The Scripture Rocks: Why Douglas Stahlman Carved His Legacy in Stone

Brian L. Fritz and Kenneth Burkett
Brookville, PA

Local legends abound about the mysterious engraved rocks frequently encountered in the wooded hillsides around Brookville, Pennsylvania. Although many local residents were aware of the Scripture Rocks, few have an understating of their purpose or the man who created them. The events leading to the compiling of this book were fueled by the Brookville community’s hunger for knowledge about Douglas Stahlman and his dedicated rocks.

The Scripture Rocks: Why Douglas Stahlman Carved His Legacy in Stone is intended to be a historically accurate account and comprehensive resource of the life of Douglas Monroe Stahlman and his Scripture Rocks. Between 1911 and 1913, self-proclaimed prophet Stahlman carved fragments of Biblical verses and texts on over one hundred boulders scattered through the woods in a small town in western Pennsylvania. This book offers a careful biography of Stahlman and an archaeological analysis of the stone carvings that have been found and identified, and contextualizes his unorthodox endeavor in the framework of religious movements of Stahlman’s day. It is also an effort to preserve a record of his work without bias for or against his religious convictions and his chosen lifestyle. Included in the publication is a reproduction of Stahlman’s own journal “The Dedicated Rocks,” which gives deeper insight into Stahlman’s meanings and intentions. Some may see Stahlman as a true prophet of incredible spiritual insight; others may see the sufferings of an obsessed mad man living on the fringes of society.

The publication also contains a comprehensive listing of the Scripture Rocks and their various locations as recorded by a group of enthusiastic volunteers from the Jefferson County History Center, the North Fork Chapter 29 of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, and other interested individuals in within the community. Using the same methods commonly employed by archaeologists to map and record historic ruins and prehistoric Native American sites, this team spent many hours over the past six years in an extensive quest to relocate the engraved rocks, clean and carefully document the passages written on them, and map the locations. Through the hard work and dedication of volunteers, the legacy of Douglas Stahlman and his Scripture Rocks survives for new generations to interpret.