Death on the Gallows

It was a cold winter evening in February 1889 when Herman Umberger and his family finished their dinner. How strange it must have seemed to hear a knock on the door at this time of night. Little did he know that his death lurked outside the door of his own home.

Two men claiming to be searching for a lost box of jewelry stepped inside the Umberger house, one short and stubby with gum boots and a derby hat and the other one tall with his face half hidden behind a red handkerchief.

Umberger acknowledged at this point that he should have taken the advice of his family when told not to hide his life savings in the house. In those last moments of Herman Umberger’s life, he knew he had to hide his fortune from the supposed men of the law. Slowly making his way to the bureau containing two purses with over $20,000 in cash, he must have felt uneasy as he slipped the money into his vest pockets to keep them close to his person. Umberger returned to the parlor, only to be asked by the men to step back into the bedroom for a further search. Umberger’s fate was at hand! Shots rang out as the maid ran frantically into the night for help and Mrs. Umberger pulled madly at the dinner bell to alert the neighbors.

It was too late…

The sound of the ringing bell and the screams of the little girl could not drown out the multiple gun blasts as two bullets ripped through Umberger and the thieves dashed off into the night.

Eventually, Joseph and David Nicely were tracked, apprehended, and housed in the Somerset County jail built in 1856. Although shackled and guarded, the brothers had no problem escaping and public outrage brought about a new jail constructed of cement floors and iron plated ceilings. Just six months later, the Nicely’s shot the guard and returned to freedom once again. Milford township residents contend they made their way to hide out in the barn currently known as The Hayloft. In 1891, they were finally captured and hung side by side. Early the next week, a written confession was found by the judge indicating that one or both of the wrong men were hung. Joseph and David’s restless spirits have since wandered, surfacing numerous times at The Hayloft until it was found necessary to move the haunt to another location. Have they returned for their vengeance?

Will you escape the Haunted Hayloft as you witness the terrifying night of the Umberger tragedy, experience the fate of the murderers and follow them to their home in hell? And even if you do, will you ever be the same?

You are sure to have the fright of your life as you relive this historic event.