Thursday, April 18, 2024

HGB Ep. 534 - Haunted Cemeteries 29

Moment in Oddity - The Tower of London Hand

Sometimes a disembodied hand is just a disembodied hand that may be looking for its body. Or maybe it's Thing from the Addams Family. Or perhaps it could be the representation of something that is lore with a touch of the historical, as it is at The Tower of London. The Tower of London is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites and is a historic castle located on the River Thames in London, England. Originally constructed as a defensive fortress, the Tower is now an iconic landmark beckoning tourists from all over the world. The first building that visitors encounter here is Byward Tower. Prior to passing through its archway and hidden in plain view, is a foggy brick of glass built right into one of the drum towers. Resting just behind the glass is a macabre sight, a human hand. Although it is artificial, it is enough to give some tourists the heebie jeebies! Lore has it that due to the Byward Tower having been the main entry to the castle, visitors were required to place their hand within the hole and speak a password to gain entry. If the word uttered was incorrect then the potential intruder would have their hand chopped off then and there! Although the Yeoman Warders who currently guard the castle are not sure of the hands' origin or purpose, the sight of a disembodied hand encased in the wall of a medieval castle certainly is odd.

This Month in History - ANZAC Day

In the month of April, on the 25th, in 1915, 70,000 soldiers from the Allies landed at Gallipoli marking the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I. Great Britain had declared war on Germany after it invaded Belgium in 1914, bringing their Commonwealth realms into the war. The objective of this military action was to drive through Istanbul and take out Turkey. This would allow Russia to get its supply lines through to help them fight Germany. The Allies weren't successful and a stalemate resulted that lasted eight months before the Allies withdrew. There were heavy casualties on both sides. 20,000 of those 70,000 troops were from the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, also known as ANZAC. April 25th formally became ANZAC Day in 1916 to commemorate victims of war and recognize the role of armed forces for the countries. This was officially declared by Acting Australian Prime Minister George Pearce and carries on a tradition of courage, endurance and mateship.

Haunted Cemeteries 29 

It wasn't until the nineteenth century that it occurred to people that cemeteries could make great parks. A movement carried over from France and swept the nation and garden cemeteries were founded in every state. These became gathering places for family picnics and settings for long, peaceful walks enveloped in the shade of countless varieties of trees. Several of these cemeteries are not as peaceful as they could be, with spirits roaming about after dusk. In this episode, we share the history and hauntings of cemeteries in Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Mississippi, Indiana and Colorado.

Cave Hill Cemetery

Cave Hill Cemetery is located in Louisville, Kentucky. This is the largest cemetery in Louisville and many claim that it is the most beautiful cemetery in Kentucky. This is a 296 acre burial ground located at 701 Baxter Avenue that is not only an arboretum, but it's the final resting place of Muhammad Ali and Colonel Sanders. Cave Hill was chartered in 1848 on a rural property known as Cave Hill Farm. Garden cemeteries were the rage in the late Victorian era and Louisville wanted their own, so they hired Edmund Francis Lee to lay out the design. There were lakes and ponds and hills and winding paths. Beargrass Creek runs through the middle and is fed from a cave for which the cemetery is named. There are 500 varieties of trees on the property, some of which have won awards. William Johnston had owned the land and his farmhouse that still stood on the property was turned into what was called a pesthouse, a place for people with contagious diseases to be locked away from the public. That was demolished in 1872 and replaced by Beechhurst Sanitarium that was open until 1936 when it too was demolished.

The Italian Renaissance Revival entrance and main gate was added in 1880. Another entrance was added on Baxter Avenue and this featured Corinthian styling with a clock tower that held a 2,000 pound bell. Apparently, this got hit by lightning alot as it was the tallest structure around for years. There are over 120,000 internments. Over 250 Confederate soldiers are buried, one of whom was Brigadier General Alpheus Baker. The founder of Louisville, George Rogers Clark was buried here after being exhumed in 1869 from another cemetery. A friend of his, Judge John Rowan, said at his funeral, "The mighty oak of the forest has fallen, and now the scrub oaks sprout all around." Meriwether Lewis Clark, the grandson of the famous explorer, has his plot here. Well known burials here include the sisters who created the Happy Birthday song, Patty and Mildred Hill. The founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Colonel Harlan Sanders, died in 1980. He developed his secret recipe for breading chicken and cooking it in a pressure fryer in 1940 when he was 50-years-old. He was buried in his trademark white suit and black western string tie. His second wife joined him at Cave Hill in 1996. One of the greatest American boxers of all time, Muhammed Ali, was buried at Cave hill when he passed in 2016.

There are many unique memorial graced with sculptures. Saundra Twist, a mom of three kids, had once been a fashion model and so an elegant statue graces her plot with a stone tablet sharing the story of her career. The grave of three-year-old Samantha Ann McDonald has a birdbath and a sculpture titled "Jesus Is My Swingset." Her likeness sits on a wooden plank suspended by ropes and a rendition of Jesus stands behind her gripping the ropes. Little Samantha passed when she accidentally rode her trike into the family swimming pool and drowned. The lyrics to "Jesus Loves Me" are carved into stones on either side of the sculpture. Harry Leon Collins was known as the Frito-Lay Magician because he had been a salesman for the company and then became a full-time Frito-Lay corporation magician. His plot fetaures him in a tuxedo with his cape tossed over a box, more than likely filled with props. This sculpture creeps people out a bit because of the hollow eyes. It's not haunted, but other areas of the cemetery have strange things happening. Dusk seems to bring the haunts out at Cave Hill. People claim that green orbs have been seen floating in the cemetery at night. A female apparition is seen. No one knows who she is, but she tends to the graves of children. Disembodied whispers are heard, especially near the graves of Civil War soldiers.

Maple Park Cemetery

Maple Park Cemetery is located at 300 W. Grand Street in Springfield, Missouri. The burial ground was founded in 1876 after residents complained that the city cemetery, called Hazelwood, was too far outside of town to make it convenient to visit loved ones' final resting places. That cemetery was four miles from downtown Springfield at the time. Six businessmen heard the complaints and they formed an association that founded a not-for-profit cemetery. The cemetery was filled with maple tree plantings and that is where the name originates. The land where the cemetery sits was owned by the Campbell family and they had a fruit farm there, along with a house. The property was originally 200 acres and L.A. Campbell sold 30 acres to an agricultural association. This was used as a fairgrounds for awhile  and then it was sold to the cemetery association. The most distinctive item in the graveyard is the historic gazebo. No one is sure what it dates to, but it is thought it was a part of the fairgrounds. This features an onion dome cupola and designs near the roof featuring horseshoe-shapes, a four-leaf clover and cross designs. Visitors to the cemetery have claimed to see shadow figures, particularly near a mausoleum. Sometimes these figures have more detail to them, but when approached, they disappear. A little girl ghost has been seen playing amongst the tombstones. This is an intelligent haunting as she is aware of people and her surroundings. The gazebo occasionally features music...and it's not because a band is playing there.

Red Oak Presbyterian Cemetery

Red Oak Presbyterian Church is a historic church in the old river town of Ripley, Ohio. The church isn't fancy - just a little knock-about-place. Doesn't really look like a church. Interestingly, it has two separate doors on the front and no one knows why. Theories include, a door for women and one for men or possibly one for whites and for one blacks, being that this is an old church. One thing that gives away that this is a church is the cemetery behind it. The congregation was founded in 1798 and the building was constructed in 1817. The cemetery not only includes members from the church, but pioneers from the area. The most well known person buried here is Rosa Washington Riles who passed away in 1969. You may not recognize that name, but you probably recognize the name "Aunt Jemima." She was a member of the church until she left town in her mid-thirties to work as a cook for an executive from the Quaker Oats Company. The original Aunt Jemima had been Nancy Green and when she passed in 1923, the company needed other women to take on the role. So Riles became Aunt Jemima in the 1950s. A pancake breakfast in honor of Riles is hosted every year by the church to raise funds to maintain the old cemetery. The church also paid for Riles headstone.

The cemetery here is supposedly crazy haunted. Two log houses served as church buildings in the early years, but both burned down, the last one because it was hit by lightning. That lightning hit a tree in the cemetery too. That killed the tree, at least for a little while. A few years later, it started to regrow. And then, it was hit by lightning a second time. Just before the church had it cut down, it showed signs of life again. The church started calling this the Resurrection Tree. A person wrote of the cemetery, "It is one of the most eerie cemeteries I have ever visited. My son was three at the time and had no idea where we were. He just liked the headstones. But then there was this one day. He kept talking to someone and he started dancing on a headstone buried in the ground. I told him to stop and that we did not step on them. He said, "But she did it." I asked, "Who did what?" He answered, "The mom." WTF? I asked him to tell me what he was talking about. Who was he talking to? He said her name was Anna. Um, okay. I'll play along. "Who is Anna and what is she telling you?" He said, "She said her mom did it and she's sad." "Her mom did what?" He said, "She killed her. She killed all of them." What? He didn't even know what a cemetery was at that time. I started looking at the gravestone he was dancing on and it was a woman. There was also a 5 foot tall monument with a lot of names and dates on it. One name was Anna. There were 5 or 6 other names and dates. They were all the children of that woman. All of them died before they were five. (Born in the 1800s) Now, he couldn't read yet, nor did he know we were in a place where dead people were buried. Call it a coincidence, but I think that little girl told him that her mom killed her and all of her siblings. Creepy shit. I never took him back there with me again."

Chapel of the Cross, Madison Mississippi (Suggested by: Chelsea Flowers)

Chapel of the Cross Cemetery is located at 674 Mannsdale Road in Madison, Mississippi. This is attached to the church for which it is named. The Johnstone family came from North Carolina to Mississippi in the 1820s and bought land. John T. Johnstone bought 524 acres where the Chapel sits today. There was a log cabin already on the property and he enlarged it for his family and named it Annandale. That had been the name of his ancestral home in Scotland. The family had moved into the cabin in 1841 and just seven years later, John was dead at the age of forty-seven. His wife Margaret buried him in the flower garden of the log cabin home. John had wanted to build a church here and Margaret went forward with that plan. She hired architect Frank Wills and he designed a Gothic Revival church with a lofty bell tower, tall narrow windows, and arched entrances. The church was built from bricks made by slave labor from river bottom clay. The interior featured hand-hewn wood and pews and chancel furnishings were imported through a furniture dealer in New Orleans. The baptismal font was cut from three pieces of imported Italian stone and the pipe organ was shipped from Philadelphia. The original bell was melted down by Confederate forces to make bullets during the Civil War. The church has undergone extensive renovations and is home to an Episcopalian congregation. Located behind the church is the cemetery.

Rodney Mooney heads up the Wandering the Pines of Mississippi account on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube and Chelsea shared this post in the Crew, "The following is a true story most have never heard & likely won’t find anywhere else, at least, not in its entirety. Thank you Leslie Miller, guide for Mont Helena in Rolling Fork, MS, for introducing me it. This story strengthened my resolve to record our MS stories & share them for hopes of preserving our state’s great history before it’s lost.  I have a lot of ideas for how I’m going to preserve these stories that I’ll share with you in the future, but in the meanwhile, brace yourselves for a small sample of one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever heard… It’s Christmas, 1855. 16 yr old, Helen Johnstone, is celebrating with family at her sister’s house when there is a knock at the door. She answers it to find the very handsome Henry Vick, from the same family that settled Vicksburg, so think of him as a MS prince. Though, we must then also see Helen as our MS princess as well; her family was very well off & established much of MS as well; her bloodlines went back to some major Scottish clan roots… As Helen answered the door, Henry explains that he was traveling from Nita Yuma when his wagon became stuck in the mud and a wheel spike had broken. While he was looking for help, he found more than he bargained for at that doorstep; it was love at 1st sight. Helen begged her parents for Henryto be allowed to stay until they fixed the wagon.  A few days later & before he could leave, Henry asked Helen’s widowed mother for permission to marry her daughter. Helen’s mother agreed but only until she had time enough to build them a house, later to be named Annandale, once near present Madison, MS (to later be known as the most beautiful gem in the South before it burned). She also did this to protect her daughter, to give them a longer engagement, being Helen was only 16. Two years pass, the house is almost complete, so Henry & his friends accompany him to New Orleans, so he can buy a suit for the wedding.  It was to be the wedding of MS royals after all & was to be a wedding for the ages! There are 2 stories as to what happens next: it is said that Henry had a run in with someone over land; however, the following is the story that I feel is more accurate after further research.  One of Vick’s accomplices, in some accounts referred to as a Mr. Stith, on the trip to NO became angered when he fell off his horse after trying to get on it; he blamed it on Henry’s man servant not saddling it correctly. Stith said if Henry didn’t beat the manservant himself, he’d do it himself. Henry protected his man servant, siding with him over his friend, angering the man further. After a heated conversation & needing to be separated, things seemed to have cooled down, or so Henry thought. They made it to NO, bought the suit, & were celebrating at a bar, when Stith, still angry, approached Henry. Stith demanded a duel with pistols. Henry then denied the request as Helen had explicitly requested that Henry never do such a thing before he left.  She couldn’t bare to lose the love of her life nor the thought of him taking the life of another. However, at this refusal, Stith declared to all in the bar that by not agreeing to a duel, his entire family name, Vick, would be tarnished & he would “no longer be known as a gentleman of honor.”  Would the city of Vicksburg have to change its name?  For shame!  Apparently, this threat was enough. Honor was held in much higher regard back then. Henry agreed to the duel, but dueling was illegal. They found a field, hidden away all the way out in Mobile, Alabama, where they thought was private to have the duel. Being the gentleman, after walking their 10 paces, Henry turned but fired a shot straight up into the air. After all, he promised Helen not to kill a man.  Unfortunately, Stith did not miss, hitting Henry right between the eyes, killing him on the spot.  As police were made aware of the duel & closing in, Henry’s friends gathered the body, hid it in a box with coffee grounds to mask the smell, & sent it on a train with the caterers delivering food to the wedding, none all the wiser that the groom was dead in a box with them. Henry’s friends were unable to get word to Helen about her fiancĂ©’s death due to the illegality of the dueling & being pursued by police, so unawares, Helen & her mother were still decorating the newly built church, the Chapel of the Cross in Madison, for the wedding. Waiting for her fiancĂ© to arrive, the joyous mood turned to despair, as her husband’s body arrived instead.  Instead of a wedding, they had a burial on their wedding day.  She wore her wedding gown, & all with lanterns to light the way, buried Henry Vick in his new suit in the Johnstone family plot. It is said that Helen would not leave & stayed nearby, sitting on the cold iron bench, rain or shine, beside his grave, wailing, crying, & talking to him for months until her mother took her away to visit family in Scotland. Years passed, Helen returned to MS, & married a reverend & soon had children.  They all lived happily at Mont Helena in Rolling Fork, MS, built atop an old ceremonial mound. She is said to have had a happy family life for the remainder of her years… However,… perhaps Helen & Henry’s love story did not end as many suspect.  I was made privy to a new wrinkle to the story… Her husband, the reverend, had passed, & Helen was on her deathbed at the top of Mont Helena.  I was told that her mother was at her bedside, when Helen looked up & smiled. With her last breaths, Helen said, “Mama.. do you see him?  It’s Henry… I see him coming in his carriage to take me home.”  There are also other stories of sightings of Helen’s ghost still haunting Henry’s graveside, sitting on the same iron bench.  Whether or not you believe they are reunited in the afterlife… No matter if her last words & present haunts are true,… the love story between the bride of Annandale & Henry Vick was real. And,… I like to think that by remembering & retelling this tale, they ARE united again, their story preserved, & their love, immortal. - Quick note: when visiting Henry’s grave at the Chapel of the cross, I was in respectful silence & admiration, when out of nowhere, a ray of sunlight broke through the leaves in the trees, passed over Helen’s bench, & illuminated the cross atop Henry’s tombstone.  It was brilliant."

Justus Cemetery

Justus Cemetery is located at 805 S. Howard Street in Oxford, Indiana. There are around 1200 burials here. Burials have taken place since 1808, but the cemetery wasn't officially established until 1840. The first burial after that was for James McConnell on March 11, 1840. One of the burials here is connected to a tragic story. Two 13-year-old boys named Marvin Mounce and Carol Albertson were buried here after they drowned trying to save the young sister of Marvin, Coleen. It seems Coleen was wading in the shallow water when she stepped off into a deep hole. The boys were fishing and came running when they heard Marvin and Coleen's mother screaming. Neither boy could swim, but Marvin jumped in, while Carol grabbed a pole for Marvin to grab onto. Carol slipped into the hole trying to rescue Marvin. Both boys went under and never surfaced, but Coleen bobbed to the surface and was pulled out by some people who had come running to the scene and she was revived and saved. Marvin and Carol were recovered a little later and their funeral was held at Carol's house. Carol was buried at Justus and Marvin was buried at Boswell Cemetery in Boswell, Indiana. 

The ghost story here has nothing to do with the boys. This story begins with the water tower in Oxford. The night was cold and blustery and the train was making its way along the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad. It made its normal stop at the water tower to take on water. Crew members were trying to stay warm as they did their work when they suddenly heard a deep, echoing moan rising from the tower. But it wasn't just the crew that heard the noise. The passengers did as well. As the noise continued, a glowing white figure appeared and drifted towards the train. The crew members stood frozen to their spots and none of the passengers dared to breathe. And then a passenger screamed, followed by another passenger screaming. This woke the crew out of their stupor and they quickly packed in their stuff, but before they could leave, they watched as the spirit made its way to Justus Cemetery and disappeared into a grave. A few nights later, the train experienced another strange thing. It had stopped for water at the tower again. The crew finished up without any issues, but as the train tried to pull away, the wheels just spun around and the train went nowhere. The train seemed to be held back by something. The panicked crew felt the train break free and it lurched forward. They decided to not stop at the Oxford water tower ever again.

Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs

Evergreen Cemetery is located at 1005 S. Hancock Avenue in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was established in 1871 and covers 220 acres. This was two miles from the town and founded initially under the name Mountain Home Cemetery by Colorado Springs founder General William Jackson Palmer. The name was changed to Evergreen in 1877. This has been city owned and operated since 1875 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. A small chapel in the cemetery was built in 1910 and the basement vault could hold up to 30 bodies during the winter when the ground was frozen. A special mechanism would lift the caskets up. Burials continue still and there are over 100,000 currently. Notable burials include pioneers of Colorado Springs including Palmer, mine owners, astronaut Dale Gardner and Roy Rogers comical sidekick Pat Brady. Stephanie Westerfeld was an American figure skater who was flying to the World Championships in Prague in 1961 aboard Sabena Flight 548 when it crashed. Her sister Sharon was also on the plane and both were killed. Stephanie was 17 and Sharon was 25.

The chapel seems to be the scene of most of the haunting activity. Strange, unexplained noises have been reported and dark figures have been seen inside near the casket lifting device. A woman was visiting when she reported feeling a cold blast go through her as she was going down the stairs of the chapel. She felt extremely uncomfortable. Another woman experienced the same thing and said the cold blast felt negative. In April of 2011, Biography Channel's "My Ghost Story" ran an episode with a segment called "Tale of a Crypt" that featured Evergreen Cemetery. Will DeBoer worked as the cemetery manager for 19 years and he hosted walking tours where he would take people inside the chapel. Michael Coletta was another tour guide. They both appeared on the show. Michael said he had a group out in the cemetery at night when they saw a figure fly through the cemetery. The figure was described as moving cat-like and was five feet in length. Michael has used an K-2 Meter in the crypt and gotten readings. The crypts each have 100-year old wooden doors that are very heavy and the insides have slate shelves. Michael was videotaping down there when his skin started crawling and he turned around and caught on tape one of the doors opening on its own. Wind couldn't move the door. Michael circled the door to show that there were no wires or anything. He backed away from the crypt and door and the door started to close very slowly. Michael called a local radio station and showed them the video and invited them to help him try to debunk it. They tried pushing on the doors to make them swing open and they needed a lot of force to do that.

Synchronicity: Diane was watching the My Ghost Story episode and it went into the second segment about a haunted house in Fort Scott, Kansas. Crazy place where a man hacked up his wife in the basement and another man shot himself with a shotgun on the porch. The couple that lived there and shared their experiences saw an apparition, heard disembodied voices talking to their young daughters at night when they slept and had investigators catch activity in the basement including a shadow figure on video that gave me chills. It ended with the wife and their three children moving out and leaving the husband to deal with stuff. Diane wanted to know more, so she Googled the husband's name and as of 2020, the couple was still together as their names appeared together in the obituary for his father. She then saw another link via Facebook for a man with same name as husband and he lives at Fort Riley, Kansas. Our previous episode featured Fort Riley.

Grace Robertson wrote on Quora five years ago, "We were driving back we would pass this old little Catholic cemetery. It was very neat looking, meaning that people would come out and take care of the graves. This was in Poteet, it is dry and dusty. Red sand, just dusty. When we would drive by this cemetery there would be little lights on the graves, on top of the headstones just everywhere. All different color lights. These lights were not lighting bugs. There were pink, red, yellow, green. blue little lights. There was no marsh or water, the sunlight was not dancing off the headstones and grounds. Some of these headstones where old wooden crosses and dull white ones. This one was closer to us. If we were to take the long way to the cemetery it would be a half of mile. There was a lot of strange going on there. We would have to drive pass that cemetery to get to our home. We would see shadows there walking about. There would be fog that would surround the cemetery, it would look like a gate of fog. Every thing else would be clear, very clear but that fog would surround the small cemetery. Again you would see corpse lights, will of the wisp just hovering there. If they were lighting bugs they wouldn’t just stay at one spot. Sometimes when you would drive home late at night there would be a shadow darting across the road. There were plenty of accidents because of the shadows. 

 That graveyard was over run with weeds, there was trash and couples would go there to have their alone time. This little cemetery was being so disrespected that we decided to “adopt” a piece of the graveyard, maybe inspired someone to take care of it. There was a lot of graves that were very old. My daughter and I pick a grave, and we started pulling weeds and trying to clear a spot to put a vase of flowers that we got at our local HEB. We were talking, bonding and just was having a pleasant time. All of a sudden we heard footsteps, we didn’t pay it any mind. We weren't doing anything wrong, when all of a sudden we noticed that we couldn’t hear anything. No cars whizzing by, no birds, or insects, nothing. It was as if we were in a dome, the air pressure got heavy but we could still hear those footsteps. I felt something between my daughter and me. It was cold. My daughter was about to say something but I shush her. I handed her my car keys, and she knew what she was supposed to do. When she got in, I turned to where I felt the cold spot and said that I understand that you wanted to see what we were doing. We meant no disrespect. We are leaving now and you are to stay here and not follow us nor bother us. I then slowly and deliberately began walking to my car. I took a bottle of cold water and put some on the back of my neck and then toss some water behind my shoulders my daughter did the same."

Cemeteries are so beautiful and peaceful. Many of these provide a wonderful place to enjoy a picnic with family, even the deceased members. Some of these cemeteries have some weird things occurring. Are these cemeteries haunted? That is for you to decide!

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