The school was founded in 1847 and educated young women for almost 25 years. It was a cutting-edge institution, since the idea of educating women was in its infancy. Before this time in American history, women were discouraged from pursuing an education. They were thought to be intellectually inferior to men, fickle, and overly emotional. This rationale alone is hauntingly terrifying, but wait, there is more. These girls learned a variety of subjects such as algebra, geometry, geography, philosophy, and religion. Additional classes were offered at an added charge such as French, drawing, piano, and ornamental needlework. If you close your eyes and use your imagination, you can visualize the school as it was in its heyday with girls running through the school, skirts swishing, braids bouncing, and giggles resonating, as they swapped gossip while hurrying to class.
The school went on to educate hundreds of girls from several different states but sadly, the cost of running an institution such as this was quite challenging and because of this, the seminary changed ownership and leadership several times. Despite all these efforts to save the school, in 1872 this beautiful structure whose halls once rang with the chatter and laughter of students, fell silent, never again to be used for educational purposes. The property was then purchased as a private residence and operated as a farm, but it soon fell into disrepair and was vacated.
Time and the elements were not kind to the building as a storm tore off a portion of the roof, walls collapsed, and insects feasted upon the exposed wood. It soon became a popular spot for vandals, thieves, and the curious who believed the place to be haunted. Stories began to circulate throughout the county, and beyond. I stumbled across many stories of those who experienced the supernatural as they paid visits to the site. One recollection came from someone I know personally. They related an incident that happened to one of their friends. She recounted her experience of having her necklace removed by an unseen hand on a visit to the site.
It is said that the ghosts of the girls who died there, some murdered at the hands of a male employee, perhaps the gardener or a professor, can be heard weeping and moaning as they chase away any intruders. Apparitions of the killer have been seen in the nearby church’s windows, and it is believed that the ghost of the killer still sits upon the steps of the church, dressed all in black, frightening away unsuspecting intruders. Playing upon this belief, I heard that a pastor of the neighboring church used to enjoy dressing in black for his evening run and would stop and sit on the steps in the dark waiting to scare the next group of curious ghost hunters.
Another says the girls died from the plague and if you listen closely, you can hear their haunting, lyrical voices singing London Bridge.
One trespasser reported experiencing sweaty palms, hair standing on end, and the sound of girls screaming. Numerous visitors to the site have reported that their car wouldn’t start when they tried to leave the property, batteries drained, and one described hearing the rattling of chains. Another offered a warning to stay away, for the property smelled of death and wreaked of rotten blood and flesh (I don’t even want to know how they knew what that would smell like!).
Apparitions, screams, singing, strange noises, are there still restless spirits roaming this site? Is the property cursed? Did menacing, tragic events happen here? If the land could speak, would it regale us with fear invoking stories? You can be the judge of that. I found a quote that perfectly sums up my opinion on the topic, “During the day I don’t believe in ghosts. At night I am a little more open-minded!” author unknown. Happy Halloween!
Much of the information in this story came from “The History of the Tuscarora Female Seminary” written by Audrey R. Sizelove with the Juniata County Historical Society, as well as various paranormal online websites.
Just a note, this story is purely written for entertainment, and this is private property, which means no trespassing.
Rhonda S. Kelley, Executive Director, Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce