Old John D. Copcutt’s ghost which haunted the Copcutt Mansion on Nepperhan Avenue in Yonkers, New York for two decades, puzzled Spiritualists, defied capture and spread terror along those who believed and did not believe in ghosts, It appeared in 1912 and took vengeance on a $12,000 statue of Tadeuz Kosciuszko, a Polish patriot, by stealing the sword out of his hand.
The Cleveland newspaper, dated in June 1912, said the statue was unveiled in late May 1912 on Memorial Day. The last act of vandalism aroused the United Polish society of Yonkers who erected the statue. They offered a reward of $700 for the capture of the ghost. The Rev. Father Dwoizak, pastor of the St. Casimir’s Roman Catholic Church, purchased the Copcutt property a few years prior and turned it into a convent.
In 1907, Frederic D. Hughes won a prize by writing the best ghost story for the Sunday World telling his personal experience with old Copcutt’s ghost. Copcutt’s spirit had shown itself from time to time. The ghost, his face leering and mean, would appear when the clock struck midnight. A woman in black would flit into one the rooms and the dumb waiter would begin to move up and down shaking and rattling in the shaft.
One night Hughes wrote that he and his wife were on the lawn and on the very spot where the Kosciuszko monument stood, the ghost of Copcutt seemed to rise from the earth and shouted, “This place is cursed. The trees will die. No mortal man will remain in the abiding place of spirits.”
A few days later the trees did begin to die, the ghosts continued to appear, so Hughes decide he would move. Professor James Hyslop and Dr. Isaac K. Funk, psychic researchers, and their crew spent the night in the mansion. They saw the ghosts and were amazed.
When Father Dwoizak, whose church adjoined the Copcutt property, bought the place it was assumed the ghosts had given up their weird pranks. The old mansion was made into a convent. One night the nuns saw from their windows a ghostly figure flitting about the trees and around the statue. They became terrorized. The next morning it was found that the ghost had robbed Kosciuszko of his sword. This aroused the Polish community and a score of men stood guard around the statue for many nights.
The Copcutt Mansion, now known as the St. Casimir’s Rectory, is now on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1854 and turned into a convent in 1900. It became the church rectory in 1955.