Wednesday, July 12, 2017

HGB Ep. 211 - Haunted Cemeteries 2

Moment in Oddity - Timothy Smith's Window Grave

One will find a very unique grave inside Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, Vermont. This burial reflects the very real fear people had of being buried alive decades ago. Premature burials were not terribly common, but happened often enough that measures were put into place to help prevent anyone from dying because they were not quite dead when they were buried. These measures included waiting a few days before burial, guards at cemeteries listening for signs of life, safety coffins and other creative means. William Tebb wrote "Premature Burial and How it May be Prevented" in 1905 and he compiled 219 cases of near premature burial, 149 cases of actual premature burial, 10 cases of bodies accidentally dissected before death and 2 cases where embalming was started on the not-yet-dead. Timothy Clark Smith was a schoolteacher, merchant, a clerk for the Treasury Department and a staff surgeon in the Russian Army. He had a fear of catching sleep sickness, which would give the illusion of death and then that he would be buried alive. He died on Halloween in 1893 at the Logan House in Middlebury, Vermont. He left instructions for his burial. Those instructions requested that a square of glass be placed in the ground that lead straight down to Dr. Smith's face. This way, if he woke up, people would see him struggling. That glass remains over his grave, although it is clouded by mildew and water now. A man buried with a window to the sky just in case he was buried alive, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Riot Act in Britain

In the month of July, on the 20th, in 1715, the Riot Act took effect in Britain. The formal Act read, "An act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters." The act was enacted to prevent unruly crowds from gathering. If a group of twelve or more people gathered and were causing a disturbance, someone in authority, like the Magistrate, was required to command silence and read the following, "Our sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God save the king." Any persons who failed to obey within one hour were to be arrested. While this seems a bit silly to us today with the violence that is usually associated with modern day riots, people in the 1700s thought it was a bit harsh. But England had real reason to worry about mobs gathering. The English government was worried that Jacobite mobs would rise up and overthrow the Hanoverian George I. The fear was well-founded, as supporters of the deposed Stuarts did actually invade in 1715 and again in 1745. And yes, the phrase "Reading the Riot Act" was inspired by this law.

Haunted Cemeteries 2

There is one absolute for all human beings and that is that we all will die. Throughout history, humans have disposed of and honored their dead in various ways. Burying the dead and marking their resting place has been the most popular and it has carried over to our modern era. Cemeteries have become a record of history for towns. Who lived here? When did they die? Why did they die? Was there a plague, a war, a natural disaster that devastated the population? Some of the interred at times wander from their resting places. There are tales of specters roaming about the tombstones in certain graveyards. Weird lights and mists have been photographed. On this episode, we have four cemeteries that seem to have unexplained activity. Those cemeteries are the Silver Terrace Cemetery in Virginia City, Nevada, which is actually divided into eleven separate cemeteries, Union Cemetery in Easton, Connecticut, Old Quaker Cemetery in Camden, South Carolina and Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. The combined histories of these graveyards covers the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s. Every class is found in these cemeteries and each has its own legends and hauntings. Join us as we bring you Haunted Cemeteries 2!

The Silver Terrace Cemeteries of Virginia City (Suggested by listener Darin Elquist)

As listeners know from episode 177, the city of Virginia City is reputedly quite haunted. It's said that the dead outnumber the living. One haunted location is the final resting place for early residents of this once booming mining town of the Wild West. Silver Terrace Cemetery was established in 1867 and is actually made up of several separate cemeteries. Eleven of them to be exact and each is divided along ethnic, religious, civic, professional and fraternal lines. There is a graveyard for the Masons, the Order of Odd Fellows, Pacific Coast Pioneers, Knights of Pythias, Firemen, Wilson and Brown, Improved Order of Redmen, Mt. St. Mary's Catholic, the Asian and the city and county. The cemetery has terrace in the name because the graveyard sits up on a hilltop as a series of terraces. The plots are unique in that each is fenced in or has a border, which was the standard practice during the Victorian Era. All types of materials have been used as headstones from the typical cut stone to wood to metal like white bronze. Most of the burials took place prior to 1920.

Nearly all people buried here were immigrants or born in a state other than Nevada. This serves as a testament to how the Comstock Lode attracted people from all around the world to come and try their hand at mining silver. The cemeteries qualified for a Save America's Treasures grant through the National Park Service because of their historical significance and are under restoration. There are many forms of unexplained phenomenon taking place in the cemeteries. One story goes that a glowing headstone can be seen at night. Some have debunked this as a reflection of light, but how to explain reports of ghost lights in the cemetery. Some are described as bluish in color. Others claim that the glowing on headstones is reflecting from a specter. The spirit of a girl has been seen walking among the rows of tombstones. The gates open and close on their own and they are held together by a latch that would not just fall away. One of the more famous prostitutes in Virginia City was Julia Bulette. Her specter has been seen at her grave with a child at her feet, which is strange because she never had any children. At least as far as most people know. Pam Ennis of Pacific Coast Spirit Watch joins us to share a few of her thoughts and experiences at the Silver Terrace Cemeteries. 

Union Cemetery in Easton

The city of Easton in the state of Connecticut claims that it was shaped by four key forces: glaciers, English settlers, the Industrial Revolution and Bridgeport Hydraulic Company. Algonquin tribes settled this area of Connecticut before the English started arriving early in the 18th century. Those early settlers established a community that emphasized education. That school system is still considered one of the best in the nation. The Industrial Revolution brought manufacturing to Easton and it boomed. One of the key pieces of that boom was the use of water. The Bridgeport Hydraulic Company harnessed that water. Diane went down a fun rabbit hole when looking into the background of this company. She found the following in an article in the Easton Courier by Tom Spurr:
"In 1885, the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company (BHC) bought its first land in Easton from Elihu N. Taylor, who once owned a gristmill along the Mill River. The Survey goes on to tell us that P.T. Barnum came to town in 1886 and bought land along the Mill River. Mr. Barnum had started a company called “Citizens Water Company” (CWC) to compete with Bridgeport Hydraulic. He built CWC dam #1 on the Mill River. But within two years the courts denied CWC the right to lay pipes under Bridgeport streets, and CWC sold its assets to BHC. BHC replaced the CWC dam with Dam #2 in 1896. BHC continued to acquire land in Easton to meet the growing water needs of Bridgeport as its industry and population grew."
The Union Cemetery in Easton dates back to the 1600s. The graveyard is next to Easton Baptist Church at the junction of Routes 59 and 136. The graveyard was made famous by the Warrens. They collaborated on the book, "Graveyard: True Hauntings from an Old New England Cemetery." Ed claimed to catch a spirit in the cemetery that people have reportedly seen for decades and that is our infamous Lady in White. The cemetery has even been nicknamed the White Lady Cemetery because of her presence. The story behind who she is legend, so we really are unsure of why she haunts this graveyard. One story claims that she lived during the 1940s and that she murdered her husband and then she was murdered. Another narrative states that she was a woman killed near the turn of the last century and that her body was dumped in a hole near the Baptist church. A third story describes her as a woman who died a century ago in childbirth and now she roams around looking for her baby. Whatever the case may be, she is seen as a full-bodied apparition in a white flowing gown.

The Lady in White is not confined to just the graveyard. Drivers claim that she wanders beyond the gates and out onto the road where she pulls the old "hitchhiking ghost" routine. Not only have drivers pulled over to give her a lift only to watch her disappear, some report actually hitting the spirit when it appears out of nowhere. One of these drivers was heading down Stepney Road late one night in his pickup truck and just as he reached Union Cemetery, a woman appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the road. She was wearing a white dress that reflected in his headlights. He was unable to stop in time and he struck her. He pulled over in an utter panic. He got out of his car and ran back to where he had hit her and the woman was nowhere to be seen. 

Old Quaker Cemetery in Camden

Twenty minutes northeast of Columbia, South Carolina is the town of Camden. Camden is South Carolina's oldest inland city and was founded in 1730. The city was originally named Fredricksburg and was established by proclamation of King George II. The name later changed to Pine Tree Hill and then finally Camden. Irish Quakers began arriving in 1750 under the leadership of Samuel Wyly. He designated four acres of land for use as a cemetery. The cemetery was officially founded in 1759 and is known today as the Old Quaker Cemetery. Over time, the graveyard has grown to fifty acres and has several notable burials. The South Carolina Governor from 1886 to 1890 was John Peter Richardson III and he is buried here. There are three Confederate Army Generals: Joseph Brevard Kershaw, John Doby Kennedy and John Bordenave Villepigue. A Confederate soldier who became a hero known as the "Angel of Marye's Heights" at the Battle of Fredricksburg was Richard Rowland Kirkland and he is buried here. This is also the final resting place of two World War I Medal of Honor recipients: Richmond Hobson Hilton and John Canty Villepigue. Abraham Lincoln's brother-in-law is here as well.

The story behind Richard Kirkland is amazing, so we want to share that as a little rabbit hole.  The Battle of Fredricksburg took place on December 13, 1862. The Union took heavy casualties. The ones who could walk, made their way to the field hospital, but those more severally wounded were left on the battlefield. The rising of the sun the following morning revealed that over 8,000 Union soldiers had been shot in front of the stone wall at Marye's Heights. Many of the wounded were crying out in agony, but no one dared to go to them since both armies were still there hunkered down. Kirkland went to his leader, Confederate Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw, and asked for permission to help the wounded Union soldiers. General Kershaw denied the request at first, but finally relented. Kirkland asked if he could fly a white handkerchief, but the General said no because he didn't want the Union to think they were surrendering. So Kirkland gathered as many canteens as he could carry and he ventured out onto the battlefield, risking his life. He gave the wounded Union soldiers water and then went back and brought out blankets and warm clothes. No one fired a shot at him. Kirkland ran back and forth for over 90 minutes and it is said that he did not stop until he had helped every wounded soldier on the Confederate side of the battlefield. A monument dedicated to this event can be found in Fredricksburg, Virginia. Kirkland fought at the Battle of Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg, but it would be the Battle of Chickamauga where he would lose his life.

All of those buried at the Old Quaker Cemetery seem to be at rest, save for one and that is Agnes of Glasgow. She was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1760. When she was an adult, she fell in love with British Lieutenant Angus McPherson. He was sent off to fight in the Revolutionary War and Agnes was heartbroken. She decided that she had to be with him, so she devised a plan to stow away aboard a ship bound for the colonies. She arrived in Charleston in 1780. After asking around about her love, she found out that he had been wounded and was in a hospital in Camden. A Native American, King Haigler of the Wateree tribe, volunteered to escort her to Camden. There are two accounts as to what happened when they arrived in Camden. One claims that she found McPherson in the hospital, but he was gravely wounded and died in her arms. She then died of a broken heart. Another claims that McPherson had already died and been buried and that Agnes couldn't find him anywhere and that she searched high and low for him. As she searched, she became extremely ill and died from her illness.
King Haigler buried her in the Old Quaker Cemetery. From that time forward, there have been reports of her apparition walking through the cemetery and even out onto the roads as though she is still seeking her lost love. Strange mists form in the cemetery and many believe that is Agnes trying to take form. The Old Quaker Cemetery is located at 713 Meeting Street and Agnes' gravesite is located near the cemetery gate.

Hollywood Cemetery in Virginia (Suggested by listener Brandon Amsel)

William Byrd III built his estate on the wooded hills overlooking the James River in Richmond, Virginia in 1758. He named it Belvidere. He took a number of financial hits and found himself in the position of having to sell off most of his property. He did this via a lottery in 1769. The Harvie family acquired a number of the lots that Byrd sold off in the lottery and this included an area they named Harvie’s Woods that would become the future site of Hollywood Cemetery. The cemetery is named for all of the holly trees growing in the area. It is located at 412 South Cherry Street and stretches for 130-acres. It was established in 1847 after two men named William Haxall and Joshua Fry visited Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston. They formed the Hollywood Cemetery Company and set out to design the graveyard.

They enlisted Philadelphia architect John Notman to help with that design and he is the one who suggested the name Hollywood because of the trees. The original plan incorporated 40 acres and Notman attempted to preserve much of the original topography. Burial plots were terraced on the hillsides and winding footpaths made the lots accessible. The Notman plan was implemented starting in 1848 and lasted through the early 1850s. To prevent erosion, an extensive system of culverts and drainage ditches were built along with a board enclosure fence around the property. Several man-made lakes were made to add beauty.

The first monument was erected in 1851. Within two decades of its founding, a major addition was built known as President's Circle. United States Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler are buried there. Tyler's tomb is Gothic Revival in design and is known as "The Birdcage." Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis and J.E.B. Stuart are buried at the graveyard as well in the Confederate Section that was started in 1863. Three thousand bodies from Gettysburg were reinterred in 1866. A monument called the Pyramid was installed in 1869 dedicated to the Confederate soldiers. The 90-foot-tall granite pyramid was designed by Charles H. Dimmock, a Captain in the Confederate Army. Their final resting place has been dubbed "Gettysburg Hill." In 1904, the Hollywood Cemetery was expanded on Midvale Avenue because there was so much demand for burials. Amazingly, in 1911, it was discovered that the official authorization given to cemeteries allowing them to be burial grounds was never given to Hollywood. It was rectified at this time.

People started visiting the cemetery as a tourist spot around 1919. Cars had not been allowed prior to this except for when President Taft visited and the cemetery staff eased the rules for him. Now cars were allowed and tours were even offered through the grounds aboard Ford cars. Tourists paid $.35 to be driven around the graveyard. Hollywood was expanded again in 1923 near Clark Springs. In 1969, the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places added Hollywood Cemetery to its list. Hurricane Isabel caused a million dollars in damage in 2003. Presidents Circle was renovated in 2011 to add a new granite walk leading up to and surrounding the monument. More lots were added as well, allowing 1,800 new burials at the site. Restoration of several monuments, fences, and curbing also took place. The cemetery is opened from 8am to 6pm daily.

There are several tales of the unexplained connected to this cemetery. The Pyramid monument plays host to the first stories of hauntings. Usually around twilight, soft moans are heard coming from around and inside the pyramid. Drastic cold spots are felt at the various corners of the pyramid. And the disembodied cries of the unidentified soldiers are heard. The second stories of hauntings are connected to a young girl who died tragically in 1862. The little girl was named Rees and she died from Scarlett Fever at the age of three. He grave is marked with a three-foot-high cast iron statue of a dog. It is believed her parents put it there as protection for her. And from that day forward, witnesses claim to see the spirit of a little girl playing with a dog at night by the grave. Grounds keepers, tourists and locals all claim to have heard the sound of a dog growling and barking whenever they come near the grave. Even more bizarre are the claims that people have seen the actual iron dog statue move. Is the statue somehow coming to life at night to play with the ghost of Rees?

There are more than just ghost tales connected to the Hollywood Cemetery. There is a vampire legend that is known as the Richmond Vampire. This story dates back to a tragic event that occurred on October 2nd in 1925. A tunnel was being constructed at Church Hill when it suddenly collapsed burying a number of the workers that were inside. People ran to help and witnessed what they described as a "blood covered creature with jagged teeth and skin hanging from its muscular body" emerge from the rubble. This thing ran towards the James River and took refuge in the mausoleum of W. W. Pool at the cemetery. Obviously, this was not really a vampire.

The real story is tragic. This was actually a 28-year-old railroad fireman named Benjamin F. Mosby. He had been shoveling coal into a steam locomotive when the collapse occurred and this caused the boiler to rupture. Mosby's upper body was scalded and his skin was hanging from his body. He died the following day at Grace Hospital. We're not sure how this became a legend, but there are some who think that this vampire still makes the mausoleum its home. The story accuses W.W. Pool of being the vampire and that he was run out of England in the 1800s because he was a vampire. What is eerily creepy about this story is the ending. When they dug through the rubble to get the bodies of the workers, they only found one of them and he was sitting upright in the cab of a train. They could not pull the train out that had been trapped in the tunnel, so they just bricked everything up and it has stayed that way to this day.

All of these cemeteries have interesting stories. But even better is the beauty of each of these graveyards. Monuments and headstones stand as an enduring symbol of lives once lived. And that is a wonderful thing. Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!

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