With Halloween upon us, we thought we should delve into the world of the paranormal for a brief moment and count down five of the reportedly creepiest haunted cemeteries in the country. Nothing evokes a spine-tingling chill quite like a moonlit walk through a cemetery. After all, no other place puts you as close to the dead as in a cemetery (unless of course, you are a funeral director). You may want to think twice, however, before venturing through any of these cemeteries after dark as you just might encounter a spirit or two. Brace yourself, these are not for the faint of heart.
#5 Resurrection Cemetery — Justice, Illinois
Resurrection Cemetery is home to one of the most famous ghosts in Illinois, Resurrection Mary. In the 1930s, after attending a dance with her boyfriend, Mary met an early demise when she was struck by a hit-and-run driver while walking home alone. She was left to die on the roadside. Sightings of Mary’s apparition have been reported for over eighty years. She is said to appear in human form, a young woman with light blonde hair and blue eyes wearing a white gown.
Mary has been seen roaming the cemetery but more often she is sighted walking on Archer Road where her life was taken from her. She flags down unsuspecting drivers and asks for a ride, only to mysteriously vanish. She has also been encountered in the O Henry Ballroom, where on many occasions young men have reported dancing with a girl and then offering her a ride home at the end of the night. She would always accept and offer directions leading to Archer Road. When the car would reach the gates of Resurrection Cemetery, the young woman would vanish. So if you visit Resurrection Cemetery, beware if you are approached by an attractive young woman in a white gown as she may not be of this world. Learn more.
#4 Howard Street Cemetery — Salem, Massachusetts
Home to the witchcraft hysteria of 1692 which resulted in the executions of nineteen individuals convicted of practicing witchcraft, it should come as no surprise that Salem boasts a haunted cemetery. The Howard Street Cemetery, as well as all of Salem, is said to be afflicted by the Curse of Giles Corey.
Giles Corey, a prominent farmer, and his wife were accused of practicing witchcraft. Knowing he would likely be convicted and executed and that his land would become the property of the state if he was, he refused to stand trial. As punishment for this refusal, he was crushed to death by stones in the field that later became Howard Street Cemetery. Legend has it that as he took his final dying breath he addressed Sheriff George Corwin who was presiding over the crushing and said: “Damn you, Sheriff, I curse you and Salem!”
Eerily, it is reported that every sheriff beginning with George Corwin himself (who died shortly after the trials in 1669 from a heart attack) has died while in office or has been forced out of office due to a heart condition or blood ailment. There are tales of Salem sheriffs waking to a strange presence in their bedrooms and a crushing weight on their chest. It is also said that Giles Corey’s spirit appears in the Howard Street Cemetery before any great tragedy occurs in Salem, such as the Great Salem Fire of 1914. Learn more.
#3 Old Western Burial Ground — Baltimore, Maryland
Also known as the “Presbyterian Churchyard,” there are many stories that numerous people buried in this cemetery were not in fact yet dead and thus, once they finally did pass on, their spirits began to wander the grounds seeking revenge on those who buried them alive. Legend has it that there are quite a few unsettled spirits here who seem to be searching for something they just cannot find and frighten those who stumble upon them.
Old Western Burial Ground is also the burial place of the famous author Edgar Allan Poe. While passing through Baltimore on the way to an editing job in Philadelphia, Poe died unexpectedly and mysteriously just ten days before his wedding. His apparition has been seen near his gravesite as well as near the church where some say he is waiting at the altar for his true love. If you encounter him, he might just ask you to attend the wedding.
The ever-popular “Skull of Cambridge” is also buried in this cemetery. Said to be the head of a murdered minister, the skull was entombed in cement in order to block out the sounds of screams that emerge from it. It is said that it screams at all times of the day and that the screams seem to linger in the minds of those who hear it. Stay too long and you may join the ranks of those reportedly so severely frightened by this particular haunting that they experienced insanity and were placed in psychiatric wards after being exposed to it for a prolonged time. Learn more.
#2 Stull Cemetery (The Gates to Hell) — Douglas County, Kansas
Visit Stull Cemetery on Halloween and you just might encounter the devil himself. According to legend, the Devil appears in the cemetery twice a year, on the night of the spring equinox and on Halloween. He makes his entrance into the cemetery by way of a hidden staircase that descends directly into the netherworld. Thus, Stull Cemetery has earned the designation as one of the “seven gateways to hell.”
It is said the Devil comes to Stull Cemetery to visit both the gravesite of a witch and that of “a child of Satan” who was born of the Devil and the witch. Coincidentally, an old tombstone bearing the name “Wittich” is located in the cemetery and there are rumors that an old tree in the graveyard, which has since been cut down, was once used as a gallows for condemned witches. There is also said to be a grave in the cemetery that holds the bones of the “child of Satan”, a child so deformed that he only lived for a few days until being buried in Stull. Some claim to have seen the child’s ghost walking the cemetery. Learn more.
#1 St. Louis Cemetery — New Orleans, Louisiana
St. Louis Cemetery is comprised of three sections designated by the numbers 1 through 3. Established in the late 1700’s, section 1 is the oldest existent cemetery in New Orleans and the site of so many reports of ghostly hauntings that it is often deemed the most haunted cemetery in the U.S. Traverse the maze of above-ground vaults and you might be approached by one of the three most infamous restless souls who roam the cemetery.
The first is the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau. Buried in an unmarked grave rather than the family vault due to her Voodoo practice, Laveau’s restless spirit is said to roam the cemetery wearing a red and white turban and chanting Voodoo curses to cemetery trespassers. Some believe she still practices her black magic, turning herself into a black crow, big black dog, or black cat with red glowing eyes, all of which have been seen roaming the cemetery.
Henry Vignes, a seaman who entrusted paper’s for his family vault to his landlady, is said to roam the cemetery in search of a vault for his remains. While away at sea, the landlady sold his vault for her personal gain but Henry died before he could seek justice, and so he was buried in an unmarked grave in the pauper’s field area. He appears to unsuspecting tourists in solid, human-like form, even tapping them on the shoulder and asking if they know where his family vault is located. Then he quickly walks away and disappears.
The third restless soul said to roam the cemetery is that of a young man known as Alphonse who is believed to have never gotten over his sudden death. He misses his family and longs for his home. He too is mistaken by tourists as a living person, appearing to them in human-form when he takes their hand in his and asks for help getting home. He then begins crying and disappears.
So beware if you choose to visit St. Louis Cemetery Number 1 as things may not always be what they seem and you just might find yourself mingling with the dead. Learn more.