October 29, 2013

Hanging Trees in R.I. & Westmoreland Cnty. PA

Filed under: FEATURE STORIES,Halloween,LIGONIER (PA) — carolyncholland @ 3:00 am



Hugs for all those wrongly hung from trees and for their haunting ghosts


I provide the following three stories about hangings on trees in Newport, Rhode Island and the towns of Greensburg and Ligonier Township, Pennsylvania, for your Hallowe’en reading pleasure.

However, a question remains: Were those who were hung guilty…or were they innocent????



!n 1673 49-year-old Thomas Cornell was accused, tried, convicted and hung for murdering his 73-year-old mother, Rebecca Cornell. His conviction was sealed by the testimony of her ghost. Court records tell the story.

On May 23, 1673, he was probably hung on a tree high on Miantonomi Hill in Newport.

Did Thomas’s ghost ever appear to defend him? There is no record of this happening…

Note: Rebecca Cornell was the ancestor of another well-known questionable murderer, Lizzy Borden.

Read Thomas’s story at KILLED STRANGELY: A NEW ENGLAND MURDER STORY and check out a reenactment of the murder of Lizzy Borden’s stepmother and father at LIZZIE BORDEN—A REENACTMENT


NOTE: Academy Hill Ghost Walk photos taken by Lisa Nease

Renatta Signorini

Renatta Signorini

In a Greensburg back alley, just a stone’s throw off Main Street, in someone’s back yard, is a tree once used for hanging.

So the story was told by Reneda, who led the group my husband Monte and I were in during the Academy Hill Ghost Walk. It left me wondering how many innocent persons were hung, and how many of their unidentified ghosts were wandering around Greensburg’s Academy Hill.

Students from the Stage Right School For the Performing Arts in Greensburg led groups of ghost seekers on the walk sponsored by the Academy Hill Historic District Association as a way to encourage interest in local history and architecture. Proceeds from the Association fundraiser will be shared with Stage Right.

10 - Copy


I heard this story at the Compass Inn in Laughlintown duringHowever, the events didn’t occur at the Compass Inn.

In 1862 a Chinese salesman arrived at the inn in a wagon. A big white dog was with him.

After he left a woman was found dreadfully murdered. Of course, the people living in Laughlintown couldn’t have committed this crime. Therefore, it must have been the Chinaman.

When the murder was discovered a group of men followed the Chinese salesman up Laurel Mountain. Catching up with him, they lynched him, hung him on a tree at the top of that hill. The white dog, defending his master, was also killed.

It became apparent in the following months that the wrong man was hung for the crime. The Chinaman was innocent.

Years later a man, coming upon the hanging tree, got a whiff of a weird scent. He saw a big white dog with misty eyes. As the dog chased the man the man looked back.

What did he see???? He saw the dog de-materialize into a mist.


An on-premise Compass Inn ghost story:

Table under which a boy saw a child's ghost. Or did he?

Table under which a boy saw a child’s ghost. Or did he?

At age five the third child of the Armour family, Susannah, was expected to help with the household chores. In that day all the children were expected to do so.

One day Susannah was asked to fetch a cast iron pot of boiling water from the fireplace in the cooking room. It was a hefty responsibility for a child that age,.

The cast iron pot proved pretty challenging for Susannah. Too challenging. The pot spilled its contents on her, causing her demise.

In recent years a psychic saw a man and a woman crying by the fireplace.

Also, while a group of students toured the Inn, one didn’t like the cooking room. He was visibly uncomfortable.


He said he saw a little girl under the table.

NOTE: This ghost story is not related to younger children touring the Inn, so the child was unaware of it.

You can believe or not believe. It’s your option.


Read Route 30 – Pennsylvania’s Haunted Highway, a tour of all the hauntings along the original path that USD Route 30 has taken from Point State Park in Pittsburgh to the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia. Ed Kelemen is the author.

Also read The Haunted Foothills.



Tarantulas—Ooh, So Halloween Creepy

Halloween—-Children’s Stories & Poems

About Ligonier Valley:

1 Comment »

  1. Boo!! Carolyn…lol . I enjoyed Ghost stories.
    My uncle Jody used to see the scariest ghost stories.

    Comment by merry — October 29, 2013 @ 4:20 pm | Reply

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