By Kristina Kregiel, Staff Writer
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Some locals call it the Providence Meeting House, others refer to it as Quaker Cemetery or Quaker Church.
Though it may be known to residents by several different names, there's one title that seems to overshadow the rest of them.
Everyone in the area seems to have heard a different story about the one-room house and accompanying cemetery tucked along Quaker Church Road -- a winding back road off Route 51 in Perryopolis.
Some claim people used the old meeting house -- originally used by Quaker pioneers -- to practice black magic.
Other supposed reports have told of orbs of light showing up on pictures people have snapped at the site or of visitors feeling ill and very cold at the house.
The most famous legend, though -- the one most frequently talked about -- involves the death of a young girl at the cemetery.
It is said that written on the inside wall of the house is a description of how the girl died. If someone should read the inscription, they will die the same way.
Dan Ankrom, a former Fayette County resident, visited the grounds on a number of occasions. The cemetery was a popular destination spot for area high school students eager to take a closer look at the urban legend. Ankrom was told over the years that the former meeting house was used in the 1800s as a place to kill witches.
Though there have been many stories passed down from generation to generation, none make reference to any eye-witnessed accounts.
So is Quaker Cemetery really home to the paranormal, or is it merely an old legend designed to scare people?
Ghost researcher Linda Davis has mixed opinions.
Davis and other members of the Mon Valley Ghost Research Society investigated Quaker Church and cemetery after they heard stories about the old meeting house being used for satanic rituals.
When they arrived, she says, pentagrams, writings on the wall and burned animal remains lead researchers to believe the rumors most likely were true.
But were the sacrifices and demonic scribblings the result of the supernatural?
After investigating the old meeting house, the Mon Valley Ghost Research Society came away with very little. No ghostly presence. No icy cold sensations. Nothing.
They collectively decided what they saw inside the house was the work of teenagers over the years.
Outside in the cemetery, however, was a different story.
Well after 2 a.m. on the night of the investigation, Davis says members were startled when they heard talking over the hill behind the cemetery.
They used a tape recorder to capture the muffled sound in the distance.
"When we played it back the voice said, 'Don't tell her anything'," says Davis.
After they searched the grounds, they found no logical explanation for the voice. No one was there.
"We were wandering around the cemetery all night and no one was seen except for a bunch of kids around midnight who took off when they saw us," she says.
"We think it's teenage kids going up there and upsetting the spirits."
Davis says the urban legend most likely was created by a teenager who got spooked while he was on the grounds one night and his story evolved into a scary tale that locals have passed along to one another.
Skeptics, though, say the legend was started by a group of bikers in order to keep others away while they used drugs at the cemetery property.
Is it possible the old meeting house of the Quaker pioneers evolved into a new meeting ground for spirits of the unknown? Or is it simply the site of local folklore that's taken on a life of its own?
We may never know as the truth likely is buried with those who originated the tale.
But unlike people, legends never die.
By Kristina Kregiel, Staff Writer