Monday, July 19, 2010

The Ghosts of Providence Road

There are several hauntings along Providence Road in Delaware County, PA each of which can be attributed to a woman named Elizabeth Wilson.  Around the time of the Revolutionary War, Elizabeth reportedly had two illegitimate children to a British soldier whom she met while working in Philadelphia.  When it came time to have her children, she left the city to seek refuge at her father's home in the country.  

Giving birth to twins, Elizabeth arrived back in Philadelphia to seek out the children's father.  She was however childless upon her return.  Around the same time, the bodies of two infant boys were found in the woods along Providence road near the intersection of Edgemont.  It was assumed that these were the children of Elizabeth Wilson and she was promptly placed under arrest and scheduled to be hanged to death.

Elizabeth's brother William Wilson, hearing of his sister's troubles, came to her aid.  He managed to get Elizabeth to tell her story in front of a justice. She claimed that the children's father murdered them after wanting no claim to them and threatened Elizabeth with death if she spoke to anyone about it.  The judge, believing her story said they would stay her execution, but would need to get a reprieve from the council in Philadelphia before her execution time.  William raced as fast as he could through snow and muddy winter road conditions to get the document that would save his sister's life.  Upon getting the approval, he raced to get to Hangman's Hill where Elizabeth was scheduled to be executed.  He was however, 20 minutes too late.  His sister had been hanged to death.

Artist rendition of the Elizabeth Wilson hanging on Providence Road

Upon seeing his sister dead, William withdrew from society and fled to live in a cave near what is now Hummelstown, PA.  He lived off the land and the earnings he made by making and selling millstones.  He became known as "The Pennsylvania Hermit".  After his death in 1821, writings were found among his belongings in his cave.  These writings were later published as the book "The Sweets of Solitude".

William Wilson became "The Pennsylvania Hermit" writing memoirs entitled "The Sweets of Solitude"

To this day, the cries of babies can be heard near the intersection of Edgemont and Providence Road. Nearby in the area that used to be known as Hangman's Hill, the ghostly image of Elizabeth Wilson is said to be seen roaming.  Nearby businesses, including a nearby restaurant, have experienced a high level of poltergeist activity.  And along Providence Road, some say they have heard the hoof beats and have even seen the ghost of William Wilson on his horse in his eternal race to save his sister.