It is Halloween night, 2019, and you are seated in an auditorium with the Bridgeville Area Historical Society members to hear a guest speaker. The speaker is the author of a horror novel, and it’s set in Brentwood, Pittsburg, where you now live.
The author stepped onto the stage, sat on a stool facing the crowd, and prefaced his talk by explaining why he wrote his book about what his family experienced when they lived at 3406 Brownsville Road. This, you see, was his story.
What you weren’t expecting was the author to state that what happened to him proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that God and Satan exist, Heaven and Hell are real, Angels and Demons can save or destroy us. This man, who is probably as old as your grandfather, proudly tells everyone that his book bears witness to the presence and power of evil in the twenty-first century.
The author, Bob, begins to speak about the events in his book. What everyone thought would be a typical “old historic house that is haunted” type of horror novel suddenly turns into something darker and sinister. Bob tells his experience with the Demon of Brownsville Road.
Robert “Bob” Wesley Cranmer was born and raised in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He is a former US Army Major, businessman, author, and politician. Bob Cranmer served as the Republican County Commissioner of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, from 1996 to 2000.
He married his first wife, Lesa, in 1980, and they had four children. In 1988, Bob was transferred to Pittsburg, and his wife and their four children and luck happened to be on the Cranmer’s side.
As a boy in Pittsburg, Bob would often stare at the house at 3406 Brownsville Road, a turn-of-the-century three-story Craftsman-style home. He found himself hoping that that one day when he grew up, he would someday see what the beautiful home looked like inside.
When the Cranmers began their house hunt, the house on Brownsville Road went on the market. The Cranmers bought the home, and there were signs that something was not quite right about the home from day one.
While touring the house, two-year-old Bob Jr wandered off. When his parents returned from a look at the basement, the young boy was found standing on the front staircase crying and hyperventilating “as if he’d seen a ghost,” according to Bob’s book The Demon of Brownsville Road.
Lesa told her husband that the house was far too big for a family of three, and the house gave her the creeps. Bob didn’t seem vey concerned about the thoughts or feelings of his wife however and was determined to buy his actual “dream home.”
According to The Demon of Brownsville Road, the previous sellers seemed incredibly anxious to move, and when the Cranmers put in a lowball offer, the house was theirs. Bob did feel the need to ask the sellers if there was “anything wrong with the house?”
The seller assured the Cranmers that the house was fine; they had even conducted several Catholic Masses in the living room. Bob thought that was a little odd because he was a Catholic and a former altar boy.
The Catholic Mass of Communion is never done outside of a church; if it does happen, it is under exceptional circumstances. In The Demon of Brownsville Road, Bob wrote that he just “figured they were Irish Catholics, and it must be some type of Irish tradition.”
The Demon of Brownsville Road
The family began to experience strange happenings in the home almost right away. As included with any haunted house, the Cranmers experienced lights turning on and off by themselves, and they would hear footsteps and “unsettling sounds.”
The entity in the house allegedly would appear as black fog or become a strange and bad smell. Bob Cranmer mentions finding bent crucifixes and destroyed rosaries in the home/property. Cranmer writes in The Demon of Brownsville Road that when these events occurred, he and his family were “not Catholic at the time, but I’ve been raised Catholic” it is not mentioned if the family had or put up crucifixes in the home when they moved in.
According to Bob Cranmer, although he was not religious at the time, he welcomed a priest into the home to bless it at the suggestion of Cranmer’s mother, who knew what strange things were happening. Bob said the priest blessed every room except one. Bobby Jr, now three years old, refused to let the priest into his blue plaid wallpapered room.
They skipped the room because the adults figured it was a “terrible twos’ temper tantrum”. However Cranmer noted that “for a year Bobby refused to sleep in his bed at night. He would go into his walk-in closet, turn the light on, and sleep on the floor.” When asked why Bobby wanted to sleep in the closet, he said the room was scary.
Mr. Cranmer alleges in The Demon of Brownsville Road that while gardening discovered a metal box buried in the yard that had “rosary beads and some religious medals”. Upon making the discovery, Cranmer called the old owners of the house to ask if they knew about the box.
According to the book, “They told me very forcefully to just put it back exactly where I found it, refusing to elaborate further on the matter.” The Cranmers looked more into the house’s history and discovered it was the site of a massacre.
During the Northwest Indian War in 1792, a mother and her three young children were killed by savage Native Americans in the vicinity of Fort Pitt. The Demon of Brownsville Road claims that the murder happened in the front yard, and the three victims were buried and thus brought into the home by a demonic foe.
Bob Cranmer claims he found a letter proving the murder happened in the US War Department that was addressed to Henry Knox (the then secretary of war) from Isaac Craig, the commander of Fort Pitt, stated that “the Indians have killed the wife and three children of a Deliverance Brown – Brown having escaped by being some distance from the house.”
The book The Devil of Brownsville Road continues, and there are claims that a “catholic mystic” had visions about the home, and there was not one murder on the land but many in the house. The book claims the mystic spoke of a pediatrician given the name “Dr. M ” in the book, who had performed illegal abortions in the home in the 1920s and 30s.
By now the hauntings were piling up, and you would think that moving out of the house would be the sensible thing to do. But this did not happen, and for some reason, Bob Cranmer and his family never moved out and continued to live there for 18 more years.
Bob wrote in his book that the demon was changing and affecting the minds of the family. According to the book, his wife Lesa and two of his children experienced serious mental health issues and were hospitalized.
In 2003, Bob Cranmer was arrested for assault after he claimed that Bobby attacked him without provocation*. The following day, an elderly aunt who also lived in the home was discovered dead in her bed of natural causes.
Not long after those incidents, Bob had enough and sought help from the Catholic Church. The family wasn’t catholic, but thanks to Bob’s political career, he was tight with the mayor of Pittsburg, who went to the Bishop of Pittsburg to get help from the Diocese.
The Bishop did what the mayor asked, and a priest came to exorcise the house. According to Cranmer in The Demon on Brownsville Road, spiritual warfare lasted two years. In 2006 the house was cleansed and released from its demonic possession.
Bob Cranmer and other family members, relieved at their salvation, converted to Catholicism. And now Bob spends his time sharing the story of the Demon of Brownsville Road and how it proves the existence of God, Heaven, Satan, Angels, Demons, and all the other paraphernalia of the Catholic Church.
Today, you and your family can book a room at the house on 3406 Brownsville Road, which Bob and his oldest son have turned into a charming Bed and Breakfast. Don’t worry; the house has been fine since 2006.
* It has been mentioned by other members of the Cranmer family that Bobby Jr had schizophrenia for many years. What happened in 2003 between Bobby and his father should not be seen as a moment of demonic possession, as the book implies, but rather a moment where Bobby may have been experiencing a schizophrenic episode which can include visual and auditory hallucinations. The book suggests that the family members became mentally ill and had to be hospitalized because of the demon. Being mentally ill is not caused by the supernatural and is a medical and neurological condition. A harmful assumption is that someone experiencing mental illness or a nervous break is possessed and that exorcism is the only way to fix them. If the affected individual is having an episode or experiencing a mental break, drug-induced psychosis, or is threatening suicide/violence (becoming a risk to themselves and others), seeking emergency medical treatment is the safest and appropriate response to help the affected individual.
Top Image: The Demon of Brownsville Road has not been seen since the 2006 exorcism. Source: Joeprachatree / Adobe Stock.