One old settler relates that at his home in Dauphin County, before he migrated to the wilds of Brady Township, he knew a man who was considered a witch. One day this witch became very angry at one of his neighbors who lived some three miles distant. He declared to his friends that he would kill him. The witch entered his house, secured his rifle and brought it out in the presence of the company and began to wipe the interior of the barrel with the wiping rod. In a few minutes he pulled the rod out, which showed the color of blood on the wiping material and said, “I have fixed him.” It was noted afterward that the neighbor died about this time.
When anything happened to an animal, it was charged to the witches. In one instance this Dauphin County emigrant, after he had arrived in Brady Township, stated that he had a cow which gave bloody milk. Of course the cow was “hexed” by a neighbor, and the remedy was to milk the cow and put the milk on the stove, and after it evaporated the witch would be exorcised. He declared
in this instance that, while they were boiling the milk, they saw a headless sheep coming out of the woods a few hundred feet northeast of the house. The sheep seemed to be drawn toward the house where the milk was being boiled, and when it came within a few rods of the house, the sheep became very ill and lay down, and as the last of the milk evaporated the sheep died. Upon inquiry a few days later, he discovered that the witch, who lived over a mile away, had become very ill at about this time and the neighbors thought she would die.
In the vicinity of DuBois an unfortunate woman lost her reason. When some of her relatives claimed that she was “possessed.” This was proven by the visit of a young woman who lived some four miles distant. This young woman had a young horse which she had taught a number of tricks, and likewise a dog which she had taught to perform certain stunts. It was believed that this young woman had a copy of what was known as the “Black Art,” and the only reason that she was able to teach her animals was through the reading of this book. The “Black Art” was supposed to be a book written on a black page with the printing, or writing in white, and for one to possess this book and do the tricks one had to sell himself to Satan.
When the young woman visited her neighbor, it was on a rather cold November day, and she came on horse back. Other visitors declared that while this young woman was in the house visiting with the sick woman, a very large black dog peered into the window, and when the young woman mounted her horse to leave, this dog jumped onto the back of the horse, back of the saddle, placed his front feet on the shoulders of the young woman which caused the horse to try to run away.
At a later date the woman committed suicide in a piece of woods adjoining the property, and from this time on her ghost walked in this woods. One woman related that her father had frequently pointed out this woods and assured her that at a certain hour in the night a light was seen at the point at which the woman died.
There is a tradition that a ghost “walks” in the forest west of the Paul Bloom farm on the Lakes to Sea Highway in Bloom Township. It is believed that a peddler was killed and buried in this forest many years ago. On certain nights in the year a headless man is seen in the vicinity between Little Anderson Creek and the farm of Mr. Bloom. How true this story may be, it is yet a fact that persons have been known to be scared and run quite a distance to get out of these woods. As a rule, during the night there is generally a fog on this road and being rather a lonely place, it would not require much to fire the imagination of a nervous person seeing a headless man.
On the Chestnut Ridge Hill stood a house in which an old woman died and for several months the family refused to occupy the house on account of a ghost walking and it required several of the neighbors to sleep in the house some little time before any of the family would occupy it. The house has since been removed. No explanation was given of what caused this ghost.