Photo of Katy's Church by Eric on Blackstar Blog - Scooter Trips
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.
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.