I walked among the older stones of Elimsport Cemetery scanning the stones, reading the engravings that told the stories of those interred on the sacred piece of land. Countless flags flapped lazily in the breeze as I paused at the graves of those who had served over the years.
However, I knew one burial not marked by a stone belongs to Cassie Foster. Cassie, who died in April 1902, not only lies in an unmarked grave, but in a grave she did not want. It was shortly after she was buried in Elimsport Cemetery that her restless spirit was spotted roaming the woods near the cabin where she had lived.
The earliest mention of the restless spirit comes from the June 15, 1902 edition of The Times (Philadelphia, PA). The headline reads “Cassie Foster’s Ghost is Around – The Farmers of White Deer Valley Are Fearful of It.”
Very little was known about the early life of Cassie Foster. It was claimed Cassie had been married to a wealthy farmer out west and after his death she moved to Central Pennsylvania where she purchased twenty acres along the road between Elimsport and Collomsport. On this piece of land she built a two-story cabin and dammed up the stream flowing nearby. In her bedroom she kept a large silver plate, which had been given to her as a wedding present from her deceased husband.
Living in seclusion made residents believe she had a connection with nature. She had tamed a pair of pigeons which roosted at the foot of her bed every night. She also had a four-foot-long black snake she tamed and kept as a pet. Note: it is interesting how stories change over the years. In the September 23, 1905 edition of the Lewisburg Chronicle, the large black snake was now listed as being a huge copperhead.
Though she had a pet snake, she told her visitors she once faced off against a monstrous snake. The large snake entered the house through an open window and she struck it with an axe, cutting off its head. Though she was upset she had to kill it, Cassie knew if she had not killed it, it would have killed her pet pigeons.
In April of 1902, residents of the White Deer Valley noted Cassie had not been seen for a couple days. Two local women journeyed up the mountainside to Cassie’s home. A silence filled the air as they approached the building. They called out for Cassie and received no answer. The front door was open, so they ventured into the building and soon discovered Cassie dead in her upstairs bed. It was determined the seventy-year-old woman had starved to death.
Cassie was taken to Elimsport where she was buried in the local cemetery in an unmarked grave.
Meanwhile, her house was searched. Her wallet was discovered with crisp bank bills in it – it was over $300 – and her bank book was recovered. The information in her bank book revealed the lady who had lived in poverty had a small fortune in a bank at Williamsport. Also stashed at the bank was her will. In it she had written she wished to be buried in a metal casket under an old chestnut stump near the rear of her cabin.
According to tradition, she willed all of her money away, so there were no funds to move her body from the Elimsport Cemetery to the location near her cabin. Nor did they have any money to place a stone on her grave.
In the aftermath of her burial, those passing her cabin would see a strange light coming from within it. Some of those travelers reported hearing a faint whisper they believed was Cassie trying to communicate with them. Others passing the cabin reported hearing strange noises coming from within the building. The strange events kept travelers from venturing past her home once the sun set.
Cassie’s restless spirit grabbed the headlines again in September 1905. It was reported a man traveling over the mountain witnessed a ghostly form wandering among the trees near the place where the house once stood. The ghostly figure – which was plainly seen in the moonlight – walked to the old cabin, waved its arms and disappeared. The man was convinced he had witnessed the ghost of Cassie Foster. The article announced that until Cassie’s bones were recovered from the cemetery at Elimsport and reburied beneath the old chestnut stump near her homestead she could never find peace.
While her spirit had caught the attention of newspapers and locals in the early 1900s, if it has been spotted since, it has not made the newspapers. If you’re traveling Route 44 over the mountain between Elimsport and Collomsville on a moonlit night, you might still see Cassie’s spirit wandering among the trees as she awaits her bones to be recovered and buried at her old homestead.