Archive for the ‘Haunted memorials’ Category


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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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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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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Helen Peabody

When I was a student at Miami University of Ohio, everyone knew about the ghost of Helen Peabody. Helen Peabody was graduate of Mount Holyoke and a teacher there before she moved westward and became the first principal of Western Female Seminary (once Western College for Women, now preserved as Western Campus of the University). By all accounts, she loved her school and her students, although she did not love the proximity of the male students at the University. By all accounts, she did not believe in coeducation After thirty-five years of service, she left her name on Peabody Hall, a stately dormitory and classroom building, and, some say, her spirit inside. (The existing Peabody Hall was built on the foundations of previous seminary buildings that burned down.) Even though she died in California in retirement, her body was brought back to local cemetery in Oxford for burial. The stories about Peabody Hall and President Peabody are multiple.

The simplest is that she still roams the halls, and students see her apparition walk by, which they recognize by the portrait of her on the first floor. Vigilant in the protection of her legacy, she supposedly shook awake the student that raised the alarm the last time Peabody Hall had a serious fire. The most sinister versions of the Helen Peabody ghost stories have her as a fierce protector of female students, engaging in a sort of psychological warfare against male students who mistreat them. A friend of mine swore up and down that a male student experienced unexplained and untraceable calls to his answering machine where a low female voice threatened him and ordered him to get out of her hall. This story sounds similar.

Whatever your belief about her spirit, the earthly remains of Helen Peabody rest in Oxford Cemetery, just a hill or two over from her beloved academic home. Her grave is flanked by other colleagues who shared her dedication to higher education for women.

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Ann, a friend of mine, took me recently to Pilgerruh Cemetery – otherwise known as Tinker’s Creek Cemetery, Old Indian Cemetery, Hillside Cemetery, or Terra Vista Cemetery. Pilgerruh, which is German for “Pilgrim’s Rest,” was a name that came from a brief Moravian settlement in the area. Those settlers moved on, and it is the next group of residents, those who participated in the building of the canal and pushing into the Ohio frontier, who created this burial ground.


The earliest tombstone we could find was dated 1810, and the last 1919, but some websites report that the final burial was in 1925 in an unmarked grave. Whatever cemetery records exist, including a full transcription of all remaining markers in the 1970s, are on file with the Bedford Historical Society. In addition to vandalism and decay, the relatively small number of markers has been attributed to the burial of malaria victims who became ill while working on the canal and were buried quickly with little ceremony.


Pilgerruh, like many abandoned cemeteries in remote areas, has attracted a wide variety of creepy legends and ghostly tales. The cemetery abuts a hill that is believed to be a Native American burial mound, which only adds fuel to the fire.


In Pilgerruh, as the stories go, you may see a shadowy figure or hear unseen children playing. You may even encounter very alive cultists using the cemetery in their black arts. Sadly, the main thing that creepy stories do is encourage people to visit Pilgerruh and vandalize it – I guess either because they are trying to show how brave they are, because they are drunk or high, or because they are trying to scare others into believing their scary stories. Ann verified that even more stones were broken or moved since she was there last, in some cases being rendered illegible.


We hadn’t been there long when a group of teenagers shuffled up the path, looking very surprised to see anyone else in the cemetery. The boys ignored us, but two of the girls attempted to chat with us, albeit awkwardly. Once we established that we were just there to take some photographs and I write a cemetery blog, the girls wanted to make sure I knew that the cemetery was scary and haunted. They told me that they had brought a tape recorder up the cemetery for ghost hunting. They had walked through the cemetery without incident and were walking up the mound on the side playing back the tape recording. One of them said that she stated aloud “If you don’t want us to be here, give us a sign.” And with that, the tape recorder fell completely silent, with even their own recorded voices not being heard.


My friend Ann reports that her only unexplained experience in Pilgerruh is that she heard someone cough next to her while taking a picture from this vantage point (the path leading up the side of the mound), even though she could not see another human being.


Are there ghosts at Pilgerruh? Whether there are or not, the cemetery is peaceful but isolated place, sadly lost as much to disrespectful vandals as time.


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Adams Street Cemetery Gate - Berea, Ohio

In Berea, Adams Street Cemetery sits at a dead end nearby our friends’ home. Every year, they host a holiday party, the highlight of which is traveling through the neighborhood singing Christmas carols. The tradition includes stopping in front of the cemetery gates to sing “Silent Night.”

Frank Leffingwell Tombstone

A few years ago, the carolers completed their serenade at the cemetery gates and suddenly, the street light went out.

Dark Tombstone detail

According to those who were present, they had never seen a group of people depart a snowy sidewalk that fast.

Card Monument

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