The Bizzare Story Of The Lost Children Of The Alleghenies

In Bedford County, Pennsylvania, there sits a stone monument protected by a wooden structure and chicken wire fence. Sometimes, visitors leave mementos, such as toys and flowers. Its location is on State Game Lands 26 along Monument Road, and visitors can access the site by walking a short distance from the parking lot (via PA Bucket List). Those who don't know the story of the Lost Children of the Alleghenies may wonder what a stone monument is doing in the middle of a forest, but locals know the story all too well.

The monument reads, "Joseph S. Cox / Aged 5 Ys. 6 Ms. & 9 Ds. / George S. Cox Aged 7 Ys. 1 Mo. & 10 Ds. / Children of Samuel & Susanna Cox." Joseph and George are known as the Lost Children of the Alleghenies, and their story dates back to 1856 when they were found deceased on the very spot where the monument stands.

The Cox family and the day the boys went missing

The Allegheny Mountains has a rough and rugged landscape and in the mid-1800s, the then-densely forested area was where the Cox family lived. The family of four — husband and wife Samuel and Susanna, and their two young sons Joseph and George — lived in a small cabin surrounded by lush trees and greenery.

On April 24, 1856, Samuel went out into the forest to hunt for the family's supper. However, he was unsuccessful that day and went home empty-handed. The entire family was in the cabin when they heard their dog, Sport, barking. Samuel immediately got his rifle and went outside, hoping that Sport had spotted a squirrel that they could cook for supper, according to Pennsylvania Mountains of Attractions. He was gone for less than two hours and when he went back to the cabin, he was met by a hysterical Susanna who told him that their sons were nowhere to be found. It isn't clear what happened to the children, but it is assumed that the boys must have gone out to follow their father when he left the cabin.

The hunt for the Cox children

Samuel and Susanna Cox immediately started looking for 5-year-old Joseph and 7-year-old George in the surrounding areas near their cabin. They called out to them while searching and listened for their voices, but there was no response. With no success, the couple sought help from their neighbors in order to find the missing children. According to The Lineup, the search party consisted of hundreds of people the day after the boys disappeared. They scoured the area all day, and at night, volunteers went through the dense forest carrying torches; they hoped that the boys would see the fire and approach it. The stream was searched as well to see if the boys had accidentally drowned, but they didn't find anything.

Despite all their efforts, Joseph and George were nowhere to be found. After several days of searching, many concluded that there was an unlikely chance that the boys could still be alive.

A dream leads a man to the boys

The search didn't provide clues regarding the boys' whereabouts, and little by little, people started to suspect that Samuel and Susanna Cox were the ones responsible for the disappearance of Joseph and George. They searched their cabin and areas near the home but nothing was found, per The Lineup. Nearly two weeks after Joseph and George Cox went missing, a farmer named Jacob Dibert started having vivid dreams. In it, he was looking for a deer carcass in the forest when he stumbled upon a child's shoe near a stream and a ravine. Following the trail, he used a fallen tree to cross the stream, and it was there where he discovered the bodies of the Cox boys.

Dibert shared the details of his dream with his wife, but he didn't alert anyone else. However, he continued to have the same dream a few more nights, and that was when he told his brother-in-law, Harrison Whysong, about it, as reported by We Are Central PA. Upon hearing the details, Whysong said that he might know the location that Dibert described. The two proceeded to go to the site and little by little, Dibert's dream was becoming reality. They came across a dead deer, a child's shoe, and a fallen tree that allowed them to go across a ravine. When they got to the other side, they discovered the dead bodies of the Cox boys by the roots of a birch tree.

The children's cause of death

The circumstances surrounding the discovery of Joseph and George Cox's bodies were unusual, and it seemed suspicious that Jacob Dibert knew exactly where to find them just by following his dream if he didn't have anything to do with their deaths. By today's standards, it is most likely that he would have been a suspect in the investigation or at least thoroughly questioned. However, as reported by The Lineup, there was no evidence to support that there was foul play involved; it looked like the children died from exposure to the elements.

It was suspected that they, indeed, followed their father into the forest and got lost in the forest. At the time of their disappearance, it was nearing nightfall, and it would have been easy for the children to get lost in the dark. And although a thorough search of the area was done, the location where they were found wasn't searched, as they assumed the boys wouldn't have been able to cross the creek. The bodies were found huddled together, and they may have died of hypothermia.

The Lost Children of the Alleghenies Monument

In 1906, 50 years after Joseph and Georg Cox's death, the community raised funds to erect a monument in honor of the Lost Children of the Alleghenies. The structure was built in 1910 when there was enough money collected, and a fence was built to protect it from vandalism, according to the Pennsylvania Mountains of Attractions. Today, many visitors trek to the site where the boys' bodies were found and leave mementos.

Many who have visited the location reported strange occurrences, leading them to believe that the boys' spirits still haunt the place where they died. Some said they've heard children's voices and footsteps, while others claim to have seen children's footprints on the ground, per The Washington Times. The Cox Monument has since been an attraction in Pennsylvania, and there's a sign that tells the story of The Lost Children of the Alleghenies and how Jacob Dibert's dream provided the community closure to the tragedy.