October 14, 2023


The Beginning

The Pig Lady is a true unresolved murder that occurred here in western PA more than 200 years ago. A young woman was killed and decapitated; her head was never found. Since then, each fall, there have been stories of sightings and encounters.
I am a member of the local Lions Club. We decided to use the legend as a fundraiser in the form of a haunted barn and hayride. During both the construction and the event, weird stuff was reported to me.
I don’t believe in this type of thing. I only know what I saw and heard from others.
The story goes that since Barbara Davidson’s body was buried without her head, her spirit roams each fall looking for it. Early last century, she found a pig’s head as a substitute, but still keeps looking. We know where her house was, and where her grave is. All events occur between these two spots, separated by about a half-mile or so.
One night, during construction before the event, 20 of us saw something we couldn’t explain hovering over the field below the barn. Two men chased it with flashlights (but never caught it) as we all shouted directions from above.
During the event, a storyteller posted out in the woods near the creek for hayride customers said he saw Barbara, well-defined, as she walked up to him from the water. He also swears she spoke to him (two other volunteers heard this), though he couldn’t make out what she said. The two volunteers have sworn they’ll never come back.
That same night, there were lights seen atop nearby Indian Rock – different colors, different lengths of duration. They were seen by maybe a hundred people, customers and volunteers. I saw them, and personally believe they were from campers caught up in trying to scare people.
After it was over, some the Lions were hesitant to continue the fundraiser. To assuage them I called in a local paranormal investigative team. They didn’t find anything. After a long two hours, they left. My boy and I then saw a weird small cloud (on a clear night) hovering 20 feet over the field, changing shape and intensity, then dissipating.
I personally grew up with the Pig Lady legend, thinking it was a good story to tell a date while out parking. The legend has been acted out as a play in the local school district for years. There are newspaper accounts of sightings. Still and all, I never considered it more than just a good story. I’m not sure now.
-John M. Gishbaugher, May 2013

The Pig Lady Fall Folklore Celebration is an annual tradition in Northern Beaver County, Pennsylvania in recognition of our most haunting local legend, the Tale of Barbara Davidson (also known as The Pig Lady of Cannelton)–a true, unsolved murder mystery from the 1790s.  More broadly, our event is also a celebration of our Appalachian roots, including other legends, lore, and folkways particular to our region.  

The event’s origin can be traced back to a long-standing community Halloween festival hosted by the Little Beaver Lion’s Club in Cannelton, Pennsylvania. However, for many years the festival remained dormant until revived by Darlington native Michael Gishbucher in partnership with The Social Voice Project and several other local organizations. 

This new Pig Lady Festival was first held in October 2019 in Darlington, Pennsylvania, but it was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.  In 2021 it returned in partnership with the Little Beaver Lion’s “Pumpkin Palooza” celebration held in New Galilee, Pennsylvania. 

For more information, contact Kevin Farkas, Kevin@thesocialvoiceproject.org