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April 22, 2021

Ep. 32: Haunted Cemeteries, Pt. 2

This week we complete our two part series on the most haunted cemeteries in the entire world!
From the gateway to hell in Stull, Kansas, to the story of a vampire king in London, England, to crying statues in Savannah, moving coffins in Barbados, and...


This week we complete our two part series on the most haunted cemeteries in the entire world!

From the gateway to hell in Stull, Kansas, to the story of a vampire king in London, England, to crying statues in Savannah, moving coffins in Barbados, and a one-two punch of weirdness in Chicago including phantom women both on film and in legend, we discuss and rank some of the world's most haunted graveyards...and designate one the MOST HAUNTED winner!
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Transcript

This week is part 2 of our series on Haunted Cemeteries from around the globe! For a quick recap of part 1, we covered Howard Street Cemetery, cursed grounds of an accused witch's murder in Salem, Massachusetts, the site of possibly the most adorable ghost ever at Greyfriar’s Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Scotland, to the final resting ground of New Orleans' voodoo queen at St. Louis #1 Cemetery, the spirit of the Lizard King in Paris’ Pere Lachaise, and a screaming skull at Westminster Burying Ground in Baltimore Maryland. 

Now we’re going to give you the stories of 5 more - including a bonus SIXTH cemetery, as a treat!

Let’s start with the possible literal “Gateway to Hell”...Stull Cemetery in Stull, Kansas! Stull itself was originally founded some time before 1857 under the name Deer Creek, and eventually changed to Stull in 1899. Now, unlike many of the places we have and will discuss, the Wikipedia listing for Stull is pretty dominated by the cemetery legend, with the main description of the town stating “The town has become infamous due to an apocryphal legend that claims the nearby Stull Cemetery is possessed by demonic forces. This legend has become a facet of American popular culture and has been referenced in numerous forms of media.” So when it becomes the main focus of a town’s wiki, you know the story is legit.

The popularization of the cemetery legends is mostly traced back to an article in the November 1974 issue of the University Daily Kansan, the student newspaper of the University of Kansas. The article, written by Jain Penner, publicized the main urban legend about Stull Cemetery: that the cemetery was one of the 7 Gates to Hell, the nearby Evangelical Emmanuel Church ruins were “possessed” by the devil, and the Devil himself appeared at the location twice a year...once on Halloween, and once on the spring equinox, because Satan is a well-rounded king. Here’s a snippet of the article:

“Far removed from the horrible story of The Exorcist or the bizarre black masses recently discovered in Los Angeles, and tucked away on a rough county road between Topeka and Lawrence is the tiny town of Stull. Not unlike the town of Sleepy Hollow, described by Washington Irving in his famous tale, Stull is one of those towns motorists can miss by blinking. Stull and Sleepy Hollow have another thing in common. Both are haunted by legends of diabolical, supernatural happenings.”

As you can tell by the relation to The Exorcist and black masses, the story of Stull Cemetery came to prominence right around the early days of America’s Satanic panic, and this helped the story spread and take root. I’m unsure of where Jain Penner got the legend from, though some historians and locals say that the legend was simply created and spread by the University of Kansas students. Penner’s story included interviews with students who experienced strange occurrences in Stull, including one that insisted he was grabbed by something unseen. The church itself is indeed in ruins, having tumbled down on Good Friday, March 29 2002. My birthday! The cemetery, however, still lives on, perhaps giving the devil a little resting spot between his many annual Halloween visits. Also, according to lore, he comes by on the Spring Equinox because his wife is buried there, or possibly the gravesite of his infant son. Other tidbits of legend state that on a 1995 trip to Colorado, the Pope redirected the flight path of his private plane to avoid flying over the unholy ground of Stull, and also, the Cure refused to play in Kansas because of their superstition around the legend. There are claims by tourism-friendly locals of raps and banging sounds; disembodied voices are often reported, usually the voice of an old woman; ghostly children playing at night in the cemetery; time shifts and discrepancies, inexplicable loss of memory, disorientation, and technological disfunction. 

Stull Cemetery has made its way deeply into pop culture - probably more than we know. The Winchester boys from the TV show Supernatural are canonically from Lawrence, Kansas BECAUSE of the town’s proximity to Stull. Spoiler alert, the season five finale of the show features archangels and Lucifer in a climactic battle for power, set—where else?—right in the heart of Stull Cemetery. The band Urge Overkill named their 1992 album, the one with their iconic cover of Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon from Pulp Fiction, “Stull”, and the album art is a picture of a Stull gravestone. Even miss Ariana Grande told Complex magazine in 2013 that she took a trip to the cemetery that ended in a demonic attack. Quote:

“I felt this sick, overwhelming feeling of negativity over the whole car and we smelled sulfur, which is the sign of a demon, and there was a fly in the car randomly, which is another sign of a demon. I was like, "This is scary, let’s leave." I rolled down the window before we left and said, "We apologize. We didn’t mean to disrupt your peace." Then I took a picture and there are three super distinct faces in the picture — they’re faces of textbook demons.” The interviewer then asks to see the picture. “I deleted it. The next day I tried to send the picture to my manager and it said, "This file can’t be sent, it’s 666 megabytes." I’m not kidding. I used to have a folder called "Demons" that had pictures with all the screencaps in it, but then weird things started happening to me so I deleted it. I was going to sleep about two weeks ago. I had just gotten off the phone and as soon as I closed my eyes I heard this really loud rumble right by my head. When I opened my eyes it stopped immediately, but when I closed my eyes it started again with whispers. Every time I closed my eyes I started seeing these really disturbing images with, like, red shapes. Then I opened my eyes and got back on the phone and was like, "I’m really scared and I don’t want to go to bed tonight." And then I scooched over to the left side of my bed, because that’s where the best service is in my room, and there was this massive black matter. I don’t know what it was.”

Straight from Ariana Grande’s mouth, folks - Stull Cemetery is bad news!! On a scale of 1-10 licked donuts, how haunted is Stull Cemetery?


Next we hop over to North London, England, to take a walk around Highgate Cemetery. But we better be careful...there are vampires afoot! 

First, let’s chat about the famous folks buried at highgate - communist king Karl Marx, author of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams, victim of Russian poisoning and former spy Aleksander Litvinenko, and most recently singer George Michael. So Highgate is a big deal! But it may be most well known for its spookiness. 

Looks-wise it’s got a Victorian Gothic style, so it’s already creepy to the eye. Post World War II it became overgrown and run down, which contributed to the eeriness, so much so that it became a popular filming location for classic Hammer horror movies. The story most associated with Highgate, of its titular vampire, is a wild tale, and I’ll try to sum it up as best I can. 

A group of young people interested in the occult visited the cemetery in the late 1960s, likely influenced by the Hammer films and its growing reputation as a site for vandalism. The London Evening News reported in 1968, “On the night of Halloween 1968 a graveyard desecration by persons unknown occurred at Tottenham Park Cemetery in London. These persons arranged flowers taken from graves in circular patterns with arrows of blooms pointing to a new grave, which was uncovered. A coffin was opened and the body inside "disturbed". But their most macabre act was driving an iron stake in the form of a cross through the lid and into the breast of the corpse.” The perpetrators were never found. Then, in a letter to the Hampstead and Highgate Express in February 1970, magician David Farrant wrote that when passing the cemetery on December 24th1969 he had glimpsed "a grey figure", which he considered to be supernatural, and asked if others had seen anything similar. Several people replied, saying they’d seen a variety of strange beings and spirits in the cemetery and the adjoining Swains Lane. Among these phantoms were a tall man in a hat, a cyclist, a woman in white, a figure wading into a pond, and experiences of disembodied bells ringing and voices calling out. 

Another response came from fellow magician Sean Manchester, who claimed the grey figure was actually...a vampire. The media loved this, and followed up with more stories about how this vampire was the KING of the vampires, and practiced black magic. 

Farrant and Manchester began a public rivalry, both being magicians who happened to be experts on this cemetery vampire, and they each claimed in the news that he was the only one who could banish the vampire. Manchester declared he would hold an exorcism on Friday the 13, March 1970, and in preparation ITV interviewed Manchester, Farrant, and others who claimed to have seen supernatural figures in the cemetery and broadcast them on a special that was shown on ITV in the early evening of the 13th. I wasn’t able to find this video clip, unfortunately, but we’ll follow up with Manchester in a minute. 

So, within two hours of the special airing, a mob of 'hunters' from all over London and beyond swarmed over gates and walls into Highgate. Police had to come in to control the crowd. A few months later in August 1970, the charred and headless remains of a woman's body were found not far from the main catacomb, which was said to be the vampire’s lair. Farrant was found by police in the churchyard beside Highgate Cemetery one night later that month carrying a crucifix and a wooden stake and was arrested, though ended up being dismissed as a suspect. A few days after the body was discovered, Manchester returned to Highgate Cemetery, and claims that this time he and his assistants forced open the doors of a family vault, lifted the lid off one coffin, and was about to drive a stake through the body it contained when a friend persuaded him not to. He didn’t, but did leave garlic and incense in the vault before he left. 

The rivalry between Farrant and Manchester didn’t end there, though - rumours spread that they would meet in a "magicians' duel" on Parliament Hill on Friday the 13th in April 1973, which never happened, and Farrant was arrested again in 1974 for damaging memorials and interfering with dead remains in Highgate Cemetery. The animosity between the two continued straight through to Farrant’s death in 2019. 

I did find one of my faves interviewing Sean Manchester himself about the end of the Highgate Vampire drama on “True Horror with Anthony Head”:

[CLIP - :00-:33 / 5:05-5:25]

Much like Stull Cemetery, the legend of the Highgate Vampire has inspired a number of pop culture figures, including its own Hammer Horror film Dracula AD 1972, and even found its way into the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 comics, where the Highgate Vampire himself appeared as a villain. Bringing things full circle back to Anthony Stewart Head, the vamp in the comics was revealed to have nearly killed his character Rupert Giles back in 1972, and becomes a minion of the Buffy character Drusilla when he reappears in 2010. You just can’t keep a good vampire down.

On a scale of 1-10 cloves of garlic, how haunted is Highgate Cemetery?


Let’s travel on back to America, to the land of mint juleps and Spanish moss - Savannah, Georgia. This is one cemetery I’ve been to! It’s absolutely gorgeous - there’s a beautiful, peaceful vibe about it, and it’s incredibly quiet, kind of a bastion of tranquility in the bustling city of Savannah...well, as bustling as Georgia gets, anyway. 

The land was first purchased in 1762 by British loyalist John Mullryne. When the Revolutionary War ended, those loyal to the British Crown began to face persecution, and Mullryne’s land was seized by local authorities and auctioned off to the public. Eventually in 1907 it was officially acquired by the city of Savannah, which declared the grounds a public cemetery.

The cemetery really emerged on the national scene in 1994 when it figured heavily into a bestselling true crime book by John Berendt, “Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil”. It’s a great book, and a really interesting, low-key film, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring John Cusack and, sigh, Kevin Spacey. The cover of the book itself features the statue on the cover of a young girl holding two bowls, which is also called the statue of Little Wendy. The statue was once located at the Trosdal family plot, but because of the book became so famous that it was donated to the Telfair Museum of Art to preserve her. Legend says that the statue is haunted by the ghost of Lorraine Greenman, the little girl who was the model for it for artist Sylvia Shaw Judson. 

It’s another statue that has the most stories of hauntings, though. “Little Gracie” Watson was 6 years old when she died of pneumonia, and her grieving family had her memorialized in stone by artist John Walz for her grave. Some who have stood close to her grave site have reported seeing the spirit of the beautiful little girl, wearing a white dress and vanishing without a trace if they attempted to get closer. Little Gracie has also been spotted in Johnson Square, where her father owned a hotel. Late at night, those happening to sit on one of the benches in the square may spot Gracie, gliding through silently as she plays. Many visit Gracie’s grave to leave presents for the ghost child, and some say that her statue cries tears of blood if you try to take her toys away.

Little Gracie’s statue isn’t the only one that might be haunted at Bonaventure. Those on tours have given accounts of different statues grimacing or smiling at them as they passed by. There have been plenty reports as well of inexplicable sounds - a baby crying near an infant’s grave, giggling disembodied children, and even the sounds of a pack of dogs snarling and barking angrily but nowhere to be seen.

I absolutely believe something more could be at play in Bonaventure. The whole place feels heavy with history...but in its own way, that intensity is beautiful.

On a scale of 1-10 statues crying blood, how haunted is Boneventure Cemetery?

We’ll tackle the rest of our ghoulish graveyards...after the break.


[BREAK]


We’re going to go overseas one last time, to Oistins, Christ Church, Barbados...and the Chase Vault at Christ Church Parish Church Cemetery. This story is kind of unique because it involves one singular location at the cemetery, but it’s so famous and so weird that it deserves a discussion all its own. The Chase Vault legend has been around since at least its first published version in 1833, in the book Transatlantic Sketches by General James Edward Alexander. Alexander wrote that a Mrs. Goddard was buried in the vault in 1807, followed in 1808 by 2-year-old Anna Maria Chase and 12-year-old Dorcas Chase in 1812. The latter, tragically, had starved herself to death. When the vault was opened again later in 1812 for the burial of Thomas Chase, father of Anna Maria and Dorcas, the caskets of the girls were said to be found "in a confused state, having been apparently tossed from their places." When the vault was opened yet again soon after for the burial of another child, the four coffins, all made of lead and therefore very heavy, were “much disturbed" and that similar disturbances to the coffins inside were found when opening the vault for the burial of eleven-year-old Charles Brewster Ames in 1816. Keep in mind the door was a massive stone that required 6 or 7 men to move aside for each burial, so if anyone was trying to get into the Vault to just throw things around, they were doing it in some sort of coordinated group. At this point before resealing the tomb, a layer of sand was placed on the floor to detect any footprints should the culprits return again. The last time the vault was opened was in 1819, with Governor of Barbados Lord Combermere present, and the coffins were found “confusedly thrown about the vault, some with their heads down and others up”. No footprints or signs of water flooding into the vault were detected.  The Governor ordered the bodies re-interred in separate burial plots, with the vault now sealed and empty. No other vaults at the Christ Church cemetery ever had this issue, before or since.

This strange story captured the minds of Victorian society, with Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle even speculating about the case, wondering if “animal magnetism” could be involved. It’s hard to explain the theory of animal magnetism quickly, but basically it’s some sort of invisible natural force that is present in all living things...like, well, The Force. Folklorist Benjamin Radford compares it to other moving coffin stories around the world, and even believes Freemason allegory has been a factor in this case, due to a Masonic tale of a secret vault in which could be found  “ancient mysteries, symbolic of death, where alone Divine Truth is to be found."

Could there have been a poltergeist in the vault? A group of people trying to mess around with anyone who came to bury someone, for some reason? Witchcraft? Seismic activity focused solely on this one vault? It remains a mystery.

On a scale of 1-10 lead-lined coffins, how haunted is the Chase Vault?


Last, we return to America for a one-two punch in the Windy City - Chicago, Illinois. 

Originally I really didn’t want to include cemeteries from the same state in America, and certainly not in the same city, but the stories behind both of these are so intriguing and so prevalent in haunted cemetery lore, I didn’t want to choose between them.

We begin at Bachelor’s Grove at the unincorporated Bremen Township. The cemetery has become KNOWN for its alleged ghost sightings. The site saw its first known burials around 1836 and contains 200 graves, with some plots having never been sold or used. The site is ALSO often reported as a dumping ground for victims of the Al Capone and the Chicago mob in the 20s and 30s, though no evidence has come forward to prove this. However, there is an isolated lagoon near the back of the cemetery, which seems the perfect place to dump a snitch or two.

There’s a whole list of the reported phenomena at Bachelor’s Grove. They start at your typical floating orbs of light and also extend to collisions with a phantom vehicle. One of the most famous ghost photos of all time was taken at Bachelor’s Grove, that of the White Lady or Madonna of Bachelor’s Grove. The photo was taken at the cemetery in 1991 during an investigation by the Ghost Research Society using infrared film. The group saw no person visible at the time, but the photo clearly shows a human figure - which certainly looks like a woman to my eyes - sitting on the checkered monument located near the south entrance. There are parts of the woman that appear translucent, like her nose and feet. The woman is rumored to be the spirit of a woman who was buried next to her child, and apparently has been seen wandering the cemetery during the full moon, holding the body of a baby in her arms.

The Madonna of Bachelor’s Grove isn’t the only spirit. How about a ghost house?? More than once groups of people have come across a phantom farmhouse while hiking the gravel road around the cemetery late at night. The house appears as a picturesque white farmhouse in perfect condition...and then disappears completely before your eyes.

In 1984 a rash of people reported seeing the ghostly figure of what appeared to be a monk walking slowly across the cemetery toward the moon. Disembodied arguing voices have been heard coming from the overgrown lagoon area. Other spirits include a two headed ghost, a black dog seen in the 90s, and a farmer and his plow horse. 

On a scale of 1-10 snitches drowned in a lagoon, how haunted is Bachelor’s Grove?


Next, let’s visit our last cemetery of the series: Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois. The spirit at this cemetery is so famous she has her own Wikipedia page, so give it up for Resurrection Mary!

The story of Resurrection Mary is a classic vanishing hitchhiker tale, and usually goes something like this:

Mary, a young woman living in the Chicago area in the 1930s, had spent the evening dancing with her date at the Oh Henry Ballroom. At some point, they got into an argument and Mary stormed out of the venue. 
She started walking up Archer Avenue, not getting very far before she was struck by a hit-and-run driver, who fled the scene, leaving Mary to die. Her grief-stricken parents found her body and buried her in Resurrection Cemetery, wearing a beautiful white dancing dress and matching dancing shoes. The hit-and-run driver was never found. The Mary of legend is widely believed to be either Mary Bregovy, a young woman who died in a car accident - not hit and run - in 1934 and was buried at Resurrection OR Anna Marija Norkus, who died in a 1927 automobile accident while on her way home from the Oh Henry Ballroom.

The stories about the spirit of Mary began not long after her reported death. Jerry Palus reported that in 1939 he met a person whom he came to believe was Resurrection Mary at the Liberty Grove and Hall at 47th and Mozart. They danced, and even kissed, and she asked him to drive her home along Archer Avenue, exiting the car while saying “I must leave you now, you cannot follow me” and disappearing in front of Resurrection Cemetery right before his eyes. Another story came in 1979 and 1980 from Chicago Tribune columnist Bill Geist. Ralph, a taxi driver, had dropped off a fare in the far southwest suburbs on the cold evening before the historic Blizzard of 1979. He spotted a girl with no coat, wearing a white dancing dress, walking beside the road. He offered her a ride, only to have her disappear through the cab door, then run to an outbuilding across from Resurrection Cemetery’s main gate. Also in the 70s Bob Main, night manager of Harlow’s Dance Club, claimed to see the ghost of Mary twice in one month. 

“'This was the glitter rock era, and we saw a lot of strange people, but one Friday night, then two weeks later on a Saturday night, this woman came in. She was about 24 to 30 years old, 5 foot 8 or 5 foot 9, slender, with yellow blond hair to her shoulders that she wore in these big spooly curls coming down from a high forehead. She was really pale, like she had powdered her face and her body. She had on this old dress that was yellow, like a wedding dress left in the sun. She sat right next to the dance floor and she wouldn’t talk to anyone. She danced all by herself, this pirouette-type dance. People were saying, `Who is this most bizarre chick?`” 

When Main and others tried to talk to her, the woman would only shake her head and ''seemed to look through you.''

''She had this teardrop on her cheek that looked like nail polish. But when you got right up to her, it looked like her eye was bleeding. But the strangest thing was, even though we carded everyone who came in there- I worked the door, and there were waitresses and bartenders and people there- nobody, either night, ever saw her come in and never saw her leave.” Main only connected the odd woman with the story of Resurrection Mary when he saw the legend printed in the paper years later.

Rich Prusinski was the manager of Chet’s Melody Lounge, located across the street from the cemetery’s main gates, in the 70s.

''There were a few guys here in the bar, and we noticed a cab outside with its engine running. Finally, the driver came into the bar and said, `Okay, where is the blond?` We said, `A blond woman never came in here.`”

Prusinski and others searched the bar and its ladies room. The woman, who had asked the cab driver to be dropped at Chet`s, simply wasn’t there.

A story dating to 1976 tells of a police sergeant being called to the Archer Avenue gates of the cemetery on a report that someone was locked inside. He checked the area and was stunned to see that two bars in the massive metal gate were pulled apart and blackened, with handprints scorched into the metal, as if someone had forced their way out. Some say this was simply caused by a truck backing into them...but who knows. There was also the story of a police officer that called an ambulance to rescue a bloodied woman in a white dress he thought he hit and knocked into a vacant area near the entrance gate. When paramedics arrived...the woman couldn’t be found.

The story of Resurrection Mary has inspired a variety of pop culture, including the song “Bringing Mary Home” by the Country Gentleman, 2 episodes of Unsolved Mysteries, and 4 films from the years 2002 to 2007 all titled...Resurrection Mary. Here’s a clip from one of the trailers.

[:32-:40 / 1:12-1:35]

There’s also a version of this film called The Legend of Resurrection Mary, which I can’t tell if it’s a sequel or a re-edit, but it’s from 2021, so Resurrection Mary has still got her claws in pop culture even today.

On a scale of 1-10 phantom hitchhikers, how haunted is Resurrection Cemetery?

Which was the most haunted cemetery of all of these?

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NEWS

In a new segment we’ll be calling WEIRD SCIENCE, we have the story of the first part human, part monkey embryo!

The Sun reports the first part-human, part-monkey embryo has been created by scientists at California’s Salk Institute despite ethical concerns.

Researchers have grown human stem cells in monkey embryos to try and better understand how the cells communicate, with the embryos being scientifically classified as “monkey human chimeras”. The scientists hope that this development could eventually be used to create organs for transplants and teach us more about human growth and disease progression.

Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, head researcher and creator of the first human-pig hybrid in 2017, stated "These chimeric approaches could be really very useful for advancing biomedical research not just at the very earliest stage of life, but also the latest stage of life."

The embryos were monitored for about 20 days and, apparently, have been destroyed. 

There is concern that this will “open Pandora’s box to human-nonhuman chimeras”, according to Professor Julian Savulescu at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. He goes on to say, "These embryos were destroyed at 20 days of development but it is only a matter of time before human-nonhuman chimeras are successfully developed, perhaps as a source of organs for humans.”

We’ll certainly keep you updated on any more human-animal hybrid creatures. 

--

ENDING

That’s it for this episode of Ain’t It Scary with Sean and Carrie! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @aintitscary, and check out our website at aintitscary.com. You can support the show by supporting our sponsors, and becoming a patron at www.patreon.com/aintitscary. And please, subscribe to the show and throw us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts...we’ll be forever grateful.

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