Archive for October, 2010


If you try to look up other people’s stories of this place, you will find it under Kirtland, Ohio, but it is really in Mentor. The story goes that grave is for a witch who was murdered by the locals for her crimes and then buried way out here because no one wanted a witch’s grave in their cemetery. Occasionally the story is changed to state that there are two witches buried here, obviously legends shifted to accommodate the fact that there are actually two names on the stone.


The reality is much more mundane. The stone is for two early settlers of this area, who moved from Derby, Connecticut to what would become the edges of Mentor and Kirtland, Ohio. Just like a lot of folks, they died on their land and were buried there in a family plot. For reasons that I can’t be sure of at this time, their graves are the only ones here: maybe other family members were buried on the property and re interred at local cemeteries, were buried in cemeteries immediately, or maybe the family moved away before there were any more deaths.


I guess a lonely grave by the side of the road just begs for a creepy story, but the reality is pretty mundane.


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This statue in Woodland Cemetery for Mary Monroe Keokee has had an unusual existence. It has been stolen and returned twice, necessitating the plexiglass case that now protects it from would-be thieves and vandals. According to one of the volunteers that I spoke to at the cemetery, one of its disappearances lasted more than a decade. Unfortunately, one one of those adventures, the statue lost her right hand.

This, according to the woman I spoke to, is the focus of the ghost’s concern when she manifests. The volunteer told me that she had visited the statue before and felt the woman asking “where is my hand?”



"She blooms in the fields of light."

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Euclid Cemetery Walk

Sorry for the late notice, but I got information today while I was at work that there is a history walk in Euclid Cemetery tomorrow morning sponsored by the local Recreation Board. The cemetery is located at 20229 Concordia Drive and the walk is scheduled for 8:30-9:30 am, followed by a reception at the Euclid Historical Museum. I know it’s a little early on a weekend filled with parties, but I plan to attend. The flyer doesn’t say exactly where to meet, but since the cemetery road is supposed to be one way, starting at the top of the hill furthest from Euclid Avenue and winding down, that would be my guess. It’s not like the cemetery is large enough that you couldn’t see the tour from on top of that hill. The flyer also contains some tidbits of history and photographs of some of Euclid Cemetery’s residents. Hope to see some of you there!

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Fate, they say, is a cruel mistress. The ghost of Charles Collins may be more acutely aware of that than most. Charles Collins was the chief engineer for the Lake Shore and Michigan Railway – the man who helped Amasa Stone design the fatal bridge and who inspected it very soon before the accident. In the ensuing investigation, he was heavily interrogated about his role in failing to prevent the disaster. And, the newspapers reported, one day after testifying, Charles Collins returned to his room and put a gun to his head. And that is how the story has come down to us. One of the two primary villains of the Horror was conveniently dead, and the public seemed to feel that his blood was some small payment for the destruction he caused.


In fact, investigators at the time saw all the signs of a homicide rather than a self-inflicted gunshot wound. But at the time, allowing Collins’ death to go down on the books as a suicide resulting from his feelings of guilt was the more politically expedient choice than attempting to identify the murderer of a highly unpopular man.


Collins’ family laid him to rest in the mausoleum in quiet Chestnut Grove Cemetery, mere miles from the disaster that seems to have precipitated his death. And then in 1895, the monument to the unrecognized dead was placed in the cemetery in the exact same section, almost next door to the Collins’ mausoleum. Cemetery visitors occasionally report a repentant, weeping man wandering that section. If ghosts do exist, it appears that Charles Collins can never escape his culpability for what happened outside Ashtabula in that gorge on a freezing December night. He and those who his negligence killed seem destined to haunt the same piece of hallowed ground, their fates permanently entwined.

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Just a reminder that this Saturday there are tours featuring the darker stories of East Cleveland Township Cemetery’s residents. Tours are scheduled for 7 pm and 8:30 pm. Come out, have a good time, and support the efforts to preserve this historic cemetery.

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Visitors and caretakers at this cemetery have reported families in 19th century clothing wandering around this obelisk with their luggage. It seems that the victims of the Ashtabula Train Disaster, ripped so suddenly from life, do not realize they are dead and continue their travels in eternity


On December 29, 1876, the Lake Shore and Michigan Railway’s No. 5 Pacific Express train traveling from Erie, Pennsylvania, was approaching Ashtabula, Ohio. Despite the bitter cold outside, the interior of the train was warm and bright courtesy of oil lamps and coal-burning stoves, and the passengers were cheerful and in the holiday spirit. Crossing a bridge that spanned a deep gorge, the engineer of the first engine felt a ominous pull as the cars behind him began to fall with the failing iron truss bridge bridge. Somehow, he managed to uncouple the engine but watched helplessly as the passenger cars plunged into the freezing water. Passengers who weren’t killed by impact faced new threats as they struggled to escape the sinking cars: the paralyzing freezing water filled their voluminous winter clothes while fires erupted from the now-broken oil lamps and overturned coal stoves. Help was slow in arriving at the water’s edge down the steep embankment, and an estimated 90 to 100 people lost their lives that night. The exact number of deceased could never be determined due to the lack of passenger records and the fires that burned many bodies past the point of recognition, but scholars believe at least 160 people were on the train.


The monument in Chestnut Grove Cemetery stands specifically in memory to those unrecognized dead. The names of those known to be among them are engraved on the base of the obelisk. Perhaps they are the warmly clad wanders out of time that can be seen milling around the monument some days, seemingly uncomprehending of their fate.


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Spire of St. Patrick's near sunset

I heard another tale of a ghost dog from across the ocean that seemed fitting for this month’s series of tales. St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin (as well as Glasnevin Cemetery) are haunted by a ghostly dog. The black Newfoundland belonged to John McNeill Boyd, who is buried in the cemetery but memorialized inside the cathedral with a statue. Boyd, a sea captain, died trying to rescue sailors on the Irish Sea during a storm in 1861. His body was recovered, and following his funeral, his dog refused to leave the grave, eventually starving to death in the cemetery. Since then, the dog has appeared both at the grave at and the base of his master’s statue inside the cathedral.


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There were parts of writing about ghost stories for most of this month that were really fun, but I also experienced a lot of frustration. For all of the spooky, creepy graveyards we see in movies and tv and hear about in the wee hours of the morning around a crackling fire, the majority of cemetery ghost stories just don’t have much substance. Whether people truly believe in ghosts or not, most still can enjoy a spine-tingling story with lots of suspense and details, even if they are suspending disbelief to listen to it. But a lot of cemetery ghost stories lack that flair: mysterious lights that you shouldn’t investigate or “something bad” will happen? A grave you shouldn’t approach because…”something bad” will occur? “Something bad” is just not a compelling description of horror to make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.

Most people who study the paranormal argue that a cemetery is one of the least likely places to find ghosts. Those who perceive spirits usually attribute hauntings to strong emotion or major events that occurred during the ghost’s life, and there really aren’t many of us who spend a great deal of time in cemeteries before we die. There are exceptions, like the Ashtabula Horror ghosts who haunt the Chestnut Grove Cemetery (I’ve saved them for almost last), where the deceased were ripped so suddenly from life that they seem unable to figure out how to proceed.

And ultimately, I’m not sure that publishing ghost stories about cemeteries does the cemeteries much good. I don’t want my posts to be used as an excuse to vandalize and deface monuments. I want to write about ghost stories because I am interested in the way we remember the dead and the stories we tell ourselves about those places, but not everyone approaches the topic with that base level of respect. I will probably try to collect the spooky and the weird for next October, but I see that I will not be able to fill years worth of Octobers with those kinds of posts.

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Glendalough Visitor Centre

Not surprisingly, Glendalough has at least one reported ghost. We didn’t see anything there and I found the place to be wonderfully peaceful, but there is supposedly a hooded black figure – one of the monks, possibly St. Kevin himself?


The other ghost is supposedly a woman in red, who St. Kevin beat with nettles and then threw into the lake…oooooooookay. I’ve noticed a lot of ghostly legends revolve around supposedly moral/religious people doing hideous things.


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Today is a photo post in honor of the season. Instead of taking photographs yesterday as I had originally planned, I spent the day waiting for a phone call. My brother had a serious accident Friday, but it appears he is on the way to recovery. We appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers.

Aunt and Uncle - Maple Shade Cemetery


Cipra - Harvard Grove Cemetery



Towner - Maple Shade Cemetery



Maple Shade Cemetery



Harvard Grove Cemetery

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