We’re very pleased to welcome Harry Parsons from Arcadia Publishing with this fabulous guest post about notorious graveyards. Enjoy!
With Halloween fast approaching, it only stands to reason that our thoughts might be turning to ghost stories and creepy things in anticipation right around now. We’re wondering what we should dress up as for the neighborhood Halloween party and thinking about when we want to schedule our first horror movie marathon of the season.
Those of us with a strong appreciation for history and culture are no doubt also thinking about real-life spooky locations, and what location could possibly be spookier than a graveyard? However, there are graveyards, and then there are historically notorious cemeteries with a fascinating past that bring something extra to the table. Let’s take a closer look at some of our favorites.
- Louis Cemetery #1 – New Orleans, Louisiana
With its long-standing connection to the supernatural, voodoo, and ghostly tales, it’s probably not surprising that one of the most notoriously haunted graveyards in America can be found in New Orleans. There are three different St. Louis Cemeteries in the city, but #1 is considered to be the most heavily haunted, by far. It’s certainly the one with the longest history, as it was built in 1789, and is said to house well over 100,000 dead.
Although St. Louis Cemetery #1 is said to be home to multiple famous ghosts, the most famous is voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau. Not only have many people claimed to have seen her ghost wandering the grounds, but quite a few visit her grave for the express purpose of asking her to grant wishes by drawing a trio of Xs on her tomb.
- Cemetery Hill – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
One would expect that any site associated with the Battle of Gettysburg would become a little notorious itself for the rumors surrounding it. That said, Cemetery Hill definitely delivers on that front. It’s also probably one of the only places famous for having a “ghost smell.”
Back when the Battle of Gettysburg occurred, the high casualty numbers pretty much guaranteed that there were more dead bodies than could be neatly buried in a timely fashion. As one would imagine, that situation came alongside a terrible stench. In fact, Cemetery Hill smelled so bad for so long that people were unable to go anywhere near it without employing a way to take the edge off.
The cover-up method of choice in those days was a handkerchief dipped in sweet-smelling vanilla and peppermint – something for people to hold up to their noses as they passed. Many visitors to Cemetery Hill say they can still smell the peppermint scent of those handkerchiefs. A few even think they can catch a faint whiff of the decaying bodies as well.
- Hollywood Forever – Los Angeles, California
Hollywood already comes attached to a long history of scandal, disappointment, and intrigue. Naturally, a graveyard like Hollywood Forever would see the endings of some incredibly interesting lives, stories, and occurrences.
In fact, this is a graveyard well known for its many ghost sightings. Visitors have claimed to see the likes of Clifton Webb and Virginia Rappe restlessly walking the grounds at night. Still more people report having run into the ghost of William Randolph Hearst. While Hearst isn’t buried at Hollywood Forever, it’s important to note that his mistress Marion Davies was. He is said to still regularly visit her grave, even after death.
- Boot Hill – Tombstone, Arizona
Thanks to the many gunslingers that once called it home, it might be expected that Boot Hill is heavily haunted. After all, Wild Bill Hickok used to live here, as did Seth Bullock, Calamity Jane, and many others.
However, it’s not just the ghosts and the alleged sightings that put Boot Hill on the list of America’s most notorious cemeteries. It’s the fact that several visitors have claimed they have photographic evidence of the ghosts’ presence. Tourists have come to visit and taken plenty of pictures, as tourists do, only to capture mysterious anomalies in their shots. One man famously captured a man in a cowboy hat, rising out of the ground.
- Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery – Chicagoland, Illinois
Historic Bachelor’s Grove is at the center of numerous ghost sightings in the Chicagoland area. However, you’re likely to run into a lot more than just the ghosts of people here (although you certainly might see your share). Some visitors have reported seeing the apparition of an entire home at times. All of the people who have seen it describe it the same way – a white farmhouse complete with a porch swing and pillars.
Bachelor’s Grove is another cemetery that comes attached to possible evidence to evaluate. In 1991, the Chicago Sun-Times ran a photograph that is said to be a picture of a female ghost sitting on a bench. Many people have reported occurrences like faces that appear and disappear, as well as unexplained lights within the cemetery grounds.
- Westminster Presbyterian Churchyard – Baltimore, Maryland
Lovers of spooky tales and possible hauntings would naturally hope that the cemetery where Edgar Allan Poe himself was buried would be well haunted. If that includes you, then you’ll be pleased to know that not only is the Western Burial Ground of Westminster Presbyterian Church haunted, but it’s haunted by none other than Poe himself. However, he is far from the only shade you might run into here.
You may also experience an encounter with the Cambridge Skull. The skull belongs to a minister who was murdered and whose dead skull never stopped screaming. This was the case even after the skull was gagged and buried underneath a huge block of cement! Some visitors claim you can still hear it if you listen carefully, but be warned. Those who have heard it have a hard time ever forgetting the experience.
Of course, these are just a few of the many notorious historic cemeteries and graveyards to be found in this beautiful country of ours. Explore the backstories of hundreds of others as well to add a cultured twist to this year’s Halloween festivities. Happy ghost hunting!