Sometimes it's the smaller towns that have the richest history. Including haunted history.
One such town is one hidden among the steel city of Pittsburgh, PA, just among the Monongahela River. That town is Monongahela.
Now those of you that read my main blog and view my website, you likely know that I am a re-enactor of history at the Depreciation Lands Museum in AllisonPark. This passed summer, I also posted an article on this webzine about The Deacon, the museum's benevolent resident ghost.
Now every Halloween, the museum puts on their Lantern Tours each year with an ever changing theme. This year's theme is a dramatized reenacting of the witchcraft trial of real life 17th century accused 'witch', Mary Bliss Parsons in Colonial America.
And as a side note, what has two thumbs and is playing Mary Bliss Parsons in this event?
Now as I was reading over the script for the Mary Parsons witchcraft trial tour and doing research, I came across another interesting figure (also being portrayed in the lantern tours event). And that is Mary or "Moll" Derry, who was also known as the Fortune Teller of the Revolution and/or The Witch of Monongahela.
According to a brief description in a sample from Thomas White's book, Witches of Pennsylvania: Occult History and Lore (a book that is definitely on my 'to read' list), Derry was born in Germany during the year 1760. During the Revolutionary War, she moved to America with her husband, who was a Hessian soldier.
After the war ended, they moved to Fayette County in the 1790s. It is said that Derry lived in Georges Township until her death from old age in 1843 (which would have made her 83 at the time of her death).
Throughout her lifetime, Derry was said to have told fortunes, removed hexes, and cured ailments. There is even a story of how she tried to help a young woman by warning that young woman of what seemed to be an abusive fiance. Unfortunately, the young woman did not listen and she was later found dead. Derry was also said to have a vengeful side to her, and pity the fools that dared cross her. There are many stories of curses and affliction place upon those that angered Derry, from farmers having their livestock mysteriously perish to men that tormented her having their lives cut short by hanging.
Either way, her reputation as "the most well-known witch of the western side of the [Pennsylvania] state" made her a legend long before her earthly life ended.
What is even more curious is that in a time that is known to severely frown upon practices of any type of magic, Derry (and probably even others) managed to somehow slip beneath the radar of the witchhunts and trials. It is suggested that perhaps people feared crossing her just that much. It definitely makes you wonder. Then again, history really is a giant, mysterious labyrinth with many different and unexpected twists and turns.
And speaking of twists and turns, who doesn't love a haunted house? Especially one said to have a haunted tale behind it?
Well, Demon House - also know as Emerald Mansion - has a rather interesting story behind it.
Now bear in mind that I am not entirely sure of whether this is the real history behind it or if this is a fabrication that is simply part of the haunt. But either way it's a cool story, and one to maul over as you await your turn to enter into the old McCormick Mansion. I did go to Demon House during the Halloween season a couple years ago, and I will say that it does deliver. Here is a video of the experience:
And as for the story told behind it, the story goes a little something like this:
The mansion has over 138 years of haunted history and the land on which it sits was once used as a burial ground (possibly Native American but also possibly used by the Spanish to bury their torture victims). There is also a story about a mysterious woman named Carla who owned a title on the land in the mid-late 1800s. Supposedly, she was not bothered by the lands history as being burial grounds and even asked to keep some of the bones of the exhumed bodies.
She was said to be a healer and a witch by some (there seems to be a lot of that going around in this particular area), though many sought out her cures for ailments. Then in 1894, she mysteriously vanished (as had some of her patients). When the sheriff and his deputies decided to conduct a search of the house, four members of the search party entered the mansion, never to be seen again. thus the house remained empty until 2004, when it was purchase by the owners and operators of the haunted attraction, Demon House.
Now, the current owners of Demon House have stated in a couple interviews that there definitely is an energy about the area. So perhaps one of these days it would be interesting to sit down with them and see just how much of the story stems from truth.
Either way, the moral of the story is...always keep your eyes open, for sometimes the smallest towns have the most interesting history and legends.
Sample of Witches of Pennsylvania:
Demon House Legend:
Mary Bliss Parsons:
Tiffany Apan is a critically acclaimed independent recording artist, a stage/film actress, author, and award-winning producer/writer. You can find more about her at her Official Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, and her production company website. She can also be found on IMDb and her music releases on CDBaby along with iTunes, Amazon, and other digital retailers. She also does freelance writing, and editing. Her own stories are available at Smashwords, Barnesand Noble NOOK, Amazon, and other retailers. Her novel series, The Birthrite Series, is also available in both ebook and paperback form. In addition, she is a contributor to Ravenous Monster Webzine.