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Spotlight: The ghosts of Summit Hill

Do you believe in ghosts?

David Wargo of Summit Hill does. He has felt their presence. He’s heard enough stories from friends, neighbors, relatives and even police officers to know they exist. He is convinced they are real.

“I will tell you that I do believe in the possibility of ghosts,” he said.

As a result of the many stories of the unexplained that have been told to him or that he has experienced, especially in his hometown, he decided to write a book about them.

“Mysteries on the Mountain” was published earlier this month by Amazon Publishing. Copies are available for sale by the author and through Amazon.com.

The book contains 22 different tales. They include:

• Sightings of a “lady in white.”

• A family member’s personal experience during World War II when another relative died on a submarine that was bombed by the Japanese.

• An experience that happened to him at the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery, which he terms “the most haunted cemetery in Summit Hill.”

There’s even a feature related to the Molly Maguires.

For Wargo, ghost stories aren’t just an October ritual. They’re real-­life events that usually originate from something which happened in the past.

For 20 years - although not consecutively - he has been leading ghost tours in October at the GAR Cemetery. He’s planning one this year, again. Proceeds will benefit the GAR Stone Restoration Project in which funds are being raised to restore aged and damaged headstones in the cemetery.

He serves as president of the cemetery.

He also was a co-founder of the former Panther Valley Paranormal Society and the Blue Mountain Paranormal Society. Four years ago, he became an active member of Paranormal Sightings of Pennsylvania, which is committed to helping families with children who had paranormal problems.

The stories that Wargo had been telling on his ghost tours “were mostly folklore,” he said. For “Mysteries on the Mountain,” Wargo has done extensive research to verify the facts, including interviews with people who experienced some of the situations firsthand. He includes a references and “end notes” in the book to corroborate the research.

“It’s been a labor of love,” Wargo said of writing the book. “I wanted it to be a book of history as well as a book of folklore.”

The author is a lifelong resident of Summit Hill. He is a son of Bernard and Darlene Wargo, who also lived in the town their entire lives.

He graduated from Panther Valley High School in 1985 and Bloomsburg University in 1989 with degrees in computer science and mathematics.

He and his wife, the former Katie Gelezinsky, have a daughter Kathryn who is a seventh-grade student at Panther Valley Middle School.

He is employed as a software engineer.

He previously did freelance writing and is a former correspondent for the Times News. His writing credits include a 2004 article in Fate Magazine on “The Haunting of the GAR Cemetery.”

He said he spent about eight years putting the book together.

Wargo said he did his first ghost tour about 20 years ago as a fundraiser for the Summit Hill Historical Society, which at the time wanted to open a museum. He said, “I learned in that first year that some of the lore was more fiction than fact.”

He wanted his book to have facts in them. “All the tales are researched,” he said.

Depicted on the cover is the “Lady in White,” which witnesses claim they have seen not only in the cemetery but at other locations in the borough. He believes this apparition derives from a drowning of a boy in the 1930s. The boy was not buried with the rest of his family.

Wargo says in the book, “The basic account is she materializes near the northern edge of the cemetery, walks along the road then crosses over to the little boy’s grave and stands vigil over it.”

There is a tale of a local resident who was walking with his grandson in the cemetery and passed workers digging a new grave. He realized that the plot was his, so he told them to stop. They apologized and ceased digging. He died in his sleep that evening.

A local business may be haunted by a former owner who oversees the workers, Wargo notes in the book.

Perhaps the most mournful story hits home for Wargo. It involves William Remaley, a son of his great-great-aunt Emma Remaley.

William was serving on the submarine the USS Gudgeon in the South Pacific. One night, William’s voice awoke her from her sleep, crying, “Mother! Mother!”

A week later, she received a telegram from the War Department stating the USS Gudgeon was lost at sea and all hands aboard were MIA and presumed dead. The bombing of the USS Gudgeon happened the night she heard the cry of her son.

Wargo’s parents moved into Emma Remaley’s house. Now he and his family live there.

Wargo said, “Throughout my life growing up in that house, I’ve seen shadows. I’ve heard someone calling my name when nobody was around.

“My father saw a figure coming out of the back bedroom. When he looked again, it disappeared. It happened to be on the night of Billy’s birthday.”

Summit Hill author David A. Wargo holds a copy of his book “Mysteries on the Mountain” at the GAR Cemetery in Summit Hill. The book contains a collection of Summit Hill history, ghost stories and lore. He says in the book the GAR Cemetery is “the most haunted cemetery in Summit Hill.” RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Across the street from where mine boss Morgan Powell was gunned down in 1871, a cherub stands in Ludlow Park. David Wargo said legend has it that Powell collapsed where the cherub now stands, and on winter nights, if you listen carefully, “you can hear a groan emanate from near the cherub; the groan of a dying man.”
The site on Ludlow Street in Summit Hill where Morgan Powell, a mine boss, was gunned down in 1871. Blamed for the murder were Irishmen Thomas Fisher and Alexander Campbell. Campbell was a ringleader of the group The Molly Maguires and was hanged in Jim Thorpe. David Wargo writes about “the night that sealed Campbell's fate.”
Book cover