’s Tough Job

The hardest job that ever fell to the lot of a Bucks County barber was performed on Thursday by a Perkasie scissor wielder. Charles Ziegenfuss, a painter, had upset a bucket of paint while at work upon a scaffold and the contents poured down upon his head. His hair became a solid chunk and it took the barber about three hours to give him a sandpaper cut.

July 16, 1895

A Pike County Cavern

Julius Mulford, after prospecting on his farm, has had some of his ores assayed. Traces of gold and other metals have been found. A day or so ago he discovered the outer walls of a cave, which appear to have been fashioned long ago. Entrance to the cave, the opening of which is 25 feet under the surface of a high elevation, is barred by massive pillars of granite so securely cemented together that dynamite will be used to remove them. A stone stairway was discovered by workmen engaged in the excavation. The steps are solidly and finely made.

July 17, 1895

A Hermit

The Bucks County Historical Society held an interesting meeting at Buckingham Mountain yesterday. Among the addresses was one by Colonel Henry D. Paxson, of Philadelphia, who presented an interesting story of “The Hermit of the Wolf Rocks.” These rocks are located within 100 yards of the speaker’s stand and are full of historical interest. They derive their name from the celebrated hermit, Albert Large, who is said to have lived there in absolute seclusion for 20 years.

For years his whereabouts were unknown. In 1858 his hiding place was discovered by William Kennard, who chanced through the forest and saw smoke issuing from the rocks. He made further investigation and having discovered the hermit, he was told by the inhabitant of the lonely rocks that he had been living there for 40 years. It is believed that the time did not exceed twenty years.

The discovery of this hermit was published over the whole land, even the London papers giving space to it. The cave is about 15 feet in length, 8 feet wide and high enough to permit a man to stand upright. It has an opening through the rocks just large enough to allow a man to crawl through. It is said numerous counterfeiters and outlaws have found refuge within its walls.

July 17, 1895

A Job for the Coroner

Jacob Schuler awakened Coroner Yost at 6 o’clock this morning. He introduced himself to Dr. Yost as United States senator from Whitehall. He asked the coroner to go along to the Salisbury Church where he said they had buried two men alive yesterday.

By this time, Dr. Yost sized up Schuler. He said he would meet him uptown in half an hour. Schuler then disappeared. Later on he was in the company of a lot of fellows who engaged him in a talk on reform and had apparently forgotten about the two men buried alive.

Schuler is a well-known character and makes remarkable political statements but this is the first time he has gone so far as to bore a coroner. He labors under the delusion that he is a United States senator.

July 17, 1895

A Very Plucky Wife

Michael Kearny, a farmer living at the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain, near Hazelton, had an experience yesterday which he will never forget. To his wife, Margaret, he owes his life. It was at an early hour that he went to the barn and watered and fed the stock. He had just got inside the door when a pair of blazing eyes startled him. He was riveted to the spot. He was sure it was a cougar, the most dangerous animal which inhabits Sugar Loaf Mountain. To retreat precipitately meant certain death and Farmer Kearney backed toward the door but before he reached it the cougar made a spring and landed upon his shoulders. It tried to chew his throat at once but the farmer sacrificed his arm to save his throat. The animal bit his arm and chewed it wildly.

Kearney cried for help pitifully. His wife was smiling and lost no time in securing the Winchester rifle which stood in the kitchen always ready for use. She returned to the coop but found the entrance barred by her husband’s body, then beneath the cougar. Without delay she broke off a board and getting a bead on the cougar let drive with both barrels, shattering its brains about the coop.

Farmer Kearney was carried unconscious to the house by his brave little wife. He will recover. The cougar was nearly five feet in length, the largest ever seen in the Sugar Loaf Mountains.

July 19, 1895

A Cranky Sort of Bell

The sewing society of St. John’s Union church, Emaus, was organized over a year ago to earn and collect sufficient money to buy a bell for the church. Their efforts were crowned with success. The congregation erected a handsome steeple. A committee was appointed to buy a bell. Great was everybody’s surprise when the bell arrived and it was found not to be a bell metal bell. It was, however, placed in position and tested. It failed to give satisfaction to any of those most directly concerned.

The muttering grew from day to day until at a meeting of the sewing society the other evening, the subject was fully ventilated. A decision was reached by the almost unanimous vote of all present that they didn’t want the bell to play in their back yard and that it would have to come down. A new bell is to be secured from the Troy, New York foundry. The bell now hanging in the belfry weighs 1800 pounds and is the heaviest in town but it cuts off the sound too quickly when it is run and does not ring as a bell of that heft should.

July 19, 1895

A Town Where Nearly Everybody
Is In Love With Spooks

The pretty little village of Fair Haven, four miles from Pittsburgh, is in the middle of a spiritualistic convulsion. The whole population is excited over the mystic science and seances and materializations are almost the only topics of conversation. The village contains about 500 inhabitants. Among them are mediums, potential or developed, by the dozen; believers by the score; and investigators enough to use up nearly the whole available population.

Seances are held at some place almost every night in the week. Some weeks ago a self-appointed committee, headed by Charles Young, undertook to expose the doings. Young is now said to be a devout believer. He is a big man and of great strength. At one of the seances, he undertook to grapple with “Dr. Moore,” one of the spirits, a medium sized ghost. Young is said to have received a jolt which entirely destroyed his unbelief.

William Rodgerson, an old man who keeps the principal store in the village, exhibits what he deems convincing proofs of spirit manifestations. He has a collection of photographs, each of himself, accompanied by a lot of shadowy faces which he pronounced bonafide spirits. One group contained his wife, who died 17 years ago, as she appeared at 25 years of age, his 7-year-old daughter, who died nearly 20 years ago, and his wife’s uncle. Another was of his daughter as she looks now, having grown up to be a very pretty maiden in the spirit world. The photographs were taken within two weeks of each other.

The most interesting exhibit, however, was of four spirit faces Mr. Rodgerson said he had never met in his life but whom he knows as members of his family in the days when skins and leaves were worn in lieu of clothing. Nothing of the primitive vestments are in evidence and only the heads are shown. Mr. Rodgerson said he has talked to them at more than one seance and that such evidence of truth could not be gainsaid. One head, that of a young woman, had the hair arranged in a Psyche knot and very fetching waves, just like the summer girl of the season of 1895 (sic) — in fact, a striking example of the recurrence of fashions. Mr. Rodgerson said the photos were taken by James Foster, a traveling photographic medium, at a cost to him of $2 each but the spirits charged nothing for sittings.

Another leader is Archibald Kennedy at whose home many of the meetings are held. The Tuesday night meetings are open but the circle is a closed one on Thursdays, that time being devoted to developing the mediums. Mr. Rodgerson said there are some good ones coming on. None of them can yet produce materializations, however. Frederick Baker, of Allegheny, does this for a moderate stipend.

Mr. Rodgerson’s daughter states that she has seen 17 separate ghosts on one occasion when Mr. Barker officiated. This was held at Kennedy’s house and one of the spirits took a liking to the Kennedy baby, borrowed it from the mother and danced about the room with it. This was the time when Charles Young wrestled with a spirit and was beaten.

Mrs. Lucy Baumiller is another medium who is expected to develop into a first-rate. Mrs. Baumiller says that there are lots more as good as her. Mrs. Baumiller said her 4-months-old baby had been christened by a spirit, Dr. Sanford, formerly of Allegheny, now a denizen of space. The spirit, she said, crowned her baby with white lilies and named it Lily May. Mrs. Baumiller has the flowers pressed in a bible.


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