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A Shenandoah cemetery suicide

The above clipping is from the September 19, 1921 edition of the Mount Carmel Item. Below is another clipping of the same event, from the September 22, 1921 edition of the Pittston Gazette.

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Natalie, Pennsylvania: A Murderer's Paradise

When a miner named Michael Wanzie was murdered in June of 1905, it was evident that something wasn't quite right in the tiny village of Natalie. Although the scenic mountain village had a population of less than two hundred, the slaying of Michael Wanzie was the fourth murder committed in the village in less than a decade.

By 1924 the population had nearly doubled, thanks to a building "boom" that saw the construction of 40 new homes during the preceding year by builders employed by the Colonial Collieries Company, owners of the Natalie Colliery. Twenty of these homes, many of which still stand today, were built by the Evert Construction Company of Kulpmont. In 1923 there were 56 homes in the village, housing 375 residents. By April of 1924 that number would swell to just under 400 residents and 93 homes.

Although the building boom lent a measure of respectability to the village, Natalie was still imbued with a notorious reputation as being one of the most lawless places …

The Great Pocket Knife Duel of 1909

From the September 7, 1909 edition of the Wilkes-Barre Time Leader.

The strange journey of a human skull

This strange story appeared in the Altoona Tribune on Nov. 7, 1895. I'm not quite sure which part of the story is more unusual-- that a man found a human skull and thought, "Neato! I gotta show this to my wife!" or that the wife tossed out the skull like it was a carton of spoiled milk. Either way, you can't help but feel a little bit sorry for the poor skeleton. So much for resting in peace.

The Deathbed Confession of Hetty Good

When a sweet old Mennonite woman from Bowmansville saw death standing on her doorstep after a long bout with tuberculosis, she attempted to end her life by slashing her throat. Her suicide attempt was a failure, however, and so she called not for a priest, but for a former lover she hadn't seen in over forty years. With her dying breath she made a ghastly confession-- that she was one of the most ruthless, cold-blooded murderers Lancaster County has ever seen.

Hetty Good confessed her crimes on June 7, 1895, at the age of 61. A week earlier, perhaps overcome by guilt, she had attempted to cut her own throat, but only succeeded in prolonging her anguish for a few more days. Knowing that the end was rapidly approaching she sent for a man from Mohnsville named William Griffiths, who formerly lived in Bowmansville.

Griffiths had been Hetty's lover four decades earlier, as was said to have been the father of Hetty Good's illegitimate child who had mysteriously disappeared from h…

The Mysterious Disappearance of Alice Arnold

When four-year-old Alice Arnold disappeared from her Perry County home in the spring of 1911 it sparked one of the largest search missions in the history of Pennsylvania. The search, which lasted for two months, involved hundreds of volunteers, dozens of police departments, an Indian tracker from the Carlisle Indian School and even a clairvoyant.

It was Monday morning, May 22, 1911, when little Alice Arnold was last seen alive at the Arnold family home at Marsh Run, near Ickesburg. By nightfall a search party of two hundred volunteers had scoured the heavy underbrush and mountains but, as the search stretched into its second day, not a trace of the little girl could be found. They did, however, discover footprints in the vicinity belonging to a mountain lion or panther, and the general consensus was that Alice had been dragged away by a fanged predator.

Rain fell heavily on the second day of the search, but the volunteers were undeterred. Neighbors began to fear for Mrs. Arnold, who a…