Exploring the Haunted Quaker Church in Fayette County

Entering the historic and allegedly haunted Quaker Cemetery and church near Perryopolis, PA.

The “haunted Quaker Church” just outside of Perryopolis in Fayette County is much more famous for what allegedly happened there than what actually happened there!

A view of the interior of the "haunted Quaker Church" in Fayette County, PA.
A view of the interior of the “haunted Quaker Church” in Fayette County, PA.

What is certain is that the current stone chapel sitting in the middle of this historic Quaker Cemetery was constructed in 1895, built upon the ruins of a prior Quaker Meeting House that had been in use from 1793-1870.

In fact, stones from the original Quaker meeting house were used to construct the current 1895 chapel.

Backside of the allegedly haunted chapel in the Quaker Cemetery near Perryopolis, PA.
Backside of the allegedly haunted chapel in the Quaker Cemetery near Perryopolis, PA (added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997).

What is also certain is that there are nearly 500 souls laid to rest in this cemetery, although there are far fewer headstones, as Quaker tradition included using unmarked graves to bury the dead.

The historic Quaker Cemetery and site of the former Quaker meetinghouse outside Perryopolis, PA.
The historic Quaker Cemetery and site of the former Quaker meeting house outside Perryopolis.

What allegedly happened here became the stuff of urban legend during the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, when rumors surfaced that a local witch had been secretly tried and executed in the former Quaker meeting house, and that (predictably) the ghost of the witch now haunted the current chapel and cemetery in Fayette County!

A witch trial such as this was rumored to have taken place in the former Quaker Meetinghouse in Fayette County, PA.
A witch trial such as this was rumored to have taken place in the former Quaker Meeting House in Fayette County, PA (public domain image).

Additional stories surfaced (again, in the 1980s) that people driving past the cemetery at night had encountered “hellhounds” guarding the grounds, and that Satanic cults were now using the chapel for nefarious purposes!

Artistic rendition of "hellhounds", which are rumored to haunt the Quaker Cemetery in Fayette County.
Artistic rendition of “hellhounds”, which were rumored in the 1980s to guard the Quaker Cemetery in Fayette County (public domain image).

I’ll admit that I love a good horror movie, and have enjoyed watching numerous “paranormal investigations” play out on cable TV, always with a healthy dose of skepticism.

So when I read about this so-called haunted Quaker church in Fayette County, I just had to check it out in person.

Cemetery gates at the historic (and supposedly haunted) Quaker Church in Fayette County, PA.
Cemetery gates at the historic (and supposedly haunted) Quaker Church in Fayette County, PA.

How to Find the Haunted Quaker Church in Fayette County

Naturally, you’ll find the “haunted” Quaker Church in Fayette County along Quaker Church Road, just a mile outside of Perryopolis.

How to find the "haunted Quaker Church" near Perryopolis, PA.
How to find the “haunted Quaker Church” near Perryopolis, PA.

If navigating by GPS, you’ll find roadside pull-off parking across from the cemetery gates at GPS coordinates 40.072479, -79.781632.

Parking area along Quaker Church Road in Fayette County, PA.
Parking area along Quaker Church Road, across from the cemetery gates.

It should be noted, for the sake of historical accuracy, that Quakers use the term “church” to denote the members of their congregation, and the term “meeting house” to denote the structure where the church members meet.

Quakers did not build the current 1895 stone chapel, nor would they have called it a “Quaker church” if they did.

Side view of the stone chapel in the Quaker Cemetery outside Perryopolis.
Side view of the stone chapel in the Quaker Cemetery outside Perryopolis.

Nevertheless, “Quaker Church Road” is the official name of the road, and the “Quaker Church” is how most people refer to the current 1895 stone chapel that stands along it today.


Exploring the “Haunted” Quaker Church

The current stone chapel in the center of the Quaker cemetery is a 20 feet x 30 feet rectangular structure, with iron bars over the windows and door on the front side of the structure.

So no – you cannot go inside the chapel.

The front of the chapel built on the site of the former Quaker Meetinghouse in Fayette County, PA.
The front of the chapel, built on the site of the former Quaker Meeting House in Fayette County, PA.

You can, however, easily take pictures of the inside as there is no glass behind the bars – the interior of the chapel is simply open to the air outside.

Pews and a fireplace inside the historic chapel on the site of the former Quaker meetinghouse outside Perryopolis.
Pews and a fireplace inside the historic chapel on the site of the former Quaker meeting house outside Perryopolis.

The floors are dirt, the walls are plastered stone, and there are fireplaces on both the east and west ends of the chapel.

Pews on the right side of the "haunted Quaker Church", with the ghostly face image visible on the window in the background.
Pews on the right side of the “haunted Quaker Church”, built in 1895.

The current 1895 stone chapel was built to hold funeral services at the cemetery (which remained active even after the Quaker meeting house was abandoned), and as a memorial to the original Quaker roots of the property.

The historic Quaker Cemetery and Chapel in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.
The historic Quaker Cemetery and Chapel in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

Please note that this is a cemetery, not a “paranormal playground”, and that you are strictly forbidden to be there after dark!

"No Trespassing After Dark" signs on the gates of the Quaker cemetery and chapel outside Perryopolis in Fayette County.
“No Trespassing After Dark” signs on the gates of the Quaker cemetery and chapel outside Perryopolis in Fayette County.

How the Quaker Church in Fayette County Became “Haunted”

To understand how the urban legends surrounding the “haunted Quaker Church” got started, you need to understand the “Satanic Panic” that gripped the United States in the 1980’s.

Geraldo Rivera 1980s TV special on Devil Worship during the height of the "Satanic Panic".
Geraldo Rivera 1980’s TV special on Devil Worship during the height of the “Satanic Panic”.

Economic anxieties, a resurgence in religious fundamentalism, and a overzealous media combined to create a perfect storm of social hysteria that literally saw “Satanic influences” EVERYWHERE!

A newspaper headline from the 1980s warning people that Satan was in their children's cartoons!
A newspaper headline from the 1980’s warning people that Satan was in their children’s cartoons!

Newspapers reported “Satanic influences” in everything from cartoons, to rock music, to role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons.

A newspaper headline from the 1980s warning people that Satan was in their children's games!
A newspaper headline from the 1980’s warning people that Satan was in their children’s games!

It got so bad that Oprah had to get involved!

In the 1980s even Oprah was convinced Satanic cults were taking over America!
In the 1980’s even Oprah was convinced Satanic cults were taking over America!

So naturally, with everyone (including Oprah) on the lookout for Satanic cults, places like old churches and cemeteries became likely hotspots for “Satanic activity”, spawning local legends and tall tales galore.

Stories about witch covens, black masses, human sacrifice, and vengeful ghosts literally became part of the mainstream culture.

1980s romance novel about the Devil.
1980’s romance novel featuring the Devil, a sign of just how entrenched “Satanic Panic” had become in mainstream culture.

Even in little towns like Perryopolis, PA!

1980s newspaper headline about rural Satanism.
1980’s newspaper headline about rural Satanism.

In reality, the only recorded witch trial in Pennsylvania occurred in 1683, more than 100 years before the Quaker meeting house near Perryopolis was built in 1793.

The trial was presided over by the founding father of Pennsylvania, devout Quaker William Penn, and the accused were found “not guilty” of being witches.

William Penn presided over Pennsylvania's only witch trial in 1683.
William Penn presided over Pennsylvania’s only witch trial in 1683.

Not only is the timeline unlikely for there to have been a “secret witch trial” at the former Quaker meeting house in Fayette County, but the Quakers were also extremely tolerant of all beliefs and not prone to the “witch hunt mentality” that gripped the Puritans in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1690s.

The Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
The Salem, Massachusetts Witch Trials of 1692.

As for the “hellhounds”, that’s another universal myth going back centuries, to cultures all around the globe.

Hellhounds and other supernatural dogs have been a part of mythology for centuries.
Hellhounds and other supernatural dogs have been a staple of mythology for centuries.

While there may have been a black dog chasing cars along Quaker Church Road back in the 1980’s, it’s highly unlikely he/she was of the supernatural variety.


Is There Any Evidence of the Supernatural at the Haunted Quaker Church in Fayette County?

For those of you who want to hold out hope that the Quaker Church near Perryopolis has a supernatural connection, I’ll leave you with this image.

What appears to be a ghostly face burned into the boards covering a back window at the Haunted Quaker Church in Fayette County.
What appears to be a ghostly face burned into the boards covering a back window at the “Haunted Quaker Church” in Fayette County.

To be honest, I didn’t even notice it while I was there at the church, but if you look closely at the upper right hand corner of the boarded-up back window, you can see what appears to be a Shroud of Turin-like image of a woman’s face, with a pronounced mouth, nose, eyes, and hair burned into the next-to-top board.

A ghostly face on the interior of the "haunted Quaker Church" in Fayette County, near Perryopolis.
A ghostly face (perhaps) on the interior of the “haunted Quaker Church” in Fayette County, near Perryopolis.

For those that want to believe the ghost of a witch dwells in the “haunted Quaker Church” in Fayette County, this may be as close as you get to hard evidence!


Nearby Attractions

Fort Necessity in Fayette County is the site of the first battle in what would become known in North America as the French and Indian War (and known elsewhere as the Seven Years War), a global struggle for empire between the two superpowers of that time, France and England.

The earthworks and swivel gun in front of Fort Necessity.
The earthworks and swivel gun in front of Fort Necessity.

The Fort Necessity National Battlefield and three related, nearby properties managed by the National Park Service each tell an important part of the story of the French and Indian War and the years that followed.

Inside the entrance at the Fort Necessity museum.
The Fort Necessity Visitor Center and museum in Fayette County.

Nearby Laurel Caverns is billed as “Pennsylvania’s Largest Cave”, and is a great way to spend an hour or two BENEATH Fayette County!

The overhead Grand Canyon of Laurel Caverns.
Laurel Caverns in Fayette County.

Fallingwater in Fayette County was voted “the best all-time work of American architecture” by the American Institute of Architects in 1991.

The "classic view" of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater in the PA Laurel Highlands.
The “classic view” of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in Fayette County.

Fallingwater was the weekend home of Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr. and his family. The house remained in the Kaufmann family until 1963 when it was donated, along with the contents and 1750 acres of surrounding land, to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, who now operate tours of the house, as well as other educational programs on the grounds.

Desk and bookshelves in side Fallingwater.
Desk and bookshelves in side Fallingwater (public domain image).

Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County is home to nearly 80 miles of the best hiking trails in western PA.

The author photographing an autumn sunrise at Baughman Rock Overlook.
The author photographing an autumn sunrise along the Baughman Trail at Ohiopyle State Park.

From rugged mountain ridges to smooth riverside rail trails, there’s an exciting trail for hikers of any skill level at Ohiopyle State Park.

Selfie at Lower Jonathan Run Falls, Ohiopyle State Park
The author along the Jonathan Run Trail at Ohiopyle State Park.

Laurel Run Overlook is one of several exceptional scenic vistas along the Fayette County portion of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.

October morning at Laurel Run Overlook in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.
The author at Laurel Run Overlook in Fayette County.

Hippie Shower Falls, located along the Great Allegheny Passage in Fayette County, may be the most oddly-named waterfall in Pennsylvania!

The cavity behind Hippie Shower Falls during heavy spring rains.
The author at Hippie Shower Falls in Fayette County during heavy spring rains.

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Rusty Glessner is an award-winning photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

2 COMMENTS

    • You’d never guess from looking at the cemetery that nearly 500 people are buried there, owing to the Quaker tradition of using unmarked graves.

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