Category Archives: Ghosts and Spooky Lore of PA

Local company searches for the paranormal | WPMT FOX43

Baelfire Paranormal Investigations, a team run by a former police officer, John Lewis, who is also an ordained minster and demonologist, investigates ghostly hauntings and other paranormal phenomena. John boasts 20 years of paranormal investigative experience.

John is joined by Christina Lewis who is considered “the ‘sensative’ on the team,” and is “trained to listen and observe the smallest details.” She is also the teams PR person.

Other investigators on their team include Kyle Anderson, Brittany Isadore, Melissa Ireland, Melisa Elrod and Trent Rotz.

They are getting some media attention…

Local company searches for the paranormal | WPMT FOX43.

Tales of Ghosts, Folklore and Local Legends

First published in 1982, Ghost Stories of Berks County, was soon followed by Ghost Stories of Berks County Book 2, and Ghost Stories of Berks County Book 3, the last of which I just picked up at a little second-hand book store in West Chester.

Though not hugely popular these books do contain some fun, creepy tales of the supernatural and are worth the read for those of us in PA who enjoy local spooky lore. Author Charles J. Adams III has quite a collection of ghostly compilations to his credit, including Bucks County Ghost Stories, Ghost Stories of the Lehigh Valley, Ghost Stories of Chester County and the Brandywine Valley, and other collections of ghost stories in various Pennsylvania locales. A little bit of trivia: the book “Bucks County Ghost Stories” is seen briefly in the film “Signs” starring Mel Gibson, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

“Weird” is always a good place to start. Since around 1990 the Weird N.J. periodical has been entertaining readers with stories of strange creatures, strange people, weird events, creepy places and personal accounts of the paranormal in New Jersey. In 2003 creators Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman published their the first Weird N.J. coffee table book with the tagline, “Your Travel Guide to New Jersey’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets” which contained the best of the best weird stuff. The book was soon followed by Weird N.J. Volume 2 and through collaboration with authors of strange local lore from other states, the Weird series of books has spread to include all but 17 states in the U.S., including Weird Pennsylvania.

Penned by Matt Lake, who has authored several other books in the Weird guides series, Weird Pennsylvania takes us on a romp through the southeastern part of the state mostly, with some tales from a little farther west. Let’s face it, historically speaking the eastern part of the country has just had more time to collect its share of weirdness. To be sure, the Weird guides are not really intended as travel guides either. While they do share local legends, highlight oddities and roadside curiosities in certain areas, none of the books include maps or specific directions to any of the places or events.

Efforts continue to collect tales and legends and progress can be followed on the official Weird U.S. Website.

PA Halloween Haunted Attractions

Cough! Geez, I know it’s near Halloween but the cobwebs are getting thick around this place. I need to stop neglecting this website. So much going on in life right now though, especially this time of year. We’re setting up for a Halloween party which includes a “Haunted Woods” attraction in our back yard, so there has been a lot of free time going in to designing scares, making props and stuff like that.

Still, that’s no excuse for letting MysteriousPA.com slip like this. I promise to bring more to this site in the months and years ahead.

That said, let me get on with the purpose of this post. Haunted Halloween Attractions! My wife and I love this stuff, Halloween is our favorite time of year. We love dressing up and getting creepy, decorating the house, carving disturbing pumpkins and scaring the Trick or Treaters. It’s a wonderful time of year.

We also like checking out Haunted Attractions. A local place we wandered into last year was The Bates Motel, located in Glen Mills. It’s awesome. There are three main attractions; a haunted hayride, a haunted corn maze and finally the Bates Motel haunted house. You can do one two or all three of the attractions, and we ventured through all of them. Starting with the hayride into horror.

The hayride takes you along a wooded trail with haunted cottages, creepy car wrecks, and tons more, with dark phantoms and living dead zombies stalking you along the way. After the hayride you’re let off by the corn maze and can venture through their on your own, zig-zagging through scary scenes including a werewolf attack, and a huge motion activated werewolf, gnawing on a body. As you enter the scene he turns toward you and growls. Very cool effects. Enjoy the claustrophobic walk through the cramped school bus loaded with ghouls ready to pounce.

After the hayride and haunted corn maze you can take a terrified walk through the Bates Motel, perfectly appointed and decked out with amazing scenes, animatronics and real actors who scare the bejesus out of you.

Bates Motel is perfect for any horror, halloween buff who likes to get scared and see amazing effects, lighting, animatronics and and makeup.

Other haunted attractions to check out in Southeast PA and beyond are:
Pennhurst Asylum
Location: Church St & Bridge Rd, Spring City, PA

Jasons Woods
Location: 99 Stehman Road Lancaster, PA 17603 — Map

Field of Screams
Location: 191 College Ave Mountville, PA 17554 — Map

Haunted Mill Scream Park
Location: 5932 Colonial Valley Rd, Spring Grove, PA — Map

I Believe in Bloody Mary

“I believe in Bloody Mary, I believe in Bloody Mary, I believe in Bloody Mary, I believe…”

STOP!

Did you ever get all the way through? Did you ever repeat that conjuring phrase the full seven times in order to see Bloody Mary in the mirror? I remember my sister and friends spooking themselves out during sleepovers. One time she tried it while gazing out the kitchen window. Now that was scary. With the dark night beyond our fear grew with every repeated chant. We scared ourselves silly anticipating the gory countenance of Bloody Mary gliding up from the gloom, a ghostly apparition.

I don’t think she got to number seven.

While researching Bloody Mary I found one reference that the legend has a connection to Pennsylvania, though in that telling there is no specific mention of a PA locale or family name. The story has simply made its way around our culture through spooky stories shared by children and teens at school, sleepovers and parties. But what are it’s real origins?

The repeated chant to conjure Bloody Mary is just a remnant of a story with various incarnations. The main idea is that a wicked old woman, thought to be a witch, lives in the woods surrounding a remote town.

Young girls from the town begin disappearing and townsfolk assume that the suspected witch is up to no good, killing the girls and using their blood to restore her youth. The witch is apparently caught red-handed, or red- whatever, when a young girl falls under her spell and walks from her parents home into the woods. A posse is formed and they venture into the woods to save the girl and burn the witch at the stake.

They all live happily ever after, but apparently the spirit of the witch lives on in everybody’s mirror from here to Shanghai, and if her name is repeated seven times (or whatever the number may be in your particular version), the bloody visage of Mary will appear, rise up or somehow materialize to kill you and steal your soul.

The tale of the witch in the woods, and similar fables, can be found in many cultures throughout history and may have served as a deterrent to prevent children from wandering off into the woods, where, indeed, real harm could befall them. Fantastic tales of werewolves and witches would normally do the trick, unless the kid was like me and would want to go venturing off to find the thing anyway!

The witch is a fable, but Bloody Mary was real, and the legend finds its roots in England though the real origin has no connection with a bloody fountain of youth.

Instead, the name Bloody Mary refers to Mary I of England, so-called in the wake of executions of Protestant religious reformers carried out under during the Marian Persecutions. Those convicted of heresy, opposing the Roman Catholic faith, were drawn and quartered, hanged or burned. Hundreds, at least 300 according to Wikipedia, were martyred from 1554 to 1559.

Elizabeth Bathory Portrait - Late 16th century copy of the original. This image is in the public domain in the US.The connection with Bloody Mary and rejuvenation through drinking or bathing in blood of young women, or virgins, probably originated with the atrocity that was Countess Elizabeth Báthory of Hungary.

Truly the original “royal pain,” Countess Elizabeth, the Blood Countess, is considered one of the worst female serial killer in history, as far as body count is concerned. She and four collaborators are responsible for the deaths of possibly more than 600 young women and girls, all tortured and murderded at the hands of Elizabeth or her associates.

There are also rumors that the Blood Countess bathed in the blood of the slain girls in order to restore a youthful appearance.

Actual testimony by defendants indicates about 50 murders, but the unofficial number of killings, alleged by one witness, is upwards of 650.

Elizabeth was not convicted, instead being imprisoned in Čachtice Castle by her family, bricked up to spend her last years in a private suite, with only small openings to allow for the passage of air and meals.

As Vlad The Impaler is surely the true inspiration for Dracula, so Countess Elizabeth Báthory is most likely the origin of the blood-loving witch of the Bloody Mary Legend. It is possible that the stories of bloody Elizabeth and bloody Mary I of England were blended a bit on their way through folklore history.