Behind every grave is a story waiting to be told. Most of these stories are glowing memoirs represented by the elaborate carvings on headstones: father, brother, daughter, wife.
Some graves, however, have some pretty crazy-assed stories associated with them.
Ever hear of The Black Angel monument? Legends say that it haunts Iowa City’s Oakland Cemetery. Locals say that the Black Angel possesses the power to kill anyone who kisses it or in some cases touches it, I don’t know why the hell you’d want to kiss a headstone but, ok, apparently it doesn’t like it, so don’t! Ok, let me tell you this legend here.
The angel is a menacing, 8 ft tall, bronze statue that some folks “said” turned black overnight, but the reason why, varies in each version of the legend. Some say it was caused by a lightning strike and others say it was basically a karma thing, they think it turned black as result of its dead owner’s infidelity and some folks, say that the woman who had it put there was a witch. Whatever the reason, the shadow that the Black Angel statue casts, will send an arctic chill up your spine.
History says that in 1912, Teresa Doleful Feldevert commissioned the monument in memory of her son and husband who died before her. Their ashes are marked by the angel, which at that time was bright and shiny. but after Teresa’s ashes were buried there in 1924, folks say that the angel started turning black. It started at the crest of her head and crept it’s way down to her toes.
There’s a couple of creepy stories about the Black Angel. One is about a chick who went to the statue on the night of a full moon and kissed her feet. Locals say that she dropped dead six months later. Another story is about a skeptic who visited the statue with a group of friends, He’s all like “I don’t believe in those stupid legends” and everything. So his friends dared him to touch the statue, and when he did, he died on the spot, from a massive heart attack. There’s some other morbid stories about pregnant women who have miscarried after walking beneath the Black Angel’s wings too.
So, for obvious reasons, there have been countless paranormal investigators that have visited Oakland Cemetery. A lot of them have actually encountered, and captured some crazy stuff going on around the Black Angel. Some of these folks walked away with some interesting recordings of ghostly voices, and of course tons of misty figures and shifting shadows have been photographed there along with some creepy looking light anomalies.
A few years back, Devin Marble and Jaél de Pardo, of SyFy Channel’s “Haunted Highway” went out to the Cemetery to see the Black Angel for themselves. Now, neither one of them touched the statue, but they managed to capture some serious temperature fluctuations with their thermal cameras. Their data showed that the statue’s temperature had risen dramatically, during their investigation, even though it was a freezing cold winter night, I find that rather interesting!
Here’s another one: So this chick named Mary Ellis moved to New Brunswick in 1790’s to live with her sister and her husband. Eventually she bought her own house on what is now Livingston Avenue. This story goes that Mary met a sea Captain and immediately fell in love with him. Well, one day he sets off to sea. He’s left Mary with the promise that he’d be back real soon, he even left his horse with her to care for while he was away.
So, Every day, Mary went to the river front waiting for this dude to return. Months go by, but every day she’s standing there on the banks of the river hoping to see her man. Well, the years continued to roll by. Mary buried her relatives along with the Captains’ horse all right there on her property. and eventually in 1828, she was buried in her family plot that overlooked the Raritan River, so she could continue to watch for her lovers return.
Mary never let go of the memory of her long lost sea captain. Nearly 200 years later, she’s still there, waiting. She’s spotted pretty often standing on the highest point of her property, with her hands shading her eyes from the sun, while she’s scanning the river in hopes that her long lost love has finally returned.
Now this one’s crazy too, sounds like something that could have gone down back in Mississippi where I grew up. So, County Road 400 in Indiana has a weird little attraction, if you’re planning a road trip out that way. Plan your route along this road cause you’re going to have a creepy little detour around the grave of Nancy Barnett. She had some strong willed relatives that refused to have her grave disturbed when the county decided to put a road through her burial plot. Now when I say refused, I mean like redneck vengeance. Family members took shifts at the grave site with a rifle in hand, daring highway workers to come anywhere near it.
After a tense standoff, the county finally gave up and wound up splitting the road, with a lane running on either side of her grave. But wait, it gets better! What had become a tourist landmark, has taken on a more mysterious air. Archaeologists have recently exhumed that grave, they found the remains of at least six other people—a total of two women, one of whom was presumably Nancy Barnett, a man, and four children—whose origins and identities are unknown. Now besides the remains of whoever the hell was in that grave, There’s the hell bent ghosts that linger there. There have been reports of folks driving by that say they were threatened by a man in overalls that was waving around a shot gun as they approached. Gotta love that sense of family right!
Then there’s this freaky little tale, the Victim of the Beast, At a glance, the grave of Lilly E. Gray in Salt Lake City, looks like just a regular grave. Yet beneath her name and the date of her birth and death is a mysterious and sinister inscription, “Victim of the Beast 666.”
Now you’d think with some madness like that etched in to your tomb stone, there has got to be something wicked behind that story right! Nah, not that I could find but, There are a few eye raising theories though.
Some folks think that Lilly might have died in a car wreck on Highway 666, which does run through Utah. The highway was famous not only for its name, but because of the high rate of fatal accidents that happened there on its desolate long stretches. During this time, Lilly actually lived in Utah, she could have easily traveled on that highway, so this does have some plausibility.
Another theory suggests that Lilly was somehow involved in Aleister Crowley’s cult from Salt Lake City. For those if you who thought that Allister Crowley was just a another one of Ozzy Ozbourne’s drug fueled hallucinations, NO! Crowley was a notorious occultist in the first part of the twentieth century. this dude actually referred to himself as “the Beast 666”, Yeah, some folks think she may have fallen victim to one of Mr Crowley’s macabre rituals or something.
But one of the most intriguing and possible theories involves her husband, Elmer. Now Old Elmer was throwed way the hell off. Everybody in town knew his ass was crazy. There’s records that he’d been arrested in Ogden for stealing an umbrella. And old boy had a serious problem with the “system” Maybe somehow in his demented little mind, he blamed the government for his wife’s death.
And here’s another crazy grave story for you about The Jewett City Vampires
In the old Jewett City Cemetery of Griswold, Connecticut you can still find a line of nondescript tombstones dating from the 1840s and 1850s. They’re really not much to look at, but these tombstones represent an era of panic and bloodshed.
When people think of early New England, one of the first things that come to mind is new England clam chowder. but a close second is always the infamous witch trials of the late 17th century, and then, the famous vampire epidemics. Historical documents written by those early residents indicates, that during that dark time in history, folks believed in, and feared the supernatural. Not only were witches to be worrying about, but there were blood thirsty creatures lurking about behind damned near every tree. This general consensus in regard to the supernatural was so deep-rooted and powerful that nearly 200 years after the last supposed “witch” was hanged, people were still paranoid enough to believe that they could be overcome by vampires.
Now, back in the day there were no Eric Northman or Lestat vampires, these bloodsuckers were gruesome, zombie like undead that were looking for lunch, most typically in the form of surviving family members. Well in the case of old Jewett City Cemetery, the family was the Rays, who over the course of nine years, lost multiple family members to consumption, which is now known as tuberculosis. The first to die from the mysterious disease was 24-year-old son Lemuel in 1845; less than four years later, the father bit it and then he was followed to the grave by 26-year-old son Elisha, only two years later.
In 1854, the oldest son, Henry started coming down with all of the same symptoms, and this is when the mass panic set in. Now they’re all convinced that they were dealing with something way beyond some wretched disease, the family came to the conclusion that the illnesses were being caused by their dead relatives rising from the grave during the night and returning to feast on the blood of the living. Something drastic needed to be done, and fast right!
According to old newspaper articles, the decomposing bodies of Lemuel and Elisha were dug up and burned immediately. Although it appears the body of Joseph Sr. was spared, it was believed by burning the parents he’d be rid of his affliction.
But that wasn’t the end of it, some other evidence was discovered in the 1990s that there may have been other earlier, suspected “vampires” outside the Ray family. In the neighboring town of Hopeville, 29 graves were unearthed— it was the unmarked cemetery of the Walton family, who had lived only two miles from the Rays’ farm about 50 years earlier, in the early 18th century. Upon archaeological exhumation, it was determined that one of the bodies, which had been decimated by consumption, apparently had been dug up after it was buried. It’s head was removed, and what was left of the skeleton was buried face down with its femur bones crossed over the chest. Other Walton family members had also evidently died from consumption. Consumption or vampirism, we may never know.
And one last freaky grave story, The Moving Caskets of the Chase Vault. Yeah we talked about this legend a while back, but it’s worth retelling, especially to some of the folks listening that don’t know about it!
On the island of Barbados there’s the Christ Church Parish. It’s just your regular run of the mill church with a peaceful little cemetery on the side. But there’s one tomb in this cemetery, where the dead are anything but at rest.
It’s called The Chase Vault and it is at the center of one of the island of Barbados’ most chilling and sinister mysteries. The Vault was built by The Honorable James Elliot. Elliot spared no expense, this tomb was made of elaborately carved stone and coral, and it had concrete walls over two feet thick. At the entrance there was an enormous blue slab of marble that was intended to seal the tomb in peace.
The first occupant was James Elliot’s wife, Elizabeth, who died on May 14th, 1792. A few years later, the vault was purchased by the Walrond Family and was opened to receive the body of Mrs. Thomasina Goddard however, upon removing the marble slab from the front of the door, the pallbearers were puzzled to find that Mrs. Elliot, and her coffin had completely disappeared.
The vault eventually ends up in the possession of the Chase Family. The first member of the Family to be buried there was baby, Mary Anne Marie Chase, who died at the age of two on February 22, 1808. Her small lead coffin was placed in the vault and the marble slab was put into place where it would remain for four years.
In 1812 Mary Anne’s older sister, Dorcas, died under what some folks say were “strange” circumstances. The rumor was that she’d been abused by her father, Colonel Thomas Chase, who did have a reputation for being cruel and sadistic to both his family and slaves. Some say that Dorcas refused to live with the abuse any longer so she starved herself to death. Her coffin was added to the vault.
Only a month later, the Colonel commits suicide. Well, when the pallbearers opened the vault, they nearly pissed their pants. Inside the tomb, both of the little girl’s coffins had seemingly been slammed around and were lying in a haphazardly on the floor, with one of the coffins was upside down.
So, at first, everybody thought that the tomb had been ransacked by grave robbers, but there were no valuables to steal and the heavy marble slab at the entrance hadn’t been moved.
Despite the mystery, the two coffins were straightened and the body of Colonel Chase was added. The Chase Vault was sealed once more.
Four years later, the vault was opened again to house the body of eleven year-old Charles Brewster Ames. Again, the coffins inside the tomb had been slung around… even the 240 pound lead coffin of the colonel. By now, the story was spreading around the island. 52 days later, when Samuel Brewster was due to be buried, the vault was inspected from the outside for anything out of the ordinary. The vault was found to be sealed airtight and watertight, nothing could get in or out. But, when they opened the tomb, it looked like a twister had hit it.
This time, one coffin wasn’t out of place… the wooden coffin of Thomasina Goddard. However, it had sustained heavy damage from another coffin smashing into it, and Mrs. Goddard’s skeleton was hanging out of it.
By this time, the news of the moving coffins had reached the ears of Barbados’ governor, Lord Combermere who decided that he’d heard about enough of all this bullshit, so he was going to go figure it all out himself.
So he shows up and ordered that the vault be inspected and made impenetrable from the outside. He then ordered that sand be sprinkled on the floor so that footprints would be left by any intruders. Finally, he has his seal placed into the fresh cement of the vault seal, because, no intruder would dare to break his seal right!
The vault remained undisturbed, on the outside at least, for two years but, during those two years, the curious folks who wanted to get a look at the infamous Chase Vault were reporting strange sounds and howls coming from inside.
So Lord Combermere decided to open the vault, he shows up again with eight slaves, a group of able bodied men, and two masons and of course, hundreds of onlookers. Lord Combermere ordered an inspection of the vault from the outside. Nothing was out of the ordinary, none of the seals were broken.
So the marble slab was removed and Lord Combermere’s knees got real weak, real fast. The coffins were violently flung around inside the vault. One coffin was actually leaning up against the door making getting into the vault difficult to begin with. Mary Anna’s lead coffin had been thrown so violently that a piece actually chipped off.
There were no prints in the sand. No one had entered the vault. By this time, the Chase family was done! They had the coffins removed and re-interred in another nearby tomb.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, you know, the, Sherlock Holmes dude, yeah, he was all into the mystery too. He proposed that the disturbances were being caused by the spirits of Dorcas and Thomas, who had committed suicide and, therefore, were cursed and restless. The fact that the coffins had started moving only after Dorcas Chase was buried seemed to support his theory.
There were other explanations, of course, such as human tampering, earthquakes, and explosions but they were all ruled out. Explosions and earthquakes would have disturbed other vaults in the cemetery and human tampering was kicked out due to the fact that the vault seal hadn’t been broken, the marble slab was so heavy it took eight men to move it, and the coffin blocking the door would have made escape for human intruders impossible.
The most popular theory other than the supernatural ones, is flooding. If the vault had filled with water, the coffins – even the metal ones – would have floated… but if the coffin movement was caused by floodwaters, why was the sand on the floor not disturbed? How would it account for the damage done to the coffins as though they were thrown with great force? Why hadn’t any other tombs in the cemetery flooded?