On Thursday, March 27, 1884, about 40 people turned up at the home of Henry and Elizabeth Shiffer and their 13-year-old daughter Mary.
Shiffer was a carpenter and also a coal breaker. Living in Plains Township, Luzerne County, Shiffer was just one of many men who made all or part of their living in the generously yielding anthracite mines. But the large group of visitors on that March evening wasn't at Shiffer's home to talk coal - they were there to see a ghost.
The Shiffers lived in a farmhouse in Mill Creek, about four miles from Wilkes-Barre. Nearly 20 years before they moved in, a peddler was murdered nearby. Shortly after the family took possession of the property, strange things began to happen.
Each night at midnight unexplained noises woke the Shiffers. In mid-March of 1884, the activity escalated. Frightening sights manifested in Henry and Elizabeth's bedroom. Whatever these entities were, they tore the blankets off the couple's bed and generally terrorized the occupants.
As is common in small towns, word of the bizarre events began to spread. People living in bordering towns wanted to see the activity for themselves. If the Shiffers were indeed tormented by the spirit of the murdered peddler, they wanted to witness it first hand.
A Plains contractor named R. C. Mitchell acted as the ringleader. As the clock struck midnight, Mitchell commanded the ghost to show itself to the group. Turns out, however, the would-be ghost hunters weren't quite as brave as they made out to be. According to reports, the ghost obliged - and all 40 visitors bolted through any exit they could find, including the windows.
Afterward, Mitchell told a newspaper reporter exactly what he and the others had seen: an 8-foot tall spectre with an indescribably hideous face.
"I never did believe in ghosts till now," Mitchell said. "It is no common ghost, either, but a giant from the spirit land."
The Shiffers left Luzerne County, although Hauntingly PENNSYLVANIA™ has been unable to track them. If you're a Shiffer descendent and have details on what happened to the family after it left the "haunted farmhouse," please let us know. 💀