Urban Legend – Famous Witch Graves

As we all know, Witches have been around for a very very long time.  Many women were doomed by being both rightfully, and unjustly accused of witchcraft and pacts made with the devil.  During the witch hunt craze that started back in the 15th century, and lasted through the 17th century, an estimated 40,000 people were executed for witchcraft in Western Europe.  In America, the hunts spread through colonial colonies in New England, Connecticut, New Haven and of course there were the notorious Salem witch trials in Massachusetts.  The most common method of execution for convicted witches, as we already know, were hanging, drowning or by being burned at the stake.

Most of the final resting places of witch hunt victims have been lost to history, but there’s a few exceptions, here’s five graves and burial sites that make a sobering reminder of some of some of the darkest eras in history.

First off is the Witch of Yazoo.  She actually shares a few of the same characteristics as the sirens from Greek mythology.  According to the legend, in the late 1800s, a witch who lived near the Yazoo River was caught torturing fishermen she’d lured in from the river.  Two butchered bodies were found hanging from the rafters in her home.  The witch hauled ass into the swamp.  While she’s running from the authorities, she fell into quicksand.

As she’s sinking to her death, she swore a curse that she would return in 20 years to see the city burn.  Terrified by the threat of her curse, her body was buried on hallowed ground and heavy chains were installed over her grave to keep her from rising. But in 1904, her prophecy came true.  The city of Yazoo burned to the ground; The day after the flames died out, several townsfolk went to her grave to find that the chains had been broken in two.  So the townfolk replaced and reinforced those chains, and ever since, the witch’s grave has remained peaceful.  Legend has it that if the chains are broken, the city will burn again.

Next is the Grave of Meg Shelton.  In the late seventeenth century the people of Woodplumpton, a small village in England, suspected that Meg Shelton was a witch.  They accused her of stealing milk from the local farmer’s cattle, They swore she was transforming herself into animal at night so she’d remain undetected.  According to legend, Meg was crushed to death by a barrel that pinned her to a wall, when she was buried, the town took extra precautions to prevent her, and her powers from ever rising again.  They buried her vertically, head first in the ground in a small, tight shaft so that if she tried to dig her way out she’d be going the wrong way.  Then, they then covered the hole with a massive stone so that she’d never escape.  The stone remains to this day in the boneyard at St Anne’s Church, next to it is a plaque warning visitors that the Witch of Woodplumpton lies buried beneath.

 

Then there’s the Chesterville Witch, In a small graveyard in the heart of Illinois Amish country, you’ll find her grave.  The story goes, that in the early 1900s, this local chick was accused of witchcraft after she challenged the Amish faith. The town elders banished her, calling her the devil’s servant.  But a few days later, her dead body mysteriously shows up in a nearby field. Terrified she’d come back to life and seek her revenge, the townsfolk buried her, and an oak tree was planted to mark her location.  The legend also goes on to say that the tree contains her soul, and if it’s ever cut down or destroyed, the ghost of the witch will leave her grave to seek her revenge on those who caused her death.

Now, Lilias Adie was accused of being a witch by her fellow townspeople in Scotland in 1704.  The church coerced her into confessing that she was the devil’s wife.  She died in prison before she could be tried, sentenced and burned for witchcraft.  Her body was taken to the beach off West Fife coast and was buried deep in the mud just between the high tide and low tide.  They used a massive tombstone to cover her grave, sealing her into her muddy tomb to prevent her from tormenting the living.  But, legend says that her body vanished when high tide came, all that remained was the massive stone that they used to mark her grave.

In St. Charles Missouri, you’ll find the grave of Molly Crenshaw.  Molly was said to have been a freed Jamaican or Haitian that was a known practitioner of Voodoo.  Her charms were in high demand, folks would come from miles around in search of cures or hexes.  But one year, after a particularly nasty drought, the locals turned against her and executed her.

In order to prevent her from rising from the grave, they chopped her body into pieces and buried the pieces in the woods around a remote cemetery.  It wasn’t enough.  Year after year, the pieces crawled closer together until her body was made whole.  Now nobody knows exactly where the spot she came to rest is, but it’s said that anyone who successfully finds her grave will meet a gruesome end.

According to a local English teacher at Francis Howell High School, “There was a story about two football players who went looking for the grave in the 1950s.  Well, apparently they found it and they met with that gruesome fate.  The sheriff’s deputies found their bodies impaled on the graveyard fence.”

 

Then check out this little tale, There’s a ghost town, that used to be the village of Pere Cheney, and beneath its ruins is one hell of a tragic history.  The remaining cemetery, which houses the graves of around 90 people, is rumored to be home to a witch’s grave, as well as shit ton of supernatural occurrences.  Pere Cheney was originally settled in 1874 by lumberjacks, who thought the site of the local sawmill was an great spot to set down roots.  In 1881, its population had grown to 922.

But a few years later, diphtheria swept through the area and most of the children died.  As the community struggled to recover, a fire broke out, and in 1893 there was an outbreak of smallpox, scarlet fever, and another bout of diphtheria.  By 1818, only 18 residents remained, the village was completely abandoned. According to legend, people from surrounding communities deliberately set fire to Pere Cheney to prevent the spread of disease.  So what could have brought on such tragedy?  Well, Folks say that the epidemics and fires were caused by a witch who cursed the land after having been banished to the surrounding wilderness.  She was later hanged from a tree in the cemetery and her body was burned.  To this day, some visitors claim to see her ghost in Cheney Cemetery.  I’d say she got her revenge.

 

So, Throughout history, there have been tons superstitious, preventative means in which people have tried to prevent witches from rising from the grave, just like vampires.  It seemed that death was never punishment enough, no matter the amount or torment and torture endured in the process.  During a recent archaeological dig of a ‘witches graveyard’ in Tuscany, archaeologists discovered the remains of an 800-year-old woman who they believe died in the middle ages.  It seems the people in the area were so worried that she’d use her powers to bring herself back from the dead, they drove seven nails through her jawbone and more had been hammered into her clothes to pin her down in her shallow grave.  The practice of nailing the mouth shut was an old custom believed to keep the dead firmly in their graves.

 

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