In York County, Pennsylvania tucked deeply within the woods, by the winding roads there is a house known by locals as Rehmeyer Hollow. Now since the incident, it has been renamed presently to Spring Valley County Park. Others call the area Hex Hollow, either way, you choose to say it the legend goes that if you walk the roads in the correct sequence on Halloween night, you will eventually come upon the gates of hell. But the true history lies within the house that sits on the property where Nelson Rehmeyer resided… even though most people don’t like to even speak about the legend or the real truth behind it nowadays. Most times you’ll be shrugged off or given short answers trying to dismiss it, but if you do a little digging as I did, you can come to your own conclusions.
Nelson Rehmeyer was known by the town locals to be a powwow doctor which many people preferred rather than the typical doctor at the time. They could also receive spiritual help at the same time, so it was more convenient for them. There were always people lined up at the house from young children to the elderly in the community, from simple charms of protection, and herbal treatments, to folk magic for healing, Rehmeyer did it all.
At the time, this was a very popular practice which is said to have roots in Christianity using both hands on energy healing, home remedies, and prayer. These were designed to keep a person safe or to offer help in other situations. At the time most sessions were held as hex sessions at the local farmhouses of the powwow doctor.
However, some accused him of being a witch. This is where the story gets interesting (and sad too) where he would face his ultimate demise when he was murdered in 1928.
A bit of a witch hunt I suppose… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. As always, history comes first (fact or fiction, well, that’s for you to decide).
Let The Hunt Begin
As it’s known Blymire was a family friend of Nelson, he was very ill and had his mind set on the idea that the root of his problems was a result from a curse that had been cast upon him. So, when he felt all hope had been lost, he sought help from a River Witch by the name of Nellie Noll, who after many sessions, revealed that the person responsible for Blymire’s curse and his unrelenting illness was in fact Rehmeyer. At first, though Blymire vehemently refused to acknowledge that this was true since Rehmeyer had been a close family friend for so long. After all, he had visited Rehmeyer himself to have hexes removed on several occasions, including the symptoms of the mysterious illness he was afflicted by.
Bury The Spellbook!
By this time Blymire asked Nellie Noll how he was going to be able to lift the curse and was informed that to do so he would have to locate and bury his tormentor’s spellbook along with a lock of hair. Blymire then became frightened by the thought of this act and asked two of the local younger boys in town to aide him in helping with the task. Knowing Rehmeyer was not a small statured man (he stood quickly at 6 foot 2 inches tall!) he would not be willing to give his book up easily. This brings us to the horrible night on Thanksgiving Eve that November 27th, 1928.
Blymire and his young accomplices took the drive that chilly evening to the Rehmeyer farmhouse and even though there was much hesitation and worry, they went ahead with their plan to acquire both the book and hair sample. Armed with sticks and a large amount of ropes they banged on Rehmeyer’s door demanding he turned the book over immediately… or else. After he refused, they barged in, bound Rehmeyer to a chair with the rope, then beat him repeatedly spilling his blood on the wooden floorboards. One of these brutal blows killed Rehmeyer, realizing what they had done they panicked and the three men doused the body in lamp oil and proceeded to light him on fire in an attempt to cover up any evidence of the assault and subsequent murder. Then retreated back into the darkness of the night and fled as quickly as possible.
The Plan Goes Sour
But… the fire didn’t spread as far as they had hoped that it would and only a few days later Rehmeyer was ultimately discovered by one of his neighbors who then reported it to the authorities. It was a grisly scene straight from a horror movie, the poor man had been beaten so badly and burned almost beyond recognition, while alive.
After enough evidence was able to be collected, the authorities tracked down Blymire and his accomplices where they immediately confessed. At the trial on January 9th, 1929 (also known as the York Witch Trials) Blymire placed the blame of the fatal blow that had ultimately killed Rehmeyer, on one of the boys who had helped him. Regardless of the harsh charges brought against him, Blymire still stood by his belief that since Rehmeyer was no longer among the living, his curse and afflictions had been lifted.
Let’s Not Talk About The Witchcraft
The Judge ruled that any mention of hexes and witchcraft be omitted from the murderer’s confessions/statements before they were even brought before a jury, so the crime is considered a robbery instead of outright murder. Despite that omission only days later Blymire and one of his two accomplices were charged with first-degree murder, while the third boy was sentenced to 10-20 years in prison. Eventually, they were all paroled and went back to live in York County, never committing another crime again.
As of today… Rehmeyer’s great-grandson now owns the property on which the house stands and welcomes visitors to come and see the house for themselves. This even includes having a peek at the charred floorboards that remain where the murder took place. The kitchen clock is to be noted as well, it had stopped the day of the murder at 12:01, too many superstitious locals this was seen as a sign of witchcraft and also because the fire did not completely consume the farmhouse and burned it to the ground. So if you’re like me and like to take pit stops on smaller road trips while in any particular area, this is one to see.
No Real Answers
The jury is still out today, and if you ask some of the older residents, you’ll hear that Rehmeyer was only ever known for trying to help others using powwow to cure or alleviate illnesses and that it was a tragedy and an unfounded one at that. Of course, there are still some out there who think he was up to no good. As always, YOU decide. YOU be the jury. But be fair and open-minded because you never know… some of us have been judged or wronged for trying to help even in a non-traditional way, and even if you don’t believe in it, it can help others that do.
Until next time, as always, stay spooky my friends!