Hannah Shingle

Northern Chester County was a rather wild place in the middle part of the 1800's and the old stories are still told of one of the more brutal murders ever committed in the region, that of poor Hannah Shingle (or Shengle, as appears on her gravestone).

As the story goes, Hannah, a descendant of the Shenkel family of the area, lived alone on her farm, though she had other family members in the area. Neighbors considered her eccentric, though folks said that she had been quite sought-after in her younger days. On October 21, 1855, John Miller, who had been hired by Hannah to do odd jobs around the property from time to time, knocked on her door to check on her. There was no answer and John feared the worst, so he summoned a few neighbors to join him.
They found Hannah, brutally murdered, in the upstairs bedroom, her blood splattering the walls and dripping on the floor. It appeared that the hatchet she had always kept beneath her bed for protection, had been turned against her in a most macabre fashion, as her head was nearly severed from her body.
Though he was deemed innocent, John Miller, was first detained and questioned for the murder, and several of the former Battle-Axes were hauled in for questioning as well. Constable Billy Rader sought the advice of a medium, but the nature of the 'evidence' precluded its ever being admitted into court. One man, fingered as a suspect, hanged himself from a stout tree at the corner of Valley View Road and Catfish Lane. Another suspect at the time was a worker from the Schuylkill Canal yards at Unionville, who was found in possession of blood-covered overalls, but without the modern-day techniques of DNA matching, his guilt could not be proven, though it is said that he confessed on his death bed.
The Pottstown paper, in 1879, ran the following related story:
"Since the mysterious Shingle tragedy, at various times, many persons have declared that they have seen a spirit or an unearthy object which answers her description, at a brook which crosses the road leading from Shenkel Church to L. L. Backman's store. One Saturday evening late as Mt. Montgomery Campbell was returning from J. Bush's cider mill, at about 9 o'clock, to his astonishment, he saw the 'spook' of which he had so often heard but never seen.
"Mr. Campbell was not scared but immediately stopped his horse for the purpose of interviewing the object, which he declares was white as snow, four feet high and about three feet wide. It was mounted on a fence and no head or limbs were apparent. Mr. Campbell propounded several questions to the intruder but received no answer, so he drove on.
"Having seen the spook with my own eyes,' says Mr. Campbell, 'I am now convinced there is such a thing and matter what others say, I am going to stick to that opinion.'"
In more modern days, the story still holds interest and in 1973, an article in the Mercury tells of a famous ghost hunter's visit to Hannah's old property. Edith Lorraine Warren, who knew nothing of the history of the area or of Hannah's death details prior to her visit, visited the old springhouse on the property and shuddered as she came back outside, having reported that the old building, though not the scene of Hannah's death, was quite unusual, nonetheless. As she said, "..that room was used for orgies. I sense long ago love orgies taking place there. Rituals. Black art - witchcraft - perhaps a cult of sorts, a pact - the place was the scene of sex orgies." Since one of the meeting places used by the Battle-Axes was Hannah Shingle's spring-house, it is not terribly surprising to hear that strong energies persisted in the area.