Zombieland, Pennsylvania

Zombieland

Hillsville, Pennsylvania

Along the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania, in Lawrence County, just north of the small Italian immigrant populated village of Hillsville is a unsettling quiet and eerie region locals call “Zombie Land”. Mainly “urban legend” than actual historic folklore are tales of the macabre, mystical beasts, deaths, and grisly murder. There is definitely a feeling of “odd” and “something not right” when entering this several mile strip of heavily wooded spots meeting farming, transportation, and industrial works along Lawler Ford Road a.k.a. “Zombie Road” or Route 224.

The Virgin Mary:

It begins around the old St. Lawrence Catholic Church which has long been converted to a private residence and its accompanying graveyard along route 224. There is a alcove with a statue of the Virgin Mary who has a creepy air about herself. Legend has it, she will greet visitors with open arms when it is safe to enter Zombie Land, and have praying hands when it is not. In the 1990’s it was reportedly vandalized and a plexiglass (or glass) window was installed to protect the statue.

St. Lawrence Church and Graveyard:

Some say the gravestones behind this church glow at night. Others say it is at the Presbyterian graveyard down the road. We’ve been to both, and outside of solar-powered grave lights, there is no glow. Others say it is a historic stone in the older part of the graveyard behind the old Church (St. Lawrence) that has a particular shine that reflects off the full moon or light from the house (old church). We unfortunately during our night visit did not see that section, although we did explore the two graveyards – seeing no glow, but experiencing the eerie ambiance.

The Hilltown Bridge:

Just down the road from the St. Lawrence Graveyard north is the Hilltown Bridge. The original Bridge in March 1913 was swept away and has since been replaced by a new concrete monster. It was torn down again in 2007 and replaced with a modern concrete span. It is from this bridge that reports of unexplained lights moving around it and underneath, like the Will o’ Wisp has been reported. Also some say one can hear screams and gun shots from the bridge at night. It has also been reported to be a “crying bridge” with sounds of a crying baby underneath, with the urban lore that a mother tossed her child over the edge. It has reports of suicides being conducted from its rails.

The Killing Fields or “Murder Swamp”:

Just north of the Hilltown Bridge are the “Killing Fields” where at night many report hearing screams and gunshots. In the woods bordering the railway some say there are “ghost whistles” to be heard late at night. If one parks near the rails, strange things will happen to the car. It is also reputedly where a serial killer dumped more than a dozen bodies with decapitated heads in Zombie Land. From 1921-1942, between Mahoningtown and New Castle, over 15 bodies were found in the swamp and may have been the same serial killer who conducted decapitations in Cleveland around the same time. There are many stories of the Italian Immigrants who settled in the area also killing many farmers, authorities, and residents leaving them in the Killing Fields to decay. It was in 1907 when several Italian men in Hillsville, believed to be associated with the Italian mafia/mob who proclaimed that “No person in the Hillsville district, either Italian or American, will give the slightest assistence to any officer desiring the prosecution of Italian offenders.” and it was then that a Hillsville farmer allowed an officer named Sealy Houk to use his phone to effect an arrest of an Italian found to have killed his cow. It is believed that the officer was killed and dumped in the “Killing fields” of the region, discovered by a train passing by. Three days after Houk’s body was discovered, three Italian mob men went into the fields killing and pouching animals, aggrivating and attacking (murdering at least one – William Duff) farmers who tried to stand in their way.

The Mines:

There are said to be various mines in the area used by the mafia from Youngstown to dispose of bodies. While travelling through area, we only saw signs for “Limestone” mines.

Skyhill Road Bridge:
(aka Frankenstein Bridge, Hookman’s Bridge, Ghost Bridge, Graffiti Bridge)
A few more miles down into Zombie land on Skyhill Road is a small bridge that was built in 1917 crossing off the Coffee Run River. It also has been replaced in 2013 changing the eerie attraction. It became to be believed to be haunted by the “Bridge People” and the “Hook Man”. Apparently they were mutated zombie-like people who lived nearby that were bothered by people hanging around the bridge so would hunt them down to maim or kill them. It is believed that if one writes someone’s name on the bridge, the “Bridge People” or “The Hookman” would go murder them. The bridge is covered with peoples names and symbols. The Original bridge had wood railings where the graffiti would be, but now a metal railing, the graffiti is on the asphault itself. Oddly, underneath the bridge are lover’s dedications and love notes scrawled on the walls. The Hate is above, the Love below. We also saw the corpse of a dead deer lying halfway on the ground and in the water, half-wrapped in a garbage bag like an offering to the Bridge people. Someone else writing about the Bridge also stated there was a dead deer but that was back in 2016, so a different dead deer. It is said a young boy leaped from the bridge killing himself as a suicide.

The Zombie Torch:

Right around the corner from the bridge west is the Eternal Flame dedicated to the Zombies that haunt the woods. The mutant colored metal pipe protruding from the ground is just a stone’s torch from the road – it is a iron pipe venting fumes from the natural gas field below. If one lights the torch it will anger the Bridge People and the Hook Man, summoning them to cause death unto the one who lit it.

The Blood House, Bridge People, Hook Man:

Deep in the woods near the bridge and torch is the purported home of the Bridge People and/or Hook Man. It is said also to have been the home of a wicked witch named “Mary Black” who snatched and murdered children of the area, buring them in the fields. It has long been burnt down and demolished by authorities and no longer exists. Others state that the Blood House is located off of Erskin Quarry Road and had a small graveyard attached to it. Some say the Witch was a woman who went crazy and hung her children. Others say it all happened when some mental patients escaped and settled in the area. Others say the “Bridge People” were mutant-like residents of the woods who suffered from “hydrocephalus” or “water on the brain” that settled in the area along the Mahoning River to avoid being harassed for their deformities. They were also nicknamed the “Light Bulb Heads”. A escaped mental patient nicknamed “Zombie” who was a serial killer supposedly lived in the woods along this road. Some claim that his bloodied hospital gown was once found on the road and murdered local kids. Other paranormal investigators call the “Bridge People” as the infamous legendary “Shadow People” of lore. There is some belief that the “Hook Man” came from the Killing of Seely Houk written about above.

The Railroad Bridge:

Along Coffee Run, at Robinson’s Crossing, just north of the Manoning River, within Zombie Land, not too far from all the haunted locations is a Railway Bridge still in use by CSX trains was the scene of a grisley rape and murder of a 12 year old girl named Shannon Leigh Kos. Her boyfriend and two other 20 year old boys brought her there, raped her, and stabbed her to death. They attempted to burn her body, but her remains were found by the bridge three days later. The sick criminals – William George Monday (21), David Christopher Garvey (20), and Perry Sam Ricciardi II (20) were arrested and convicted. There are purported rumors that Robinson’s Crossing was once a popular “lover’s lane” but police reported many arguments and spats, domestic violence calls, etc. were popular there as well as abandoned dates they had to come to escort home. Rumors of suicides at this spot as well as the other bridges are also common.

The Glowing Green Man:
There are legends of a green man who had been burned in an industrial accident that lived in the area. Others say he was a local handyman who was electricuted and had a light green glow to his skin. According to Jim Mosley, the Green Man not only existed but was someone whom he had met on occasion through his wanderings in Zombie Land and spent many evenings drinking with him at the local pub. His real name was Raymond Robinson.

A zombie land facebook fan page exists here: https://www.facebook.com/ZombieLandHillsvillePA/ and t-shirts are sold at a local beverage shop.

Recommended Reading/Bibliography:

  • Associated Press 2000 “Accused told police of Killing”. The Associated Press. Website referenced on 11/12/18 at http://www2.sharonherald.com/localnews/recentnews/0011/ln111600f.html
  • Lawrence County Memoirs n.d. “Zombie Land – Hillsville PA” website referenced 11/12/18 at http://www.lawrencecountymemoirs.com/lcmpages/1073/zombieland-hillsville-pa
  • Reddit 2016 “Gruesome Murder of a Girl I Knew NSFW” by u/nebbles1069. Website referenced 11/12/18 at https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/462b6r/gruesome_murder_of_a_girl_i_knew_nsfw/
  • Penn Live e2016 “From Hell’s Hollow to Zombie Land: 13 western PA places with haunting legends. Website referenced 11/12/18 at https://www.pennlive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2016/10/haunted_western_pennsylvania.html
  • Summers, Ken 2011 “The STrange History Behind America’s Creepiest Zombie Road Legends … and How You Can find them”. Website referenced 11/12/18 at http://weekinweird.com/2011/09/26/home-zombie-roads/
  • Tinsley, M. Ferguson 2000 “This time, Zombie Land tale is true”. Post-Gazette Staff. Website referenced 11/12/18 at http://old.post-gazette.com/regionstate/20001031zombie1.asp
  • Torisk, Emmalee C. 2013 “Urban legends haunt Zombieland” : Vindy.com. Website referenced 11/12/18 at http://www.vindy.com/news/2013/oct/29/urban-legends-haunt-zombieland/
  • Warren, Louis S. unknown “The Hunters Game: Poachers and Conservationists in Twentieth Century America”. Website referenced 11/12/18 at https://books.google.com/books?id=OfeB1wAdQHwC&pg=PA30&lpg=PA30&dq=killing+fields+hillsville&source=bl&ots=GdJ2Dgjuqh&sig=A0EsgLm8cPefd44V8l6owSsq0IQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiZocuBqtDeAhUp11kKHYObBIsQ6AEwFXoECAsQAQ#v=onepage&q=killing%20fields%20hillsville&f=false

(more…)

Want to follow the travels of Sir Thomas Leaf? Click Here!
Share

 


The Wishing Steps of Rock Close

120313-070
Wishing Steps

Wishing Steps
* The Rock Close * Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

Onwards with the quest for charms and blessings, just after kissing the legendary Blarney Stone for the gift of gab we wandered into The Rock Close of Blarney Castle. It was time to visit the wiley old witch of Blarney for a endowment of wishes. The witch requires the wisher to walk backwards up and down the steps with their eyes closed without stopping for a moment or thinking of anything other than the wish – then that wish will come true within a year. Of course I did it, and those who know me can only guess what my wish was … The roughly hewn 21-24 limestone steps climb up through an archway of limestone rocks. The steps can be wet and very slippery. Legend states that the witch was forced to do these blessings on the steps as a way for her to pack for her firewood she uses in the Witches kitchen located at the top of the steps. It is believed that if you go up the stairs early in the morning you will see dying embers in the fire pit of the Witches’ Kitchen and Stone which is supposedly lit every night by the Blarney Castle Witch.

The witch supposedly grants the wish within a year’s time. Others say a “year and a day”. My wish came true in precisely a year and 2 months. On June 28, 2010 I wished to be united with my soul mate and twin flame that previous prophecies said I’d meet. I also always had dreams as a child I’d marry an Irish woman. A year later in 2011 I was supposed to go to Ireland but while in Scotland ran out of money and called to tell my Irish friends I wasn’t able to come for a visit. They asked if I was going to Burning Man to which I replied, “I couldn’t afford it”. They had a position open for me as staff in helping build the Celtic dragon effigy for Ireland at Burning Man, so I went. I had a theme camp set up called “Tir na nOg” and was a base camp for the Irish crew. The night of the Effigy burn, I was a fire guardian and while watching the perimeter, had a friend from Colorado come fire spin for the event and she needed a safety person – unable to assist as I was already tied up with the boundary, I looked around the audience and saw a woman dressed like a leprechaun who was sober – I asked her to assist and she did. Afterwards I invited her back to our Tir na nOg camp, fed her fairy food and drink, and we fell in love. It turned out she was from Ireland, via the Pacific Northwest after working a summer on Vancouver Island, and lived in Cork – a stone’s throw from the Blarney Witch. She was looking for other Irish to hang out with. I moved to Dublin with her, two months later at the Stone of Destiny was inspired to propose to her, and we soon after married and gave birth to a beautiful son. So every year we return to the Blarney Witch to thank her for playing cupid. In our experience, we believe the wishing steps work.

120313-039

(more…)

Share

 


The Blarney Witch: Her Kitchen and Stone in the Rock Close

120313-060
The Witches’ Kitchen

Witches Kitchen
* The Rock Close * Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

In the enchanted grounds of Rock Close in the fabled lands of Blarney Castle is the infamous Kitchen of the Blarney Witch. Archaeologically it is believed to have been a prehistoric dwelling potentially as old as the Neolithic (3,000-5,000 years old) if there is any connection of it to the The Rock Close Dolmen (Blarney Castle) or the Druid’s Cave and Circle. Atop her wishing steps is her kitchen. It has a chimney and fireplace within.

120313-057
The Witches’ Kitchen

Offset from the kitchen is her stone. Apparently by legend she is bound and entrapped in the rock in servitude to bestow wishes upon those who walk up and down backwards the wishing steps while thinking only of their wishes and not letting any other thoughts drift in. In exchange, the Blarney guardians provide her firewood for this very kitchen so she can continue her spell craft and crazy brews while staying warm at night for when darkness falls she is magically released from the stone she is trapped within. Some say if you arrive early enough you can still see the dying embers of the fire as she lights a fire every night. Many believe that it was the Blarney Witch who really told McCarthy about the power of the Blarney Stone while others claim it was her who enchanted the stone as a “thank you” to McCarthy for saving her from drowning in the river. No one seems to know how she was entrapped into her rock. The Echoe Ghost Hunters investigated this area in 2010-2011 and claimed very strong EMP’s were recorded in the area of the Witches’ Kitchen. Most of the lore in this area is centered around the Witch of Blarney.

120313-074
The Witches Stone

(more…)

Share

 


Lady Befana

The Italian Witch Santa

Lady Befana, the Italian Witch Santa  was a folkloric myth of a old woman who would travel around the countryside delivering gifts to children throughout Italy. It is believed that once long ago a woman named Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men just before the birth of Jesus. They asked her for directions to where he lay as they had seen his star in the sky, but she replied she didn’t know and offered them shelter for then night. Being the village’s best housekeeper and host, she was invited to go with the Three Wise Men to baby Jesus the next day – but she declined as she was too busy with cleaning chores. Just after they left, she had a change of heart and tried to find them unsuccessfully. It is believed that to this day she has been searching for the child and in her travels, leaves all the good kids toys, fruit, or candy and coal, garlic, or onions for the bad kids. It is perceived in Italy very much like most of the world believes in Santa Clause. However while modern Pagans throughout the world incorporate her into visiting their households on the Winter Solstice or Yule, according to Italian folklore – she’d visit the Italian folk around January 5th, during Epiphany Eve. It is theorized that she was named after the Italian “La Festa dell’Epifania” (Epiphany) Feast Day as a manifestation of the divinity. Folklorists suggest that she may be related to the Roman Goddess Strenia, who was often depicted as presiding over the New Year’s eve gifts which were called “Strenae”. Others have suggested her name being a mispronunciation of the Greek word “epifania” or “epiphaneia”, or after Bastrina, gifts associated with the Goddess Strina. Many times her gifts are depicted as being figs, dates, and honey – which were also commonly depicted or associated with Befana. She was depicted often being noisy, riotous, and licentious. She would visit the children and filling their socks hung at the chimneys with care with candy, figs, dates, or honey if the children had been good, or a lump of coal or dark candy if they were bad – just as was similarly depicted with Santa and the filling of his stockings. Sometimes it has been rumored that she’d sweep or housekeep a house before leaving if it was left messy. Instead of a glass a milk like children leave for Santa, they would leave her a glass wine and a plate with a few morsels of food. She is often depicted as a smiling happy soot covered old lady with a black shawl draped over her shoulders and riding a broomstick through the air, sometimes swooping down into the chimneys carrying a hamper filled with gifts and candy. She is supposedly “fairy” cloaked and not to be seen. If children do spy her, they will receive a thump from her broomstick as she doesn’t want to be seen. She is however an Italian national icon. Her figure is associated with the Papal States during Epiphany in the regions of Umbria, Lazio, and Marche with her residing in Urbania. Numerous festivals take place during this time of year celebrating the holiday with Befana images swinging from the main tower of the city center. One such festival, called the Feast of the Befana is held in the Piazza Navona in Rome every year. The National Befana festival is held in Urbania every year between January 2nd and 6th.

Another myth about her origin was that she was an ordinary woman with child whose death maddened her with grief. Once she learned about baby Jesus being born, she set out to see him, delusionally thinking he was her son. As she met him, she showered him with gifts. This pleased Baby Jesus and his gift to her in return was that she would be mother to every child in Italy. A Befana Choir takes place every Winter Solstice at the Kensington Market’s Festival of Lights parade in Toronto, Canada.

As gifts were commonly exchanged in honor of Ianus and Strenia during Roman times to celebrate the beginning of the year. This is a tradition that is believed to have influenced the Befana or Strenae myth. Other Pagan customs surround her legend including the stockings by the chimney, the Yule Tree, New Years traditions, and burning of a old lady character to represent the old year just passed in order to give space for the new one. Many European countries burn a puppet of a old lady at the beginning of the year with Celtic origins. There are also potential origins of her traced to Neolithic beliefs and practices, as well as sharing similarities to Perchta in Pre-Christian Alpine traditions. Some Saturnalia legends claim the Romans would go to the Temple of Juno on Capitoline Hill to have their augers read by Lady Befana, depicted as an old woman reading the augers. During Epiphany, a Pagan festival celebrating the Ancestors was often held and it is also theorized the origin of the Befanotti (representing the ancestors) going from home to home singing the “Pasquella” with the Befana coming down the chimneys took place. She is first found mentioned in classic literature in a poem by Agnolo Firenzuola in 1549.

Bibliography:


  • Abruzzo 2000:
    2011 “Christmas in Abruzzo: The Befana”. Website referenced December 2011. http://www.abruzzo2000.com/abruzzo/traditions/christmas/befana.htm.
  • Bonvincini, Alice

    2011 “The Befana Comes by Night …”; Italian American Digital Project: http://www.i-italy.org/16375/befana-comes-night/.
  • Calandra, John D.
    2009 “The Legend of La Befana”. Italian American Institute. http://qcpages.qc.edu/calandra/community/commbefa.html.
  • Giglio, Michael
    2008 “Taking Flight with Italy’s Holiday Witch”. Speigel Online: www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,596060,00.html.
  • Illes, Judika
    2009 The Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses. ISBN: 9780061350245.
  • Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia
    2011 – Website referenced. en.wikipedia.org.

Articles can be purchased for use in magazines, print, or for reproduction on web sites. Photos are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission of authors Tom Baurley or Leaf McGowan. Photos can be purchased via Technogypsie.com at Technogypsie Photography Services for nominal use fees. Restaurants, Businesses, Bands, Performances, Venues, and Reviews can request a re-review if they do not like the current review or would like to have a another review done. If you are a business, performer, musician, band, venue, or entity that would like to be reviewed, you can also request one (however, travel costs, cost of service (i.e. meal or event ticket) and lodging may be required if area is out of reviewer’s base location at time of request).

These articles/stories are done by the writer at no payment unless it is a requested review and the costs for travel, service, and lodging was covered – in which case, expenditure reimbursement will not affect review rating or content. If you enjoy this story, tale, article, or review and want to see more, why not buy our reviewer a drink to motivate them to write more? or help cover the costs they went through to do this review?






Share

 


Burns’ Tam O’Shanter, 1792 (1855 illustrations) « Sexy Witch

Burns’ Tam O’Shanter, 1792 (1855 illustrations) « Sexy Witch.

Burns’ Tam O’Shanter, 1792 (1855 illustrations)

“Tam O’Shanter” is a ghost story written in verse by the great Scottish poet Robert Burns. Burns persuaded his friend Francis Grose to include a drawing of Alloway Kirk, in his Antiquities of Scotland (1791), which Grose promised to do if Burns would supply him with a ghost story to go with it. Burns wrote a brief version of the story in prose before starting his 224 line poem. Both versions have been quoted in the following account (see here for the prose and here for the poem).

The poem concerns a farmer, Tam. After a night of drinking and story-telling, Tam must ride home to Carrick through a heavy storm. As Tam passes Alloway kirk-yard it is “the wizard hour, between night and morning”. He sees a bright light streaming from the ruined church and, on investigating, he is “surprised and entertained, thorough the ribs and arches of an old gothic window … to see a dance of witches merrily footing it round”. As the dance grows “fast and furious” the women cast aside their cloths and dance in their “sark” (undershirt). Alone among the many “wither’d beldams, auld and droll” (withered grandmothers, old and comical) Tam notices a “winsome wench” in a “cutty sark” (short shirt). After some time observing the young witch dancing, Tam unwisely cries out “Weel done, Cutty-sark!”; at which, the music stops, the lights go out and all the witches give chase. Tam makes for the bridge (since a witch can’t cross running water): “the pursuing, vengeful hags were so close at his heels, that one of them actually sprung to seize him: but it was too late; nothing was on her side of the stream but the horse’s tail, which immediately gave way to her infernal grip, as if blasted by a stroke of lightning.”

The poem was immediately, and immensely, popular: it has been illustrated many times. Artists have shown particular relish in depicting Nannie (the young witch) dancing, chasing Tam, and grasping the tail of Tam’s horse, Meg (or Maggie). The three illustrations below are by John Faed (and engraved by Lumb Stocks and James Stephenson for the 1855 edition). These are some of the best and most frequently reprinted or copied illustrations to Burns’ poem. I have accompanied each illustration (or detail) with a passage from the poem.  (Follow link above or below for the author’s article to continue …)

http://sexywitch.wordpress.com/2006/09/15/burns-tam-oshanter/

Share