Glen Mills Haunting
The early 1930's provide the background of this chilling tale from Delaware County.
The Glen Mills area of Delaware County has plenty of winding county lanes and cornfields, so it's hard to guess where this particular story took place, but it's obvious that the folks in the area were pretty stirred up about the appearance of a local ghost in their area:
Daily Courier, Connellsville, PA Friday, 9/4/1931
Apparition Yells, Eludes Searchers
Crowd Hysterical as Ghost Flees Into Cornfield
Media, PA. The "ghost" of Glen Mills still roams the wooded slopes of Delaware county overlooking the winding little country road, where it first appeared some weeks ago. It eluded a "ghost hunt" staged recently.
The lean, cadavorious "thing" which sits atop a "boulder" and slinks into the thickets of an apple orchard with an eerie scream when closely approached appeared promptly as the clock pointed to midnight.
The apparition was seen to rise from the weeds and tall grass on the cliff and stand, silhouetted against the light of a hot yellow moon, and plainly visible to the hundreds of persons who had congregated on the narrow road for the hunt.
Eludes Deputy; Crowd Hysterical
As a special deuty sheriff of Delaware county, Thomas Kelly, dashed up the hill, the "ghost" vanished into a cornfield. Instantly the crowd became hysterical as hundred surged forward for a glimpse.
The tenants of the nearby farmhouse, toward which the apparition fled, rushed to the hill and threatened to shoot anyone who trespassed on their property.
Within a few minutes two girls in a roadster several hundred yards down the road near a springhouse, screamed as the "ghost" dashed across a field and darted for the low stone springhouse beside their car.
Their screams brought hundreds. When efforts were organized to search the house, the owner refused permission.
Hatchet Murder Recalled
On the incline above the road and near to the rock where the "ghost" has appeared every other night during the last ten days, stands an old farmhouse.
Now some of the superstitious folks claim that the house and the apple orchard are responsible for the appearance of the apparition because it was the locale for a hatchet murder some three years ago.
Shortly after an old man who hacked his son-in-law to death finished the deed, he walked to the aple orchard. He was found by neighbors swinging from a tree in the morning.
It would be just plain wrong to not tell you the rest of the story since the first article gives a taste of the background, so here's the article giving the history of the murder that was considered to be the source of the haunting:
Chester Times, Friday, June 8, 1928
Farmer, 75, Hangs Self After Killing Son-in-Law
Glen Mills Family Feud Ended When Younger Man's Skull Is Crushed by Ax as He Sleeps — Slayer Runs 300 Yards to Woods to Die a Suicide
A family feud that had its inception two years ago ended yesterday, when Louis K. Hopkins, 75-year-old farmer, of Glen Mills, took an ax and killed his son-in-law, Samuel Stoy, 41 years old, who was asleep on a couch in the small farm house occupied by both the Hopkins and Stoy families. The murderer then ran from the scene of his crime and, using an improvised noose, ended his lie by hanging from a tree near his home.
The murder was discovered by the wife of the victim who had been working in the garden of the home with her father. She thought nothing when her father threw down a scythe he was using to cut grass and remarked "I'm through." thinking he was walking into the house to get lunch. She continued working and heard no cries as her father swung the ax and snuffed out the life of her husband.
About 12.30 o'clock, Mrs. Sloy went into the house to awaken her husband, who had to leave home early to get to his place of employment in Philadelphia, where he was engaged as engineer in a dye works at night, and almost swooned when she raised the shades in the darkened parlor and saw patches of blood on the sheet covering her husband on the couch. She then ran to the home of a neighbor, where her mother was visiting, and gave the alarm. She expressed her suspicions that her father was the murderer, as he had mysteriously vanished.
According to County Detective O. N. Smith who investigated the murder and suicide, Mrs. Stoy, though prostrated with grief, made a statement to him in which she intimated that her father was mentally deranged and had been driven to commit the drastic deed, because he thought he was compelled to work.
"This morning my husband told daddy not to let me do all the work in fixing the garden and a few other little things about our home and to help me a little," Mrs. Stoy stated. "My husband then went to sleep on the couch in the front room, he is employed with the Walton Dye Works, In Philadelphia, and works during the night, and daddy and began to mow the lawn and paint the fence that surrounds our property, he appeared to be in his usual spirits, that is I did not notice anything radical about his actions.
"We worked out in the yard until late in the morning. About 11.30 daddy suddenly threw down the scythe with which he had been cutting the grass and with an exclamation that he would not need that anymore walked quickly toward the house. I did not think anything about that and continued on working in the yard. My mother was helping me in the yard at the time also.
"About 12 o'clock I made my way into the house so as to awaken my husband that lie might get ready to go to work. 1 walked into tho darkened room, the shades had been drawn, turned on tho radio and then raising one of the curtains turned to the couch where my husband had been sleeping. At first I did not notice anything the matter with him but when my eyes fell upon the blood on the sheet that he had pulled over him, I rushed over and than saw the splashes of blood on the wall. I screamed and ran to get my mother. We returned and found that he was dead, his head having been crushed.
"Almost frantic, and suspecting that daddy had done the deed though I could not think of any reason why he shoudl unless it was because my husband had asked him to help me work, we went to look for him. He usually slept a great deal but he was not inthe house. We then went out in the garden and when he could not find him there, mother rushed across teh field to the home of a neighbor for aid."
The district attorney's office was notified of the crime by neighbors a few minutes after its commission and District Attorney William J. Maccarter, Jr. detailed county Detectie Smith, Assistant County Detective Michael S. Trestrail, and Deputy Sheriff Burt Redding to the scene. Upon arrival, according to Mr. Smith, they immediately concluded that the man had been killed with a blunt instrument. A search was made of the premises and Detective Trestrail soon unearthed teh blood-stained axe that had been replaced in a garge by the father-in-law after the killing.
After talking with Mrs. Stoy, thoguh she could not advance any definite motive that woudl prompt her father to do such a ghastly deed, the detectives began to make a search of the premises in an effort to locate Hopkins, the poice of various adjacent towns having been notified to watch for a man of his description.
Detective Smith and Deputy Sheriff Redding, in walking over the ground surrounding the small frame farm house, noticed some fresh footprints in the grass. Immediately they decided that the evidently mad father-in-law had momentarily sought safety in flight. Dispatching Detective Trestrail to Media for the purpose of directing the investigation from that section, Detective Smith and Redding than continued to follow the fresh trail.
"We climbed over two high wire fences in following the trail," Detective Smith stated, "and on each occasion there were plainly visible signs of someone having jumped the fence in what we supposed to be a hurried flight. The trail of fresh footprints now led us into the archard of the farm, situated about 300 yards from the house. They suddenly stopped, that is, we could not distinguish their direction any longer, and for a few moments we were in confusion.
"Redding, however, wandered off a little to the side and a moment later I heard him yell, 'Come here, Nick, come, come quick! Here he is now.' I ran over to where Redding was standing and looking at a tree in horror. there, dangling from the limb of an apple tree, was the dead body of Hopkins, he having fastened a piece of sash cord around his neck, climbed up the tree and then jumped to his death, the impact of the tightening of the noose jolting his false teeth partly out of his mouth.
"I cut him down and Redding and I then notified Deputy Coroner Rigby, of Media, who a few minutes later arrived and took charge of the bodies."
The dead men are survived by their wives, Mrs. Marie Stoy, age 25, and Mrs. Irene Hopkins, age 72.
Mrs. Stoy also told the detectives that they had recently purchased the farm that her father might have the advantages of the country atmosphere, he having become somewhat peculiar in his actions and thoughts.
There is a correction that should be noted regarding the article: The name of the father-in-law was Levin Hopkins, not Louis as reported. The Hopkins and Stoy families were living in Philadelphia at the time of the 1920 census, confirming Mrs. Stoy's statement that they had recently purchased the property.