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Lantern tours light up Hampton Museum

Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal - Lantern Tours guide Karen Parsons of Richland stands by window of the 175-year-old church at Depreciation Lands Museum with a life-size cutout of “The Deacon,” a shadowy figure reportedly glimpsed in the church.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal</em></div>Lantern Tours guide Karen Parsons of Richland stands by window of the 175-year-old church at Depreciation Lands Museum with a life-size cutout of “The Deacon,” a shadowy figure reportedly glimpsed in the church.
Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal - Numerous sighting have been reported of 'The Deacon,' a benevolent and watchful spirit who roams the grounds.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal</em></div>Numerous sighting have been reported of 'The Deacon,' a benevolent and watchful spirit who roams the grounds.
Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal - 'The Deacon' has been seen by many witnesses, including a cleaning woman at the church who fell off a ladder and reports that he cushioned her fall.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal</em></div>'The Deacon' has been seen by many witnesses, including a cleaning woman at the church who fell off a ladder and reports that he cushioned her fall.
Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal - Tthe Depreciation Lands Museum tour in Hampton will include a relocated log house that was originally built in 1803.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Deborah Deasy | Pine Creek Journal</em></div>Tthe Depreciation Lands Museum tour in Hampton will include a relocated log house that was originally built in 1803.

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If you go

What: Lantern Tours.

Where: Depreciation Lands Museum, 4743 South Pioneer Road, Hampton.

When: 6 to 9 p.m., Oct. 20, for walk-ins; group tours are Oct. 27.

Details: $5 for adults, $3 per children ages 11 and younger. Reservations are required for the group tours - consisting of more than six people - on Oct. 27.

Contact: Call 412-486-0563, or request reservations by email to depreciationlandsmuseum@hotmail.com.

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:02 p.m.
 

Tales of “The Deacon,” a shadowy figure, annually unfold during the Halloween-season strolls slated to wind through the Depreciation Lands Museum in Hampton.

No one knows if the ghostly man — sighted in 19th century-style clothes — once led worshippers inside the museum's oldest structure, the former Pine Creek Covenanter Church.

It's a red-brick structure, built in 1837, with soaring windows and creaky floors.

Mystery lovers and ghost hunters can visit the 175-year-old landmark during the Lantern Tours set for Oct. 20 and Oct. 27 at the museum.

Participants also will explore the museum's historic cemetery, one-room schoolhouse, centuries-old log cabin and working blacksmith's shop — all by candlelight.

Along the way, costumed guides will demonstrate Colonial customs and share stories of early American superstitions and funeral rites.

“You had to sit with the deceased, and people took shifts ... One of reasons was to make sure they were really dead,” said Karen Parsons, volunteer coordinator for the Depreciation Lands Museum. “One of people's great fears in the 19th century was being buried alive.”

Parsons will be among volunteers leading the Lantern Tours. Servings of cookies and cider will close the outings.

Each year, Parsons' husband, Kevin, lurks the museum grounds, dressed as “The Deacon,” during the Lantern Tours.

“Most people don't notice,” he said. “Some people get freaked out.”

Museum volunteers first reported seeing “The Deacon” in 1973, after Hampton Township purchased the museum grounds and renovations began in the former Pine Creek Covenanter Church.

“There were people who thought they caught a glimpse of an old man wearing a long black coat and old-fashioned boots, and that he helped them with the renovations in various ways,” Parsons said. “He has always been credited with being benevolent.”

“The Deacon” reportedly rescued one boy as he was painting a door frame next to a stairwell.

“His ladder tipped, and everyone was sure that he was going to fall into the stairwell, but somehow, the ladder was pushed upright again,” Parsons said.

Another tale recalls a woman working alone repairing one of the church's window frames.

“She thought she caught a glimpse of a tall man wearing old-fashioned boots and trousers,” Parsons said.

“She claimed she said, ‘Well, don't just stand there. You could at least help me.' All of the sudden, the window went into place.”

No one knows the glimpsed figure's name, according to Parsons.

“A couple years ago, I had a visitor come to me on a Sunday afternoon,” Parsons said. “He said, ‘I was a member of this church ... Do you know about the deacon?'

“He said, 'My mother was cleaning in this church. She was up on a ladder,'” Parsons said.

“He pointed to one corner of the room and said, ‘She fell, and somehow, she was gently lowered to the ground. She did not get hurt.'”

More recently, a spooked electrician reportedly fled the structure — while performing repairs — when he repeatedly found a light switch turned off, after he repeatedly turned on the switch.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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