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The Fiddling Ghost of Mahoning Valley

Indiana County’s musical ghost inhabits a little house at Smicksburg in West Mahoning Township, and has been named the “fiddling ghost of Mahoning Valley.”

The story begins in the days when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was being built through the township, soon after the turn of the century. Two cronies came to work on the railroad, and took up their abode in the little house with its high steep roof.

One of these fellows played a fiddle. He played everywhere he was asked to play; at any neighborhood gathering he had toes tapping with his rollicking tunes. He also played at the temporary diggings in the little house; and he played without invitation from his friend - early in the morning and late at night. Finally there came a day when the friend could stand no more. When the fiddler and his companion did not show up for work someone went to the house. The musician was found stabbed to death, his violin broken, and the companion gone, bag and baggage.

When fall arrived strange stories were whispered about. Yes, there was “something funny” about that little house. A few folks swore they saw and heard the dead fiddler, and of all places - he was sitting astride the house roof.

As years rolled along, it was found that on frosty nights a vapor seems to envelope the top of the house, and as an unfelt breeze clears it away the old fiddler is seen on the roof and the weird tunes are faintly heard.

Into the 1950s, the old boy was heard if not seen. It was just about Halloween when George Swetnam aired the most forgotten yarn in the Sunday Pittsburgh Press. A group of students from the Dayton high school decided to visit the old house, just for kicks. The weather was exactly right, and as they came to a halt near the building the eerie strains of a violin was heard. Not one of them bothered to look up at the roof as they tore out of the area. One boy fell while leaping across a ditch for a near-cut and almost broke his leg.

Without question, the fiddling ghost of Mahoning Valley is the noisiest in the county.

Editor’s Note: This story was written by Frances Strong Helman and published by the Historical Society in a pamphlet called “That’s What Happened” on October 18, 1963.


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