Paranormal hunters recall local legends

Eric Kieta, Copy Editor

Legend has it Becky was a witch and was hanged in the early 1800s when Richland Township residents didn’t take kindly to her, according to Rams Paranormal lead researcher Ryan Fleming of Pittsburgh, originally from Richland Township.

“She had befriended an Indian who taught her the forbidden folklore and herbal healing of the Native Americans,” Fleming said. “She was buried in an unmarked spot near Snavely Cemetery, but to our knowledge not in the actual cemetery.”

The cemetery is along Mount Airy Drive in the township.

“Becky’s grave is further back into the woods in a muddy and swampy area,” Fleming said. “I would recommend trying to locate the spot in the daytime, as it is difficult to find at night.”

Pasco Paranormal Research Society founder Todd Wayne said that a World War II apparition is sometimes seen at the cemetery as well.

Wayne said he grew up in Johnstown before moving to Holiday, Florida a decade ago. He said he was a little fuzzy on his memory of Becky’s grave.

“I haven’t lived in Johnstown in over 10 years,” Wayne said. “I have photos, videos and (electronic voice phenomena) somewhere.”

Cambria County Paranormal Association founder Ryan Michaels said another local haunted hotspot is Crum Cemetery in Ogle Township, Somerset County.

Michaels said he is a psychic medium, asserting that he can communicate with spirits and the deceased.

He has been featured on the A&E television show “Psychic Kids: Paranormal Children,” and on the ABC news-program “20/20.”

“When I went (to Crum Cemetery), I picked up on a negative spirit that watched over everyone in general,” Michaels said. “I felt many times a male spirit.”

He said that there are three supposedly haunted houses by the cemetery, called the “Crum Houses.”

According to legend, he said, one of the houses was the site of a murder.

“Nobody really knows the truth, but the rumor is there was a guy that killed his entire family, then himself,” Michaels said.

He said there is a bridge by the cemetery that supposedly, if you park your car on it and turn it off, it won’t start again.

The cemetery attracts a lot of amateur ghost hunters, who often vandalize graves, according to Michaels. He said that gravestones are often overturned and that he even found dead cat carcasses there.

“People just go up there to get drunk and practice the occult,” he said.

Fleming said another legend of Crum Cemetery, similar to Becky’s grave, involves a murdered witch.

“Rebecca Crum was (hanged) on the charge of being a witch, and is rumored to have been buried at Crum Cemetery,” Fleming said. “An actual headstone with her name on it does not exist to our knowledge.”

A black carriage is sometimes seen driving through the cemetery, he said, but added the cemetery’s atmosphere may add to the legend.

“If nothing else, the dark gravel roadway with trees on each side exudes creepiness,” he said.

A site that does not have ties to a witch is at Blue Knob State Park in Pavia Township, Bedford County.

Fleming said the site, called the “Lost Children of the Alleghenies”, may be haunted by two children who wandered into the woods and died in 1856.

“Legend has it that on the evening of April 24, 1856, Joseph (Cox), 5, and George Cox, 6, wandered off from their cabin in Pavia (Township) into the woods and never returned,” Fleming said. “Within hours, over 150 people from the area were searching for the boys, and that number swelled to almost 1,000 over the following days.”

After Pavia Township farmer Jacob Dibert had a nightmare about the boys, Fleming said, he went to search for them.

“After the dream reoccurred the subsequent night, Jacob searched for the boys on May 8, 1856, only to find that his actual search exactly mimicked what he had seen in his nightmare,” he said. “He found the boys dead under a beech tree, lost from the world for two full weeks.”

Fleming’s paranormal group has investigated the site. He said that a box they laid near a monument to the Cox boys had been moved a considerable amount with no manipulation from group members or wind.

“On one night, our group brought a small white ball to hopefully interest the Cox children,” Fleming said. “We asked them through our spirit-box, a device that plays radio frequencies backwards, ‘What color is the ball?’ We heard the response ‘White’ clear as day through the device.”

Fleming, Wayne and Michaels said they discourage amateur ghost-hunters from trespassing on supposedly haunted sites.