Thursday, August 29, 2019

HGB Ep. 306 - Haunted Cemeteries 14

Moment in Oddity - Mysterious Stone Monuments of Markawasi, Peru

Markawasi is known as Peru's Mysterious Stone Forest. This is a plateau in the Andes Mountains that dominates the landscape, standing over 13,000 feet. The area was first explored by Daniel Ruzo in the 1950s and he revealed that the area has several hundred rock formations that look like they were carved rather than just naturally formed. These shapes seem to resemble religious symbols, human faces and animals. There are many archaeologists who claim that these shapes are just the result of volcanic reactions in the region and erosion. But does that really explain how it is possible for there to be shapes that resemble elephants, camels, frogs, winged sphinxes and human profiles? If these are man-made, what makes them even more unusual is that many of the figures resemble things that people who lived here centuries ago would know nothing about. The different human profiles have indications of different races and there is a massive structure that has been called the Monument to Humanity. Many theories have developed as to how these mysterious stones came to be and, of course, Ancient Aliens believes that they were created by extraterrestrials. Others believe that ancient people in the area created them centuries ago. Whatever theory is true, they certainly are odd!

This Month in History - King William II Dies By Arrow

In the month of August, on the 2nd, in 1100, King William II dies while hunting and some believe it was an assasination. William II was the third son of William the Conquerer and took the throne in 1087. He ruled for 13 years as a good ruler who was victorious many times in battle. But he also seemed to lead a life of vice with no social graces and the Church thought of him as wicked. The King had gone out into the New Forest with several of his men to do some hunting. One of those men was Walter Tirel. Tirel saw a stag in the distance and he lined up his arrow to take a shot. While accidents do happen, I can't imagine how he managed to hit the King rather than the deer, but he did. Right in the chest, puncturing the King's lung. As the King lay dying and the noblemen all fled from him, I wonder if he thought about the letter of warning he had received from the Abbot of Gloucester, warning him that a monk had seen a vision of him dying on the hunt. A peasant was the one to find the body and the King's younger brother Henry was quick to grab the crown, even before the archbishop could arrive. This has caused some to believe that this was no accident, but rather an assassination.

Haunted Cemeteries 14

Having a final resting place is important. Not only on a sociological level, but clearly spiritually. I surmise this based on the fact that so many hauntings seem to be connected to improper burial. Socially, we need a place to memorialize our lost loved ones, not only for us emotionally, but historically. This person buried here, lived once. But do emotions carry across the Veil? Why is it important to a spirit that their body have a proper final resting place? I know why we as humans need closure, but why does the spirit need that closure? It's just one of the many questions I ask myself as I study the paranormal. When we look at haunted graveyards, that question stands out even more. Why are there ghosts or at least, unexplained things happening in cemeteries? Can we find answers in the history? In the stories? We're up to episode 14 of these haunted cemeteries and I don't know that I'm any closer to answers. One thing that is very clear though, is that cemeteries are very important! Join me as we explore Elkhart Cemetery in Illinois, Dawson Cemetery in New Mexico, Lone Fir Cemetery in Oregon, Spider Gate Cemetery in Massachusetts and Oakwood Cemetery in Texas!

Elkhart Cemetery (Suggested by: Jim Featherstone)

The Elkhart Cemetery is found in Elkhart, Illinois and the origin of the name is an interesting story. The Kickapoo tribe had lived on the land here and the chief had a daughter named White Blossom. She was very beautiful and had won the hearts of two men, one from her tribe and the other from the Shawnee tribe. She loved both and couldn't decide whom to marry. The men insisted she make a choice. At that moment, an elk came into the ravine where they were standing and White Blossom said, "The one who can pierce the heart of the elk will be my husband." The man from her tribe pierced the heart of the elk. They were married and took the elk's heart as their family badge and that is where the name Elkhart comes from.

Elkhart Cemetery sits on a hill that was first settled by James Latham and covers 700 acres with beautiful woods and gardens. Latham was in the area serving as an Indian Agent at Fort Clark (now Peoria). He wouldn't hold the position long as he took ill and died only two years later and his body was buried here near his cabin. This cemetery would be named for him, Latham Cemetery and it is today just east of Elkhart Cemetery. So if you are going to visit one of them, you might as well visit both.

The next settler to live here was cattle baron John Dean Gillette and he owned a ton of land and built a beautiful home on the hill that is today a bed and breakfast I believe. Gillette owned a lot of land and when a need for a new cemetery arose he offered up a portion of his land that was known as Gillette Grove. This wasn't all altruistic as he made a tidy profit from selling lots. Gillette is buried here in the cemetery. His wife Lermira built a chapel in the grove in 1890 after he had died. It is called Chapel of St. John Baptist and is the only privately owned chapel in the state of Illinois. Eventually the cemetery took on the name Elkhart.

There are a couple of other notable burials here. The first is for Governor Richard Oglesby who got into politics after the Civil War. He became Governor of Illinois in 1869 and was re-elected in 1873, but apparently Congress looked more interesting to him so he resigned only 8 days after that so that he could be elected as a Senator. He served as a Senator for six years and then went after Governor again 1882 and won for the third time. He built his home on Elkhart Hill and called it "Oglehurst." This was a fifty room mansion. He didn't live here long as he died eight years later in 1899. His funeral was held in the chapel in the cemetery and his body was then placed in the vault in the chapel while his mausoleum was built. (Mort: I had nothing to do with that.) The structure was finished in a month and was made from solid concrete and stands 24 feet high, one half under ground with 18 inch thick walls. The original doors were antique bronze with glass inserts, but they were stolen in 1986 and considered worth $20,000.00. One door was recovered, but never stood at the mausoleum again. Today the doors are iron bars with amber colored glass. The glass has also suffered vandalism. Ogleby's wife and son are buried in the mausoleum too.

Captain Adam Borgardus is also buried here and he was an expert marksman. He was so good that he was hired to tour with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show as the main shooting act and there are claims that the only marksman better than him was Annie Oakley. She would replace him when he left the tour after three years because of what we would today call "creative differences." Another claim to fame for him was that he developed a form of trapshooting that shot glass balls as targets. This was a precursor to clay disks that were developed in 1880.

Mists and full-bodied apparitions have been seen in the cemetery. There was a picture taken of something that looks like a swirling vortex. The main haunting here has been credited to the wife of Governor Oglesby. Her spirit has been seen sitting outside of the Oglesby Mausoleum. The strangest story I heard connected to this claimed that a group of Native American spirits chased her away and that she fled over a nearby bridge. As to why there was this interaction, I don't know. There is also a legend about a path that leads outside of the cemetery into the forest. This legend claims that you will see shadow figures, feel like you are being watched and hear disembodied voices as you travel up the path. Once you hit the top of the hill, there is a fork in the path and if you choose the wrong one, they say you will not find your way back out.

Dawson Cemetery

Dawson Cemetery is located in New Mexico and is said to be one of the most haunted locations in New Mexico. The graveyard is basically all that is left of a town called Dawson that was named for the rancher who had owned the land here, John Barkley Dawson. The town formed around a coal mine industry that started in 1901. The Phelps Dodge Company came into Dawson and bought the mines that numbered 10 and turned the city basically into a company town. Before long, Dawson had schools, a hospital, a theater and its own newspaper. Things were good until tragedy struck in 1913. On October 22nd, there was an explosion in a mine that killed 263 miners. During a rescue attempt, two rescuers lost their lives. Tragedy struck again in 1923 when another mine suffered an explosion. This time 120 men were killed. Eventually, the mines were shut down in 1950 and the town just died. It didn't help that the Phelps Dodge Company sold the whole town, so the buildings were sold off and carried away. Today, Dawson is a ghost town and all that really exists there is the cemetery.

The cemetery is full of iron cross markers. These mark the final resting places of the miners who were killed. These miners died in tragic circumstances and that is why some people believe that their souls are at unrest. Disembodied voices are heard throughout the graveyard. People who visit the cemetery have claimed to see strange lights. The way I have heard these describes makes me think that these spirit miners are wearing their head lamps and these are the lights people are seeing. Full-bodied apparitions and shadowy figures have been seen as well.

Lone Fir Cemetery (Suggested by: Casey Callahan)

Lone Fir Cemetery is located in Portland, Oregon. Lone Fir Cemetery is gorgeous and just screams Pacific Northwest. There are so many trees here that the graveyard is considered the city's second largest arboretum. The cemetery is located at Southeast 26th Avenue and Southeast Washington Street and is on land that was originally owned by B. Stephens and run as a farm. Stephens' father, Emmor, died in 1846 and he was buried in a family plot on the farm. This would turn out to be the first burial for Lone Fir Cemetery too. Stephens decided to move, but he wouldn't sell unless the buyer agreed to maintain his father's grave. That buyer would be Colburn Barrell and the purchase was finalized in 1854. Barrell set aside 10 acres of the land for a cemetery the following year and it was platted as Mount Crawford Cemetery. He had a specific reason for doing this. Barrell was a businessman and he had invested in a steamship called the Gazelle. In April of 1854, the steamship exploded and it killed 24 of the 50 passengers. Two of the dead were friends of his, D.P. Fuller and his partner Crawford Dobbins. He brought the bodies to his property and buried them next to Emmor Stephens.

Mount Crawford would become the main cemetery for Portland as other graveyards were located on marshy land and needed to be closed. Bodies were reinterred here and by 1866 the name had changed to Lone Fir and the cemetery was on 30 acres. That name was inspired by the fact that there used to be only one little fir tree here in the northwest corner and was suggested by Barrell's wife, Aurelia. At this same time, Barrell offered the cemetery to the city of Portland, but the city wasn't interested in buying so a group of Portland families bought it. The name Lone Fir doesn't fit anymore as there are now 67 species of trees covering the landscape.

One major issue was that no money had been set aside for perpetual care and the graveyard fell into disrepair. Several plots had wooden headstones that were now rotted or completely gone. Nearly 10,000 graves were unknown. There were also sections for asylum patients and Chinese immigrants that was largely forgotten. Burials still continue at Lone Fir and there are around 25,000 burials making this cemetery the largest of fourteen historic cemeteries managed by the Metro regional government. A heritage and memorial garden is planned for the forgotten patient and immigrant area.

Notable burials include Adam “Gus” Waterford who was Portland’s first African American firefighter. His family plot had been unmarked, but in 2015 Madison High School students worked to get him a marker from the Portland Fire Department. Ada Smith was a six year-old who died in 1885. She had a beautiful angel statue on her grave, which was stolen 20 years ago. It was eventually found in an abandoned warehouse and was restored and put back on Ada's grave. Alice Oberle was a sex worker who made her way to Madame. When she passed away, her male customers bought her a beautiful monument. Things wouldn't stay this way for long. Alice's sister would have her body moved to a plot at Mt. Calvary Cemetery and the monument the johns had paid for was erased of anything mentioning Alice's work. Asa Lovejoy is buried here. He was a pioneer who later became a politician. He was a founder of Portland and served in various political positions in the region. Dr. James Hawthorne was superintendent at the Oregon Hospital for the Insane and is credited with providing burial for 130 of his patients at Lone Fir.

Here's my favorite burial considering I'm a baseball fan and it belongs to a man who was a former slave. His given name was George Taylor, with that last name being the family name of his slave owner, but he would eventually come to be known as Julius Ceasar because he loved to give speeches. He also loved baseball. Visitors to his headstone immediately see that his love of the game is inscribed right there for all to see with the words "Play Ball" across the top. There are claims that he coined the term. He had been a successful businessman, but alcohol got the better of him and he died penniless on the street. His friends pooled money for his memorial. Andrew Johnston and Sarah Francis Wisdom were self-emancipated slaves who opened the first African American restaurant in Oregon. There is a marble urn at bartender James Frush's plot that used to sit at Colburn Barrell's saloon and had been filled with a really popular drink called Tom and Jerry. After Frush's death the urn would be returned to the bar annually at Christmas to be filled with the drink again. A Tom and Jerry was created by British journalist Pierce Egan in the 1820s and is a holiday cocktail made from eggnog, rum and brandy and served hot.

Charity Lamb is buried here and she isn't notable because she was a pioneer. She murdered her husband in 1854. And she did it in front of their children, hitting Nathaniel twice in the back of the head with an axe while he regaled the kids with stories. He lived for two weeks before succumbing to his injuries. She was the first woman convicted for murder in the Oregon territory and would get jail time rather than death, although she eventually ended up in Dr. Hawthorne’s insane asylum where she died in 1879. The quirkiest headstone or memorial in the cemetery depicts Oregon pioneer James Stephens and his wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth had died in 1887 and he had this memorial carved for her that features the couple holding hands, but their faces have a weird almost cartoonish look to them. The back of the memorial features the following statement, "Here we lie by consent, after 57 years 2 months and 2 days sojourning through life awaiting natures immutable laws to return us back to the elements of the universe of which we were first composed."

But, of course, this cemetery wouldn't be included if it weren't for legends and stories of the unexplained.Addie Decker's daughter Katie died when she was two. Addie was devastated and she would visit her daughter's grave regularly. She put up a crib and brought toys. After Addie died, the cradle was left at the plot and people would see it rocking when nobody was near it and there was no outside force like wind to cause the movement. People claim to hear the disembodied laughs of children near Katie's grave. PSU Television is a student run organization at the university and they made a video up on YouTube featuring a volunteer named Linda from the Friends of Lone Fir sharing an experience she had at Katie's grave. She had thought the stories were just that until she had this happen to her. She was in the cemetery one sunny afternoon near the grave and heard the laughter for herself and she now claims to be a believer. No one was in the cemetery with her. She heard one toddler belly laugh and then another.

Another volunteer named Margaret said that she often felt as though something she couldn't see was with her at the cemetery. She thinks that because so many graves are unmarked, there is a sad residual energy and unrest here. There are also many Chinese immigrants who were buried here and their graves were paved over to build an office. Eventually they were removed and sent to China. The reports are numerous of people seeing what appear to be apparitions wandering aimlessly among the headstones.

Horror writer Elizabyth Burtis has a website called Living With Ghosts and she has a post recoun ting an experience she had at Lone Fir, "As we passed the grave of Millie Harris, I got such an incredibly strong sense of sadness that I couldn’t ignore it. The grave was a simple stone headstone set into the grass, half-obscured by mud and vegetation. Nothing fancy or out of the ordinary, except that when I got close I wanted to cry." Later, Elizabyth wrote that she believed the spirit of Millie had followed them home and that she and her husband saged the house to send her back on her way.

Donna Stewart wrote "Ghosthunting Oregon" and she tells a couple of stories that she heard about the cemetery. Two men were walking in the graveyard at night when they saw a figure in the distance. They called out to it and got no response, so they decided to approach it. As they got closer, they saw that it was an old man. His eyes were blank and he opened his mouth in a scream. He screamed and second time and the men ran. Another full-bodied apparition that has been spotted is a woman in a red dress that is strolling through the cemetery in a joyful way. Other people have reported seeing misty figures.

Spider Gates Cemetery 

The Friends Cemetery in Leicester, Massachusetts is a private cemetery owned and maintained by the Quaker Worcester Friends Meeting. Most people know it by its nickname though, Spider Gates Cemetery. It acquired this name because of the unique gates that stand at its entrance. The wrought iron gates are squares with an inner circle. In the middle of the circle is a solid knot of metal that radiates out with curved lines that resemble a spider. This is a peaceful graveyard dating back to the early 1730s and has always been considered a sacred plot of land. Two Quaker families, the Potters and the Earles, were the first to settle Leicester. The town was incorporated in 1713 and named for one of the oldest cities in England. They would set up the cemetery and have their first official burial in 1740. The largest family plot is believed to belong to the Southwick family who joined this Quaker fellowship in 1810.

Perhaps because of the idea that this is sacred land and its age, this is a place plagued with legends. Are any of them true? There is no proof, so it's really up to you to decide. One legend is how the gates came to be here. The story goes that a young Greek boy was depressed and hanged himself in a tree in the 1940s. His parents had the gates made inspired by the story of Arachne. Arachne was a human who was very talented at weaving. She was pretty heady about her talent and thought she could even beat the goddess Athena in a weaving contest. And she actually could back up her bravado with the real thing because she did indeed beat Athena. Well, Athena was a goddess and she wasn't having any of this. How dare a mere mortal beat her! So she destroyed Arachne's tapestry and then turned on the woman and cursed her. Arachne was so despondent about this that she hanged herself. Athena felt guilty about what she had done, so she brought Arachne back to life as the creature we now call a spider and she goes on weaving her web everywhere...especially in my garage!

So what is the truth about the gates? The original iron gates and granite posts were installed in 1895. The money to do so came from a man named Dr. Pliny Earle. And he wasn't looking for a spider web design; rather, this was his take on the sun and its radiating rays. With gates like these, you can imagine that they would be subject to theft and one of the gates was indeed stolen. The Southwick family paid to replace it and had an exact replica made, so it looks like all the rest.

Now knowing what the gates are meant to represent, its hard to believe that anyone would think of them as gates to Hell, but another legend claims that once you pass through the gate at night, the Devil himself will meet you and take your soul. Has this ever happened? Well, how would we ever know since the person is whisked away? There is a story about a young girl being murdered and left in a cave here, even though there is no cave and four stone blocks in the middle of the cemetery mark off a Satanic altar. The truth is that the old Friends' Meeting House used to be there. There is an area where grass has a hard time growing because of another legend surrounding a grave. This is the last resting place of Earle Marmaduke. There is a story that if you walk around the grave ten times at midnight while asking Marmaduke to speak to you, he will speak to you. Usually you have to kneel down and then put your ear on the headstone to hear him clearly, but I imagine it could just be the blood rushing through your ears. The attempts to do this have left a barren circle around the grave.There are people who do claim to hear moaning though.

There are several people who have claimed to have unexplained experiences here, one of which entailed a phantom motorcycle chasing kids from the cemetery. Disembodied voices have been heard and there is a strange rustling sound when there is no wind, although this is a wooded area so... An interesting aside is that I've heard that coins are left on headstones out of respect, but in this cemetery they are actually meant to pay the toll across the River Styx. Daniel Boudillion has been to the cemetery a couple of times and written about his experiences and he did comment that it is actually Earle Street outside of the cemetery where some unexplained and frightening experiences have happened. Daniel writes, "Grown men have been known to run from this spot in terror and for no known or obvious reason." I can say based on Daniel's pictures that this a great place to explore to see ruins of an old Quaker settlement!

Oakwood Cemetery in Austin

Austin, Texas was set to be the Athens of the West in the late 1800s. The city had been a rustic cow town, but following reconstruction, it was moving towards things that were more modern. Prior to the Civil War, the Oakwood Cemetery was established sometime in the 1850s, making it the oldest cemetery in Austin. The cemetery was not called Oakwood at the time, but rather The City Cemetery. The first people to be buried in this area were earlier settlers who died in a Comanche attack. Others would slowly join them. The cemetery would officially be named Oakwood in 1907. The graveyard is laid out over 40 acres at 1601 Navasota Street. There are around 23,000 people buried here, so this is a fairly large graveyard.

There are several burials that are considered more noteworthy. One is for Richard Bache, Jr. He was the grandson of Benjamin Franklin and his common-law wife Deborah Read. He served as a state senator for Texas in 1847 and assisted in drawing up the Texas Constitution of 1845. Susanna Dickinson managed to survive the attack on The Alamo. She was married five times, a bit unusual for the era. And really, even today, unless you're Elizabeth Taylor or Zsa Zsa Gabor. She was illiterate so unable to given a written account of what happened at The Alamo, but she gave oral reports and saw both James Bowie and Davy Crockett dead. The infant son of O Henry. Several Texas governors and other politicians.

One of the spirits that haunts Oakwood is believed to be General Thomas Green. Green had been a lawyer and soldier who first took part in fighting during the Texan Revolution of 1835–36, serving under Sam Houston. For his efforts, he was given a land grant. When the Civil War started, he joined the Confederacy as a part of the cavalry. He lead his group to victory in the Battle of Valverde and helped recapture Galveston. During the Red River Campaign, he was mortally wounded by a shell from a gunboat. He was buried in the family plot at Oakwood Cemetery. There are those who claim to see a soldier wearing a Confederate uniform wandering between the headstones. People sometimes hear the ghostly hoofbeats of horses.

There are many graves for children here as is the case in every cemetery, but they seem to be quite active in the afterlife. People report hearing children playing and laughing that they cannot see. There are also reports of the apparition of an old man who wanders around as though he is lost. He simply disappears after a time. There are cold spots here even on hot afternoons and people get an overall sense of unease. Visitors also report cold spots, even on hot days, orbs showing up around some of the graves, and a distinct feeling of uneasiness in certain parts of the cemetery.

In 1884, a serial killer began to release his murderous rage in Austin. He would come to be known as the Servant Girl Annihilator. If you are a fan of true crime, you've probably heard the details of what he did, but for those who don't know, let me run you through the basics. This killer targeted the black servants of the rich families of Austin. Not every victim was killed. Some did survive. A black cook named Mollie Smith was found dead in 1884 with a hole in her head, outside of the outhouse at her employer's house. The weapon had been an axe. The axe was next used to kill cook Eliza Shelly who was discovered dead by her children in the room where they lived. Irene Cross would be the third woman to die, but she would be killed with a knife rather than an axe and a reporter said she had been scalped. Rebecca Ramey and her daughter would be attacked with her daughter suffering a rape and an iron rod stabbed into her ear. Gracie Vance and her boyfriend would be murdered with an axe. Gracie was dragged to a stable and her head pounded to jelly and I share that graphic detail to emphasize the rage involved. Now the sad thing is that people didn't care as much since the victims were black, but that would change in 1885 when the killer changed his MO and killed Sue Hancock, a white woman. Her husband found her in their backyard with her head split open and an object lodged in her brain.

This brings us to Eula Phillips who was killed just an hour after Hancock in the wealthiest neighborhood in Austin. She was sweet and beautiful 17-year-old girl whose friends called her Luly. It was Christmas Eve night and her life was ended by an axe. She was married to a man named Jimmy and he was unconscious in their room with a gash to his head. Their child was thankfully uninjured lying next to his father. Eula was found naked, raped and with a look of agony frozen on her lifeless face. Luly was buried here in Oakwood Cemetery in the oldest part of the cemetery known today as the Old Grounds. She unfortunately has no headstone and people are unsure of where she is located. Records indicate that she in indeed here, just nobody knows where. The victim of an infamous crime and nothing to mark her final resting place. Perhaps because of her violent death or maybe because she has no marker, her spirit is here in the cemetery. Her full-bodied apparition has been seen roaming the cemetery.

There have been many stories recently reporting vandalism in cemeteries. This kind of criminal behavior has happened in cemeteries as long as they have existed. But recently we are hearing about thousands of dollars in damage. In some cases, I'm sure it is racially based, particularly with Jewish cemeteries, but for the others I really don't understand. I think it is so important to teach the value of cemeteries. It's important to inspire care of cemeteries. I sometimes wonder if these scary legends and stories were meant to keep people from doing bad things in cemeteries. I sometimes wonder if the spirits are protecting their final resting places. I don't have the answers. Are these cemeteries haunted? And if so, why? That is for you to decide!

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