Thursday, March 24, 2022

HGB Ep. 428 - Haunted Cemeteries 22

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Moment in Oddity - Jack Daniels Dies From Stubbed Toe (Suggested by: John Michaels)

Jasper Newton Daniel was an American distiller and businessman. He was known to everybody as Jack. So yeah, he was THAT Jack Daniel. He founded Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey Distillery in Lynchburg in 1875. Jack reportedly learned how to work a still from a preacher or possibly the slave of that preacher who was named Nearest Green. He was good at distilling, but not very good at remembering combinations. At least, the combination to the safe in his office. Legend claims that he became so frustrated one day that he kicked the safe hard and injured his toe. That toe festered and became infected and then got gangrene, which traveled further up his leg leading to it needing to be amputated. That didn't stop the gangrene and it traveled further causing blood poisoning. This would kill him on October 9, 1911. So basically, Jack died from a stubbed toe and as if that isn't odd enough, he died from an infection, for which alcohol can be an antiseptic and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - "Oklahoma" Debuts on Broadway

In the month of March, on the 31st, in 1943, "Oklahoma" premiered on Broadway. The musical started with the name Away We Go and was predicted to be a huge flop. Gossip columnist Walter Winchell said, "No girls. No legs. No chance." The show was also going to take risks like not having a big name star, the source material was obscure and this was being helmed by the new duo of Rodgers and Hammerstein. There would not be much spectacle and the show opened with a lone cowboy singing about meadows. The show debuted under the new title Oklahoma and had been slightly retooled. The solo performance of the song "Oklahoma" was changed to a full-cast showstopper. The musical set a Broadway record of 2,212 performances before closing after a five year run. That song that the cowboy sung to open the show is known by nearly everybody today, "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'."

Haunted Cemeteries 22

Every life is worth remembering. And that is what cemeteries are all about. Remembering those who have lived. Some of those people in graveyards were famous, some were powerful, but most are just like us. A mom or dad, sister or brother or perhaps a friend. Some of those who are buried have chosen to stay with their bodies. Their spirits glide through the tombstones. Other haunting activity in cemeteries seems to feed off the legends told or the rituals held. Join us on Haunted Cemeteries 22 as we share haunted cemeteries in Indiana, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania! 

Crown Hill Cemetery (Suggested by: Ed Jones)

Indianapolis' first cemetery was Greenlawn Cemetery, but the amount of death that accompanied the Civil War made it necessary to create more burial ground. Crown Hill Cemetery was the answer. It was established in 1863 by a group of businessmen who formed the Association of Crown Hill. They met with landscape architect and cemetery superintendent John Chislett, Sr. to discuss the creation of a garden-like cemetery. These garden cemeteries were growing in popularity during the Victorian era as we and our listeners all know well. The association bought a 166-acre farm and tree nursery at Strawberry Hill, which overlooked the city. Chislett's son, Frederick, was hired as the first superintendent for Crown Hill and he would made sure that his father's plans were followed. This design used many of the natural features already on the land and the roads were laid out in winding curves. The cemetery was dedicated on June 1, 1864.

Lucy Ann Seaton was the first burial. She had died of consumption at the age of thirty-three. She would be joined by more than 700 Union soldiers who died in Indianapolis during the Civil War and had originally been buried in Greenlawn Cemetery. And Lucy would also be joined by her daughter who shared the name Lucy. She died four months after her mother. The first Memorial Day was observed on May 30, 1868 and Crown Hill took part with around 10,000 people attending a special ceremony. That number wasn't surprising because Crown Hill Cemetery had become a popular place for families to hang out. They enjoyed picnics and walks through the park-like setting and the cemetery quickly added more to enjoy, building a Gothic chapel and vault in 1875, a new three-arched gateway in 1885 and a new gate and gatehouse in 1900. More land was added as well and by 1911 Crown Hill covered 550 acres making it the third largest nongovernmental cemetery in the United States.

The cemetery association decided they wanted to add something special in 1912. Indianapolis' pioneers were buried in Greenlawn Cemetery and they wanted to bring them here, so they established Crown Hill's Pioneer Cemetery and moved the bodies of 1,160 early settlers. This area is bordered by a black metal fence. The Confederate Mound was created in 1933 and over 1,600 Confederate burials were moved here. The Community Mausoleum was dedicated in 1951 and a series of Garden Mausoleums that were outdoors was completed in 1962. To help with preservation at the cemetery, The Crown Hill Heritage Foundation was established in 1984. A new crematorium and mortuary were added in the 1990s.

Famous burials here include President Benjamin Harrison. There is a Harrison family plot that includes his first wife Caroline, who died while Harrison was President, and their son Russell. Their daughter Mary is buried nearby. She served as First Lady while her mother was ill. Caroline died during the re-election campaign that Harrison lost. Booth Tarkington was a well-known novelist and playwright in the early 1900s and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, twice. He is buried in a mausoleum in lot thirteen. Writer James Whitcomb Riley was the richest writer of his time and when he passed away in 1916, he was buried here. He has a large Greek Revival monument that includes ten white columns and a sculpture of a young boy reading a book. The chemist and founder of Eli Lilly and Company, Colonel Eli Lilly, is buried here in an ornate mausoleum. He was inspired to found the company after his young wife died from malaria. And Richard Jordan Gatling, founder of the Gatling Gun Company, is buried in section three, lot nine. He created the Gatling Gun, which was popular during the Civil War. This gun had six barrels on a revolving frame and was powered by a hand crank. This gun could shoot twelve hundred rounds per minute. The more portable machine gun would make it obsolete.

And the infamous gangster and bank robber John Dillinger has his final resting place here. Maybe. There are doubts that the body buried in Dillinger's space is really him, but attempts to have him disinterred have failed. Family members and others believe there are inconsistencies in the autopsy including eye color, fingerprints, the shape of the head and ears. The grave is in section forty-four, lot ninety-four. Riots nearly broke out on the day he was buried in the cemetery on July 26, 1934. This was four days after he was shot outside of the Biograph Theater in Chicago. Souvenir hunters started breaking off chunk of his tombstone and over the years the stone has been replaced several times. The family eventually covered his plot with concrete to be sure no one actually stole the body.
There are spirits here and we'll start in one of the most poignant spots in the cemetery. This is Section 37, which is a memorial for children that died while at the Indianapolis Children’s Asylum, the Children’s Guardians Home and the Asylum for Friendless Colored Children. These children died between the years 1892 and 1980 from neglect, starvation and disease. And some even died because formaldehyde was added to milk to kill any pathogenic microorganisms. This is a mass grave numbering 699 children. Indy Ghost Hunters investigated the cemetery and they focused on Section 37. They caught several EVP. A couple were humming, another said "help her" and another said "they think it's me." This makes sense because there are claims of people hearing the playing of children and disembodied humming. Unfortunately, there are sometimes screams also heard.

Visitors to the graveyard have also seen the apparition of a woman holding a baby and wandering around the graves. People wonder if she is lost nor looking for something. She vanishes after being seen. The ghost of soldiers in uniforms are also seen and it is said that these spirits are from all of the wars. They disappear after being seen as well. Unexplainable lights are seen in the cemetery too and disembodied footsteps are heard. And there is a version of the Resurrection Mary story connected to Crown Hill. This one goes the opposite way though. This hitchhiking ghost gets picked up at the cemetery and gives an address to be taken to, but disappears before arriving. Then if the driver goes to the door, they find out that she has passed away or no one at the address knows the girl.

Cedar Rest

Bay St. Louis on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was once called Shieldsborough and located on South Second Street is a very old cemetery known as Cedar Rest. The cemetery was founded in 1820, but the oldest burial dates to 1815. There are around 2,400 graves here. We thought this was a fun story. The Sea Coast Gazette was a local Victorian era paper and it reported that a J. B. I and his wife were buried in a crypt with a spire that was facing west across from the bathtub. We of course wondered what the bathtub was and apparently that was what people called a watering trough for horses that sat in front of the first courthouse in Bay St. Louis. In 1993, the Hancock County Historical Society started an annual cemetery tour at Halloween.

Bud Steed shares a chilling story in his book "Haunted Mississippi Gulf Coast." Some hippies were hanging out in the cemetery smoking some pot in the 1970s. Their group was suddenly joined by another man that nobody knew, but they weren't against joiners. The group grew uncomfortable though because the man just gave off a menacing stare. He was kneeling and had mutton chop sideburns and a long scar that ran down the left side of his face. One of the guys finally told him to get lost, but the stranger just kept staring. The guy then reached out to push him away from the group and his hand went right through the stranger. This was clearly a ghost and the group tore out of the cemetery, except for the young man who had challenged the ghost. The spirit had grabbed him by the shoulders, told him to get out of his house and threw him to the ground. The ghost then turned and faded away. Now we would normally be like, well they were high so of course they saw a ghost, but this particular apparition has been seen many times in the cemetery. There are also strange orbs of light seen dancing among the tombstones and the spirit of a young woman holding a parasol has been seen. She usually nods at whoever sees her, turns into the cemetery and disappears.

Rock and Roll Graveyard

The Rock & Roll Cemetery is also known as the William Seymour Cemetery and is located in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. This small private graveyard is located near Back Bay and Fort Bayou. The cemetery probably earned its name from its most famous haunting. An elderly woman is seen rocking in a rocking chair. There are strange sounds heard like growling and moaning and shadow figures have been seen. Sam Seymour has explained that this is his family's cemetery. He said, "I know a lot of history to the place and even have the keys to the gate. I believe the old woman that everyone sees is my great grandmother Ada...her grave is located 4 graves down on the right of the tree. I can remember her sitting on the porch in her rocking chair every evening."

Anonymous, "Hi,my name is Kim and I am 27 years old I have lived in Mississippi for 21 years. In high school my friends and I, looking for a cheap thrill, would hop in the car and drive to rock-n-roll graveyard. I can honestly say that I have never seen anything in the graveyard but have heard things. One night my friends and I went there and on the way in something dragged over the top of our car, we were so scared that we immediately decided to leave. On the way out something ran across the road in front of our car that looked like a big blob of water or something,I still to this day don't know what it was. I still live 10 minutes from it. My in-laws own property on Ft.Bayou Rd. I have not been there since then I pass there often and will not look down that road."

Swan Point Cemetery

Swan Point Cemetery is located in Providence, Rhode Island and was founded in 1846. But that isn't when people started to be buried here. The oldest section of the cemetery can be found overlooking the Seekonk River and there are burials here dating back to 1722. This is a garden cemetery that started on 60 acres, but now covers 200 acres. There are beautiful flowering shrubs, azaleas, magnolias, rhododendrons, daffodils and much more. Two hundred varieties of trees have been counted here. The gorgeous landscaping is complimented with Victorian statuary. The First Congregational Society were among the first to buy plots and they transferred their dead from West Burial Ground to this new graveyard. In 1886, landscape architect H.W.S. Cleveland was hired to layout plans for Blackstone Boulevard. Boulders from the property were gathered and used to build a boulder wall to border the cemetery. A new cemetery entrance was constructed as well. The greenhouse was added in 1917 and other buildings were added in 1923 and 1932. In 1933, the Alexander Farnum Lippitt Memorial Park was established.

Notable burials here include 23 former governors of Rhode Island and Major Sullivan Ballou. Major Ballou had been a successful attorney in Providence, Rhode Island when the Civil War started. He had also been a former Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He volunteered and was enlisted in the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry and they elected him major. He was wounded and died at the First Battle of Bull Run. His body was disinterred by Confederates who thought he was Colonel John Slocum and they desecrated the body and dumped it in a ravine. He was found later by a contingent of Rhode Island officials, including Governor William Sprague. They identified the body by tattered remnants of his uniform. His body was transported back to Rhode Island and buried here at Swan Point. He had written a final letter to his wife that became famous. It reads, "My Very Dear Wife: Indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days, perhaps to-morrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write a few lines, that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more. Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine, O God be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battle-field for any country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American civilization now leans upon the triumph of government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution, and I am willing, perfectly willing to lay down all my joys in this life to help maintain this government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know, that with my own joys, I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with care and sorrows, when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it, as their only sustenance, to my dear little children, is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country. I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death, and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country and thee. I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in this hazarding the happiness of those I loved, and I could not find one. A pure love of my country, and of the principles I have often advocated before the people, and "the name of honor, that I love more than I fear death," have called upon me, and I have obeyed. Sarah, my love for you is deathless. It seems to bind me with mighty cables, that nothing but Omnipotence can break; and yet, my love of country comes over me like a strong wind, and bears me irresistibly on with all those chains, to the battlefield. The memories of all the blissful moments I have spent with you come crowding over me, and I feel most deeply grateful to God and you, that I have enjoyed them so long. And how hard it is for me to give them up, and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our boys grow up to honorable manhood around us.

I know I have but few claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me, perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, nor that, when my last breath escapes me on the battle-field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless, how foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears, every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot, I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more. But, O Sarah, if the dead can come back to this earth, and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you in the garish day, and the darkest night amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours always, always, and, if the soft breeze fans your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air cools your throbbing temples, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah, do not mourn me dear; think I am gone, and wait for me, for we shall meet again. As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care, and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers, I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children." This letter was featured in Ken Burn's Civil War documentary.

And Howard Phillips Lovecraft, more well known as H.P. Lovecraft, is buried here at the intersection of Pond Avenue and Avenue B. Fans took up a collection in 1977 to place the gravestone here. This is a low gray granite tombstone which reads, "I am Providence." That is a line from one of his letters. Lovecraft joins the ranks of many historical figures that have done great things with their art or service to humanity, but that have problematic personal lives and bigotry. We have found that we often have to separate the art from the maker. We love the stories of Lovecraft and the world that he built for so many of his famous characters like Cthulhu. He had a very small readership during his lifetime, which is surprising considering his popularity today. He was born in Providence, Rhode Island on August 20, 1890. He was raised mostly by his mother and her sisters after his father died when he was relatively young. He was often ill and as a teenager, he and his mother had financial issues. He used writing to escape his circumstances. This didn't prevent him from having a nervous breakdown that prevented him from graduating from high school. He launched his career in weird fiction with "The Tomb" and "Dagon," both published in 1917. Lovecraft married Sonia Green in 1924 and they had a short and difficult marriage, divorcing in 1929. Only one of his works appeared in book form during his lifetime, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" in 1936. His life was cut short at the age of 46 by intestinal cancer on March 15, 1937.

One of the reasons we may have spirits at unrest here is that this cemetery inherited a lot of burials from other cemeteries. But the main haunting here is connected to Lovecraft. Annual gatherings are held around his death date and this is when the activity increases. Murders of ravens are said to gather in the trees near his tombstone. There are unexplained noises and there was once a brief freak snowstorm that occurred during a gathering. And Lovecraft's spectre is said to appear as a strange, cloudy distortion. 

Laurel Hill Cemetery

Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was founded in 1836 and covers 78 acres. This is the second oldest garden cemetery in the United States. The cemetery sits above the Schuykill River and the initial founder of the cemetery was John Jay Smith and several partners. Smith was a Quaker and librarian and he realized the Friends Graveyard was not going to work for the growing city. The men found a rural area outside of Philly for the cemetery and it started as 38 acres. Scottish architect John Notman laid out the design. Notman wanted this to be a place of nature and art and he created a Doric Roman Gatehouse, chapel and superintendent's house as the first buildings. John Smith had planted 2,400 trees by 1844. By the 1860s, the cemetery became so popular that tickets had to be issued to control how many people visited. People would come for walks and picnics or just to drive the carriage through.

Over the years many monuments and statuary were added to the cemetery in the Egyptian Revival, Classical Revival and Gothic Revival styles. The oldest statues at Laurel Hill are the three that makeup the Old Mortality, which is located directly in front of the main gatehouse. There is also a Yellow Fever Memorial that was erected in 1855 and this was dedicated to the first responders who helped fight the Yellow Fever epidemic in Portsmouth, Virginia. Several historic cities that we have featured have had streets with old mansions that are known as Millionaire's Row. Laurel Hill has a grouping of mausoleums that is referred to as Millionaire's Row. One of the coolest memorials belongs to the William Warner family. It features the Angel of Death as a stern looking woman with a gown slipping down one of her shoulders and she is opening the granite sarcophagus behind her as though she is releasing the soul trapped inside. This soul appears as a winged face rising from the open tomb in a flame made of stone.

In 1913, a Doric terra cotta receiving vault was built in South Laurel Hill. During the 1970s, Laurel Hill fell into a bit of disrepair and suffered vandalism. It wouldn't be until 1973 that people of color were allowed to be buried here. The Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery oversee the care of the burials. In 2013, a bronze statue of a Civil War soldier that was made in 1883 and used to be at Mount Moriah Cemetery was brought here and rededicated. More than 75,000 people are buried at Laurel Hill and burials continue today. Some of these burials are of notable and prominent people, including 40 Civil War-era generals, that includes General George Meade.

Matthias W. Baldwin was the founder of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, which became one of the largest and most successful locomotive manufacturing firms. He has a statue in front of the Philadelphia City Hall and his monument at Laurel Hill stands tall over his and his wife Sarah's graves. Sarah Josepha Hale was an American writer and she wrote the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb." She also was known for campaigning for the holiday of Thanksgiving to be created and she pushed for the Bunker Hill Monument to be built. She died at the age of 90 and has a very simple tombstone that contains only her name and birthdate and death date.

Six passengers from the Titanic are memorialized here. William Crothers Dulles died and his body was recovered. His marker states he "Died from Titanic," which is a little odd. Mrs. Lily A. Potter survived the sinking and lived to be 98 and helped found the Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter of the American Red Cross. Mrs. Olive Potter Colius was Lily's daughter and she survived as well. Mrs. Eleanor Elkins Widener survived the tragedy because she had boarded the last lifeboat to leave the Titanic. She left behind her husband and son and they both perished. Her husband George Dunton Widener was never recovered, so he has a cenotaph in the cemetery as does their son Harry who was also never recovered. His mother founded the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at Harvard in her son's honor and legend claims that she made this contribution on condition that every Harvard graduate be taught to swim. 

Oscar Allis who invented the Allis Clamp is buried here. The Allis clamp are those scissor like clamps used to hold tissue with these sharp teeth. Anne Francine was an actress and cabaret singer in places like the Copacabana. She performed on Broadway, starring in Mame with Angela Lansbury and on television she played the role of villain Flora Simpson Reilly on Harper Valley PTA. And speaking of villains, she starred as the Evil Queen in the 1979 musical adaptation of the 1937 animated film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." She's buried on Millionaire Row in Michael Ehret's mausoleum. Circus owner Adam Forepaugh is also buried here. Elisha Kent Kane was a prominent explorer of the Arctic in the 1850s. He was the first to chart the course that Robert Peary would use when he claimed the North Pole in 1909. Kane's body was shipped around America for two weeks before he was buried because he was so revered. Historian Henry Charles Lea has a bronze sculpture of the muse of history, Clio, sitting on his tomb.

Fun fact: Adrian Balboa and Paulie Pennino, fictional characters from Sylvester Stallone's Rocky movies, have tombstones sitting near the main gatehouse. Adrian Balboa's tombstone was used in the 2006 movie Rocky Balboa and both headstones were used in the 2015 movie Creed. And speaking of movies, a man named Charles Vansant was buried here. He was the first to die from a shark attack in a series of attacks that took place on the Jersey shore in 1916. His story was immortalized in the movie "Jaws."

There are some interesting stories connected to some of the burials as well. One of these belongs to Dr. Ellwood Kirby. He not only practiced medicine, but taught it and he offered care to anyone, regardless of their financial standing. When he died from a heart attack on Christmas in 1935, he left behind a small fortune to his family. But rumors circulated that he had been buried with much of his riches, including precious stones and jewelry. Some vandals  broke into the Kirby family mausoleum and pried open Ellwood's grave. They found no riches, but they stripped the corpse naked and stole a pair of $10 cuff links. Kirby was redressed and given a new casket.

Catherine Drinkhouse-Smith and her family were Spiritualists. Catherine considered herself a medium. The final resting place of the family is just south of the gatehouse and is probably one of the most wordy monuments ever created. The writing features favorite quotes, street addresses, religious affiliations and the exact times of death. Martha Drinnan was the daughter of Laurel Hill's caretaker when she died in 1903. She was considered a spinster at the age of 39 and went missing in November of that year. She had been heading towards the Laurel Hill train station and was last seen walking along Kelly Drive. Her body wouldn't be found until March of 1904. A fisherman hauled in Martha's headless body. She was buried with no marker because her family couldn't afford one. And a Civil War veteran named Maurice Fagan took his own life at his family's burial plot, unable to deal with the migraines and the PTSD he suffered from. 

Free Spirit Paranormal Investigators regularly investigate the cemetery and help guide tours and hunts there. Frank Cassidy is a member of FSPI and he said that he has experienced enough unexplained stuff here to claim that the cemetery is very active. The group has captured moans, groans and whispers. And they claim to have seen shadow figures and indistinct shapes moving around headstones.

Disembodied whispers are heard near the area where Martha Drinnan was buried. There is also wailing heard and this continued even after a headstone was placed on her grave. A group in 2018 heard audible whispers at Fagan's family plot. The sounds of gunshots are also sometimes heard. NapoleonicCode on YouTube attended one of the hunts offered in 2011 and they were near Dr. Moray's mausoleum and said, "Paging Dr. Moray. Are you here?" Behind this is an audible sound that resembles something like a scream. (Laurel Hill Scream) (Laurel Hill Scream Amped) An electronic device also went off at another plot for about 20 seconds. One of the investigators named Gina claimed that she was knocked down by something she couldn't see. She felt the pressure on her chest before she fell back. 

These five cemeteries are historic and beautiful. We would love to visit any of them because every graveyard is special. These are places filled with people who were cared for by someone at sometime. From the children that fill the nurseries to the wives and husbands to murder victims to the downtrodden to the most prominent people in a city, all were special to someone. Do some of their spirits linger? Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!

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