Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Restless Spirits of the Penn’s Creek Massacre

It was the fall of 1755.

The American Colonies were still in their infancy.


Central Pennsylvania was the western frontier of the English Colony of America. The pioneering settlers were for the most part German however, and they had gained a good reputation with the native Indians because of their honesty and charity. Many of the settlers were Christians and some were Missionaries coming to the New World to share the message of Christ. Through love and sincerity many Native Americans became Christians, finding a connection with their aboriginal beliefs and the teachings of Christ.

But two events that had recently took place were about to change the face of that early American frontier. First was the Albany Congress in 1754 where peace was not secured with all Indian tribes and the plan for new Forts to be built in Iroquois territory.
Many Delaware Indians of Pennsylvania saw this as a first step for the white man to take control of the fertile fields and game lands of the Susquehanna and regions west. Second was the disastrous campaign of General Edward Braddock to capture the French Fort Duquesne in the summer of 1755. The fighting of the French and Indian war was dividing the Indian nation’s allegiance with the peaceful settlers and in October a small group of Delaware Indians set out from the village of Kittanning to send a message to the encroaching white man. A message of blood and fire.

They attacked the settlements around Penn’s Creek in Union County killing 13 and capturing 11. Two 12 year old girls, Marie le Roy and Barbara Leninger were part of the captured few who managed to survive. Later after they were freed they wrote of the massacre that happened at Penn’s Creek on October 16th 1755.

“Early in the morning of the 16th of October, 1755, while le Roy’s [the father of Marie] hired man went out to fetch the cows, we heard the Indians shooting six times. Soon after, eight of them came to the house, and killed Barbara (Marie) leRoy’s father with tomahawks. Her brother defended himself desperately for a time, but was at last overpowered. The Indians did not kill him, but took him prisoner, together with Marie le Roy and a little girl who was staying with the family. Thereupon they plundered the homestead, and set it on fire. Into this fire they laid the body of the murdered father, feet foremost, until it was half consumed. The upper half was lying on the ground, with the two tomahawks with which they had killed him, sticking in his head. Then they kindled the fire, not far from the house. While sitting around it, a neighbor of le Roy, named Bastian, happened to pass by on horseback. He was immediately shot down and scalped.

Two of the Indians now went to the house of Barbara Leininger, where they found her father, her brother, and her sister Regina. Her mother had gone to the mill. They demanded rum, but there was none in the house. They then called for tobacco, which was given them. Having filled and smoked a pipe, they said: “We are Alleghany Indians and your enemies. You must all die!” Thereupon they shot the father, tomahawked her brother, who was twenty years of age, took Barbara and her sister Regina prisoners, and conveyed them into the forest for about a mile. Soon they were joined by other Indians, with Marie le Roy and the little girl.

Not long after, several of the Indians led the prisoners to the top of a high hill, near the two plantations. Toward the evening the rest of the savages returned with six fresh and bloody scalps, which they threw at the feet of the poor captives, saying that they had a good hunt that day.” (The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania by C. Hale Sipe, Pages 207-208)

There have been many books written about the captivity of these two girls, and the massacre of their families. Historical plaques mark the spots of Penn’s Creek and the le Roy attacks. But there are other reminders of the tragic events that happened that October day so long ago. The restless spirits of the victims.

There are new houses close to the site of the massacres, and a cornucopia of high strangeness has occurred in the area for years.

Kirksflower, a friend of mine from the social site Supernatural Connections wrote of some of the paranormal activity witnessed in the area by members of her family. In the early 1960s her family had just moved into a house near the le Roy Massacre. In fact gravestones of some of the victims lay very close to the old farm house. The family of 10 that moved into the old house included her siblings, parents and the grandmother. It did not take long for the family to notice that something was not right in the house. The very day that they began to move in three family members were alone in an upstairs bedroom of the house, no one else was in the building, when they began to hear a loud sound as if the house itself was breathing heavily. Then ominously they heard something coming up the stairs, as if a being of great weight was slowly and methodically climbing up. The heavy footsteps became louder and heavier as something approached the second floor. The three family members thought that someone must have broken into the house and in a panic they moved a heavy wooden antique dresser in front of the door to block the intruders entrance into the bedroom. Even with the massive dresser blocking the way the door flew open with considerable force revealing…

NOTHING.

And the strangeness never ceased.

Throughout their stay at the isolated farmhouse the grandmother was constantly vexed by a strange apparition of a small animal darting here and there that would finally find a resting place under her bed. Its eyes glowed in a blood red crimson, causing her to fear throughout the night as to what sinister force lurked beneath her bed.

It seems the grandmother of Kirksflower had a gift to perceive things that others might have missed. A gift of perceiving the other world around her that always coexists with our own but is seldom acknowledged as reality, but is usually designated by the casual observer as a dream or a mirage. But it does in truth exist. We are constantly surrounded by the past and its echoes into the life in which space we share with those who have gone before. Even if we cannot observe them, we are always surrounded by the spirits of those who have left the mortal bonds which bind us to a physical body. They live with us, even though we recognize them not. Some cannot let go, and they are trapped forever in a life that has long since vanished from the present state of the world in which we exist.

On a normal and seemingly uneventful mid summer afternoon the grandmother was delivering a much needed repast of sandwiches and coffee to her son who had been working long and hard on a few automobiles that were in dire need of repair. Her son was able to bring new life into the old rusted relics of the past and this day was unlike any other. It took grit and gumption to repair these machines that time had abandoned, but he had a keen sense that others lacked when it came to restore these automotive mechanisms which time had ravished.

On her way to the field where the rusting automobiles sat and where her son was diligently working, she saw it.

In the field where the rusting automobiles lay, she saw something that curdled the very blood that flowed in her aged veins. Out of the corner of her eye something grabbed her attention like nothing had ever before.

In the middle of the mass of machine and nature hovered a gruesome torso of a man dressed in ancient garb who was drenched in the thick ochre of blood. The apparition seemed to float in mid air as a spectacle of a scene long forgotten by mortal eyes but still remembered by time and space itself. The bloodied body had the dress of someone who had trod the earth long ago, perhaps the last century? Or the one before it? Nevertheless it hung there in a grotesque spectacle of an injustice long past into history, but one which still resonated into the present. The long dead blood dripped from wounds that had faded into the past ages ago, and it oozed into a soil that had long since reclaimed its vital nutrients. As the aged woman ran from the apparition, it soon faded, but the vision of wanton gore would not soon pass from her minds eye.

It seemed whatever wanted to make itself known never stopped asserting itself in the location of the le Roy Massacre. The strangeness never ceased. Months had passed since the bloody apparition, but it had never left the grandmothers mind.

One night in the middle of winter she was readying the children of the house for bed as the parents had gone to work when the house shook with an unearthly rattle. There was a noise from the outside of the house like cannons firing. They all rushed down the staircase to peer out the windows and see if indeed it was weapons firing in the nearby field , and as soon as they set foot on the floor at the base of the stairs a heavy knock rattled the front door. With her arms stretched out in defense she prevented the children from opening the door to the unseen person who was visiting late that evening. Instead of opening the door she cried out to whatever was on the other side to identify itself. But no reply was forthcoming, instead the doorknob rattled and shook, twisting itself around as if someone was in a manic attempt to enter the house but had no idea as to how to do it. The family stood there in fright as the knob turned by itself for many minutes only to suddenly stop with no other sound or attempt by whatever was on the other side to gain entry. They all quietly moved back up the stairs and the grandmother tried to put the children to sleep, but few found rest that night as they all feared what was lurking on the grounds of their homestead. Early in the morning there was evidence that something indeed was at the door. There were footprints in the snow that led from the door to a little toy wagon that was left in the front lawn. The foot prints were bloody and they disappeared into oblivion leaving no trace as to their origin. No accidents were reported in the area that night, and no one else had heard the terrible explosion that preceded the unnatural visitation. But something had visited that farmhouse late that December night. A horror that simply blinked out of existence but left a bloody trail in its wake. And it desperately wanted inside.

Kirksflower’s grandmother had many other experiences with the unknown in the various residences she occupied, but the hauntings of the Penn’s Creek ghosts were the most terrifying and violent she had ever encountered. The family moved out after a short time, grateful to leave this epicenter of supernatural terror.

The last strangeness that the family encountered on the site happened years after they had moved out of the residence at Penn’s Creek. While on a trip Kirksflower decided to stop by the plaque dedicated to the le Roy Massacre and visit the graves of the victims that lay on the grounds of her old homestead. But the graves were no longer there. It was if the large granite stones had vanished into nothingness just like the apparitions that had plagued the family all those years ago.

After I read the encounters at the Penn’s creek site I made an inquiry at a local library in order to find any further evidence of hauntings at the massacre site. It turns out the bridge at Penn’s creek has been a source of supernatural lore in and of itself. Like many sites there is a local legend that if you turn your headlights off while crossing the bridge you will be confronted with a host of apparitions. This might be considered the stuff of urban legends that meets the rural crossroads unless you know the history of the restless spirits of the Penn’s Creek Massacre.

Do not turn your lights off while crossing the Penn’s Creek Bridge. You may see a ghost. Or you may join them in the dark world that abides with our own where spirits have no rest. A spectral land in which the last mortal memory you have is of twisted metal and of your life blood pouring out of you which try as you might, you cannot stop.

Leave the lights of your car on when you cross the Penn's Creek Bridge.

And do not join the restless spirits of the victims of the Penn’s Creek Massacre.

Until next time,
Pastor Swope

6 comments:

cryptidsrus said...

Hokey Smoke, Bullwinkle...:)

Great tale there, Pastor, as usual.

I wonder if places with leftover residual psychic energy like the Le Roy place could ever be properly "cleansed," (i.e. exorcised)?
Would be worth a try. I guess though, some people just like the atmosphere as it is---for tourism's sake. Cynical guy I am.
Hopefully the souls that perished there or the remnants of whatever souls still remain there will one day find rest...

Anonymous said...

Seems a lot of these massacre sites have this sort of activity. It really gets me wondering what goes on at the old WWI battlefields.

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the comment Cyptidsrus,

It does sound a bit demonic does it not? At least the stalking and bloody tracks that winter night.

Sorry I didn't published your comment sooner, getting back from a recent hospital stay.

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the comment anonymous,

Charles Berlitz's books have some WW2 and WW1 battle field haunting reports, very interesting!

Vwriter said...

What an absolute treasure of a blog you have here. I'm glad I'm came across it and will be back to visit again. I'm a horror writer out of Detroit and do a fair amount of paranormal investigation.

Anonymous said...

I am the founder of a paranormal group near this site. We will be doing a investigation there soon. I will post the results.