On the back roads of southern York County Pennsylvania, there lies a lonely grave, marked with a pentagram. It is the final marker of a local “pow-wow” practitioner, healer and shaman Nelson Rehmeyer.
Rehmeyer lived in what is now known as “Hex House”, a two storey house in the middle of nowhere that is said to be haunted. He was described as being over six feet tall, with deepset eyes and a very powerful presence. A married man, who's wife lived in the local town, away from him because he was, as she stated “too damn particular”.
|Photo of Rehmeyer at approx. 30 years of age|
The term “pow-wow” used to describe this unique religion was first used in “The Long Lost Friend”, a book written by John George Hohman and first published in German as “Der Lange Verborgene Freund” in 1820.
The books speaks of rituals, binding spells, healing spells, protective spells and icons as well as hex's and other mysterious practices used in the religion.
The religion came to America, and into Pennsylvania, through German immigrants seeking freedom from religious persecution, these religious immigrants would eventually be known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.
At 12:01am, on the 28th of November, Nelson Rehmeyer was brutally beaten to death in his own home. His body was mutilated and then burnt.
|The very spot Rehmeyer died and was burnt|
Blymire decided his course of action was to go to Rehmeyers house, break in and find the hair and bury it, or find the book and destroy it. When the young men broke into the house they were startled to find Rehmeyer home, they demanded to have the hex lifted, and when Rehmeyer wouldn’t co-operate, they tried to over power him, a struggle ensued, a rope was put around Rehmeyers neck and the intruders began beating him, eventually killing him. Blymire stated, that he felt the curse lift upon the death of Rehmeyer.
The three intruders were eventually caught and faced trial. Once proceedings began and the subject matter came out, the case became a world wide sensation, even making the newspapers here in Adelaide, South Australia (The Advertiser , Tuesday 5 February 1929, page 15 ).
Quiet York County, Pennsylvania was now known across the world for being home to a 20th century Witchcraft trial!
The three confessed to the horrible act they had perpetrated and awaited sentence from the Judge.
The trial had attracted vast amounts of attention, including that of Clarence G. Darrow, eminent lawyer and scholar.
Darrow had his own opinions about the trial. His opinion was published in the newspaper , The Harrisburg "Patriot," Feb. 21, 1929
"Belief in witchcraft cannot, in itself, be thought a crime. If it is there would be but few of us really innocent. Not so many years ago our best people and devout Christians not only believed in witches but guaranteed their celestial happiness by murdering them.
"We placidly admit that there are sections of our country where people are isolated by their own customs and thought, or by geography, and live quaintly a century and a half behind our little more enlightened communities. But we forget that a mere century and a half takes us almost back to Cotton Mather and the stake. Then witches were hanged for the glory of God and for the peace of mind of those who thought they had been or might be bewitched. There are today groups of people who have advanced but little in mentality beyond the ignorant frenzy that glorified in hangings.
"Even today a literal interpretation of the Bible would force us to believe in witchcraft and sorcery. And those simple folk of which that Curry boy is a product hold strictly to the Word just as they find it. To them the Witch of Endor is very real. The devil is real. Spells are real. In their world, furnished by traditions, myths and Old World lore, handed down unchanged from one generation to another, there are evil spirits as certain as a flying railroad train bearing down on a motorist stalled on the tracks.
"Is there any doubt that Curry and those others believed that Rehmeyer had an evil power which he could exercise at will? Is there any doubt that they thought a lock of his hair would break the spell? Nothing new in that belief, nothing unusual. Reach into your own pocket for your own personal protector against bad luck.
"Our belief in capital punishment as a deterrent is just another form of witchcraft. Apart from the mass desire for revenge, there is a subconscious desire to rid ourselves of what we believe to be an evil person. We look in vain for any proof that executions have had any effect on crime. When England punished by death everything from bread and sheep stealing to wholesale killing, crime was far more general than it is today. Education and the training of youth in trades and profession has diminished crime, never the death penalty.
"Isn't there every reason to believe that the crime of murder is a symptom. In the York case it was clearly a symptom of a prevailing ignorance, a condition which should never be allowed to exist in the State of Pennsylvania. . . ."
Judge Sherwood decreed that all mention of Hexs and Witchcraft be struck from the record and that witchcraft and hexes were not to be used as a defense in the case.
With the Witchcraft aspect of the case removed, the trial focussed on the robbery and murder of Rehmeyer.
The Court case was one of the quickest ever conducted in Pennsylvania, all three defendants were found guilty. Blymyer and curry of Murder in the first degree and Hess, murder in the second degree
The sentences were handed down on January 14th. Blymire and Curry were given life in prison and Wilbert was given 10 to 20 years. In 1934, Hess and Curry were paroled and lived quiet lives in the York area. Curry became an artist and died in 1962. Blymire was finally paroled in 1953, returned to York and worked as a janitor.
In 2012 the “Hex house” as it is locally known has been slowly restored by a descendant of Rehmeyer, and made into a museum.
There are a great deal of local haunting legends about the house, with a number of eyewitness accounts about a tall man seen in the yard, or in the house. A paranormal team has also captured EVP's that can be found online by searching for “Hex House” on youtube.
Video footage of Hex House
© 2012 Eidolon Paranormal
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