Graves under houses.
A mystery illness that wiped out a family in a matter of days.
Ghost wagons and horses running up and down a city street in Warren.
A woman killed by a train who continues to haunt her former home.
A monstrous creature that wanders through the woods, looking for its next gruesome meal.
Warren County has no shortage of stories when it comes to ghosts, strange happenings and the macabre.
This weekend, the county celebrates the holiday of Halloween, conjuring up images of trick-or-treating, glowing jack-o-lanterns and costume parties.
And ghost stories.
We can thank the ancient Celts for Halloween, which can be traced back to the festival of Samhain the celebration of the Celt's New Year, Nov. 1.
The Celts believed on the night before their New Year, the worlds between the living and the dead became blurred. They believed the ghosts of the dead returned to the Earth.
Perhaps they do.
Hazel St. Bridge
This was the fourth bridge built across the Allegheny River in the general vicinity of Hazel St. When the river is low, the shadowy remains of the bridge's stone piers can be seen underwater.
The bridge collapsed in 1855, but not before a close call by an unidentified local man, who on Nov. 18, 1854 drove his wagon over the crumbling structure, which had been deemed unsafe. He barely made it to the other side when the flooring dropped into the cold river below.
Sidney Berry wasn't as lucky in his experience with the Hazel St. Bridge.
Berry, a construction worker, was crushed to death by a block of stone during the building of the bridge's piers in 1839. He was buried in Wetmore Cemetery in North Warren. His was the first grave in the cemetery to have a headstone the actual block of rock that killed him.
The Hazel St. Bridge is long gone.
Or is it?
Over the years, residents on Hazel St. have reported hearing the sounds of horse drawn vehicles clopping down the street and then clapping over a wooden bridge.
As for the unfortunate Sidney Berry, evening visitors to the Wetmore Cemetery have reported seeing the ghostly specter of a man wandering through the gravestones.
East St. Graveyard
The City of Warren's original cemetery was located on the southwest corner of Fifth Ave. and East St. This was before Oakland Cemetery opened in 1863.
The East St. Cemetery was founded in 1823. A work bee was held to clear land for the burial plots. Eli Granger, an early settler and mill owner, took a break from the work and sat down under an old hickory tree. Laughing, he stretched out on the ground and declared to his friends that he wanted the spot to be saved for his future grave.
He got his wish
Several days later, Granger drowned in the Conewango Creek, becoming one of the cemetery's first residents.
Unfortunately, no records were kept of the burials in the graveyard, and many bodies were placed in unmarked graves. When Oakland Cemetery opened across the Allegheny River, families were responsible for having their dead loved ones disinterred and ferried across the river. Due to a lack of records or families to claim the remains, some bodies were left behind. The city quickly grew over the abandoned cemetery.
Over the years, children playing in the area of the abandoned graveyard now built over with homes for the living discovered old buttons, decaying shoes and ornate brass hinges, handles and nails.
The remains of old coffins.
Others claimed to see ghostly apparitions haunting the streets, perhaps taking a peek into the houses sitting atop their final resting place.
The 'Bloody Flux'
There are ten graves in the Yankee Bush Cemetery with the last name of Spencer.
The dates of their deaths span through August and September 1851.
A further examination of gravestones in the cemetery reveal over a dozen more deaths from the same period.
Judah and Harmon Spencer were early settlers along Yankee Bush Rd., the original main road between Warren and Sugar Grove. Judah Spencer ran a mail and stage stop from his home.
In August of 1851, the two families were suddenly stricken with illness. Within a month, the Spencer family was wiped out by what the Warren Ledger called "The Bloody Flux." Others suspected cholera. But the real culprit was typhoid fever.
Chloe Wiler, a nurse, recalled her mother had just moved to Yankee Bush in June 1851, shortly before the Spencer family met its doom. Her mother told her of visiting the Spencers after tragedy befell them, and saw five children stretched out alongside each other in the ice house, awaiting burial.
Lorena Spencer, Harmon's Wife, died in September. She was joined by three of her children: Ozra, 2, Aug. 22; Leroy, 5, Sept. 5; and Caroline, 1, Sept. 19.
Judah Spencer, 50, died on Sept. 4.
Five of Judah's children also perished: Sarah Ann, 15, Aug. 31; Clarissa, 17, Sept. 5; Sophia, 10, Sept. 7; John, 9, Sept. 8; Horace, 5, Sept. 3.
Rumors of an outbreak of the Plague ran rampant.
Two doctors treated the Spencers. A Dr. Sargent prescribed "spiritus fermenti" whiskey as a treatment. Seeing no change, the family switched physicians, bringing in a Dr. Stranahan, president of the local Sons of Temperance. The decision sealed the family's fate. Stranahan, an avowed teetotaler, threw out the whiskey and placed his patients on water. Within days, only two members of the Spencer family remained alive. Stranahan had inadvertantly killed them all.
The Spencers' well was contaminated by typhoid. They had poisoned themselves with their own drinking water.
Living in Warren County during its wilderness days was a dangerous proposition.
The Seneca Indians traveling outside the safety of their villages faced many perils. Warren County still teemed with wolves and mountain lions. And there was always the possibility of drowning in a swift stream or cold river.
There was also Long Nose a creature that lived in the deep woods and liked nothing better than a snack of a defenseless child or two.
Long Nose is most likely a variation of the Wendigo, a malevolent cannibalistic spirit that pervades various Native American tribes' mythology in the northern U.S. and Canada.
Long Nose stood taller than a man and had a very odd face, including a proboscis that hung down to its knees. Its skin was a gruesome pasty white, like a corpse, and its mouth was filled with sharp, crooked teeth. The creature's favorite food was said to be children who wandered off from their village into the woods. If Long Nose caught you, parents warned, your remains would never be found.
He eats you bones and all.
Alice Wetmore Jefferson
It's the quintessential Warren County ghost story.
Alice Wetmore Jefferson had it all: a handsome rich husband, a stunning home, family money, social prominence.
She died on Sept. 10, 1914 when she either stumbled in front of a train near Market St., or threw herself in its path.
She died instantly.
Alice Jefferson was married to J.P. Jefferson, who built his wife a magnificent home that later became known as the Jefferson Tea House. Alice became an activist for the prevention of cruelty to animals, along with crusading for the welfare of children. Her husband, who worked for Struthers-Wells Co., bought out the business upon the death of its founder and went on to become a very wealthy man.
On the day of her death, Alice Jefferson's maid heard a loud argument, followed by the slamming of a door. She discovered her employer had thrown her wedding ring before leaving. Shortly after, Alice Jefferson was dead, killed by a train a few blocks away.
The memory-and some say the spirit-of Alice Jefferson remained long after her earthly demise.
Jefferson's home was converted into a pub in the early 1980s. One night, while the owner was working on the third floor in preparation for opening, he heard someone banging pots and pans in the kitchen on the first floor. So fierce was the disturbance that he called the city police, who found everything neatly in its proper place in the kitchen.
Later, a worker helping to install a bar on the second floor of the Tea House reported a lamp in the room turning off and on by itself. He then witnessed a woman on the other side of some French doors watching him through the glass.
A woman has been sighted on other occasions in the former home, including by the real estate agents of the former Colleen Christy Agency. One agent saw a woman wearing a loose-fitting white summer dress coming down the stairs from the second floor. She mistook her for a fellow agent, who then came in the front door several minutes later in a navy blue slacks outfit.
"As soon as word was out around town that I had bought this building, people would say to me, 'Do you know that place is haunted?' 'Have you seen Alice yet?'" said former owner Colleen Christy. "I was not aware of this when I bought the building, but it wouldn't have deterred me. I don't mind her being here; it's her house. I don't have a fear, but some people who work here are a little uneasy about being her along at night. I don't have any reason to feel she would harm anyone."