Ghosts of the PA Wilds: Haunted cemeteries in Cook Forest
I was going to write about a haunted place in the Cook Forest and the Ancients landscape of the PA Wilds – a business in the Clarion area. I had the idea to interview the owners, but they backed out on me. It’s appropriate on several levels to say I was ghosted.
This left me with a hole in my writing schedule, and I had to find some way to fill it. Fortunately, a little searching turned up something interesting. There are legends of haunted cemeteries in Cook Forest. There’s at least one.
I am speaking here of Crybaby Cemetery.
There seems to be some dispute about which cemetery exactly is known as Crybaby Cemetery, but most sources agree that it’s more commonly known as Saint Luke’s Cemetery, in Salem Township, Clarion County. It lies southwest of Knox, along Triangle Road, just south of Delo School Road. It’s on the southern end of the Cook Forest and the Ancients landscape of the PA Wilds, very near the I-80 Frontier landscape.
The cemetery is said to be one of the most haunted spots in Clarion County. Visitors describe the sensation of being watched, and people passing by mention hearing the sound of children crying in the night, particularly on a full moon.
Photo: Clarion County map, courtesy of Ross Library
The cemetery was founded in the late 1800s, with the earliest recorded gravestone showing a death in 1879. Over forty graves are recorded in the cemetery, but there are almost certainly a number of unmarked graves, as well. Of the visible ones, many of them are old or damaged enough to be unreadable, leading to a distinct air of mystery about the cemetery. The cemetery seems to mainly consist of several families. The names of Kline, Coulter, Kennedy, Auge, and Delo appear on many of the stones.
When looking for reasons a place is haunted, it’s best to look for unusual deaths. Deaths such as murders, suicides, accidents, and very young or unexpected deaths are the ones that are most likely to leave a ghost behind. In this regard, the Crybaby Cemetery fits the profile well.
Legends portray the story of two infant twins, buried on opposite ends of the cemetery, who cry for each other in the night. Though the presence of twins couldn’t be verified, there are children buried in the cemetery. A baby girl named Barris was buried there in July of 1942, and a boy named Goughler was buried there in 1902 at one day old. If the ghosts haunting the cemetery are all children or babies, this would make Crybaby Cemetery a sort of paranormal day care.
One Clarion County commissioner reported that one of the tombstones had a large stone ball sitting on top of a spike. The ball, which weighed quite a bit, would fall off the spike and move about the cemetery. Anyone who replaced the stone ball could come back to find it out of place the next morning.
A stone similar to what he describes does exist in the cemetery. Cemetery photos show a tall stone with a spike, and no ball on top, though clearly the spike once had something attached to it. This stone belongs to Henry Cropp, who died at age twelve – which, again, fits the most likely reasons for a place to be haunted.
If you happen to be visiting the Cook Forest and the Ancients Landscape, and you’re driving past the cemetery, stay alert. You never know what you might see… or hear.
About the Ghost of the PA Wilds series:
“Ghosts of the PA Wilds” describes a series of ghost stories from the region written by historian Lou Bernard, who also revels in folklore and the paranormal. Each Monday of October, and leading right to Halloween, the PA Wilds Are Calling blog will feature a new ghost story to celebrate the spooktacular season upon us.
Know of another good PA Wilds ghost story worth investigating and sharing? Let us know in the comment section below!
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