Showing posts with label haunted cemeteries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label haunted cemeteries. Show all posts

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Haunted Hoosier Cemetery - Oak Grove

Oak Grove Cemetery
On a wind-swept hill in broad daylight, the sounds of children laughing could be heard. But in the middle of this 23-acre cemetery, there are no children to be seen. Welcome to Oak Grove Cemetery in Washington, Indiana.

Arthur Greenwood
Oak Grove was once the burial place of the movers and shaker of the community. Congressman Arthur Herbert Greenwood served as Indiana’s representative for the 2nd District from 1923-1933, and represented Indiana’s 7th District from 1933-1939 in the US Congress. He was also House Majority Whip during the 73rd Congress. Greenwood began his foray into politics in Washington Indiana when he served as a member of the Board of Education in Daviess County from 1911-1915. He died in 1963 in Maryland and was buried in Oak Grove.

William Bynum
Another US Representative from Indiana buried here is William Dallas Bynum who served as Washington Indiana’s first City Clerk. Bynum was also City Attorney and Mayor. He was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives from 1881 – 1885, and was elected to the 49th and four succeeding Congresses, serving from 1885- 1895 during which time he was House Minority Whip. Bynum died in 1927.

A stone is hidden by growth
Oak Grove Cemetery began to fall into disrepair at the beginning of the 21st century. With no perpetual care money left to maintain the cemetery, the grass and weeds were left to grow in the older sections. These are the sections where unrest has been felt – and experienced.

Then they were gone
I have visited this cemetery three times in the past few years with different people. Each time we’ve come away with otherworldly stories to tell. My first time there I discovered a large black dog roams the cemetery. I heard a large dog running up behind me with the tags rattling on his collar but when I turned, there was nothing there. When I looked over at the woods that borders the property, a man, dressed in black, stood there with his black dog. They looked at me for a moment, took one step back and they were gone.

An encounter was experienced down this lane
A friend who had never had any paranormal experiences was given quite a scare when we decided to roam the grounds to photograph graves. Meeting up later, we discussed the condition of the cemetery. At that time, it was privately owned and was not being properly taken care of. The grass in the older section where we stood was knee high. After chatting a few minutes, we each headed out in different directions. Half an hour later she came rushing over the hill. Tossing her camera into the car she asked if I had slipped up behind her and called her name in an attempt to scare her. But I and our other cemetery buddy had already packed it up and were sitting in the car talking. The fact that the spirit had mimicked my voice frightened her the most. When we drove to the location where the incident occurred, there was nothing: no sounds, no odd feelings, no one we could see.

The boy who watches
There is a lifelike statue of a small boy who died in the 1800s. He sits on his stool as if unsure what to do, but his eyes seem to follow you around the cemetery. The truly weird part is when you approach the stone - the eyes appear to go flat and are covered in lichens.

I have also encountered a portal of some sort in the middle of the cemetery, which opened with an odd sound and a quick blast of air, and closed the same way – similar to an elevator. Voices can be heard talking, but the words are undistinguishable.

An untended area of the cemetery
Apparently, some “residents” are not pleased that their burial sites have been ignored. The cemetery had not been adequately cared for in over half a dozen years, and since it was privately owned, little could be done about it. But earlier this year a group called the Oak Grove Caretakers took over the cemetery promising better maintenance and upkeep for the more than 12,000 graves.

Where children play
Several people have heard the children playing high on the hill. Their laughter floats through the air as they go about their ethereal play. Let’s hope the remainder of the spirits will be appeased once their graves are giving the care and respect that is deserved.

~ Joy

My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide is now available at bookstores across the country. Click here for book information.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Haunted Blackfoot Cemetery

Once again, it's October - a time for hauntings, Halloween - and all things spooky.  This month, A Grave Interest takes a look at several haunted cemeteries. Get ready as we explore some ‘lively’ places, and the people who make them so…….

Pike County Indiana
Located in the rolling hills of southern Indiana, Pike County is a coal-mining region and farming community. A visit to the area in October offers a pleasant and scenic drive as leaves change colors, and farmers work to bring in the harvest.

The largest town in Pike County is Petersburg, known once as White Oak Springs by the earliest settlers at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Pike County Indiana boasts numerous cemeteries but the one that is rumored to be haunted is called Blackfoot Cemetery. Located in Morgan Township, there are over 800 interments in the cemetery, many of those early settlers to the region. The first burial was that of a woman in a group of settlers passing through. The Indians, thought to be Blackfoot, showed the group where to bury the woman at the top of a hill. This became the first burial ground in the region.

At one time, the Blackfoot Church was located near the cemetery. There were actually three churches by that name. The first pioneer log church was built around 1800 by the early settlers and named for the Indians. (My ancestors were part of the first settlers in this region and visits from the nearby Indians were common.) The first person buried in the cemetery after the church was built was Mrs. John Almon.

Interior of a Log Church
The second church was built in 1860 and stood until it was destroyed by a storm in 1896. The final Blackfoot Church was constructed in 1897. That church stood for almost 100 years. It was razed in 1992 after vandalism became so bad, the trustees decided it was the best course of action.

Blackfoot is a popular name in the region. Besides Blackfoot Church and Blackfoot Cemetery, there is also the Blackfoot Mine, and Blackfoot Landfill.

Down a lonely country road, Blackfoot Cemetery appears to be a quiet haven of peace, but visitors have reported seeing shadows dash past and hearing voices and noises whose sources could not be found. Legend has it that a grave set off by itself is that of a witch. When darkness falls, the cemetery takes on a life of its own – lights and orbs dart past, and the noises get louder, more intense. No one spirit is said to haunt this cemetery – maybe it is the Blackfoot tribe members, still enjoying the life they knew here over two hundred years ago.

~ Joy

My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide is now available at bookstores across the country. Click here for book information.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Mausoleums - Haunted "Homes" of the Dead

By Joy Neighbors

Haunted 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.

Here are four mausoleums that house more "spirit" than most.

Spring Grove Cemetery – Cincinnati, OH
Dexter Mausoleum
Edmund Dexter
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 Cincinnati.

It 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.)

Greenwood Cemetery – Decatur, IL
Public Mausoleum
The 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
It 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?

Highland Lawn Cemetery – Terre Haute, IN
Sheets Mausoleum

Martin 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.

When 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?"

Highland Lawn Cemetery – Terre Haute, IN
Heinl Mausoleum

John Heinl
And then there’s my favorite haunted mausoleum tale - that of Stiffy Green.

Terre 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.

On 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.

Stiffy Green
Stiffy 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.

But 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.” 

But 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 together.

Friday, October 26, 2012

One of America's Most Haunted Cemeteries...

Halloween is fast approaching.  This month, A Grave Interest has taken a look at several haunted cemeteries.  Get ready as we explore one of America's most haunted cemeteries.....

Greenwood Sign
Greenwood Cemetery
What is now Greenwood Cemetery, in Decatur, Illinois, was first used as sacred burial grounds by Native Americans, hundreds of years ago. Settlers to the area in the early 1800's continued burying their dead here, and in 1857, the cemetery was incorporated as Greenwood Cemetery.

Broken Window
Security Fence Cut
Greenwood is supposedly one of the ten most haunted cemeteries in the U.S.  Ghost stories began to circulate during the 1920’s when the cemetery fell into disrepair.  The cemetery association was financially broke; upkeep and repairs could no longer be made.  By the 1950’s, what had once been a beautiful, rural garden-style cemetery became a magnet for negativity.  Gangs roamed the cemetery at night, cults used the grounds, and paranormal activity surged. While some cemeteries have spook lights, others have devils chairs, still others have apparitions; Greenwood seems to have them all.

The legends of ghosts and mysterious occurrences are numerous for Greenwood Cemetery.  Here are just a few –

Barrackman Steps
Barrackman Graves
Barrackman Steps
Greenwood is made up of hills and valleys.  On a slight hill is a set of five stone steps, which leads up to four gravestones for the Barrackman family.  Many have reported seeing a woman standing at the top of the steps with her head bowed, crying.  But the phantom only appears in the evening, near sunset. Once the sun has disappeared, so does she.

Greenwood Bride
Local lore has it that in the early 1930’s, a young couple decided to elope because their families did not approve of their marrying.  The couple planned to leave at night after the man, who made his living as a bootlegger, dropped off his last order.  The girl waited for him, as planned, but he never arrived. 

The next day she was told that a rival bootlegger had killed her fiancé and tossed his body into the Sangamon River, near the cemetery. His body was later found and buried in Greenwood Cemetery. Unable to bear the news, the young woman plunged into the river and drowned.

The Bride's Grave
Her parents buried her in her wedding gown.  It has been reported that a young woman in a white wedding gown walks through the cemetery, weeping and peering at headstones, searching for her lost love.

Devil’s Chair
Devil's Chair?
The legend of the Devil’s Chair, or haunted chair, as it is some times known, has been handed down through folklore. The chair is actually a mourning chair.  It was placed by a grave, so that family and friends would have a place to sit when they visited the deceased. Mourning chairs are considered to be funerary sculpture.  

According to various superstitions, when someone sits on the chair, they will incur bad luck, or die within a year. Other legends promise good luck, or riches. 

Greenwood's Devil's Chair
Seat of the Chair
According to the legend of the Devil's Chair in Greenwood Cemetery, if you sit on the chair at a certain time, you can make a pact with the Devil.  You will get anything you want for seven years.  At the end of the seven years, the devil comes to claim your soul.  Many cemeteries have removed their mourning chairs because of vandalism. Greenwood’s chair remains...

Greenwood Public Mausoleum
The Public Mausoleum was built in Greenwood Cemetery in 1908 and  problems developed soon after.  According to reports, the construction was shoddy, and the mausoleum leaked. Repairs were not made and the mausoleum began sliding into disrepair. Reports began to surface of voices, crying, and screams heard coming from the building.

Inside Mausoleum
Graves Related to Mausoleum
In 1957, the mausoleum was declared to be unsafe and was closed.  Families were notified and asked to relocate their loved ones.  Over one hundred bodies were never claimed; some were never identified.  The cemetery buried these remains in several common graves, located across the road from the mausoleum.  The building was demolished in 1967.  But, it seems, many do not rest in peace.

Former Mausoleum Location
Overlooking Where Mausoleum Was
The site of the former mausoleum is still vacant, almost 45 years later.  No burials have taken place on this stretch of empty, unclaimed ground. Across the road, several common graves hold the remains of over 100 unclaimed bodies.  Reports of voices and screams continue to be heard in this area, along with lights seen moving at night among the common graves, searching for.........

Civil War Burials
Civil War Burial Area
Civil War Train
This is said to be the most haunted area of the cemetery.  During the Civil War, troop trains, on their way to confederate prison camps near Chicago, would stop in Decatur.  One such train stopped to unload most of its cargo; the bodies of southern prisoners who had died of yellow fever on the way north.

Union War Memorial
Union Gravestones
Wagons carried the Confederate bodies to the cemetery for a mass burial in a huge unmarked grave, located on the side of a hill. It was rumored that not all of those buried had yet died. After the war, a memorial in honor of Illinois’ Union Troops was built on the top of the hill.

Unknown U.S. Soldiers Graves
Retaining Wall in Place After Flood
Several years later, the Sangamon River, located next to the hill, flooded. When the flood receded, it was apparent that many of the Confederate remains had been washed away.  Those that were found were reburied and marked as “Unknown U.S. Soldier.”

Hill Where Confederates Had Been Buried
It was soon after the flood that reports of ghostly soldiers began. Cries and wails of some very tormented spirits could be heard in this area. Unexplained lights have also been seen roaming the hill.  Many claim the lights belong to those lost Confederate soldiers, still searching for their missing remains.

Hill Where Phantoms Were Seen
And, along with phantom lights, comes phantom mourners.  Greenwood has been the site of many spectral funerals and mourners.  Staff, and those visiting, have witnessed phantom funerals occurring throughout the cemetery.

Greenwood Cemetery
Greenwood Cemetery certainly has a vibe all it's own, and stories continue to surface about the grounds being haunted.  The cemetery is well cared for now and definitely worth a visit any time of year.  Greenwood Cemetery is located at the end of South Church Street in Decatur.  The cemetery is open from daylight to dusk, and a caretaker lives on-site.  For more information, visit

~ Joy