In Time – The Killing of Polly Paul was written by a Johnstown dentist, Paul Petrunak Jr., who spent 10 years researching the true tale of two women who were killed in 1865 near Summerhill.
Despite living in the borough for many years, I had never heard of the murder of Polly Paul, a 71-year-old farmer and weaver, and Cassie Munday, her 17-year-old apprentice, so this was a book I just had to read.
It is a fascinating tale filled with names you will recognize from the New Germany/Summerhill/Wilmore region.
Petrunak obviously did his research – and then some. He gathered information from newspapers of the day, city directories, census reports, as well as transcripts from the trial. The resulting book is fascinating and easy to read. Anyone interested in local history or true crime will want to pick up a copy. You are sure to learn something new about our region.
For instance, Mundys Corner was named for Cassie's parents who moved there in the years following her death.
The teen who nearly stumbled on the murders as they were taking place eventually married a neighbor and moved to a home that was located near what is now Ace's in Cambria City. Readers will be interested to learn what happened to her following the move.
The author gives biographies on nearly every character in this interesting book. Sadly, many of the principal actors in this story came to tragic ends.
The author also did extensive research into the convicted murderers and calls the proceedings in Ebensburg the “O.J. Simpson trial of its day.”
Readers will be brought along through the murder, arrest and trial and, when presented with the facts, must judge for themselves whether or not justice was truly served. The legal system, long before the days of forensics and DNA evidence, was a bit different than what we have today.