Monday, February 16, 2009

Back online...

I'm back online, but way behind in the GYR department!!! Please bear with me while I try to get back to blogging and catch up on all that I have missed while without my internet access. A virus ate my computer TWICE over the last 2 months, but it seems that all is finally well (I hope I'm not tempting fate by mentioning it!)
While I get my bearings please enjoy this snowy photo of the Spring Creek Presbyterian Church in Lemont, Centre County, Pennsylvania. This church is the owner of the SCP Cemetery I started blogging about in my last post. The church and the cemetery are about 2.5 miles apart, separated by space that was once farmland and is now largely residential. The cemetery itself is bordered on three sides by country club property.
More to come - and not such a long wait this time!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Spring Creek Presbyterian Cemetery

This pretty little cemetery is located in Lemont, Centre County, Pennsylvania. I'll be adding some pictures and write ups soon - I haven't yet gotten rid of my computer virus but I hope to soon! Mainly, I just need to know I can still post!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'll be back!

Hi - my computer is being assaulted by some sort of virus I seemed to have picked up within the last couple of weeks- I'm hoping to restore and have it all taken care of later today & I will get back to my graveyard responsibilities. I'm not ignoring anyone I am just having a terrible time even typing this message!
Hopefully I'll be back online tonight!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

University Park Campus, The Pennsylvania State University

Well, since my first contribution to the Grave Yard Rabbit is just after the spooky season of Halloween, the (seemingly never-ending) presidential election season, and the patriotic day to remember our Veterans, I thought it would be best fitting to write about the seventh president of the Pennsylvania State University.

George Washington Atherton (1837-1906) was a veteran of the Civil War (Company K, Tenth Connecticut Volunteers), and served as president of the Pennsylvania State University from the fall of 1882 until his death in July 1906. He was well educated, and was quite capable as president of Penn State, adding several more degree programs and buildings to the then tiny campus before his death. Atherton is remembered as one of the most influential presidents of the university.
So, that ties Atherton to the themes of presidential matters, and military veterans, but why is he tied to the spooks of Halloween? Well, his unusual burial location lends itself to a ghostly tale told every year as the new batch of freshmen arrives on campus.

President Atherton is buried on the Penn State campus, on the side of Schwab Auditorium (a building he supposedly haunts) and just yards away from the “mall” of trees leading to the massive Pattee (Pah-tee) Library. It is located along the main road through campus, Pollock, and is pretty centrally located. The gravesite has been designed as a place that enables students to rest (there is a bench that is at the grave, but not so close as to insist that anyone who uses it must be there paying their respects), and perhaps as a place to meet up with friends (but, truthfully, I’ve never heard anyone say, “Hey! Meet me at Atherton’s grave!"). It is a landmark that everyone on campus comes to know by the end of their college careers.

Although the ghost of President Atherton is said to haunt the stage in Schwab Auditorium, that isn’t the famous Atherton ghost story. Directly across the road from Atherton’s final resting spot is an odd looking building known as “Old Botany.” The legend says that a set of windows on the building resemble a pair of eyes, and it is through those window-eyes that the ghost of Frances Washburn Atherton keeps watch over her husband’s grave. The ghost is said to make noises, turn lights on and off, and open doors. People have reported seeing the figure of a woman in the windows when the building is closed.

Ghost stories aside, Frances (1836-1913) is well remembered in her own right. She ran her house and raised her children in the typical way of a wife and mother of the late 1800s. On top of those responsibilities, she educated her own children and those of Penn State faculty members in her home, as well as managing all of the hostess duties of the wife of a college president. In 1938 a women’s dormitory was built on the campus and named in her honor. The dormitory is no longer strictly for women, but it is tied to another ghost story on campus:

On November 28, 1969 a beautiful, young, hard-working student with a lot of promise named Betsy left her Atherton Hall dorm room to do research in Pattee Library. It was Thanksgiving weekend, but she wasn’t alone. A group of dedicated students had stayed on campus and some were at the library that day. Betsy went into “the stacks” – an admittedly ill-lit creepy part of the library (if only for the endless tall rows of books and lack of windows, accessed by tiny winding staircases that could induce a claustrophobic attack) - apparently looking for a book. It is there that she was attacked, stabbed by an assailant that has never been found with a knife that has never been recovered. By most accounts, it is by pure luck that the murderer got away, and Betsy died at the library.
It has been a Penn State legend for many years that Betsy’s ghost haunts the stacks, and it is a story that breaks my heart.

I’ll leave this post with a picture from my next assignment, a cemetery in Lemont, Centre County, PA that has at least one occupant showing their Penn State pride…

Just Some Notes:
*I spent my fair share of time at Penn State, and I still find it odd that President Atherton is buried on campus. I am curious as to where his wife is buried. If I find it, I’ll post about it!
*I’m not one to really believe ghost stories – I just think that they are an interesting way to encourage people to investigate history. I think the reality of the tragedy can be overlooked when people are busy trying to give each other a quick scare, and I find the whole “ghost of Betsy” story to be especially tragic, since she still has living relatives and friends that miss her and mourn her loss.
*If I’m wrong, and ghosts do exist, you’ll be able to find my ghost at a five-star resort.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Location, location, location!

Where exactly is Central PA? For now, I'm considering Central PA to be the middle part, from top to bottom, of the state, if you were to divide Pennsylvania into equal thirds from left to right. I personally reside in Centre County, but figured that I'd cover more than that until the Rabbits multiply enough to have one in every county Pennsylvania. I'll also throw in some other graves and cemeteries on my rare travels if I get a chance, assuming I'm not jumping on another Rabbit's territory.
If you are reading this and thinking about becoming a Rabbit yourself, it's easy, everyone is really nice, and all you have to do is start by following the link to the main organization - just click on the beautiful GYR button provided on the sidebar. It was designed by the Footnote Maven!


Hello! I'm Sarah, I live in Central PA and I'll be your Rabbit for the graves of Central Pennsylvania! I haven't spent much time in graveyards other than looking for the headstones of my ancestors (who, apparently, have a reputation for preferring unmarked graves), but I'm excited to start doing some local research since most of my dead relatives are out of the area. That being said, I'm willing to take requests! I can't guarantee how quickly I'll be able to fulfill any grave/graveyard requests, as it will depend on the time of year and the 'wonderful' weather we get here in Central PA, but I'll take requests and suggestions too.
I'm hoping to get my first grave post up this weekend, as long as the photos turned out.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

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