Article and photos by Danielle Taylor
The great unknown of life after death has perplexed humankind since the dawn of time, and for some, the fear of the unknown leads to some curious circumstances. In northern Jefferson County during the late 1860s, a man named Richard Slyhoff died, but not before he left instructions for his plan to outsmart Lucifer himself come Judgment Day.
According to local history, Slyhoff lived an ungodly life of drinking, carousing, and womanizing without adhering to any religious or moral standards. He made no apologies for his behavior during his life, but as he felt the approach of death, he became concerned about the future of his immortal soul. A large boulder perched on a hillslope near his home caught his attention, and Slyhoff concluded that if he were to be buried just downhill from it, the quakes and rumblings sure to come on Judgment Day would cause the stone to roll upon his final resting place and protect him from the Devil’s grasp.
When Slyhoff died in January 1867, local gravediggers fulfilled his final wish with much difficulty, working on their knees and scraping away at the earth under the rock by hand. Finally, they pushed the coffin beneath the rock and covered it with earth, and they placed an upright headstone at the base of the grave and a flat footstone at the top; the grave’s placement under the rock didn’t allow the gravediggers to install the stone markers in their proper positions.
As time went on, the enormous stone didn’t roll downhill. It didn’t even stay still. Instead, incredibly, it moved several feet uphill, completely exposing Slyhoff’s grave it to the sky, and as time has gone on, it has continued to migrate further away. The inexplicable site has become a quirky destination for curiosity seekers as well as ministers, who use the attraction and the legend as a lesson on the inescapable power of God.
Slyhoff’s grave is located on the property of Bill’s Hide-A-Way Cottages at 2647 Firetower Road in Brookville. To visit, call (814) 328-2219 to set up a tour. Admission is $1 per visitor but free for those staying at Hide-A-Way Cottages.
This article originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of GO magazine, which contains feature articles, photos, travel tips, upcoming events, lodging listings, and more information on Jefferson, Elk, Clarion, Forest, and Cameron Counties in northwestern Pennsylvania. To get your FREE copy of this or any other publication by the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau, click here and enter your information or call (814) 849-5197.