The Screaming Demon
by William Rodgers
(Prescott, AZ, United States)
We lived in a small town in Western PA called Enon valley. Now it is small, but it is very old too, and the area around this town knows well of the hauntings and its past, including witch hunts.
On occasion, my aunt and others told us kids that some witch hunts did take place in this part of PA, and we felt our blood kind of run cold when we discovered how these ladies met their doom on stakes lit afire by torches. It was nothing like the ?alem Witch Trials of 1692, but even one innocent woman burned at the stake, is one too many!
There was a story about a horrible burning, a murder, I call it, in the woods not too far from where we lived. This happened years after we became a Nation. Before I go on, I do want to make clear that PA did not conduct many witch trials as we read the following passage: written in the "'Pow Wow' Book," (The Aurand Press, Harrisburg, 1929), a detailed account of what appears to be the only "witch" trial in the entire history of the Colony, Province or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
In those days, there were very few witch trials in PA, but many accusations by superstitious and fearful folk. It seemed like too many women were accused of worshiping the devil back then. Some said all a lady needed be was old with a wart on the end of her nose and her goose was as good as literally cooked. Anyway, after the people decided this particular woman dabbled with the devil, they burned her deep in the woods. She screamed as the fire grew hotter and shouted at the people with all the strength she could muster, "I'm innocent!" Her screams were fierce and loud until the heat began to melt her vocal cords which made her screams sound horrible. The poor Quaker lady fell victim to lies and a temporarily insane credulous mob.
Years went by and on some damp cool nights, folk around those parts to this day hear her screaming deep in the woods-----an awful, terrible high-pitched screech. I leaned forward when listening to this part.
"What did the murderers do when they began to hear this terrible high pitched scream?" I asked my aunt, who was telling the story.
She looked into our eyes. "This worried the town folk very much. They tried to shut her up for fear some stranger or would-be traveler with clout might pass through and hear her screams also and investigate until they discovered the truth. The people even sent out a preacher to excise the 'screaming demon' as they referred to it. The excise ritual only added coals to the fire that enveloped the lady that they burned. Her screams grew even louder and more perpetual in nature."
As many more years went by and the perpetrators began to die off, the screams began to diminish. Yes, that gruesome night, each passing of one of the members of that wicked mob lessened the number of screams.
My aunt told us that the burning happened in the very early eighteen hundreds, so the people must all be dead as well as the screams.
But are the screams really gone?
As a young lad, I loved raccoon hunting, and though I love animals I did hunt a lot as a young buck, and I hope y'all do not hold that against me. Pelts were worth a good sum back then and so were good coon dogs. I owned a purebred German shepherd. Now most might laugh at this, but Lobo was one of the best coon dogs I have ever known, and I had my experiences with plenty of hounds.
I tell ya now; I'd not trade Lobo for any Bluetick, Redtick, Black and Tan, English or American Walker, Redbone, or Blood Hound-----no Way!
Back to my story, one cool fall night Lobo and I took off on the hunt. I decided to forge further into the forest than usual. Lobo treed two coons early that evening, but I did no harm to them. This night was just a practice for the season had not started. "Lobo, let's go deep into the woods tonight. I want to recon some areas we have yet to recon." I laughed at my words and Lobo looked like he was laughing too.
We trudged on through the dark woods. I always had an uncanny way of seeing well at night. I did not need to use my headlamp much at all. I am not partial to lighting up the woods with a flashlight for it only allows one to see objects that are very close to him/her. I like a full view.
Well. On we went, and that's when I heard it myself for the first time. The awful high-pitched horrible scream, like that of someone dying a terrible death----sent shivers up and down my spine.
Quickly I ran towards the direction of the scream with my rifle in hand. Did some murderous villain have a girl out here in these daunting woods ready to do her harm? Many thoughts raced through my mind. The screams moved all around me, so it seemed. I realized the screams were not moving hither or thither, but I was.
I settled down, took in some deep needed breaths and plotted my course. I moved methodically through the forest now. I tamed my emotions as I walked over the crest of a spill pile. Below me, I saw a fiery glow. My mind instantly thought of foxfire, but this was too large for foxfire or swamp gas. The screams picked up fiercely somewhere very close to the reddish glow.
I half stumbled down the spill pile; piles of shale and dirt created by stripping the earth's crust for coal, and stopped right at the spot where the screaming originated. The fiery glow dissipated, but the scream continued. I felt the trauma that took place here. I called out to this vexed spirit, "Ma'am, you are among friends now. We know you are innocent. Your killers are all gone. You do not have to prove your innocence any longer. You can stop screaming and go home now. Your loved ones are waiting for you."
The screaming stopped and all was peaceful. I left that area and headed home-----Lobo right behind me.
Time passed and one night while hunting again in that area the screams returned, so I asked my sister, Ruthy, to accompany me one night where the screams occurred. I wanted another witness. She did, and she too heard what I did-----the screaming demon. Before I left Enon valley, the screams all but died away.
To this day, I have no idea if they sometimes return, but somewhere deep in the woods between Hells Hallow Road and Enon Valley Road the screaming might still be heard. She's possibly crying out yet, demanding justice that eludes her. If you are ever in that area, you might want to take a walk in the dark woods. Maybe you?ll get lucky as you feel your spine crawl when those terrible screams echo through the forest.
Could she still be screaming, or is she finally at peace. What are your thoughts?