Blog Archives

Cumberland Cemetery’s Headless Lady

Cumberland Cemetery, located near the town of Wenona in Marshall County, is rumored to be the home of a headless lady, spook lights, and the ghost of a little girl. The cemetery itself is rich in history. It was the site of the first farm in Evans Township, and its rolling hills were once occupied by a fort built during the Black Hawk War to protect the nearby settlers from marauding Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo Indians.

Marshall County was settled comparatively late. Illinois became a state in 1818, but the first white settler in Evans Township, Benjamin Darnell, arrived there in 1828. The book Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties tells us that his nearest neighbor lived six miles away in what became Roberts Township.

Benjamin Darnell had ten children, including a 14 year old daughter named Lucy (the date of settlement given here, including Lucy’s age, is different than that given by Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk in the Illinois Road Guide to Haunted Locations. I believe my source to be more accurate).

Lucy took ill and died in 1829. Her family buried her on their farm, and her grave formed the cornerstone of Cumberland Cemetery. It is thought that the spirit of the first person (or animal) to be interred in a cemetery becomes its guardian. Perhaps that superstition explains the origin of the young girl’s ghost reportedly encountered in Cumberland?

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Aux Sable Cemetery’s Controversial Haunt

Aux Sable is a quaint, garden-like cemetery tucked in the woods near Aux Sable Creek in Grundy County. Despite an otherwise mundane existence, it continues to be a point of contention between local youth and law enforcement, with paranormal tourists caught in the middle.

The legends associated with the cemetery are of the usual stock: strange car trouble, the ghost of a young child, and rumors of a gate to Hell. Aux Sable has yet to appear in any books on Illinois ghostlore, but it has been discussed and debated at length on numerous websites.

According to History of Aux Sable Township and Villages by D.A. Henneberry, Aux Sable Township was a hunting ground for Pottawatomie Indians before Europeans arrived. The first white settler in the area was Salmon Rutherford, a notable figure in pioneer Illinois. He arrived in 1833 and established the settlement of Dresden.

The land around Aux Sable Creek provided fertile soil for farming, a bountiful harvest of timber, and a large population of wild bees, which supplied honey for the settlers. The honey was made into an alcoholic beverage called Metheglin (otherwise known as mead).

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20-Acre Enigma of Naples’ Rosemary Cemetery

A graveyard is not something many people expect to encounter while visiting the pharmacy at a busy urban intersection in one of the wealthiest communities in the United States, but that is exactly what you will find at the intersection of Tamiami Trail North (U.S. 41) and Pine Ridge Road in Naples, Florida.

For years, passersby have wondered about the origin of this small cemetery and the identity of the people interred there. Adding to the mystery are reports of paranormal activity and rumors that neighboring businesses inevitably close their doors after only a short period of time.

While only home to a little over 19,000 people, Naples, Florida is one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, with the sixth highest per capita income and the second highest number of millionaires per capita in America. Every year, tourists flock to the area, and Naples Beach was voted the best beach in America by the Travel Channel in 2005.

It wasn’t always this popular, or this populated. In the 1870s, reporters described the area’s agreeable climate, abundant fishing, and shoreline as like that of Italy. So when a U.S. Senator from Kentucky named John Stuart Williams and his partner, businessman Walter N. Haldeman, founded a city there, they called it Naples, after the city in Italy.

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Hidden Secrets of Kingston’s Skeleton Park

A long-lost cemetery, forgotten burial ground disturbed by a construction project, and mass graves are often the setting for horror stories. After all, most of us expect our mortal remains to lie peacefully in the ground, visited by relatives and loved ones. When those remains are disturbed, we imagine spirits of the departed to rise up and voice their displeasure. The macabre history of McBurney Park in Kingston, Ontario, is like a perfect storm of cemetery-themed horror. Locally known as “Skeleton Park,” this 4-acre plot of land was once a burial ground for mostly Scottish and Irish immigrants. Approximately 10,000 were buried here between 1813 and 1865.

The park is located between Balaclava, Alma, and Ordnance streets, just a few blocks northeast of downtown Kingston. Burials began informally in 1816, but it officially became known as the Common or Upper Burial Grounds in 1825. The cemetery quickly filled due to several epidemics, including a devastating a typhus outbreak in the 1840s. Corpses were buried quickly, sometimes just a few feet below the surface. Many of these hasty burials fell victim to a criminal ring called the Resurrectionists, who sold bodies to medical students at Queens University. They sometimes filled the empty coffins with rocks to prevent sagging in the soil and the discovery of their crimes.

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Church Street Sentinels

Church Street Graveyard, Mobile, Alabama.

Inside New Orleans’ Cemetery No. 1

Opened in New Orleans in 1789, Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 is one of the most famous cemeteries in the United States, if not the world. It is a Roman Catholic burial ground that replaced St. Peter Cemetery after a fire devastated the city in 1788. Located off North Claiborne Avenue between Iberville and St. Louis streets a few blocks from the French Quarter, its strange residents and aged, crumbling above ground vaults make this necropolis a popular tourist destination.

Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the final resting place for a veritable who’s who of New Orleans, including Etienne de Boré and Ernest N. Morial, former mayors. Actor Nicolas Cage even purchased a crypt there in 2010. Some of the more infamous-but-unconfirmed burials include voodoo priestess Marie Laveau and murderess Madame Delphine LaLaurie.

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Girl’s School Cemetery in Fox Run Subdivision

Today, Fox Run Subdivision is situated off Crissey Avenue near the banks of the Fox River. On the other side of the Fabyan County Forest Preserve and Settler’s Hill Golf Course sits the Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, home of the Kane County Cougars minor league baseball team. On calm summer nights, sounds of the cheering crowd drift across the green and through the trees to the meandering rows of nearly identical houses. The sound disturbs the eerie quiet just inside the treeline, where rows of nearly identical gravestones poke through the grass behind an iron fence.

This tiny cemetery is all that remains of the Illinois State Training School for Girls at Geneva, which for 84 years housed adolescent girls between the ages of 10 and 16 who had been convicted of offenses punishable by law. Inevitably, deaths from illness and suicide occurred at the facility. Girls without families, or who had been disowned, were buried in a cemetery on the property. Several dozen infants were buried there as well, and today the cemetery contains 51 graves. After the institution closed and was torn down, a plaque was erected at the cemetery that reads:

Beginning in 1894, this land was used by various government agencies as a center for ‘wayward girls’. The colonial-style cottages, service buildings and fences are gone, but these 51 graves remain. These markers are a testimony that they are no longer wayward but home with their Creator. My God’s peace be with their souls.

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Church Street Graveyard’s Boyington Oak

Behind a stone wall dating to the 1830s, vines crawl up wrought and cast iron fences, and antebellum granite headstones and crypts stand silently in the shade of southern live oak trees. Wind whistles through this quiet graveyard nestled in historic downtown Mobile, Alabama. Church Street Graveyard, as it is known, is a small 4-acre cemetery that rests behind the Mobile Public Library, with an entrance off Bayou and Church streets. It was established in 1819 and closed in 1898, although a few burials have taken place since then. Many of the earliest people interred there were victims of a yellow fever epidemic that killed hundreds.

The stories at this graveyard primarily center on a southern live oak growing just outside the stone wall off Bayou Street. Southern live oak trees, with thick trunks, gnarled branches, and often decorated with Spanish moss, can live up to 500 years. The Boyington Oak, as this particular tree is known, is relatively young. According to legend, it sprouted in 1835, a year after the gruesome murder that would give it its name.

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