The Boots of Amandon Baker

Grave of Amandon Baker, Fishing Creek Cemetery. Note the age on his stone is wrong – he was 57 when he passed.

I was visiting the Fishing Creek Cemetery in search of a baseball player who rests among the stones. The small rural cemetery in north-central Pennsylvania was one of the last places I would have considered looking for the resting place of a famous athlete. Yet in the shadows of the trees surrounding the cemetery, I discovered the grave of baseball’s Don Hoak. Note: More about Don Hoak can be found here: Don Hoak.

I finished paying my respects before wandering about the small plot of land to examine the inscriptions on other tombstones. I had read a number of the memorials before one caught my attention. I knew I had encountered the name Amandon Baker before, but at the moment I could not place where I knew the name.

With the connection not immediately coming to me, I took a couple pictures of his stone before walking back to the vehicle where my parents waited.

“Who did you find?” mom asked as I sat down.

“Amandon Baker,” I replied. “The name sounds familiar, but I don’t know offhand where I know the name from.”

“He was the first adult burial in the cemetery,” mom announced a couple seconds later as she looked up from her phone.

“I’m not sure that’s why his name is familiar,” I laughed.

“Oh, this is interesting,” mom spoke as she scrolled through the articles that appeared when she searched for his name. “Here’s an article that states he haunts the cemetery. His ghost was seen carrying his boots.”

“Wait a second,” I spoke excitedly. “His ghost is seen carrying his boots over his shoulder?”

“That’s what it says,” mom answered.

“I didn’t realize he was buried here,” I replied as the pieces of the story fell into place.

The story of Amandon Baker was recorded by Robert Lyman, who wrote about the strange events that happened in the region of north-central Pennsylvania known as The Black Forest. It is only through his writings that many of the stories of this remote region have been saved from disappearing into history.

Amandon Baker was born January 20, 1832 in Andover, New York, the only child to Daniel and Amanda Baker, who died during childbirth. His father would remarry three months later to Abigail – Amanda’s sister – and the couple would have seventeen children plus raise Amandon.

The November 13, 1889 edition of The Potter Enterprise (Coudersport) reports the death of Amandon Baker. When he passed on November 9, 1889, the community was rightfully upset about it. Amandon had been sick since his service during the US Civil War and had been in Buffalo for treatment just days before his death. When he returned to Potter County, Baker was in an “almost unconscious condition and unable to walk.” Due to a miscommunication, nobody was at the station to take him back to his residence. Railroad officials decided the best thing to do was to remove Baker from the train and lay him on the platform at the Pomeroy Bridge Station. Had not a passer-by heard Baker’s groans, he would have perished that night. Baker lingered between life and death for almost a week before he passed. Note: The Potter Enterprise called the train station where Amandon was abandoned the Pomeroy Bridge Station, but I have not been able to locate a station by that name. I believe this was another name for the station located at Roulette.

Amandon was buried in the Fishing Creek Cemetery, where he became the first adult buried in the sacred grounds. It was soon after his burial that Willis Tauscher told of a strange sighting near the cemetery. Tauscher’s walk home took him past the cemetery and its newly dug grave.

One night while walking home, Tauscher noticed a man suddenly appear on the road ahead of him. The figure appeared solid, because Tauscher believed it was another person walking along the road, but Tauscher noticed something odd about the man – the figure walked with his boots slung over his shoulder. Tauscher called out for the man to wait, but the figure did not respond or even act like he heard Tauscher’s voice.

The strange figure continued walking ahead of Tauscher, until they came to the Fishing Creek Cemetery. The strange figure entered the cemetery and walked over to the freshly dug grave and vanished.

It was at this point Tauscher realized the figure was the ghost of his friend Amandon Baker. This was the first sighting of the ghost and for a period of time after, Amandon’s ghost was spotted by numerous people who passed the cemetery at night.

The question of why he carried his boots rather than wearing them is answered by Lyman. He suggests that while Amandon was in the US Civil War, he would take off his boots and carry them as a means to preserve them longer. In the afterlife, Amandon continued to remove his boots while out walking the lands surrounding the cemetery.

“There is something about the story that I have to question,” I spoke as we prepared to leave Fishing Creek Cemetery.

“What’s that?” my mother asked.

“I understand that Amandon’s ghost would haunt the place he was buried, but wouldn’t it make more sense if he haunted the Pomeroy Bridge Station? That’s the place where he was dumped on the platform and pretty much left to die.” If Baker ever haunted the station where he was left by the railroad employees, neither Lyman nor the local newspapers ever recorded it.

“Do we know the direction the guy was walking when he saw the ghost?” my father suddenly asked.

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “It just says he was walking past the cemetery.”

“Maybe you should drive on up the hollow and turn around. The ghost may be walking down the hollow rather than the way we came.” For a moment I wasn’t sure if he was being serious or making a joke of the ghost story, but it wouldn’t hurt driving a short distance up the hollow, turn around and then drive back.

We ventured the short distance farther along the road, scanning the road and surrounding fields for any signs of Amandon. With the road’s condition getting worse, I finally turned the vehicle around and headed back down the hollow, driving slowly past the cemetery one last time.

I did not see Amandon standing at his grave, but left the area with the image of a small American flag flapping in the wind, marking the grave of the Civil War veteran.

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