Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Slyhoff Grave Legend

The rock was originally on the tombstone.
Below is a slightly abridged version of the legend of Slyhoff's grave in Munderf, PA written by J. Haight. You can find the full article here. We've added our own insights below the story.

 This is a story of a Richard Slyhoff, a mean drunk no one liked. His neighbor's often referred to him as a "Cain raiser." But much worse was his lack of belief. He was proud to be called an atheist. And yet on his death bed, he made a very strange request to his family. He made them swear to his wishes to be buried beneath a huge boulder about 20-30 feet high, on their property. His reasoning was simple- He did not want the devil to find him on Judgment Day. In this same breath he made a very dangerous statement. "If there is a God let the rock go in the opposite direction."

Slyhoff's family set about to do his bidding when he had passed on in January 2, 1867.
They dug out just enough space for his body, and a place wide enough for a grave marker.

It was very strenuous and back breaking work. The men did most of the digging on their knees. Even a motorized crane had to be brought in to finish the work. Finally they had dug enough room to push the coffin beneath the rock. The space was so confined they had to use a portion of the boulder as the marker. With their work finished the crew left, never intending to return. But one of the crew did return to the lone grave, perhaps out of curiosity or perhaps out of a sense of obligation to pay due respects.

What he found was a total shock!

The grave he and his friends had spent hours digging out, was now totally uncovered. Instead of concealing the grave as was the original intent, the huge boulder had moved UPHILL! Slyhoff's grave was now totally exposed to the sky, a good 15-20 feet from the rock. There was now plenty of room to walk completely around the infidel's grave. Over the years, the monstrous rock has moved further and further from Slyhoff's grave.

What is the message God is trying to relay? Could it be that no matter how frightened Slyhoff was of Satan and his legions on Judgment Day, that Slyhoff should be all the more afraid of his Maker whom he had rejected and had spat in His face and had thrown out a challenge. Now, not only does Satan have access to this atheistic shell of a man, but more so his Maker and how much more frightening for him, is that?

If you're interested in visiting this historic site, located at Hideway Cottages, visit their website For a small fee they will give guided tours of the "Infidel's Rock", located on their property.

The story above is basically the same story that everyone from Munderf has heard and that has been passed down for 150 years. There are always slight variations of the story and there are many variations on the story that is found on numerous online websites. The way I've always heard the story told is that Slyhoff wanted to be buried under the rock to hide from God because he was a bad person and wanted to escape judgment. 

Is the story true? Who knows? Probably to some extent, but the version above has some serious inconsistencies (who buries a man that no one likes? And who takes the time and effort to bury him under a rock). What is known is that Richard Slyhoff was a real person born circa 1825 and died January 2nd, 1967. So, the burial would have taken place in the middle of winter, which would have been a lot of fun. According to the 1860 census, Slyhoff was married to Isabel and they had several children.

Munderf on Facebook

The Munderf community page on Facebook is now easier to find and remember. You can visit the page with the simple web address or just click that link. Stop by the community page and give it a thumbs up and say hello or share news, upcoming events or some photos.