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The Last of the Ghosts
Reprinted from the Valley Tribune from stories by James C. Reynolds, 1986
Milestones Vol 20 No 1 Spring 1995

There's the famous Mad Anthony Bier Stube, a well-known drinking and entertainment establishment in Ambridge. Underneath the music and laughter, came the echo of ghostly footsteps on the cellar stairs and of doors opening and closing. Mad Anthony's is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of a young Harmonite boy and girl.

At various times, workers and guests have reported to feel a cold chill pass over them, lights go on and off, chandeliers sway in a still room and a piano suddenly began playing one day all by itself.

The proprietor smiles and says the legends are good for business and that the ghosts are harmless. He always bids them a fond good night when he locks up at night.

Legend also has it the bones of ancient Indians were buried without benefit of coffins in the old Patterson Twp. cemetery, which was located at the present Lincoln Place by the Old Presbyterian Church on 10th Street in Beaver Falls. Some local residents recount stories of wailing and moaning emanating from the old cemetery.

The Merrick Art Gallery in New Brighton is a famous establishment in the county. It's earned a well-deserved reputation for its glorious paintings and huge halls. But along with the magnificent scenes and portraits lurks a ghostly image. The wife of current director Robert Merrick calmly and matter of factly discusses the sightings that have been reported.

Three different gallery directors have admitted to sightings or the strong feeling of a presence. Two have said that an icy chill would pass over them at times or a movement would catch their eye when no one was present or they would hear the sound of footsteps. One director talks about seeing a man in older clothing walking down the gallery hall gazing at the paintings. He wore glasses and had a full, gray beard. Then he faded from view and disappeared. Staff members have also reported noises and a strange feeling of being watched. The ghost is reportedly that of Edward Dempster Merrick, who founded and lived in the gallery. He was the great uncle of the current director, Bob, and died in 1911. By the way, he wore glasses and had a full, gray beard.

The most active New Brighton ghost seems to reside in the borough building, the old National Guard Armory. Nicknamed "The General," no one seems to know who the ghost is, why he's there or what he wants, but he definitely is there and a lot of people will swear to it.

Many a young guardsman on sentry duty has nervously reported to his supervising officer of hearing footsteps and sounds or seeing doors open and close. When the building was leased to the city, it was assumed the sightings would cease. Instead they got worse.

You don't believe in "The General?" Ask Nancy Mastilak. She certainly does. Nancy works as a dispatcher in the building and often works overnight. She doesn't like the shift and feels very uneasy. She's heard heavy footsteps on the floor overhead, when the rooms are empty, doors have opened and closed in front of her, lights have switched on and off and, on one frightening occasion, she was standing by a printing machine when she heard someone enter the room, close the door and walk up behind her. Suddenly, a cold, icy touch hit her shoulder. She screamed and turned to find no one there. The room was empty. Nancy claims she broke all records getting out of the room.

A former employee, Irene Jefferies, reported having heard footsteps and noises and being followed by the spirit several times. On one occasion, she saw a reflection of someone or something on the glass of a water cooler. She screamed at it and it vanished.

Police Chief Phil Rini admits to having many of his men report strange happenings and unexplainable noises and footsteps. He's heard what sounded like furniture being moved in empty rooms or heavy objects being dropped on the floor. At first when they occupied the building, many laughed and scoffed. Very few do now as "The General" continues to keep his nightly rounds.

Yes, Beaver Valley need not take a back seat to any locale when it comes to the unknown and the unusual.

Many places in the county seem to have eerie, unwelcomed guests.