Coming out just in time for Halloween, Duke Center author Bill Robertson’s new book, “Ghosts Revisited,” highlights some of the eerie places in the region.
“Ghosts Revisited” includes 32 ghost stories from western Pennsylvania and western New York.
“I visited the places myself and took photographs of each place,” Robertson said. “I wanted to soak up the spooky vibe of each place.”
He described the process of collecting photographs and information.
During the lockdown, he got in his car and drove to all these places to get photographs. He used the many resources available to him to uncover the history of each place — and the ghostly sightings — including internet research, testimony from reliable sources and help from friends.
“I did my homework and made sure I had my facts,” said Robertson. The book that resulted from his work is a “combination of history and horror.”
Bradford artist David Cox created the cover art, which features the “specter bride,” Elizabeth from the Hotel Conneaut.
Robertson explained that Elizabeth burned to death on her honeymoon when a lightning bolt struck the building where the couple was staying and started a fire. Legend has it that she was in the building looking for her new husband during the fire.
However, “Like Elvis, he had already left the building,” said Robertson.
“Ghosts Revisited” is the 54th book written by the prolific author.
The book pulls together stories from three separate photo books that he previously published and put them into a paperback version. This way people can have the stories all in one place.
“They can use my book as a guidebook to ghostly sites,” he noted. “They now know where to go and what to see there.”
These stories include several local legends that residents might be familiar with, such as Luke the Spook at Willow Dale Cemetery, the haunted house in Hinsdale, N.Y., and the Catherine Swamp in Clermont. Also told are the stories of ghost sightings at the former Pure-Sil in Bradford and the “Lightning House” at the Pennsylvania/New York state line.
When asked if he was surprised by any of the sites he visited, Robertson talked about visiting the Halton Baby Cemetery in Elk County.
Spooky happenings on the trip included meeting a “hellhound” that came out of a nearby home and having one of the caps removed from a tire, causing it to start to go flat. According to the narrative, a dead caretaker will follow visitors back to their cars.
“I’ll never go back there again,” he said.
As for the other sites, he doesn’t visit any of them at night.
“I don’t want a guest riding home with me,” said Robertson.
For anyone who does venture to these haunted spots, this is what Robertson says to any ghosts to try to keep them away: “Leave in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Robertson’s interest in the macabre began with the influence of his family.
“My grandmother was the one who got me into all of these ghost stories,” said Robertson. A Swedish immigrant, his grandmother was “very superstitious. She was a good storyteller, too,” he said.
When Robertson was a teenager, his father encouraged him to read Edgar Allen Poe. He learned how to create spooky settings for his stories from the Gothic short story writer.
Another source of inspiration to Robertson is Jim Morrison of The Doors.
Look for “Ghosts Revisited” by William P. Robertson at the Main Street Mercantile in Bradford or the Paper Factory in Olean, N.Y., or order the book online at Amazon or directly from the publisher at https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Ghosts-Revisited.