Good Life

Notoriety still haunts historic Egg Hill Church

If you believe in urban legends then believe this:

Inside the tall, weather-worn walls of Egg Hill Church, a mad minister is plotting the parishioners’ demise.

In rows, during a Halloween-night service in the late 1800s, the worshipers sit, praying, unknowingly never closer to God.

At the altar of this tiny church, the minister passes the poisoned offering of Christ to the hapless victims.

Children of the congregation play amongst themselves in the basement, out of view of the horrors playing out in the room above. Soon, the head of one child will cast cold eyes on the atrocity.

One by one, the congregants succumb the the toxins, and, one by one, the mad (or some say possessed ... urban legend is always scant on uniform details) minister carries the victims from the church, forever blood-staining the floors, and buries them outside. He, or some say a she, disposes of the children before draping a noose over his own neck.

More than a century later, some say the minister still haunts the place where he went mad.

Others say that the victims — longing to finish lives cut short — are the ones who do the haunting, voices of the children crying out at night, shrieks of the congregants piercing the sky overlooking Egg Hill Mountain.

But, like all urban legends, this sordid tale never lets the facts get in the way of a good story. To believe it, you’d have to believe that an entire community could stay silent — for more than a century — on something so heinous and macabre that happened in their own backyards. Or that historian John Blair Linn, who has chronicled the sneeze of anyone who set foot in the county in his book, “History of Centre & Clinton Counties, Pennsylvania,” would fail to mention it; that newspapers wouldn’t write the story.

Today, residents say they’re the real victims of this make-believe ghost story as the church’s notoriety makes it a frequent stop for teens, vandals and those aiming to get a glimpse of the paranormal. And the Internet — rife with websites, blog postings and YouTube videos — continues to hype the legend.

“History has enough real-life horror stories, such as Auschwitz, Bosnia and Bataan. So why make up nonsense like the Egg Hill legend? I suppose it would make a great movie with all the right elements: mad preacher shoots up congregation, or some variation ... if it contained any truth ... but it doesn’t. It never happened, period. The story is just plain garbage, and the internet ‘psychics’ promoting this garbage should be ashamed of themselves,” said local historian Bruce Teeple, of Aaronsburg.

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.