Judy Bolton Days

Judy Bolton Days
First annual in 1991!

Friday, February 18, 2011



You betcha! And this one was in the Potter-Leader-Enterprise, Coudersport PA's newspaper, on October 9, 1991, welcoming Judy fans to town. Even though there were only about a dozen of us who had come, the event was highly covered by the media in the county, and still is to this day, every year on Judy Bolton Day.

Lorraine Rogers and Joyce Wallner in Dry Brook Hollow
after having discovered Judy Bolton's Dry Brook Hollow house.

This article has lost some clarity in the copyying process, but you should be able to read most of it. Click on the image to enlarge!


Judy Bolton fans at the house on Denton Hill from The Voice in the Suitcase.
Left to right: Isabella Ganz, Eleanor (Margaret Sutton's daughter), Mike DeBaptiste, and Garrett Lothe, publisher of Susabella Passengers and Friends, a popular series books fanzine.

Judy Bolton Country, Kidnapping Mystery:
The Mystery of the Boy from Denton Hill


Potter County and its surrounding area, the location of the Judy Bolton mystery stories, located in north-central Pennsylvania, is an area rich in old mysteries and legends. Some were used as themes in the Judy Bolton books, like The Clue in the Ruined Castle, which is based on a real castle built in Potter County by a world-famous Swedish violin player named Ole Bull (that's O-ley). Much of the legend was used in the book as fodder for the story.

But there are hundreds of amazing legends and mysteries from this area that were not used in the Judys, and one of them is this story from an article in a Buffalo NY newspaper from 1919.


Coudersport Pa., January 12, 1919: A mystery of forty years standing that has puzzled succeeding Potter County generations may be cleared up through the story told by Reuben Daniels, a carpenter. Daniels declares that John Nesbit made a deathbed confession to him that he kidnapped Henry Schall, the three-year old son of Mr. and Mrs. John Schall of Denton Hill, near Coudersport, on October 7, 1878 and turned him over to a rich New York man for $500.

John Schall of Bradford, Pa., father of the kidnapped boy, came here yesterday to hear from Daniels' own lips the story of the kidnapping as related to Daniels by Nesbit. Nesbit, it seems, was taken ill several years ago and, thinking he was about to die, told the story to Daniels. However, Nesbit later recovered and sought out Daniels and secured a renewal of the promise that Daniels would not tell what had become of the Schall boy until after Nesbit's death. It was only last week that Daniels learned by chance that Nesbit had died four years ago and thereupon he lost no time in communicating with a friend of the Schall family and through this friend informed Mr. Schall of what he had learned.

Henry Schall's kidnapping was impressed upon the minds of the people of the country by the fact that for days after the event hundreds of men searched the dense woods in Potter County. It was believed that he might have been carried off by a wild animal. The search proved fruitless and was finally called off, but not until a suspicion had been awakened that John Nesbit knew more than he was willing to tell. Threats were made against Nesbit, but he never admitted knowledge of the boy's disppearance and no crime would ever be traced to his door.

According to Nesbit's alleged confession, however, he was approached early in October, 1878, by a wealthy New York man who offered him $500 if he would sieze the Schall boy and deliver him to the man making the offer at Elkland, Pa., some sixty miles away. Nesbit owed William Perkins $500 at the time, and had no means to pay the sum. He yielded to temptation and consented to the bargain.

The New Yorker had been one of a party of wild pigeon shooters who had come into the vicinity of the Schall home the preceding June. He was struck by the resemblance of the Schall boy to a child of his own who had died. He tried to persuade Mr. Schall to let him have the boy to bring up as his own son. Mr. Schall refused, and the man left. After the kidnapping, Mr. Schall thought of the New York man in connection with the case. He did not know the man's name; there were no railroads within forty miles, and Schall was poor and did not follow up the clue.

Nesbit told Daniels at the time of his confession that he had since seen Henry Schall; that the latter had grown into manhood believing himself to be the son of the wealthy New Yorker, and had inherited a fortune from his supposed father at the latter's death. Nesbit gave Daniels this man's name and Daniels wrote it down in a book, which has now been mislaid, although Daniels believes that he will be able to find it.

The Schalls left their Potter County home on Denton Hill a few years ago for Bradford, Pa., and Mrs. Schall has since died. She believed to the very end that her son was still alive, and that some time she might hear from him. She died with her expectation unsatisfied.

This dramatic story has a particular connection to the Judy Bolton books via the Schall's house on Denton Hill. One of Margaret Sutton's relatives owned a house on Denton Hill, a small mountaintop community near 'Dry Brook Hollow' (Odin, PA), and it was used as Selma Brady's grandmother's house in The Voice in the Suitcase. Judy fans visit the house, which is now used as a hunting lodge, almost every year when they meet in Potter County for Judy Bolton Day.

This story would be a great basis for a Judy Bolton mystery and perhaps Margaret would have eventually used it had the the series been allowed to continue. One can easily picture Judy sifting back through the years for clues to find out what happened to the missing child, perhaps concluding that he was now a grown man she knew in New York from her days spent there with Irene and Dale Meredith.

There are endless possibilities, and there could have been dozens more Judy Bolton books based on Potter County legends and mysteries alone. This is only one of them, The Mystery of the Boy from Denton Hill.