Peggy Ann Could Not Get Back
The Mountain Man Took her away
Eight long days, she had to stay
When Mom, Dad & I were sitting at Shade Gap Picnic waiting for the music act to finish thier sound check. There was some visitors sitting behind us. They were friendly and Dad struck up a conversation. At some point, the Lady my Dad was chatting with asked a question that often gets asked in Shade Gap, PA.. "So was the story about Peggy Ann Bradnick & the Mountain Man true?"
Peggy Ann Bradnick was kidnapped by the Mountain Man William Diller Hollenbaugh (also known as Bicycle Pete - because he always rode a red bike and all the locals knew him as Bicycle Pete) in 1966. My Father was 18 years old at the time.
Peggy Ann Bradnick was in my Fathers class at Southern Huntingdon Co HS and he knew her quite well. My Mother also knew her although Mom went to a different High School. I have always known the story. It's the only reason that you can even find Shade Gap, PA on most maps. I just didn't realize that there was still so much interest in it.
I sat there and listened while this interested stranger grilled Dad about, what it is very likely, is the only event of importance to ever happen in my hometown. It was very interesting to me. I'm actually thinking of adding some of this stuff to the Wikipedia entry on the event as the article is far from complete.
The Shade Gap Picnic grounds is where the FBI set up Headquarters for the massive 8 day manhunt through the mountains. At the time Dad was telling his part in the story we were sitting about 50 yards from the large barn structure that was used for the FBI's main offices.
Dad said that he was 18 years old at the time. He had grown up in the area. Dad was a skilled hunter at that age and knew the mountains where the Mountain Man was hiding out very well. He said that him and his friends had gone up to the picnic ground to "see what was happening". There isn't a lot of excitement in that area (as you can imagine) and a full blown FBI Manhunt was very exciting to Dad & his 16 - 19 year old friends.
Dad said they were sitting around watching all the activity when one of the FBI agents came up to them and asked them if they knew the area.. Dad said "well, Sir, I've only been hunting these mountains since I was 8 years old".. so they grabbed Dad and the next thing he knew - he was leading a group of 15 - 20 FBI agents up into the ridges!!!! He told them that he couldn't miss school and so for a week the FBI wrote him an excuse to get out of school and skip tests.
Dad was very close when they finally got the Mountain Man. He said he was about 1 mile away when he was shot. Now here's where the story got interesting. The FBI reported that they shot the Mountain Man but the local people all know that it was actually a 15 year old boy that killed him. Dad says that the FBI was shooting from across the road and that the Mountain Man was shot from above where the kid was standing at. The FBI decided to hush, hush it at the time because they didn't think that a kid should get the credit. Larry Rubeck was the kid that shot him and I've seen a follow up story where he claims that the reward that was offered for Bicycle Pete (Mountain Man) would have paid for him to go to college but that because of the FBI's cover up - he never got the reward!!
Dad also says that he got to speak with Peggy Ann right after her rescue and he says that there is some question about her relationship with the Mountain Man. He says that one Doctor said she had been sexually assaulted and one Doctor said she hadn't. Dad said that he thought she had been raped but that they covered that up too because they didn't want her reputation ruined. This is 1966 in a very, very rural area.
Some of the important happenings leading up to the Kidnap of Peggy Ann happened in places that I played in as a little girl and it was interesting to hear more of those stories about familiar people & places. In any event - it was a real pleasure to hear about an event that has always fascinated me right from someone that lived it!!! My Dad.. ;)! -Mystrys
- Current Mood: surprised