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  • J.A. Willoughby

The Non-Haunting Of Egg Hill Church

"The irony of this spooky story is this: When Egg Hill Cemetery hosts unwanted late-night visitors, it’s the living who continue to haunt the dead." It's that time of year again, when supposedly spooky places draw the spookily curious - the "haunted" places here in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Let's get this right up front: I am a non-believer in the "spooky" or anything supernatural, for that matter. That doesn't make me a non-curious person. And as a result of that curiosity, I researched a particular PA spooky place based on a personal connection. The place? Egg Hill Church and Cemetery in Spring Mills PA. In short: Don't go there. Not because it is haunted or scary - but because it is not. And not because this "non-believer" says so. But because nothing in the town's history even remotely supports the myth.

The urban legend of a minister killing his congregation with poisoned communion wine during a Halloween night church service (seriously?) while the children cowered in the basement awaiting the same fate, then the minister's eventual suicide (by hanging) has NO basis in fact. History books written at the time don't support it. The local news outlets don't support it. And the tombstones located in the cemetery don't support it - there are no aged markers with the same death dates. What more do you need to upend an urban legend?

I am trying to help a small community here and their problem with vandals and thieves over the years, of the Egg Hill Church, its tombstones and the surrounding property, now on the National Historic Register. Stop it. Now. There is NO weird story, no legend, no graves of the murdered. None of that exists. Sorry to deflate your Halloween balloon. Seek your Halloween spooky thrills elsewhere, they aren't there. You are wasting your time. And, I might add, you will be arrested for your "trouble". What you are doing in the name of morbid curiosity and thrill seeking simply put, is illegal: Trespassing on private property, vandalism, theft are all against the law. Which also means, if you are caught, you will be arrested and have a record for the rest of your life - for (literally) nothing. Seek your thrills elsewhere, wherever - just not here.

I have more than a casual interest in this place. My wife's fourth great grandfather, David Hennigh (whose tombstone has been vandalized in the past), was a community leader and helped build the church. David was a son of Revolutionary War veteran, John Adam Hennigh and his third wife Barbara Von Nida (Vonada). This Halloween, as any day or night of the rest of the year, allow these dead people to rest in peace, as well as spare their descendants the indignity of disrespect for their relatives. They did nothing extraordinary except make a life for themselves (we all try to do that), which at that difficult time was extraordinary in itself.

Where the myth started is anyone's guess. Probably from someone who didn't have a real life of their own.

Do you really want to "pay tribute to" and follow that kind of pathetic sadness and ambiguity? Really?

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