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Allison's Grave: In Search of the Truth
November 18, 2009
Halloween has come and gone and, as expected, a number of local ghostly legends made their annual reappearance. One of the most intriguing is the tale of "Allison's Grave" at the Mosquito Valley Cemetery near DuBoistown.
As with most ghost stories, there are many variations of the Allison legend. Some say that the shadowy spirit seen at the cemetery is a woman who was decapitated in a plane or car crash. Others say she is a WWII nurse who died in a plane crash while traveling home. As these and other stories spread, the cemetery on Mosquito Valley Road eventually became a common destination for Halloween pranksters, seekers of the paranormal, and those just looking for a thrill.
The Investigation Begins
Recently, a local paranormal investigative group -- the Heart of Pennsylvania Paranormal Society or HOPPS (www.hoppsghosthunters.com) -- obtained permission from the property owner near the Mosquito Valley cemetery to visit the Allison grave. According to its founder, John Herr, the group's main objective was to "record and document paranormal activity (if any) and determine if there was any truth to the stories."
Herr states that their visit to the cemetery in October "yielded no disembodied voices, no shadows...but we did all note that it was one of the more peaceful cemeteries we'd been in, very quiet and serene -- certainly not what we expected." At this point, Miranda Gerholt, local genealogist and member of HOPPS, was asked to conduct further research into the identity of the woman and the actual circumstances of her death.
Who was Allison?
Clues to her identity have been found in Lycoming County court documents and land deeds, and online genealogy sites. Her name was Edna A. (Bogert) Allison, the second wife of Herbert F. Allison. After almost 20 year of marriage, they divorced in 1958 after having one son. Local businessman, Larry Allison, who is Herbert Allison's grandson (from his first marriage), has confirmed that, in the resulting divorce settlement, Edna took ownership of a rock and sand quarry business as well as a second home, both located in Nassau, the Bahamas.
In August of 1960, Herbert Allison remarried for a third time but, on January 3, 1961, he died suddenly while vacationing in Palm Beach, Fla. According to his obituary printed in the January 5, 1961, edition of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, 54-year-old Allison was president of Lycoming Construction Company and director of the First National Bank in Montoursville. He was buried in Twin Hills Cemetery following a private family service.
In June 1964, Edna Allison left Williamsport on a commercial airline flight to Phoenix, Ariz. From there, she traveled to Aspen, Col., where she boarded a Cessna 310 on Sunday, June 28, for a flight to Dallas, a stopover before her final destination in the Bahamas. There, she was scheduled to attend a business conference in Nassau in connection with her "rock and mineral business interests there," according to the article in the July 1, 1964 edition of the Sun-Gazette. Piloting the light twin-engine plane was William Evans, 38, of McAllen, Texas. In addition to Edna, the other passengers were Ed Gorman, 38, of Dallas, and Gus Theoklis, 29, of Los Angeles.
When the plane failed to arrive in Dallas, the Colorado Civil Air Patrol searched the mountainous area near Aspen, but the plane could not be located. According to the July 1, 1964 edition of the Brownsville (Texas) Herald, the search for the plane was made difficult due to heavy thunderstorms and high winds.
Discovery is Made
Almost four months later, in mid-October, the plane was finally discovered in a remote high mountain area 9 miles northeast of Aspen. Edna and the three other occupants were found, still buckled into their seats. The sheriff leading the recovery efforts stated that it appeared the plane had "plunged straight down into the mountainside." (Big Spring (Texas) Herald, Monday, October 19, 1964)
Due to the badly decomposed condition of Edna's body, her remains were cremated and returned to her family members: a brother, Howard Bogert, who also lived in Mosquito Valley, and her son, who was then an Army private assigned to Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Edna Allison's ashes were spread at Mosquito Valley Cemetery where a small gravestone marked her memory. A large monument inscribed with the Allison name has been installed, perhaps due to the vandalism and the repeated removal of the small stone from the cemetery, especially at Halloween.
The Spirit of Edna
While some of the details of Edna's life can be documented and confirmed through newspaper accounts, courthouse records, and family memories, we can only make a guess in determining the true essence of this woman who lived during the first half of the 20th century. While most of her peers did not work outside their homes, Edna was a divorcee, a businesswoman and an international traveler. Perhaps it is time for her spirit to find peace and rest in Mosquito Valley.