An Old Graveyard in the Woods Where the Altoona Mirror is
by Susan Gargon-Centineo
Folks, this is more of a question than it is a story really. But there is a graveyard and what we kids used to call the "Witches House" involved.
Growing up in Altoona, we lived on Duff Drive in Pleasant Village in the 60's. Off of Duff Drive, there was a path that led to a dirt road, and the dirt road led straight up to Columbia Cliffs, at the top of Columbia Drive.
Now, that old path is a walkway from Duff Drive to a school that has been built there, and the dirt road is now pavement, part of the school grounds.
Well, when I was a kid, we would take that short path into the woods and make a right onto the dirt road. But if we continued straight, onto a path barely visible, we came to an old abandoned house that we called the Witches House. Somewhere off to the left, near a ridge behind the Nursing Home on Cayuga Avenue, there were indentations in the ground and old, barely readable tombstones. We went there MANY times, and even as late as the late-late 70's or early 80's, we returned and found those graves. The Witches House was nothing but an overgrown foundation by then.
We cannot seem to find them now. Since then, the school and the Altoona Mirror have been built in that vicinity. If you look at an aerial map of the area, these graves were somewhere in the triangle bordered by Columbia Drive, the school, and Altoona Mirror. A few years back I talked to a lady at Baker Mansion, and she said that after the Mirror was built, she found old grave stone pieces in the creek at the foot of the area - as if they had been thrown down there when the Mirror was built.
She thinks it was Baker Cemetery, but I can find no record of it. We all clearly remember a gravestone with the name 'Andrew Swanger' on it, I think 1864 was the year he died.
Does anyone from the Duff Drive 60's/70's era remember this??? I would love to know what you can recall or add to this, or to help me find those graves again. The terrain has changed so much that I am disoriented when trying to figure it out. And I am wondering if one of those facilities built right on top of the graveyard without even bothering to relocate it!!!!!
Any info ... please email me directly at email@example.com
Susan (Gargon) Centineo
(Lived at 108 Duff Drive)
Other kids at the time: Sherry and Teddy Urban, the Dodson kids, Timmy Mock, Scaramozzinos, Sherry, Kathy, and Scott Burkett, Randy and Sherry Tyler (Dove Avenue) etc.