A well-preserved Mummy is parading around outside the van. Bone is excited. He wants his photo taken with the fearsome creature. After all, what is a mummy but gauze, skin and bone.
It’s not quite Halloween but I wouldn’t tell that to the folks at the Western RV Village. The campground is packed with people here to celebrate. And it is filled with ghosts and goblins and ghouls, not to mention the mummy, witches and innumerable graveyards.
Halloween is serious business in central Pennsylvania. People decorate for the event like they do for Christmas in other places.
I whined to the campground manager that Peggy and I were missing our annual pumpkin carving contest in Sacramento with my sister Nancy and her husband, Jim. It’s been going on for 20 years. “Why don’t you join the children in their contest,” she suggested. I gracefully declined.
We are engaged in a Halloween like activity, however, searching through old graveyards looking for long dead people. My Great, Great, Great Grandmother Mary Brown Mekemson was born near here in the town of Big Springs (now Newville). Her Grandfather, James, arrived in the area in 1750, back when the US was still part of England.
The Browns trace their lineage back to John Brown, the Scottish Martyr. He was shot down in front of his wife and children in the late 1600s for insisting that Christ, not the King of England, was his Ruler. His epitaph notes he was “butchered by Clavers and his bloody band, raging most ravenously o’re all the land.”
The early Scottish Presbyterians didn’t think much of Bloody Clavers but they liked their alliteration and poetry.
Legend tells that the Ghost of John Brown visited Clavers to predict his doom the night before he was killed in battle. Revenge and justice.
Ghosts have become big business in modern-day America, in case you haven’t noticed. They are no longer limited to their once a year appearance on Halloween. Having one or more on the premise can mean big bucks. Historic communities that depend on tourist revenue are required to have several.
Next week, in honor of the season, Peggy and I will visit one of the most famous ghost haunts in America, Fort Mifflin, located just outside of Philadelphia. It was the sight of an important battle of the Revolutionary War where 400 men held off the might of the British Navy while George Washington escaped to Valley Forge. Lots of patriots died. It is also the sight of all sorts of spooky business and has been featured on the popular SyFy channel TV show, Ghost Hunters.
More to the point, from my perspective, four Mekemson boys, brothers of my fourth Great Grandpa, Joseph, were involved in the battle. Two were killed saving the flag according to family stories and a flyer distributed by the Fort. One was cut in half by a cannon ball, which anyone would agree is a rather gory end that should justify ghost status. Maybe Uncle Andrew will make an appearance on our visit. I’ll let you know in next week’s blog, “The Mekemson Ghosts of Fort Mifflin.”