Thursday, October 6, 2022

HGB Ep. 455 - Haunted Cemeteries 24

Moment in Oddity - The Curse of the Uluru Rocks

Many of us, when visiting a unique location will have the desire to bring home a souvenir. Whether it be from a souvenir shop, or a piece of nature. I myself have collected interesting rocks from travels and usually label the bottom of them to be able to recall the location visited, years later. However, I've never collected any items that have laid upon me any sort of curse (that I know of). Let me direct your attention to Uluru, Australia. Australia’s Uluru-Kata Tjuta (Cat-tuh Cheetah) National Park is home to the iconic geologic formation known as Uluru or Ayer's (Eye-yurs) Rock. It is said that if you collect a rock from this location, a curse will be laid upon you. Curses of bad luck upon rock collectors has been such a frequent occurrence that park rangers actually have a name for rocks that are returned via mail as "Sorry Rocks". The largest of these was a whopping 70 lbs! Typically these rocks are returned with an apology letter and request to be rid of the sudden bad luck. Some offenders return the rocks out of guilt as well because the land is sacred to the indigenous Anangu (Ahn-nang-goo) people, and stealing the rocks is similar to stealing an icon from a church. On average, park rangers receive one package of 'sorry rocks' per day which lends credence to the potential curse. Regardless of what one believes, a National Park receiving a package of rocks in the mail each and every day, certainly is odd.

This Month in History - Johnny Carson Becomes Host of Tonight Show

On the first of October, in 1962, Johnny Carson took over from Jack Parr as the new late night host of The Tonight Show. Most people these days have heard of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson due to the longevity of the show. Carson hosted for three decades and garnered a large audience. In addition to interviews with the day’s biggest movie and TV stars, as well as athletes, politicians, singers, comedians and animal acts, Carson's show wove in quite a bit of humor. From his jovial stage presence, to his opening monologue jokes and signature golf swing, Johnny was a favorite of many viewers. Along with his repeated well known skits as the elderly Aunt Blabby and Carnac the Magnificent, Johnny had hilarious banter with sidekick Ed McMahon and band leader Doc Severinsen. Carson had a large influence on major changes in the entertainment industry like when his show moved from New York to Burbank, CA in 1972. This brought with it the change in popularity from Broadway to Hollywood. After three successful decades of hosting The Tonight Show, Johnny made the decision to retire and on May 22, 1992, Carson hosted his final show. Once retired he chose to remain out of the spotlight for the most part. Sadly, on January 23, 2005, the late-night TV legend died at the age of 79 of complications from emphysema. I'm certain he is still missed by many, to this day.

Haunted Cemeteries 24

Every cemetery is as unique as the people who are buried within. Tombstones stand in silent vigil over final resting places. Some markers are made from stone, others from simple wood. Many are professionally etched, but a handful are lovingly hand carved. All are a testament to a life lived, some well and some not so well. All with value. On this episode, we feature cemeteries in the Middle East, South Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Canada. Join us for Haunted Cemeteries 24!

Wadi al-Salaam (Suggested by: Chelsea Flowers)

Before we discuss the haunted cemeteries, we want to talk about the largest cemetery in the world. This cemetery is Wadi al-Salaam, which translates to Valley of Peace.  The cemetery covers nearly 1500 acres with more than 6 million bodies interred. Burials continue today with up to 50,000 bodies annually from both Iran and Iraq. The cemetery has many catacombs and each crypt can hold up to 50 bodies. Ancient Mesopotamian cities all had cemeteries like this with lots and lots of tombs. Millions of people visit the cemetery every year and the most visited mausoleum is Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr's final resting spot. No one is sure when it was established, but the claim is that this goes back to Abraham and that he bought land here. The shrine of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first Shia Imam, is nearby and legend claims he said the Wadi Al-Salaam was a part of heaven. Shia Muslims believe that Ali can intercede for the dead while their soul is passing into the afterlife. Anyone buried in this cemetery will be raised from the dead on judgment day, so it is easy to understand why so many people want this to be their final resting place. Before a body is buried, it is washed and wrapped at the cemetery, funeral prayers are said at the Ali shrine and the body is carried around the shrine three times.

Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina (Suggested and Research Help by: Savannah Marchione)

Magnolia Cemetery is one of America's most beautiful and historic Victorian era garden cemeteries, located at 70 Cunnington Avenue in Charleston, South Carolina. This started as a 1500 acre rice plantation known as Magnolia Umbra Plantation that was established by Colonel William Cunnington. The house he built between 1798 and 1805 still stands in the cemetery and serves as the administrative offices of Magnolia Cemetery Trust. This home was built in the Federal style and features five rooms. The plantation was run on the backs of over 200 enslaved people. In the mid-1800s, the rural cemetery movement was taking root and Colonel Cunnington was approached by the Magnolia Cemetery Trust, that had formed in 1849, and they asked to buy the land. The cemetery was officially established in 1850 and named Magnolia in honor of the plantation. The cemetery was designed by Charleston architects Edward C. Jones and Francis D. Lee. Stonecutters William T., Edwin R., and Robert D. White sculpted many of the gravestones and monuments. The grounds also held numerous lakes, bridges, locks to control water, islands, forests and marshlands. Some of these garden elements no longer exist. The cemetery nearly went bankrupt shortly after opening, but the Civil War started and soon lots of plots were needed. Around 2200 Confederate soldiers are buried here in an area called the Soldier's Ground.

In the early years, there had been a gothic chapel in the cemetery that was also designed by Edward C. Jones. The chapel stopped being used in 1876. There was also a porter's lodge at the entrance of the cemetery, which was demolished in 1868 after the Civil War because it was heavily damaged during occupation by Union forces. A live oak tree on the property not only witnessed that occupation, but much more since it is estimated to be 500 years old. People call it The Grandfather Oak. Like many older cemeteries, this one had a receiving tomb that still stands today. This tomb was designed to hold four bodies, but during the Civil War, they crammed up to 25 bodies in there as they waited for coffins and burial plots. Families were charged $25 a month for the bodies to wait in the tomb. This fell into disuse after embalming became the normal practice after death. A man named William Burroughs Smith was stored in the tomb for 30 months. Savannah said of the tomb, "I've heard stories from people that say they see a tall man in blue standing near the tomb, and what I find interesting is the last to tours I've done in the cemetery, we've had heat storms and bolts of lightning have either struck the building or right over the building with a loud cracking boom. Now I don't think the two have anything to do with one another but I thought it was odd, especially since that would be the only time we would see lightning." 

Some of the notable graves here belong to well known Charleston families:  Frost, Rhett, Jenkins, Legare, Bennett, Manigault, Middleton, Gibbes, and Lowndes. George Washington's nephew William, who was a Revolutionary War hero, is buried here. Robert E. Lee's grandson, Robert E. Lee III, is buried here because he married a girl from Charleston. The Washington Light Infantry has a monument as well. There is a mausoleum in the shape of a pyramid. This mausoleum belongs to William B Smith and his wife. The door is now made from oxidized metalwork and the opposite side has a stained glass window. The steps leading to the door are flanked by swords with butterflies below them.

The Elbert Jones Monument is amazing! This is a Gothic Revival tower that stands 20 feet tall and sits on a multi-level pedestal with multiple design elements that include spires and angel statuary. This was the first large private monument to be placed in the cemetery and this was in 1852. Elbert Jones wasn't from Charleston, he was from San Francisco. He had made his fortune there during the gold rush, selling supplies to gold diggers. He had a wife named Sara who was from Havana, Cuba. She had gone there to give birth to their daughter and she was going to be coming back through Charleston on her way home to San Francisco. Jones decided to surprise her by meeting her there. Unfortunately, he contracted yellow fever while there while he waited for her to arrive. He died before Sara and their daughter arrived. The tower has markers on three sides, one for Elbert, one for Sara and one for their son Charlie. The daughter refused to be buried here because she felt the south took her father from her. She is buried in New York.  On Elbert's side of the monument there is an area of the stairs that look glued together and this is because there are stairs that go down into a crypt with shelves for the caskets. Jones is thought to be one of the ghosts here. People have said they've seen a man walking around the gate looking lost and perplexed, and one person has said that they have had a gentleman come up to them and ask where the Charleston Harbor is and is looking for his young family and needs directions.

The H.L. Hunley was a submarine that arrived in Charleston in August of 1863. It was named for Horace Hunley who helped finance it. The submarine was placed in the harbor to begin testing that didn't go well. The Confederates were frustrated with how long it was taking the designers to finish tests, so they seized the submarine. The Hunley was taken to Fort Johnson and then left for its first attack. The hatch was open on the submarine, which caused it to sink. There are two stories as to what caused water to get in the hatch. One claims that a passing ship caused a wake that filled the sub with water. Another story claims that the mooring lines of another ship became tangled with the sub and pulled it onto its side. There were eight men on board. Two escaped from the inside and another was on top of the submarine, so easily got free. Five men perished. After several weeks, the submarine was retrieved and given back to Hunley. He brought it back to the harbor and scheduled a demonstration. He was the captain and joined by seven other men. Hunley claimed that the submarine would dive under the CSS Indian Chief and surface on the other side. The submarine went under and wasn't seen again for weeks. The bow was buried in the mud and chains and ropes were used to hoist it to the surface. All men were lost and Hunley was still clutching a candle. The forward ballast tank valve had been left open, which flooded the submarine. The crews from both tragic accidents are buried at a memorial in the cemetery. 

A couple of the hauntings here are connected to the graves of children. The first belongs to Rosalie Raymond White. She was born in Charleston in January of 1882 and passed away 7 months later in September 1882 from yellow fever. The plot features a bassinet and a death mask. Legend claims if you visit Rose and place baby toys or change on her bassinet, good fortune will follow you with an easy pregnancy. People claim that Rose is an active spirit. Savannah wrote, "Several times when I have visited there I have heard what sounded like a baby crying, but it was a soft cry and one that sounded like a 'I'm just saying a hello,' if that makes any sense, and I've also heard cooing, and a soft baby giggle. I've heard stories from the tour guides that they've had pregnant women say that they've felt their stomachs being rubbed and one woman said it felt like a little kid was softly patting her stomach, and other women feel a presence of a baby around this area. Rose and her entire family are all together in a brass gated section of the cemetery, I think there are like 10 different headstones.  Interestingly enough I believe Rose and 1 other child's grave are the only 2 that have the death mask, I'm like 90% positive about that."

The other child's grave belongs to a little girl named Annie. She died at the age of 2 or 3 from yellow fever. Annie is a very kind and friendly spirit. Savannah wrote, "If you do the night tour and you are off to the side or to the back of the group and you are a woman, she will come up to you and hold your hand or you'll feel something hug your legs as if a toddler came up to you to hug you. I had heard a rumor that she liked dogs, so I decided to test it out one day. I have a 110lb Saint Bernard, Black Lab, Weimaraner mix, named Bandit. So I had taken him out of the car and he was all excited and kinda zooming around smelling all the smells and peeing on every blade of grass that he came in contact with, like every dog does. Then I noticed he kinda seemed to slow down and kinda stopped and at this point I'm over looking at another grave, so I turned back around to see where he was at and I stopped dead in my tracks and I see that he had gotten into the family section and was laying in the grass on his back, belly up with this big ole grin on his face, and it seemed like he was getting his belly rubbed and as soon as I go to grab my phone to take a picture, he hops up and comes barreling back to me. I really wish I was making this up, but I was just in shock, so I simply said, 'Thank you, Annie. I hope you enjoyed playing with Bandit." 

About three months later, I had my sister-in-law with me and we had Bandit with us, so I had let him out of the car like I had done three months prior and sure enough, we went to leave and I went go find Bandit, and there he was again, belly up with that same dopey Bandit grin laying right next to Annie's grave. So I again walked over to Annie's grave and stood outside the iron gate and said thank you for keeping Bandit company, Annie, he really enjoyed it. This next part is what gave me the biggest jump scare I've had, when my sister-in-law grabbed my arm and very quietly said something or someone is patting my leg and it feels like a toddlers hand. I was in awe, but very nervous at the same time. And Bandit, as calm as could be, walked over to Val, my sister-in-law and just gently leaned against her without putting all his weight into her and just started wagging his tail. And I looked down at him and he had that dopey grin again. So now, every time I go to Magnolia I always take Bandit and I always know where I will be able to find him."

Camp Chase Cemetery

Camp Chase was established in 1861 in Columbus, Ohio to replace Camp Jackson, which was much smaller. This was named for former Ohio Governor Salmon P. Chase, who at the time was serving as President Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury. This served as a training camp for the Ohio volunteer army soldiers, a muster outpost, a parole camp and a prisoner-of-war camp. Between 1861 to 1865, 150,000 Union soldiers and 25,000 Confederate prisoners passed through its gates. There were 9,400 men being held as prisoners near the end of the war. Some of these prisoners were Kentucky and Western Virginia civilians suspected of supporting secession and one of those prisoners was three-term United States Congressman Richard Henry Stanton. Other prisoners were Confederate soldiers that took part in Morgan's Raid in 1863.The camp closed in 1865 and buildings were dismantled so that the materials could be used to build other places like the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Dayton, Ohio. The former Camp Chase is now a residential and commercial area called Westgate.

More than 2,200 Confederates were buried in the Camp Chase Cemetery, which covers two acres. These men had died from starvation or one of the many disease outbreaks at the prison like smallpox. In 1895, former Union soldier William H. Knauss organized the first memorial service at the cemetery. In 1902, the Confederate Soldier Memorial was dedicated. Regular memorial services have been held annually. The spirit here is called The Lady in Gray. She is reportedly looking for her lost love's burial in the cemetery. She appears as a young woman of around twenty, dressed in gray and carrying a white handkerchief. Sometimes she leaves fresh flowers on the grave of a Confederate soldier.

Lake Forest Cemetery in Michigan (Suggested by: Jim Featherstone)

Lake Forest Cemetery is the oldest graveyard in Grand Haven, Michigan and had its first burial in 1873. Many of the founders of Grand Haven are buried here. The town was established along the Grand River and Lake Michigan and was an important port. The first cemetery here was in what is now Central Park and had to be removed because the city's bustling downtown started to bump up against this land of the dead. The land for Lake Forest had been purchased outside of town in 1862 with plans to build a garden cemetery. The highest point of the cemetery was designated Ferry Hill and this is where the pioneers are buried. These bodies were moved from the original cemetery to Lake Forest. 

The other bodies were moved too, but it took a while because people had to be bribed with a free burial plot in this new cemetery to get them to move bodies. And if family and friends weren't around to move bodies, they may not have been moved. Amberrose Hammond writes in her book Ghosts and Legends of Michigan's West Coast about a couple of newspaper articles that read, "In plowing today, they came across the brick foundation of what was probably once a vault in the old cemetery that used to be located there. Several human bones were also found" and "A human skeleton was found this afternoon by the city employees at work grading the city park. The bones were gathered together and it was suggested that they be cleaned and taken by the school. On the skull was found considerable hair of reddish color, despite the fact that the body had been buried 25 years. It is believed that still more skeletons will be found."

There are three hauntings connected to this cemetery: The Ghost of Kate Koopman, The Blue Man and the Potter's Field. The Blue Man is usually seen on Ferry Hill, which was named for Reverend William Ferry who died in 1867. People believe that this bluish ghost is Ferry. The graves have been desecrated at times and this spirit seems to be guarding the area. The stories of the Blue Man started as far back as the 1960s with high school students claiming to see a blue light coming from Duncan's Woods. This is a wooded area that borders the cemetery and is named for the Duncan Family who donated the area to the city. The family is buried nearby. The blue light would dance through the woods and into the cemetery. The stories continued into the 1970s, but eventually morphed into this bluish mist rising from Ferry Hill. There are stairs leading up to Ferry Hill and the rumors about these stairs match those of stairs in other cemeteries. This must be some kind of stairway to Hell. Legend claims that you will have a vision of your death when you reach the top. And another story claims that anyone buried here will have their soul climb the stairs. If they see a white light when they get to the top, then they move on to Heaven. But if there is no light, the soul has to trudge back down the stairs and wait for their trip to Hell.

The Potter's Field here is similar to other cemeteries. This is an open area of land with very few tombstones. One part of this is probably a mass grave that has estimates of holding around 1,500 bodies. Hammond shares an experience a psychic friend of her's had, "I took somebody who claimed to be psychic on a walk past Potter's Field one day. This person wasn't told anything about the history of this spot in the cemetery beforehand. As we walked, he stopped and said, 'wait a minute; what's going on here.' The only way he could describe what he was seeing was how he said he saw oil slicks just moving through the air above him."

And then there is the spirit of Kate Koopman. She is buried here in the cemetery. She was married to a saloon owner named Peter Koopman in the early 1920s. Peter came home one night and killed Kate in their home. That home is a consignment shop today and unexplained stuff has been going on in the store for years. Piles of clothes left the night before would be put away. An employee saw a full-bodied apparition coming down the stairs, which is where Kate had died. The spirit disappeared. Another employee named Yvonne said, "I saw her standing and looking out one of the upstairs windows. I've also seen her in one of the upstairs rooms where we sell our formal wear. When I come into work each day, I unlock the door, and the first thing I say is, 'Hi Kate.'" As to whether Kate haunts her burial, we haven't found any evidence.

Girls School Cemetery in Illinois (Suggested by: Jim Featherstone)

The Illinois State Industrial School for Girls used to be located around 764 Fox Run Drive in Geneva, Illinois. The complex had been comprised of colonial-style cottages and service buildings, surrounded by a fence. All that remains are these 51 graves, which are located between two houses. The school was basically a place for girls who were deemed “wayward.” The complex was built in the early 1900s and ran until the 1970s. The school was anything but that. This was basically a prison with locked doors and windows with bars. There was even a "hole" here for solitary confinement. This and beatings were used to punish any kind of minor infraction. An insider told Chicago journalists that whips and handcuffs were used on the girls. One of the things that got girls placed here was getting pregnant out of wedlock. They would stay here until they had their child and then the baby would be taken from the mother and she wouldn't see it again. After the institution was closed in 1978, the buildings were torn down, but the cemetery remained. The subdivision maintains the cemetery, which has burials for some of the girls and some babies. People claim to see glowing red eyes in the cemetery at night, especially up in the trees. And there is a figure in white that is seen walking in the cemetery. Sometimes this figure runs and cries.

Deadman's Island

Deadman's Island has a history of death. There has been slaughter here and the island itself was a giant burial ground. Deadman's Island is off of Vancouver, British Columbia in Coal Harbor. The island was officially designated as Deadman Island by the Geographical Names Board of Canada in 1937. When the indigenous people used this as a burial ground, they called it skwtsa7s, meaning "island." The name is Squamish. They had a unique form of burial in which their dead were put in red cedar boxes and hung in trees. Many of the First Nation people conducted burials this way. Coming upon burials like this should have caused explorers to turn around and leave, but that wasn't the case for John Morton. He visited the island in 1862. He either found a coffin that had fallen and opened, or he helped get it that way, and he found bones with a tassel of black hair. Morton attempted to buy the island, but Chief Capilano who lead the Squamish from 1895 to 1910 changed his mind when he told Morton about something even more troubling than just a burial ground. There was a lot of blood spilled on this island.

In the 1700s, there were two warring tribes that met up on the island. These were a Northern and a Southern Salish tribe. The Southern group got the upper hand and took women, children and elders as hostages. The Northern group tried to negotiate a peaceful exchange, but the hostages were slaughtered. Another 200 Northern warriors were killed in fighting. From that time, the island has been thought of as cursed. This is why it became a burial ground because no one wanted to live here. This went from a native cemetery to a European cemetery as settlers came to areas around the island. Mountain View Cemetery was established in 1887 and this then became the only cemetery in Vancouver and no more burials took place on the island. All sorts were buried on the island before that time though, many of them the castoffs of society. There were bandits, murderers, ladies-of-the-evening, Chinese lepers, suicides, seamen who died in wrecks and Canadian Pacific Railway construction casualties. There were also some early pioneers as well. The Great Vancouver Fire took place on June 13, 1886 and destroyed nearly 1,000 buildings and killed 21 people. These people were buried on Deadman's Island. Victims of a smallpox epidemic also ended up here.

The Ludgate Affair began in 1899 and lasted until 1930. American industrialist Theodore Ludgate wanted to build a saw mill and log the entire island. The federal government gave him the lease, but Mayor James Garden was not about to let Ludgate destroy the island. On the morning of April 24, 1899, Ludgate headed out to the island with 30 men to begin clearing the island. Mayor Garden was waiting for them with the entire police force. Once the men tried to cut down a tree, the police arrested everyone. There was a protracted legal battle and several more confrontations like this all the way through 1930 when the lease ran out. And it was during this time that stories of hauntings started to be told. Police officers who occupied the island overnight claimed to hear the rattling of dead men’s bones. They saw skeletons and heard those skeletons shriek. A story written in the Vancouver Courier said, “Perhaps suspecting that human agencies, rather than supernatural ones, were responsible, the chief of police suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that his men carry torches so they would be braver and the ghosts a little less active.” 

A Canadian Naval Base was established here in 1943. Naval men have made claims of hearing and seeing strange things. Over the years, people have claimed to see spectral forms in the fog with red, glowing eyes. Names are heard being hissed in the air. Blood-curdling screams are heard. Some witnesses claim to see a fluorescent glow on the island that is in a human form. Weird moaning is heard and strange lights are seen. 

We love any cemetery, no matter the age or size. We especially love when they have ghost stories. Many people will claim that cemeteries are rarely haunted, but through the years of us researching these cemeteries, we have found that to be anything, but true. Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!

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