Jeffrey Frazier is one of the local authors who will appear in the BookFestPA tent this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. He collects oral lore and ghost stories from local elders and compiles them in his Pennsylvania Fireside Tales books.
Our guest blogger, Barb Foley, recently reviewed his Pennsylvania Fireside Tales, Volume 5:
This is my first read of the PA Fireside Tales, but that’s the beauty of these series is that you don’t need to start out with Vol. 1, you can start anywhere.
There are so many interesting tales in this book. I especially enjoyed reading about the “Indian Steps” on Tussey Mountain. I had already known about the “Thousand Steps” in Huntingdon County between Huntingdon and Mount Union along Rt. 22, and if you ever get the pleasure to walk these steps such as I have then don’t forget to take a lunch and some water as the views at the top are magnificent.
Frazier talks about the battle of Gettysburg and two love tales whom one was about General Reynolds and his lady Kate. If you walk along the water ways, or in the battlefields, you just may be one of the lucky ones to find a few arrowheads. I have found a few of those arrowheads myself and also have seen a wonderful collection from a gentleman who has walked many fields to find them.
I like that the author has a few poems in his book along with some photos that give you an understanding of what he’s trying to convey in his book.
You will also find stories in this book like the cry of the wolf sometimes said to be a sad cry. Imagine living in a cabin and seeing the wolves’ eyes at night gleaming in at you between the wooded logs. You will encounter a story about a man who met up with a pack of wolves on Seven Mountains. He had to spend the night in a tree and his own dog came to save him.
Then there are scary stories about hexes and spells in Centre County which centers on ice-cream and making butter. There are even some remedies on how to counter the spells if you ever should come across a witch. That is if you believe in witchcraft.
You will read stories of eerily haunting ghosts who clatter up and down the train tracks while fishermen fish nearby looking for where the noise whence came. We’ve all heard about the headless horsemen, but have you ever heard about the well-kept secret of the headless ghost of Penns Creek? Spooky tales like this are throughout the book. Are you a believer? Maybe you will be after reading this book.
There are so many counties listed in this book and I’m sure so many more tales when you read the whole series. Frazier talks about haunting Indian ambushes near Fort Roberdeau, Arch Spring Fort, known as Fort Isett, and more.
Not as famous as Jesse James but still just as frightening were the gangs of PA terrorizing their victims. In the book some of these gangs hung around till the end of the Civil War.
Another really interesting story was about a witch in Millheim who could “milk a towel”. Could you imagine not needing a cow back in those days but instead you could get milk from a towel? Frazier lets us know about these stories and how people came to believe in them.
One more story I’d like to mention is the story about buried treasure in Centre County. The author gives you a clue as to where to look.
There are just too many counties and stories to list but this was an interesting book and one I’m glad I picked up. This is people’s stories as they saw them and not just stories out of text books. Frazier has taken the time to talk to local Pennsylvania residents and it shows in how he writes with passion about them. These are the untold stories that were told by the author so they wouldn’t be lost in history, stories that may have not been written otherwise.
About Barb Foley: Married with two grown boys, raising our grandson. I love to spend time with family, read, write, photography, genealogy, scrapbook, and travel when we can. We have two dogs, a rat-terrier and a puggle, both rescue dogs. I volunteer at Paws animal shelter and I belong to the Women's Welcome Club and two book groups. I've been in the Inspirational Book Group for about two years, and just recently joined the new daytime book group at the Centre County Library.