Posts Tagged ‘haunted’

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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Garfield Monument

In Lake View Cemetery, the Garfield monument looms above all others, high on a hill on one end of the cemetery. Erected in honor of the assassinated president James A. Garfield, it is a full-fledged building, complete with ballroom (though that’s not open to the public anymore). Garfield lingered and suffered for three monts after being struck by an assassin’s bullet, and some speculate that his earthly agony is what compels him to haunt multiple places after death. Garfield is a rather busy ghost, said to appear in Lake View, Washington, D.C.; and his former home in Hiram, Ohio. Those who believe he haunts his monument report mysterious lights that can be seen in the windows late in the evening when the monument doors and the cemetery gates are locked.

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East Cleveland Township Cemetery will be having after-dark guided tours on October 30, 2010, at 7 pm and 8:30 pm. See their flyer for details.

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The most famous ghostly hitchhiker in the United States is probably Resurrection Mary of Chicago, Illinois, but Cleveland’s Riverside Cemetery supposedly has one as well. According to those who have reported seeing him, he is a well-dressed man in an old fashioned suit. Those who claim to have picked up the hitchhiker state that he is either German-speaking or has a German accent and asks to go to Franklin Avenue to see his daughter. Those who have attempted to identify him claim he might be Hannes Tiedemann, the builder of reputedly haunted Franklin Castle that stands on that street.

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The more one researches ghost stories about graveyards, the more one realizes that very few of them are even remotely based on anything specific. Cemeteries are considered haunted because they contain dead people and therefore must have ghosts. Perfectly ordinary cemeteries acquire all sorts of strange associations with the occult and sorcery for no discernible reason.


Mater Dolorosa Cemetery (yes, the sign has a spelling error) sits in Cuyahoga Valley National Park outside of Peninsula, Ohio. If you want to locate the cemetery, it is in the woods just next to the Park’s Happy Days Visitors’ Center. John and Mary Ann Doud, local Irish immigrants, bequeathed their family plot to the Bishop of Cleveland, who turned it over to the Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church nearby. The cemetery has just over a dozen headstones, and is a pretty typical 19th century cemetery of mostly Irish Catholic immigrants and their children.



But somehow a legend has grown up that this cemetery belongs to a local satanic church in Peninsula (how the church became satanic is unclear) and that it is used in demonic rituals. Ghostly white figures walk the cemetery and scare away anyone who comes near. Google “Helltown” for any of the stories. They have little bearing to the reality, but that hardly seems to matter – these are urban legends.



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Collinwood School Fire Memorial

On March 4, 1908, the Lakeview School in Collinwood (now a neighborhood of Cleveland), Ohio, burst into flame. By the time the flames were put out on that Ash Wednesday morning, a rescuer, two teachers, and 172 of the students had perished. Nineteen bodies could not be positively identified.

The city of Collinwood commissioned this monument for the students. The unidentified victims and some of their classmates lie buried around it.

Collinwood School Fire Memorial

My friend will swear to you that this monument moves. She cannot set out to find the school fire marker, because she will get lost in Lake View and never make it there. On the other hand, on the occasions when someone else manages to drive her there, she cannot approach the monument. The closer she gets, the more the feeling of fear rises in her, and she can feel the heat of the flames and hear the anguish of the other students.


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Yesterday was my wedding reception. As I was reflecting on it, I thought of these markers.

Fred W. Farrar and Sarah F. Mullin

The angle is a little odd. The first tombstone is for:

Fred W. Farrar
Died Nov. 3, 1920
22 yrs.

The one for the adjoining grave reads:

Sarah F. Mullin
Died Feb. 12, 1921
20 yrs. 11 mos.
Fred’s sweetheart

You now know everything I do about Fred and Sarah, but their tombstones haunt me in a way that many others don’t. Who were they? Were they already engaged, with a wedding planned? How did they die? My research so far has come up with nothing, but I plan to keep looking, because their story haunts me.

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Last week, we looked at the Haserot angel, the most popular creepy statue at Lake View Cemetery, but these statues have my vote hands down. Early in the spring, I was walking around Lake View taking photographs, looked up the hill, and jumped because I saw this.


Convincing at some angles, aren’t they?


Like the Haserot angel, I don’t know any specific stories about these statues. They just are striking and a little disturbing in their realism.


Mary to the Saviour's Tomb...

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