NEW YORK FOLKLORE
Vol. 3, Nos. 1-4, 1977
THE CROPSEY MANIAC
by Lee Haring and Mark Breslerman
CHILDREN in New York’s summer camps yearly learn or hear
again the story of the Cropsey Maniac, a respected member of the
community whose insane desire to avenge an accidental death
prompts him to stalk the outskirts of the camp property as a
revenant. The camper who strays off the grounds needs to beware
of Cropsey, who is probably carrying an ax. Here is a sample text,
collected from Peter Sherman, a former camper and counselor at
Camp Lakota on Masten Lake at Wurtsboro, New York.
George Cropsey was a judge. He had a wife and two
children, all of whom he loved very much. He owned a
small summer cottage along the shores of Masten Lake.
His wife and children would go there for the summer
months, and he would come up to visit with them on
weekends....One night two campers snuck away from
the camp’s scheduled evening activity and went down to
the lake to roast some marshmallows. The fire they built
went out of control and there was a big fire on the lake.
George Cropsey’s family was burnt to death. When
Cropsey read the report in the newspaper, it is said he
became completely white and disappeared from his
home. Two weeks later one of the campers from Lakota
was found near the lake chopped to death with an ax.
There was talk of closing the camp for the remainder of
the summer but they didn’t....
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