The Legend of Spookhaven
Spook Haven is unlike any other haunted building you will find. It lives. It waits. It silently looks for its next victim. But it is not simply the building you need to fear…it is the entire area. The story of this haunted building does not start with the building itself, but with the land it was built upon.
In the 18th Century, several different Native American tribes were living in the area of and surrounding Lock Haven. The lands now known as Castanea had been settled by a Native American tribe. The tribe lived happily until colonists came to “civilize” the land. The Natives did not appreciate being “civilized” and they began trying to drive the colonists away by any means possible. It was a bloody and cruel time. The Natives would capture any colonists they found on their land. They would take those captured to their sacred ground. At the sacred ground, the Natives would scalp and then kill their victims. The colonists knew of this sacred ground and referred to it as “Death Marsh”. Many colonists died painful and agonizing deaths at “Death Marsh”. This continued until 1784, when the Iroquois signed a treaty with the United States sending all remaining Indian Territory in Pennsylvania to the commonwealth.
Around the start of the 19th Century, Lock Haven began its prosperous lumber industry. Little towns and villages sprang up all over Clinton County, including the village of Castanea. Homes and other buildings were built along the mountainside; however no one built anything on the piece of land known as “Death Marsh”. People said that the land was cursed, that there were restless spirits who wandered the land. Eventually, despite the rumors of ghosts and other evils, someone did buy the land. Mathias Thorton was eager to stake his claim during this time of industry, so he purchased the land no one else would buy. Mathias had a good mind for business and he was quickly successful. Despite his success, Mathias was not well liked around town. He was a miserly wretch of a man when it came to business dealings. According to Mathias, life revolved around making money.
In 1906, Mathias built the Castanea Brick and Tile Company and began producing clay bricks. From the first day, workers began talking about strange sightings. Some claimed to have witnessed Indians walking about the factory. Others saw ghoulishly scalp less spirits wandering aimlessly. The company employed about twenty-five men, including a clay-digger named Lawrence Pennypin. Pennypin was a young man who was known to whistle all day because of how much he enjoyed his job. Unfortunately, while in the midst of working one day, a load of clay fell on Lawrence from the height 35 feet, covering him to the waist and knocking him against a trolley. All of the other workers rushed to his aid and started laboring furiously to extract poor Lawrence from the clay. Mathias, however, ordered all of the men to go back to their positions with the exception of 10 workers. Despite the efforts of the 10 “rescuers”, Lawrence died before he could be extracted and taken to a hospital. Mathias did not want to lose even half a day’s work at the factory, so he ordered his men to continue working. He even made the 10 would-be rescuers work overtime that night to make up for the time lost while trying to save Lawrence. To make matters worse, Mathias even refused to pay Lawrence’s widow any kind of benefit stating that the accident was her husband’s fault. After Lawrence’s death, agitation toward Mathias grew among the workers who for years grumbled about the fact that he was such a stingy, callous man. Work at the factory had always been filled with unexplained events, but after Lawrence died workers truly realized that something was not right. Each day they could still hear Lawrence whistling while they worked. Some even claimed to “see” Lawrence, still covered in clay, walking about the building.
Mathias wanted everyone to know about his success, so he built a beautiful mansion. And since he wanted to keep an eye on both his family and his workers, he had the mansion built right beside the brick factory. With the mansion so close to the factory, Mathias was able to rule his family the way he ruled his workers. Caroline, Mathias’ wife, tried her best to please her husband by keeping the mansion in a constant state of exquisite cleanliness. Yet, despite her best efforts, it never seemed to be enough. Mathias was always angry. Caroline’s emotional pain was compounded by the fact that her mother-in-law was as mean and demanding as Mathias. Lavinia was constantly critical of Caroline, yelling at her about everything. Even though Caroline had very troubled relationships with both her husband and her mother-in-law, she found solace and happiness in her children. She and Mathias had a son and a daughter, Asa and Anna, who brought her such joy.
As the years passed, the way Mathias ruthlessly ruled his workers finally pushed the men to their breaking point. One day when he was unsatisfied with the week’s production of bricks, Mathias ordered the men to work on Sunday. The workers began to grumble about working on their only day of rest and Mathias, feeling that his authority was being questioned, demanded that it would now be mandatory to work every Sunday. Satisfied that he made a point and knowing that brick production would increase, Mathias headed home for dinner with his family. The workers, however, remained at the factory venting their anger.
Dinner at the Thorton household was interrupted by a loud commotion outside the mansion. Mathias went outside to find all of his workers shouting about the new mandatory Sunday shift. In a fit of rage, Mathias shouted louder than the group telling the men that if they did not want to work on Sunday, then they would not work at all. He fired every single worker, then slammed the front door and went back to his dinner. Smiling that he had controlled the situation, he seated himself at the table. But his smile quickly faded. The front door of the Thorton mansion burst open and the workers forced their way inside. They were so angry at the years of working for such an awful man. And now, to have been fired for wanting just one day of peace, away from this horrible place. The thought turned their anger into pure rage. They seized Mathias and drug him outside. They hung him from a tree and watched him die, but that wasn’t enough. The men were still filled with so much rage that they headed back toward the mansion…
They tore everything apart in the mansion. They broke windows and furniture, kicked holes in the walls, and smashed to pieces anything they could. The tragedy was that in the process the rest of the Thorton family was murdered as well. Caroline, Lavinia and the children were all killed by the enraged mob. Still, it did not stop there. ..
By the time the constables arrived, the mansion was in ruins and the body count was high. There was blood spray throughout the mansion. The authorities were horrified to find not only bodies of the Thorton family, but also those of some of the workers who had been part of the mob. But what became of the rest of the men? Had they vanished into the woods, fearing their own deaths for the hideous acts they had committed? No one knew if, maybe in their enraged state of mind, the men simply turned on each other during the chaos. One thing was for sure…each soul had suffered.
Some citizens claim that the men simply could not have committed such an atrocious act on their own, but that they had been possessed by evil. It must have been the restless spirits of the land that made them perform such ghastly deeds.
After the incident at the mansion, the brick factory closed its doors. In 1952, the factory was purchased and turned into the Clinton Paper Company. As soon as the first laborer stepped foot on the cursed land, strange things started happening. Workers immediately began reporting to supervisors that they were hearing disembodied footsteps and the strange sound of someone constantly whistling. No one could account for the noises, and then the accidents began. As the years passed, the spirit sightings increased and the accidents became more severe. It seemed that every week there was some sort of freak mishap, maiming and injuring the workers. Perhaps the evil had awoken… and the restless mob had returned. The Clinton Paper Company ran successfully until 1984 when it finally closed. There were rumors surrounding the production halt. The answers remain a mystery to this day.
THE PRESENT DAY
The troubled factory and the remains of the mansion sat empty, neglected and abandoned, for 21 years. Yet, during that time, no one in Castanea reported any strange occurrences from the area once known as “Death Marsh”. In 2005, the property was purchased and the new owner began making repairs to the dilapidated old building. He also tried to begin restoration of the mansion in an effort to bring it back to its original beauty. But once he got inside and saw what remained, he decided to shut and lock the door to the metal building that concealed the face of the residence. He said that “the horrors of the incident” still remained and that he felt “a real presence” within in the mansion – some sort of evil. He vowed never to open that building again. Although, it seemed that as soon as the door to the mansion was opened, something had been awoken within the dreary, paint-peeled walls of the building. Workers in the old factory building have reported hearing the same strange whistling when no one else is around, the clamor of an angry mob, the cries for help of two small children and unfortunately even more. There must be a sort of evil that has attached itself to this land. It attracts all other malevolent creatures to it as if it were a magnet. Be wary of this place. The evil feeds on fear. It will lure innocent souls inside with the benign promise of a fun-filled walk through another haunted house. But this is not just another attraction. Some will make it out, crawling on their knees to freedom. Others may never be seen again; forever prisoners of this legend of terror.