Paoli's Headless Horseman:

Respected Doctor & Historian Saw It Several Times

© 2016, Stephanie Hoover - All Rights Reserved. Permission Required for Re-Use or Distribution.


Dr. Anthony Wayne Baugh (1867 - 1938) was a man who loved and appreciated history. He helped found the Tredyffrin-Easttown History Club in Chester County. He was also a school director, school physician and a surgeon for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He was, indeed, the last man you might suspect to report a sighting of a headless Revolutionary War soldier - not once, but several times. Yet that's exactly what he did.

Dr. Baugh lived on the southeastern corner of Lancaster Avenue and Paoli Road in Paoli, Pennsylvania. The town was birthed from a 1719 purchase of 500 acres from the Penn family. An inn was built on the land and soon a community sprang up around it. Today, with less than 6,000 residents, Paoli is still small enough to remember and appreciate its humble beginnings.

Just six years before his death, Dr. Baugh was taking his normal walk around the town. The date was September 22, 1932. Nearly 155 years earlier, British Major General Charles Grey had led a sneak attack on one of George Washington's encampments near the Paoli Tavern. "Mad" General Anthony Wayne ordered his men to flee, leaving the camp to the British. Though some American soldiers surrendered, reports surfaced of stabbings and mutilations by the Redcoats. The incident - today known as the Paoli Massacre - was, however, likely more propaganda than fact. George Washington's men used "Remember Paoli" as a rallying cry at the battles of Germantown and Stony Point, where the British were shown no mercy.

Baugh, of course, knew of this historical event. Perhaps that's why, even after seeing the visage several times, the headless horseman did not startle him. Instead, he took note of nearly every detail.

According to Baugh, the horse traveled rapidly, yet silently, down Darby Road. Astride the beast was a soldier in blue, his coattails whipping outward behind him. The soldier's sword hung at this side. Upon sighting the doctor, the rider came to a halt. Unlike other spectators, the horseman did not hand Baugh his head - rather he vanished into nothingness.

Area residents say stories of the horseman go back for more than a century. Some believe if you are unfortunate enough to be handed the head of the horseman, you won't survive the year. There appear to be no records of such ghost-related deaths, but the legend persists.

Even if the horseman had offered Dr. Baugh his head, it wouldn't have been that great a shock. "I am not much disturbed by such things," he told the reporter who wrote of his sighting.

If newspapers are any indication, Anthony Wayne Baugh's was the last sighting of the Paoli horseman. But perhaps he will return in September, awakened by memories of the Revolutionary War massacre that took his life - and his head. 💀




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