I am a Tombstone Tourist: someone who loves to wander cemeteries. I find it akin to visiting a museum: an opportunity to enjoy rarely seen sculpture, intricate carvings, and amazing architecture, all in a tranquil outdoor setting. This blog is about cemetery culture, art, history, issues of death, and genealogy - subjects of current relevance. I usually find something that intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper. Care to join me? Read on...
Friday, October 21, 2016
Mausoleums - Haunted "Homes" of the Dead
cemeteries are especially in vogue this time of year, but haunted mausoleums
seem to be a major attraction any time. There’s something about this
“house-type" structure that intrigues us, and then throw in a ghost or two, and we're hooked.
are four mausoleums that house more "spirit" than most.
Grove Cemetery – Cincinnati, OH
This mausoleum was built
in 1869 for whiskey baron, Edmund Dexter, one of Cincinnati’s wealthiest residents in the mid-1800s. When Dexter died, he
was laid to rest in this Gothic Revival mausoleum, which contains 12 marble
crypts where four generations of the Dexter family are buried. Besides it’s
claim of being haunted, it also boasts the only two flying buttresses in
has been rumored that two large white dogs protect the mausoleum, although it
isn’t known if they were once pets of the Dexter’s. Legend has it that if you
sit on the steps of the mausoleum, the dogs will appear. If they believe you to
be good, they will run past. If they are not sure of your intentions, they will
stop and watch you. If they sense you are up to no-good, they will growl and
advance. (Best to be up to only good when you visit.)
Cemetery – Decatur, IL
Public Mausoleum was built in 1908 but soon ran into trouble when leaks
developed due to shoddy construction. The cemetery association soon ran out of
money and ghost stories began to circulate as the grounds fell into disrepair.
By the 1950’s, what had once been a beautiful, rural garden-style cemetery
became a magnet for negativity. People reported hearing disembodied voices,
crying and screaming coming from the mausoleum. By 1957, the building was
declared unsafe and was closed. Family members were notified to relocate their
loved ones. One hundred bodies were never claimed – some were never identified.
Eventually the cemetery association buried them in common graves across from
where the mausoleum had been.
Former Location of Mausoleum
was 1967 when the mausoleum was finally razed. Today that site is still vacant.
No burials have ever been made here, and there are still reports of voices
along with lights seen wandering near the common graves – perhaps a lost
soul searching for their remains?
Lawn Cemetery – Terre Haute, IN
Sheets was born in 1853 and lived into his early 70s. He saw many
technological changes during that time, and one of the new-fangled inventions
he found an odd use for was the telephone.Martin had one installed in the family mausoleum, just in
case he was buried unconscious, but alive, and needed to summon help. It was
stipulated in his will that a phone line be run from his crypt to the cemetery
office. He then set up an account with Indiana Bell Telephone that kept the
line paid for and active, just in case he ever needed it.
Martin died, he was placed in the family mausoleum with his infant daughter.
Several years later his wife Susan passed away. When family members found her,
she was in the kitchen with the phone in her hand. They assumed she had been
attempting to summon help.But
according to legend, when the mausoleum was unlocked to place Susan’s casket
next to her husband, cemetery workers discovered the phone in the crypt was off
the hook! Coincidence … or a call to "come home?"
Lawn Cemetery – Terre Haute, IN
then there’s my favorite haunted mausoleum tale - that of Stiffy Green.
Haute businessman John Heinl and his dog, Stiffy Green would stroll through
town, visiting with the folks. Stiffy had received his name because of his
stiff walking gait and green eyes, and everyone knew the pair.
December 31, 1920, John Heinl passed away. Stiffy was inconsolable. He sat be
the coffin at the funeral and followed the family to the graveyard where he
took up post at the mausoleum doors, and there he remained, guarding his master
in death as he had guarded him in life. Family and friends made many trips to
the cemetery that winter to retrieve Stiffy and take him home, only for him to
return to his master’s crypt doors.
slowly mourned himself to death. Heinl’s wife was so touched that she paid
tribute to his unwavering love and devotion by having him stuffed in the
sitting position he had assumed for so long on those cold mausoleum steps.Stiffy was then placed inside the tomb,
reunited at last with his master.
it wasn’t long before cemetery workers noticed that Stiffy mysteriously moved
from one side of the tomb to the other, and back. Sightseers began to visit
after dark and vandals would not leave the site alone, damaging doors and
windows. Then, in 1985, thugs shot out Stiffy’s right glass eye.The family decided it was time for
Stiffy be moved and the Vigo County Historical Society Museum agreed to take
him. There, the Terre Haute Lions Club built a replica of the Heinl mausoleum
so that Stiffy could still be “on guard.”
rumors spread that just at twilight on autumn evenings, you can see an elderly
man and his small dog walking near the Heinl crypt, the smell the rich pipe
smoke wafts though the air, and a low voice can be heard talking to his devoted
companion who answers him with a happy bark as they take another stroll