00. Douglas Stahlman and Scripture Rocks

Welcome to the "Stahlman" Family History Site !!!

----- a few major surnames -----

- Dinger, Himes, London, Mohney, Moser, Schuckers, Shaffer, Slawson, Stahlman - 

I'm working to make this site the definitive "Stahlman" and related Families research source. Please enter and see what's new! If you have anything you would like to contribute, or have corrections or comments to make, please send an email to me, Steve Stahlman, at: AnSS396Chevelle@aol.com

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You are on my Douglas Stahlman and Scripture Rocks Website Page

I am working to make this site the definitive "Stahlman" and related Families research source. 

Please be sure to scroll down to see all the I have compiled and posted so far on this page.

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Douglas Stahlman and “Scripture Rocks”, Brookville Area, Jefferson County, Pa. 

Writers Note, February 22, 2003 update: 

My aunt Nada recently provided me with a copy of a document titled “The Stahlmans of Jefferson County 1837-1975”, a manuscript my grandfather, Paul Herbert Stahlman, was still working on at the time of his death. In it, he included short vignettes about various Stahlman ancestors, one of which was about Douglas Stahlman and Scripture Rocks. I have added a transcription of what he wrote to this commentary. So, thanks are due to aunt Nada.

I've also included a short story written by a Brookville School student entitled "Montgomery Stahlman's Scripture Rocks; A Testament", By Nicole Park.

I first became aware of the story of Douglas Stahlman and “Scripture Rocks” in the winter of 1974 when an article appeared in the “Parade” insert of either the “Pittsburgh Press” or the “Pittsburgh Post Gazette”.

I was in college and away from home at the time, but my mother, knowing it would be of some interest, saved it for me. I read it, was impressed, and promptly lost it……. Years later, when I seriously started my family tree research, the memory of that article and the dedication to the task that Douglas had in carving “Scripture Rocks” stuck in my mind.  

When my aunt Judy started putting together her “Stahlman” newsletter, it occurred to me that the “Scripture Rocks” story was something we Stahlmans would be interested in and suggested to her that the story of Douglas and Scripture Rocks would be one she should include in her newsletter; and she did….  

Thanks to Judy’s efforts, and the almost simultaneous, coincidental, “Eagle Scout” project by Jonathon Brandon, we can now all share a little in what must have been an obsessive undertaking by Douglas Stahlman in creating “Scripture Rocks”. (Stahlmans, as you all know, can be that way!!). 

Without all of Jonathan Brandon’s fine, dedicated work in restoring “Scripture Rocks” and bringing it back to the public’s attention, along with Troop 64 of Brookville, Pa, this story may have truly been lost in the eddies and back currents of history. 

My transcriptions below are as accurate as possible. The original articles in the “Jeffersonian Democrat” included various photographs. If I had a better scanner, a copy of same would be here. 

Finally, if anyone ever comes across the 1973-74 Pittsburgh paper story about “Scripture Rocks”, let me know, I’ve scanned the Internet and researched libraries to no avail and would dearly love to locate a copy of same.

So, again, thanks to Judy (Cribbs) Stahlman and Jonathan Brandon, and now Nada (Stahlman) Smith and Nicole Parks, we can all read this story again.  

From the Jeffersonian Democrat; 08-07-1997 by Randy Bartley: 

Eagle Scout Eyes “Scripture Rocks” Trail Project For Fall 

A Brookville (Jefferson County, Pa) Boy Scout hopes his Eagle Scout project will save a lot of folks from scouting around in the woods in the future. 

Jonathan Brandon, a member of Troop 64 in Brookville, hopes to make a path to the Scripture Rocks in Pine Creek Township, just east of Brookville. 

In the early 1900’s, 500 rock carvings were cut by Douglas Stahlman, a Brookville man who believed he had a vision instructing him to carry out that mission. 

Stahlman was born in Kirkman, Jefferson County in 1861, graduated from the Erie Commercial School, and died in Pittsburgh in 1942. 

Stahlman removed himself from society and lived among the rocks above Mill Creek. At one point he conducted church services at a rock he had named appropriately “Alter Rock”.

Each rock carries some biblical inscription and was named by Stahlman. In a journal he cataloged each stone and its approximate location. When he completed his project, the carvings stretched roughly in an arc around Brookville from the old Northfork Park north of the town to Tunnel Hill south of Brookville.

Many of the stones have been destroyed or simply been reclaimed by the forest. In Stahlman’s time the hills around Brookville had been clear-cut and the rocks stood out much more prominently than they do now.

Brandon knows that doing a complete restoration of the area is beyond the scope of his project.

“Most of the work will involve clearing a trail through the fallen timber and brush," said Brandon. “We will also clean some of the stones to make them more legible.”

He plans on using other Scouts from his troop to do most of the work.

He also plans on making a historical brochure for the Jefferson County Historical and Genealogical Society (JCHGS) which will be distributed for a tour of the rocks he has planned for October.

“In October the leaves will be turning and it should make for a nice walk in the woods.” said Brandon.

Before he leads a tour, Brandon will be removing any debris that has accumulated on the site since Stahlman lived among the rocks eight decades ago.

The Eagle project is being sponsored by the JCHGS with the cooperation of James Humphrey, one of the owners of the tract, and the Jefferson County Commissioners.

The parking area for the tour will be just off of exit 14 of I-80, on route 28 opposite the entrance to the old Jefferson County Service Center.

The commissioners have permitted Brandon to utilize a small section of county owned property to use as parking for the tour in October.

The JCHGS plans on continuing the project after Brandon’s project has been completed. 

Anyone who wishes to become involved with the Scripture Rocks project should contact the JCHGS at 814-849-0077.

 Scripture Rocks Public Tour Set

Through the years, the Scripture Rocks have become harder and harder to find. Reclaimed by nature, the boulders carved with Biblical inscriptions have been obscured by moss, trees, and other vegetation almost to the point that many are barely visible.

 The creator of the 500 hand-carved stone, Douglas Stahlman wrote in his journal, “… If this dedication cannot withstand the same kind of attacks and criticisms that the Bible has withstood through the centuries, it ought to fail and come to naught.”

Stahlman, a house painter living in Brookville in the early years of this century, had a vision that instructed him to give up his life and dedicate himself to creating the so-called “Scripture Rocks".

Forming a rough semi-circle around Brookville, Stahlman carved 500 boulders and stone using only a hammer and chisel he had been given. He labored alone and was often ridiculed for his work.

Eventually, Stahlman was deemed to be a hazard to himself and others and was committed to a mental institution in Pittsburgh. He died there in 1942 at the age of 81.

The rocks were often visited by people who frequented the old North Fork Park near Brookville and the Sulgar area. Gradually people lost interest in the Scripture Rocks as the years went by. Only the curious bothered to investigate the story behind the stones.

Boy Scout Jonathan Brandon became intrigued by the story of the stones and was disappointed to find so many were overgrown. To remedy the situation, he selected the Scripture Rocks as his Eagle Scout project. He is a member of Troop 64 in Brookville. The troop is sponsored by the Presbyterian Church in Brookville.

With the cooperation of the Jefferson County Historical and Genealogical Society, he obtained permission from the property owner, James Humphrey, to open a short walking trail to a few of the rocks in the Port Barnett area.

Brandon realized he could not hope to open all the rocks but wanted to highlight a few of the rocks for those people who had never seen them.

It took a lot of work by volunteers and other Scouts just to open a trail. The first problem was to clear away the dense undergrowth. Several Saturdays were spent cutting a trail to the rocks.

A second problem was trash. The area had been used as a dump and was filled with broken glass. Jefferson County Solid Waste Coordinator Jan Cunningham contacted Superior Sanitation and Superior responded with a dumpster to help clean up this illegal dump.

Permission was also granted by the neighboring property owner, Larry Gromley, to use his ground as an easy access point for the tours. Brandon plans on giving the tours on Sunday, Oct. 26. (rain date is Saturday, Nov. 1, 1997).

Brandon may have thought he was toiling in solitude until last Saturday. While he and his fellow Scouts were clearing debris, two women from Buffalo, N.Y. visited the site. They had heard about the rocks from someone in Brockway and had determined to visit the site.

“I was amazed,” said Brandon. “I had no idea people had even heard about the rocks.”

The final portion of his Eagle project is to give tours to the rocks that have been cleared. The tours will be guided by Scouts from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.

Brandon hopes to assign a Scout for each group of 10 people. He requests anyone wishing to take the tour contact the Historical Society from 2-5 pm Tuesday through Saturday to secure a time for the tour. The phone number is (814) 849-0077.

With limited parking and narrow trails, Brandon wants to be certain everyone has an enjoyable and safe excursion. He urges everyone to wear sensible footwear and not to stray from the tour group.

“There is still a lot of debris and fallen timber that could cause someone injury.” He said. Each tour guide will have a first aid kit.

The entry point for the tour is on Route 28, roughly opposite the entrance to the old Jefferson County Service Center. Parking is available on the access road to the former Service Center. No parking will be permitted along route 28.

Discussions are continuing in an effort to establish a passive park at the site. If that can be achieved, then Stahlman’s wish, that his rocks be used to “… exalt the Bible as the inspired word of God, and stand for the fulfillment of all of it that is yet unfulfilled….” May yet become a reality

From "The Stahlmans of Jefferson County 1837 - 1975" by Paul H. Stahlman

Douglas Stahlman, 1862 - a son of Gabriel and Ester (Keck) Stahlman. Douglas went to school in the State of Indiana, was well educated and taught school. He moved to Tennessee, where he married. The name of his wife, Marion Alsobrook, to the writer; his wife died early and he left his two sons, Glen Elmo and unknown with relatives and came back to Jefferson County where he got into an altercation with some of his neighbors and got hit on the head with a slab.

After this he thought he was a Prophet mentioned in the Bible but not named. He built a Tabernacle in the woods and would preach to anyone, anytime, who would go near him. He started to carve Scripture on Rocks in the woods about a mile from Jefferson Manor.

It has been called by some people as a myth; "The Legend of the Stahlman Rocks". It is no myth; it is real. It is said the lettering on the Rocks are perfect and that there are several hundred of them, also some lettering carved on beech trees.

Several years ago, a Pittsburgh newspaper sent a news reporter to Brookville to find out about the Rocks. A Mr. J. A. Edwards was the guide who showed him the Rocks. There was an article in a Pittsburg paper with a photo entitles "Sermons on the Rocks."

No doubt some time in the future the Stahlman Rocks will be a tourist attraction.

It was the writer's privilege to meet Douglas over 50 years ago when he came to see my father, Simon P. Stahlman, his first cousin.

Though only a young lad at the time, I remember Douglas very clearly. He was a tall, straight man, very good looking and neat and I would say in his late 50's.. The conversation was mostly about Religion and I could not see much difference between him and some other preachers I have heard. I could not truthfully say he was a Fanatic as some may think, whatever he was.

He left a monument, the Rocks. Only a person's body dies, his Name and Spirit lives on.

Some people become great after death and time.

They finally took Douglas to an institution where he died.

Montgomery Stahlman's Scripture Rocks; A Testament, By Nicole Park (Did she mean Douglas Monroe???)

Back in the woods of Port Barnett, down the Sandy and North Fork Creeks you'll find the locally known "Scripture Rocks." The Scripture Rocks are a part of a larger project called the "Dedication Rocks."

Douglas Monroe Stahlman, with the aid of two other local men, carved inscriptions into 160 rocks. One of the men who helped was identified as J. S. Brown. The other man is unknown.

Stahlman also dedicated at least 500 rocks. His "mission" was unknown and still a mystery.

"Now the dedication of these rocks is just a little different application of the principle which Solomon followed in dedicating their places of worship," wrote Stahlman.

There are over 500 rocks dedicated, and with comparatively few exceptions, every one stands for some Biblical truth. For example there are rocks of Faith, Hope, Love, Obedience, Salvation, Holiness, Peace, Quietness, etc.

He also dedicated a rock and named it the "Chapel Rock." He started holding regular services there. He put seats in front of the rock and 70 people once came to his service. Then he dedicated the "Altar Rock." There were five open air chapels in all. One chapel stood on Tunnel Hill, on Shawmut Railroad bridge across Little Mill Creek, and the other in McConnell's Grove.

Stahlman was a mysterious man and not much was known about him. His obituary appeared in the Brookville newspaper in September of 1942.

He was born in Kirkman, Jefferson County on August 17, 1861. He was the son of Gabriel and Esther (Keck) Stahlman. He graduated from the Erie Commercial School and lived in Valpraiso, Indiana, for 15 years. 

The newspapers stated that Stahlman was never married, but he mentions his wife and children in his writings. He blames his wife for his later problems. It is unknown if the couple was previously divorced.

In 1907, Stahlman came to Brookville from Punxsutawney. He got a room at the Heber House and began compiling Bible work in 3 leaflets and 12 cards. He distributed his work free to 1,500 people.

In the winter of 1911 and 1912, Stahlman began spending all his time at Altar Rock. In March of 1912 Stahlman removed himself from civilization and began the life of a hermit among the rocks.

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© 2014 by Steven Andrew Stahlman  contact me at :    AnSS396Chevelle@aol.com