Pennsylvania: Hawk Mountain

Hawk Mountain is an area steeped in gruesome history. Though driving through today you are more likely to notice its beauty and renowned bird of prey sanctuary. But this land has seen its fair share of terror and tragedy. The area of Hawk Mountain was first used as a sacred ceremonial site to the native Lenni Lenape tribe. Remains of ceremonial rings can still be seen. But toward the mid 1700’s the Lenni Lannape could no longer bare the intruding settlements of European pioneers and in 1756 began raiding and slaughtering families that settled on the mountain. One well documented account is the story of Jacob Gerhardt. He was the sole survivor, after seven other members of his Family were brutally hacked and burned to death while he looked on from his hiding place.

Many other families and pioneers where also killed in a grisly fashion. After peace with the natives was granted, Jacob Gerhardt returned, now a man, and built a new house near the top of the mountain. Hawk Mt remained quiet until Mathius and Margaret Scaumbacher bought the Gerhardt house many decades later in the mid to late 1800’s. They turned it into a wayside inn and tavern for weary travelers and peddlers. Who, after stopping in, seemed to never make it to their destination. Although suspicions circulated, it wasn’t until Mathius was on his deathbed that he admitted to murdering at least 14 men with an axe, and sold their belongings. It has also been rumored that Mathius would use the flesh of his victims for sausage, which he served at the tavern. The skulls would then be cast down a well, and the bones broken and disguised as rocks. Animals picked the bones clean.

The day of Mathius’ funeral, where only his wife, local preacher and the grave digger were present, lightning struck the newly added grave - twice. Grey storm clouds gathered and dissipated in just a few startling moments, as if the mountain itself was making sure this evil was laid to rest. Hawk Mountain visitors and residents alike now recount eerie tales of ghostly screams, disembodied voices, and glowing forms, seen and heard across the mountain. Even sightings of Mathius himself have been witnessed around his cabin, and the cemetery where he is entombed, amid the mournful cries of his victims.

-GhastlyG :October 2006