Saturday, October 19, 2013

Jacob Dibert's Dream

One of my favorite ballads that Allison Krauss sings is a song entitled, Jacob’s Dream. This song is based upon a very tragic true story known as The Lost Boys of the Alleghenies

One aspect of this dark tale is a strange dream one man, Jacob Dibert experienced. Another peculiar part of this tale is the haunting that many people have witnessed since.

A family by the name of Cox lived in Spruce Hollow in Bedford County on Blue Knob Mountain. Blue Knob is in the Allegheny Mountains located in Pennsylvania. 

Samuel and Susannah Cox had two young sons, George 7 and Joseph 5. They lived in a cabin on a small farm. Samuel spent his days farming and hunting. Susannah tended to their children and helped with the farm work.

In the early spring of 1856 Samuel told his wife and children during breakfast that he was going hunting for a squirrel. His oldest son George asked if he and his brother could tag along. 

The boys collected squirrel tails, and their father’s hunt meant more for their collection. Samuel told the boys that the weather was too damp and foggy for them. The boys then excused themselves from doing their chores in the barn.

Samuel returned at lunchtime. Susannah busy with her work realized she hadn’t seen the boys since breakfast, so she asked Samuel to call them in. 

When the boys didn’t respond to his summons, Samuel went down to the barn to fetch them. But he quickly discovered that the boys were not on the farm. Samuel told Susannah they probably had followed him that morning excited to collect more tails.

The couple now concerned searched for the boys, but as the hours passed, they became desperate. Their throats became sore from calling the boy’s names. 

Samuel went to a neighboring farm to send for more help. As the church bells rang in the small village of Pavia, the word spread quickly that two boys were lost on Blue Knob. 

By late afternoon hundreds of men gathered with coats and lanterns to assist in the search. The boys were not found, but through the first night, hopes remained high since the weather was warm for April.

By the next day, over one thousand people were searching for George and Joseph, some from as far away as Maryland. But the searchers made one terrible mistake. They all assumed the boys had not crossed Bob's creek. It was swollen with the spring runoff, so the boys probably stayed on the near or west side. 

The search continued for the next ten days, but the boys were not found. At their wit’s end, the Cox’s even enlisted the help of a dowser and witch, but neither could help.

The searchers became frustrated and tired. It wasn’t long before rumors began to spread. One story was the Cox’s had actually killed their sons. Acting out of ignorance, people tore the floorboards in the small Cox cabin up, and they dug up the ground that surrounded the small farm, but nothing was found. 

Other ignorant rumors spread that foreigners, Catholics, or Masons must have kidnapped the boys.

Jacob Dibert
One man, Jacob Dibert who lived twelve miles from the Cox’s, had not joined the search because he was injured. One night he had a weird dream about a place on the Blue Knob that he had never seen before. 

He woke up in a cold sweat and told his wife, Sarah, about this vision. She knew the place because it was by her childhood home near the Cox’s farm but the couple agreed not to mention this dream knowing people would suspect Jacob of witchcraft.

But when Jacob had the same dream for two more nights, the couple decided to visit Sarah’s brother, Harrison Wysong who still lived on the family farm. Jacob told his brother-in-law about his dream.

I dreamed I joined the search party, but I wandered off from the rest. I came to a creek and crossed it. I followed a small path, and I saw a dead, bloated deer. Then I spotted a little boy’s shoe and further up was two streams that came together at a junction. I saw the two boys they had taken shelter in the hollow of an old birch tree. I knew they were dead.

Wysong, like his sister, immediately recognized the place that Jacob described. He volunteered to walk there. 

He came across a dead tree that made a natural bridge that allowed him to cross the creek without getting wet. He then saw the dead, bloated deer and a small shoe sticking out of some leaves, he picked it up. Further down the path, he saw the familiar junction of the two streams. He walked to the other side of a dead birch tree and froze. 

There in the hollow of the tree, George sat propped up, his brother lay on the ground with his head resting on George’s lap, both were dead. It had been two weeks since the boys were lost.

Old and new markers at the grave.

Ignorance gripped the region once more, and Wysong and Dibert were accused of having something to do with the boy’s deaths. The two men were cleared of these charges. 

George and Joseph were buried together in one grave located at Mount Union Cemetery in the small community of Lovely at the base of Spruce Hollow. The Cox family for years after held a picnic near the site where the boys were found. Wysong would often attend these and tell Jacob’s Dream to the group. 

On the 50th anniversary of the boy’s deaths, a monument was built on the spot to commemorate the boy’s memory. This original monument was then moved to Mount Union. A new statue was placed on Blue Knob Mountain, but it was moved to a place that is easier to walk to. 

Some feel that it is the haunting that caused this move. For years, people who visited the area where the old birch tree stood experienced some strange occurrences. 

Many witnesses heard laughter in the area. Others heard footsteps around the original monument. More recently, voices and steps have been recorded in the area. Some who have experienced this have refused to return to the spot. 

Photographs taken have reflected mists that swirl and lights that dance across these pictures.

Jacob Dibert’s dream could not have saved the boys. It was determined the boys died two days before they were found which meant Jacob's first dream occurred on the night they died. He and his wife always felt that God sent this dream vision to him. 

This story is doubly heart-breaking because if the searchers had just crossed Bob's Creek, they most likely would have found the boys alive. 

Samuel and Savannah lived the rest of their lives in Spruce Hollow, they had more children and their descendants still live in the area. Samuel and Savannah are buried near the boys at Mount Union. 

Jacob Dibert served in the Union Army during the Civil War. He died of dysentery at Point of Rocks in Virginia in 1864. 

He passed his "second sight" to his son Issac Dibert who in 1887 dreamed about the location of a woman from Pavia, Cidney Griffin, who had become lost in an area known as Cedar Swamps. The searchers could not find her, but Issac, after his dream, was able to lead them to her. She was found alive.

Here is Allison Krauss’ ballad, Jacob’s Dream:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jacob is my great great great grandfather ( my mom's a Dibert) glad to see his stories put out there :)