Sunday, September 14, 2008

Katy's Church

katy's church
Photo of Katy's Church by Eric on Blackstar Blog - Scooter Trips
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The popular mid-state legend goes that an unmarried pregnant girl, Katy Vandine, ostracized by the community, hung herself on a tree outside the Emmanuel Lutheran Church graveyard in Muncy Hills, Columbia County, near Bloomsburg.

Other darker varitions on the theme claim that father of her child was a married man worried about his own hide, and so accused her of witchcraft. The church members accepted his self-serving word and hung her from a tree in the cemetery. What, there wasn't any stake to burn her on in Muncy Hills?

It's said that if you stand on her grave, which is right beside the tree she hung herself on, and knock on the tree that her ghost, dressed in shimmering white, will walk down the hill towards you. According to local lore, this sighting only occurs the night of a harvest moon. It's also said that you can hear her crying from inside the church, or hear her call your name.

There's an alternate tale. It says she was waiting to marry a soldier, but he was killed before they could wed. Distraught, she hung herself in her wedding dress. She's supposedly been seen in church and walking the road between her house and the cemetery.

Some reports say that her noose can be see hanging from the tree overlooking the cemetery. There are even stories of blood gushing from the windows of the small hilltop church.

Other tales allege that her tombstone is located just outside the consecrated grounds of the cemetery, while others say it's in the graveyard proper, but her marker faces the opposite direction of all the others. This, at least, can be debunked, as her grave is in the boneyard and pointed the same way as the others.

Another legend says that there's a bottomless pit covered by a boulder on the grounds. If you can move the rock a smidge and toss a stone down the hole, you'll never hear it land.

Of course, some people believe the tale was just a by-product of the 2002 mystery book "Katie's Church" by L.A. Flick, which recounts - or maybe invents - the legend of Katy. On the other hand, we have a reader that says the legend predates the novel, and others that support him.

BaltimoreMan wrote:
I am originally from a couple of miles from Katy's. The tale has been around for a long time. I couldn't guess the original source, but definitely not a 2002 book.

Another reader added:
"I also live near Katy's church. I am 36 and have heard the tales since I was a young child."

So we can cross Ms. Flick off the list off rumor-mongers.

May Shetler, granddaughter of Katy several times removed, denies the tales on her web site:
"Catherine Vandine attended services there until her passing at 87 years old. Since its closing in 1969, the urban legends surrounding Katys Church have given birth to increased incidences of vandalism, tales of hauntings, and even a horror novel. But, as with most legends, these tales are simply not based on fact. The only haunting comes from the young people in search of an adventure who are being fined for trespassing and destruction of private property."

Sadly, this is another spot that vandals have ransacked. The church, which by some tales is also haunted, isn't used for regular services anymore, just weddings and other special events, and goofs feel free to break in and spray graffiti on the walls and floor.

The cemetery has been desecrated, despite being fenced, gated and watched over by the locals, the caretaker, and the State Police. Those folk that use the graveyard as a party spot should be much more ashamed than poor Katy.

45 comments:

BaltimoreMan said...

I am originally from a couple of miles from Katy's. The tale has been around for a long time. I couldn't guess the original source, but definitely not a 2002 book.

Ron Ieraci said...

Thanks, Baltimore. There's no date associated with the tale; I'm glad you told us that it predated the book; I'll add that to the post.

Anonymous said...

I also live near Katy's church. I am 36 and have heard the tales since I was a young child.

Ron Ieraci said...

Thanks - I guess that puts the final nail in the book theory; it seems Ms. Flick drew on an existing tale rather than inventing Katy's legend.

BTamland2419 said...

I have been to Katy's Church and the VanDine Family Headstone is turned. It is not parallel with the others. I could not seem to find a personal headstone for Katy though.

Ron Ieraci said...

Thanks, BT. That's odd; wonder if there was any vandalism involved with the family grave or if that's the way the stone was set. I've been told that there is a marker for Katy, but I depend on local knowledge for those details, so I can't verify that for certain.

Anonymous said...

For heaven's sakes you guys. These tales started with the new age of internet. Whatever you have read is so far from the truth. How might I know you ask. I am the GreatGreatGreat Granddaughter of Katy. Checkout my web site if you must know the real story. I can document it all.
outhousesoutandabout.com

Ron Ieraci said...

Thanks, May. I'll add your side to the post. And guys, whether you believe in spirit tales or not, more old cemeteries have been haunted by vandals and kids partying than any spook.

Anonymous said...

it wasnt vandalized it has always been that way since my dad was like 11, cause they went there tooo

Anonymous said...

i went ther on halloween when i was in 9th grade me and 3 others, and we broke into it before they baorded up the windows and flames burst out the windows, i turned around and there was a white woman with no face hanging from the front branch of the tree dripping blood like she has slit her wrist then we heard a bang from the back of the cemetary, we looked back at the tree and she was gone i ve only been back there one other time in the day, im sorry but yes it real and no one will ever change my mind. i grew up in unityville born and raised, the vandines are my cousins, i was there and it is real. if you go to look for yourself be careful, after dark the owner will shoot on site. and never EVER take a ouija board there or your life will never be the same.... trust me, head my warning.

Ron Ieraci said...

Good story, Anon, even a little spookier than the normal reports - though you shouldn't have broken into the church. And the bit about the ouija board is very sound advice; I'd heard more stories of their use backfiring than any other paranormal device.

Robert said...

Well i was at Katys kast night and alot of shit went down was a crazy night. Was a good experince took a picture that had a face and one with a body when we took a picture of the tree she hung from

Anonymous said...

You are a good story teller, maybe you could be more creative and write a thriller novel. Katy died at age 87 from old age not from hanging.

Ron Ieraci said...

Sorry, anon, I actually thought I had included that in the post with May Shetler's response; it's there now.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in this area my whole life, and I can assure you that this was NOT a legend that came about because of the Internet or some recent book. I am 59 years old and I went to check out the story when I was a teenager.

I don't know if the story behind the church is true or not, but I can assure you that it is patently FALSE that the story came to be with the advent of the Internet. Such blatant misinformation makes me question the motives of the source.

May said...

If you have lived in that area your whole life, then you know how to get ahold of me. I went there as a child and so did my late relatives. If you want to talk, contact me otherwise anonymous means nothing! May

May said...

Furthermore, the census, the library and the Courthouse has documentation of birth records, death records and much more. Again Katy was a elderly woman when she passed. Step up to the plate if someone can prove the documentation is false. It is quite amazing what you can learn about your ancestry and where your ancestors came from. So...to the 59year old person, you must be the only one I know in your age bracket who likes to make up stories.

betty said...

I love Katy's Church. My sister and I went there as children and are now attending church there again. We have a wonderful preacher. I pray more people would come out to here God's message. Then hopefully they will learn more about this church and Katy Vandine. We also grew up around Katy's Church as young children and know some people like to makeup tales of long ago.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine and I were at the church today on a drive out and about, and had spoken to some of the members of the church. It was very interesting, and really makes me think.

jasmine said...

i also live near katies church, me and my 2 friends walked a long road up there. We hugged the tree quickly and heard our names being called. after that we ran for our lifes and got chased by a wolve type glowing thing. NEVER again will i go around there.

May said...

Jasmine....good one, how much did you have to drink? That wolf must be drinking too if it could not catch you.

Anonymous said...

Katy was my great great great aunt. It is called Katy's church because she donated the land. There is no horrible story. Really you people think they would name the church after someone who was ostracized?

These silly rumors have hurt my family and myself personnaly. Because of these rumors a place very dear to me and my family has been vandalized. How would all of you who keep this going, how would you like it if some idiot drive over you Grandmother's grave to try and get a a tree that NO ONE was hung on. My Father chose not to be burried with his family, I didn't get to be married in the church I hold so very dear to my heart.

Anonymous said...

This church is NOt haunted. Katys name is actually Catherine. She did not hang herself. She died at the age of 87. Her grave is not the "unmarked" stone in the graveyard. The stone with her last name on ist is far to new to be her stone. That stone is to mark where her family is burried. Her personal stone in the graveyard among her childrens and grandchildrens. Katy was married and her husband past away before the church was built. The stories started when the church was closed up in the 1950s because it needed work. None of the stories are true about this church. I spoke to the family on a visit there.

Anonymous said...

I am one if the last VanDines, there are only 6 people from this line with the last name of VanDine. But there are a lot of people with VanDine blood. My family settled there in the 1800's. Almost everyone in that area is related to me in one way or an other.
So telling your stories and trying to make them sound true, because we are cousins.. Sorry, it just doesn't work

Jake said...

I plan on making a trip out there with some recording devices. I don't believe the story about Katy (or Catherine) being the ghost that is there, and I know how powerful suggestion is to the mind, especially at night. Also, none of the stories seem to line up. Some say they see a girl hanging, others say she's bleeding, some say the church becomes haunted, and others still say their names are called. It is very rare for legitimate sites of alleged hauntings to have such varied tales. I'd like to go there, several times over, record data, and publish them widely so that this legend can once and for all be closed. I'm hoping to get permission and help from locals, especially the owner of the yard. I will be there either by myself or a small team of people with the same goal. If any of you can get me information on how to contact the owner or other helpful locals, please let me know. I want to help everyone out. tendorphin@gmail.com to contact me. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I Have A Friend That Went There 20yrs Ago With A Bunch Of Ppl And It's The House That Was Boarded Up That Is Abandoned And Something Told Them To Get Out After They Walked On The Porch... Then A Big Blue Orb Followed Them In Their Car For 5Min Till It Was Gone.

Ember CatLilly said...

I grew up near Milton PA. A few friends and I drove to Katy's church back in 1998 or so because we had heard about the story of katy. I also enjoy old cemeteries the old stones and seeing what families put on the stones for their loved ones. I don't know if the stories are true but... When I was there church services had stopped no one used that church at all. When we got out of the car we heard an organ faintly playing inside the church. A friend of mine heard his name being called so did I. I do not know who is up there or what the story may be but I am sure spirits of settlers are there. I just wish stupid people would not go and vandalize places but go and be respectful!

Anonymous said...

All,

I am a Van Dine and Catherine nickname Katy was my great great aunt. I fine the above stories very humorous but certainly not true. I grew up in Millville and have spent many hours at Katy's church. Like May said it is called Katy's church because we donated the land that the church sits on. Most of my family is buried at the church and I love going back and seeing the old graveyard. It is too bad that the church is vandalized but it has been happing for a long time. teenagers break in and have booze parties there. And they like to have a good story to tell. that is all. I have fond memories of my time spent at Katy's church that I name one of my children Katie. There is now another katy Van Dine related to the orginal.

Anonymous said...

Once again someone vandalized this great church this week. Katy Vandine was an ancestor of mine and the ghost stories are lies. They have started church service again, and this is a loved little church. Why people feel they have to destroy things is beyond me. If there was a haunting, I wish the "spirits" would haunt and torment all of you who have caused harm, or desecrated this solemn place till the end of time.
So mote it be.

May said...

Sometime between April 3 & 4, 2014 Katys Church was broken into. Shame on those responsible for destruction and damage done to the Church. Several items were stolen but what upsets me most is the fact a wonderful kind soft spoken Reverend who preaches there will be unheard by some members because they stole the sound system. I worked a minimum wage job to pay for that system and someone feels they were entitled to take from the Church. Shame on those people for taking the heater that was just bought which keeps our 80 plus years old Reverend feet warm during a cold service. Katy Vandine is none of the above information given, she was 87 years old when she passed away. Please stop this madness.

Anonymous said...

My friends and I went there and we were creeper out of our minds. I personally didn't feel anything but whose to say if there is a ghost it actually would be this Katy? What if it is an Indian burial ground and other things lurk there? The power of suggestion is a wickid thing but whose to say this ghost hasn't been there since the 1700s or earlier? I believe in ghosts... Iv felt them. They exist just maybe not in the form you think they do... Also my one friend went there peed on the tree and the next day nearly died in a car accident... Just saying.

Vic said...

Really what kind of person would pee in a grave yard? Really that is right next to my Great Grand Parents! Now not only has some idiot driven over my Grand Mother's grave, but some Dick has peed on my Great Grand Parents!
Seriously please tell me why, it's not like PA has a shortage of trees.
I hope the cameras were up then, and don't think the family won't prosecute. Cause we have and will again.

Vic said...

Sorry, but Katy's Church does not have a porch.
Don't know where you were, but it wasn't Katy's

Anonymous said...

I was there last night and was being shot at. We did not get out of our car. We were only driving around. We sat to pull GPS up on our phones and out of nowhere a bright light was really close to us and the person started shooting a gun.

Anonymous said...

Interesting I'm glad she lived a respectable life!!!

Anonymous said...

I've been here a few times and grew up pretty close to it. I never noticed anything minus two occasions. The first was just general uneasiness, which was probably due to the stories surrounding it. However, the second is a little creepy. I drove up with a friend of mine and she had an ipod receiver that connects wirelessly and plays over a dead station. Well when we pulled up in front of the church the ipod kicked off and the station was playing this really creepy organ music. I'd suggest trying it. It's weird.

Erin said...

I personally love this church its beautiful I got married there in August 2013 I've been to the festival's and the tea party they had there too.. I've been told tons of stories about the church It's always a different story how can someone believe something that is always different.

May said...

People create these stories cause they get a thrill out of it! Breaking and entering the Church and going into the graveyard after hours is total disrespect to those living and their families that have passed on. May

alex becky said...

You know Ms. May.. not everyone who's been interested in the ghost story has vandled that piece of history... what else are you supposed to do growing up in the middle of nowhere? I had some of the best timesince of my life scaring the crap out of myself and my friends. I wish you wouldn't think that kids who visit at night are always vandalizing because it's not true.

alex becky said...

You know Ms. May.. not everyone who's been interested in the ghost story has vandled that piece of history... what else are you supposed to do growing up in the middle of nowhere? I had some of the best timesince of my life scaring the crap out of myself and my friends. I wish you wouldn't think that kids who visit at night are always vandalizing because it's not true.

May said...

Alex Becky....you are correct, not everyone who visits the Church are there to vandalize. Kids should have fun, but this goes out to those who have broke in and took a couple thousand dollars worth of Church items and destroyed pews that can not be replaced. Those who have done this over the years have it hard for the innocent. Parking, necking, sex, partying or whatever you guys call it now could get a ticket from the local police or the State Police. They have dealt with problems since the early 80's. I stepped in to protect a Church that I dearly loved as a child. I like Miss instead of Ms. Miss May the 3 Greats Grand daughter of Katy and David VanDine.

Anonymous said...

I personally have had weird experiences at Katy's church. Living on Legion Road, We weren't that far from it. Although, I must say, Growing up in Millville myself, and knowing how small of a town it is and everybody knows everybody, I've NEVER heard about anybody with the last name Van Dine besides Katy herself. Which is odd, because if you've lived in Millville your whole life, and have a daughter with the same last name, I'm sure I would have been bound to hear it at some point while living there. Because literally everybody knows everybody in that town.

Anyways, I have been to this church a few times and have weird experiences there. We have seen SOMEONE in a white dress walk out of the tree, and having our vehicles off with the keys in the ignition have had the radio start playing and the headlights go on (Mind you, most of these vehicles were 80's90's models)

And on top of this, my roommates Grandfather was an Undertaker, and remembers having a case of a girl who hung herself at a church, on a tree, right outside of Millville, and not just that, but my roommates mother remembers the story because she was only 10 or so at the time. In any case, I'm done ranting now. But to my recollection, there are NO Vandines that any longer reside in Millville

May said...

Dear Anonymous, you clearly are not from Millville or you are very young. Take out your phone book for Columbia & Lycoming County and you just may have a few Vandine's/VanDine's in it and living in the area. I am not a Vandine but my Great Grandmother Anna was Catharine or AKA Katy's.... Grandaughter. Besides many relative with the last name who descend from her & David line, live in other states. There was no undertaker who handle the death of young girl, how would I know that you might ask. I handle the Cemetery records and can document all records. Why are you anonymous, unless you have something to hide or like to makeup stories. I graduated from Millville, so if you grew up on Legion Road you should know who I am. Sincerely May

Anonymous said...

Well, first of all, May, if I'm not from Millville, how would I know there is a legion road? Or the fact that Rod&Gun Club road was less than a half a mile from my house? Or that if you went a mile the other way Millville American legion was there on the left if you were coming from my house? And actually, no, even if your last name is not Vandine, I haven't heard of any Shelter's, either. So again, IF YOU WERE FROM MILLVILLE, you would know that everybody knows everybody because of how small it is. Thank you very much. Whether or not it is Katherine there is not the question. There is something creepy, and something haunted about that church. And I don't care how much you argue it. I and many others have had odd experiences there. And as far as I'm concerned, I know it wasn't "mind tricks" or anything else along those lines because I hadn't even known about the legends of that church before I went there. It wasn't until after I went there and had weird experiences that I had started asking around and heard the legends about it. Thank you very much. So, I am, in fact from Millville, I was born in Bloomsburg, and lived in Millville for a good portion of my life. Thank you very kindly.

May said...

Dear Mr Anonymous, you can't seem to put your name to your response makes me wonder why. I suppose I could find out with someones help. Why don't you come to a Church service and have a conversation with me? Anonymous, come spend the night with myself and friends....we would love to see what you see! I have spent many of nights there, nothing but a peaceful feeling that is sometimes disrupted by ghost hunters like you. Everybody from Millville does not know everybody business, maybe you make it your business. It is funny as to how you and others love to create stories to keep things going. By the way, it is Shetler not Shelter. Maybe you should stop in the legion sometime and ask if anyone knows me. I don't know what you get out of bad mouthing the Church and those at rest. May Shetler