It’s a common lament amongst ghost hunters, “we love haunted cemeteries, we just can’t explain why they’re haunted…”
I have probably gone to over 100 cemeteries around the country and have made it my mission to do an almost 7-year study of one particular one where phenomenon frequently occurs. That being said, it doesn’t make any sense to me why a cemetery would be haunted, but you know me enough to know how logical I can be about these things.
The way I see it is the answer is within one of these explanations:
1. When family comes and grieves for the deceased, it attracts the spirit of the deceased.
2. It’s not an issue of ghosts, per se, but perhaps phenomenon created by natural outdoor settings where there is proper geology/tectonics for phenomenon to occur. That it happens in a cemetery is incidental.
3. We’re too linear in our thinking. Ghosts no longer need a body, so why should they be in one location at one time? Why not be everywhere at once including attached to fragments of their remains?
4. People, being unsettled by the remains of the deceased and visiting in dark and shadowy cemeteries are likely to see and hear things that aren’t there just be virtue of being spooked.
5. Spirits travel everywhere amongst us including parks, shopping malls, houses, streets, anywhere. If they’re curious, they might visit their old stomping grounds or the location of their remains.
(By the way, I'd love to hear which ones you think it might be)
Once we tuck away the remains of the deceased, they become a bit of a mystery and a fear for the citizens. No wonder cemeteries get a reputation as a place that becomes active at night when there’s no one around.
I started studying up on the most famous haunted cemeteries around America and it didn’t surprise me at all to find that the Ohio/Illinois area is chock full of haunted cemeteries in the heart of the ideal geology for hauntings. (In my ghost hunting formula research, I discovered a “sweet spot” of hauntings in America that involved the states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania).
Ironically, some of the best most beautiful and ancient cemeteries in New England don’t have a higher incidence of hauntings reported. The Deep South, especially Charleston and New Orleans, report a great deal of hauntings, as well. Some of this is probably cultural, as I know being a southerner that we love our romance and mystery. Ghosts are like dear old welcome friends to us.
Here’s a sampling of just some famous haunted cemeteries in the US:
Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois is famous for “Resurrection Mary,” a female ghost who likes to hitch rides and then disappear. This is a favorite urban legend and truly believed by the locals who have witnessed a wandering woman along the roadway.
Wolfinger Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio is known for a family who died within a few weeks of each other. The children are said to be seen playing amongst the headstones.
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery in the area of Midlothian, Illinois is probably one of the most talked about haunted cemetery in America. Most of the phenomenon here is related to its isolation, its ramshackle condition, and vandalism, as well as signs of occult practice. Sometimes, a creepy isolated cemetery is more haunted by the living than the dead. However, reportedly very solid figures of ghosts have been seen here.
Greenwood Cemetery in Decatur Illinois is where a limping boy in large overalls is seen amongst the headstones. Spectral lights are also seen.
St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans, LA is probably one of the most photographed and toured ones. Madam Laveau, the proclaimed queen of voodoo is buried there. Many people leave her offerings to appease her spirit.
Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio has foggy apparitions at night. (picture above is the Haserot Angel, a favorite landmark at this cemetery).
Stull Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas is often referred to as the “Cemetery of the Damned.” The story says that the Devil’s half-human child is buried in the cemetery and shows himself as a 9-year-old boy who can turn himself into a cat or dog or werewolf. (Convenient, depending on what stray animal wanders into the cemetery). As legends go, this one is pretty good. Certainly a curious place.
I have to admit to having poked around the Arizona cemeteries to no end. Some have a very creepy feel, others actually provided proof of activity. Here’s how I rate them:
Most creepy feel, want to leave quickly: Mayer Cemetery
Most regular activity: Double Buttes Cemetery (Tempe)
Most evidence of absolute haunting: St. Francis (Phoenix)
Most physically powerful activity: Bisbee’s cemetery
Most picturesque and traditional: Greenwood (Phoenix)
Most “I’m being watched” and sad feeling: City of Mesa
Most old west looking/feeling cemetery: Congress Pioneer
Most on the power 33rd parallel and weird: Adamsville
Most epic and amazingly cool cemetery: Yuma
Tips for going to cemeteries:
Admittedly, the majority of cemeteries have gates and attendants. Ones that don’t you can still get in trouble for hanging around at night. Believe me, cops know folks up to no good like cemeteries. I admit, being a middle-aged woman with a camera, I don’t get bothered much. I hardly look like I’m going to perform ceremonies with candles and knives. I just tell them I was photographing as the sun was setting and wanted to get pictures of just a couple headstones I’d missed and got caught in the dark.
I suggest if you want to capture activity, you follow these tried and true things I’ve been doing and have found consistently helpful.
Come armed with some flowers from the grocery story. Come about an hour before sunset or more. Give the place time to “get used” to you. Honestly, nothing will happen within the first 20 minutes. Get the feel of the place, walk around, check out interesting graves. I usually try to find ones where no one visits anymore because they’ve been gone so long. I lay a flower on that grave, say the person’s name, read the epitaph and take some pictures. Sometimes I ask if I can take pictures, ask if they’re lonely, run my audio recorder. Sometimes, I set it on the headstone and take pictures. If I’m lucky, I can coordinate the time on the camera and the recorder to see if a sound occurs when a shot was taken. Now and then, when I feel particularly drawn to the grave of a young adult, I sit and carry on a conversation, telling them what's happened in the world since they passed and take pictures now and then. I thank them as I leave. As weird as it sounds, intentions and respect seem to go a long way in earning trust from whatever intelligence might be at play there.
If the cemetery has people visiting a grave, when they go, you might approach and take pictures or try audio. I have no idea if is their emotions or what, but there always seems to be activity around newly visited graves. Newly decorated ones, as well.
Concentrate on pathways especially. It sounds weird, but well worn paths and roadways in cemeteries are very active. I have yet to figure out why, but sometimes it seems as though energy in all forms prefers unobstructed pathways (a lot like the Feng Shui principles I talk about often where a crowded cluttered house holds energy in).
Have a super happy time visiting the haunted cemeteries or any cemeteries. This is a season for a quiet walk in a peaceful beautiful place and a bit of reflection on life and our imprint.