The 5 Scariest Mausoleums in America

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Recently on Twitter, I was talking with a few of you about Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction (1997-2002). For those unfamiliar with this television show: each episode shared supernatural stories, then revealed whether the stories were fact or fiction at the end of the episode.

My favorite story from the show, “The Secret of the Family Tomb,” was about a haunted mausoleum. I included a clip of the story below (8 minutes) and will tell you whether it’s fact or fiction at the end of this post.

With haunted mausoleums on my mind, I wanted to find more. I’ve always found mausoleums interesting: they’re eerily quiet, mysterious, and beautifully made. What goes on behind those doors after dark? The following stories suggest the trapped spirits are trying to get out.

The Legare Mausoleum (Edisto Island, SC)

From Flickr 

In the mid-1800s, Julia Legare became sick with Diptheria. Her family watched as she suffocated, closed her eyes, and passed on. They laid her lifeless body on a stone slab in the family crypt, closed the door, and sealed the keyhole with wax. The family mourned and tried their best to move on.

Years later, Julia’s brother was killed in the Civil War and the family crypt was opened once again. The family moved the heavy door, only to watch bones fall out. The doors and floor were covered with claw marks. Julia didn’t die from Diptheria, but spent her last moments alive trying to escape the crypt. Obviously, her family was very distraught with this scene. They quickly placed their son in the mausoleum and left, but decided to visit him soon to make sure he was indeed dead. When they returned to the grave, the crypt door had a large crack down the middle. They replaced it, but it happened again, and again, and again…

The mausoleum has remained doorless ever since. Could Julia’s spirit be protecting her brother from the same fate?

The Hayden Mausoleum (Columbus, OH)

In Green Lawn Cemetery, there is a large mausoleum that holds members of the Hayden family. Legend says that if you knock on the mausoleum doors, a spirit will answer back with a knock. On rainy nights, people have also reported seeing a young boy leaning against its iron gates and crying. Is he buried inside?

According to a user on Find a Grave, the mausoleum is in decent condition on the outside, but is in very bad shape on the inside.

The Craigmiles Mausoleum (Cleveland, TN)

The alleged blood stain is above the right column. From Find a Grave

In Cleveland, Tennessee stands a beautiful 37-foot high mausoleum made of white Italian marble and stained with (what seems to be) blood. On October 18, 1871, Nina Craigmiles (age 7) died in a tragic buggy accident. Her grandfather, who often took her on buggy rides, was thrown clear of the accident and survived. Her father John Craigmiles was deeply saddened by this loss and constructed a church (St. Luke’s Episcopal Church) and mausoleum in her honor. Soon after her burial, blood stains began to appear.

Shortly after Nina’s death, her brother died (name not documented). In 1899, John died of blood poisoning after a serious fall on an icy street. Nina’s mother, Adelia, died in 1928 after being hit by a car when crossing the street. They were all placed in the mausoleum. With each death, the blood stains got darker and more prominent.

Could the spirits of the Craighmiles family be the cause of the mysterious red stains or is there some chemical reaction in the marble?

The Forest Park Mausoleum (Brunswick, NY)

The Forest Park Cemetery (also known as the Pinewoods Cemetery) is now abandoned and overgrown.  According to Wikipedia, the cemetery began with big dreams that were never fully realized:

Forest Park Cemetery was first incorporated in 1897 by a group of wealthy Troy businessmen under the Forest Park Cemetery Corporation, though based on older gravestones, the cemetery had apparently been in use since at least 1856. The original area chosen for the cemetery occupied over 200 acres (81 ha) of farmland in what was then rural Brunswick. Meant to outgrow and even outclass Troy’s Oakwood Cemetery, it was originally designed by Garnet Baltimore, the first African-American graduate ofRensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Baltimore planned on the cemetery to offer visitors a park-like experience, complete with statuary, winding trails, and a large receiving tomb near the entrance.

The Forest Park Cemetery Corporation went bankrupt in 1914 and the cemetery was never completed to the original plans. The only structure that had been built was the receiving tomb, which still stands today, albeit in a dilapidated state. The receiving tomb was built from granite and featured a copper roof with a large skylight and contained 128 marble catacombs used for storing corpses during the winter.

In 1914 the cemetery was re-incorporated by New York City natives under the name Forest Hills Cemetery. Due to financial difficulty, the corporation sold all but 22 acres (8.9 ha) to the neighboring County Club of Troy, for use in the construction of its golf course. Regardless, the corporation also went bankrupt during the 1930s. The cemetery went mostly unattended except for a local man named William Christian who volunteered to be caretaker and did so from 1918 to his death in 1961. Christian kept notes of interments, which indicate that the cemetery served upwards of 1,400 burials. Burials continued in the cemetery until about 1975, when the cemetery went completely unattended.

Until 1987, control of the cemetery was in dispute. During that year, control was vested in the Town of Brunswick, at the decree of New York State. In response, the town created a Forest Park Cemetery Advisory Council in 1991, but it ended up being disbanded in 1994. Based on local obituaries, the cemetery was put back into use in the late 1990s and has been used as recently as 2005 for a burial. Employees from the Town of Brunswick made multiple attempts during the 1990s and 2000s to remove the overgrown brush and plants, which had become a major problem.

In 1988, the cemetery was featured in the local Times Record newspaper after two youths discovered a partially exhumed grave. Two shovels, a pick and several beer cans were found at the crime scene. Although police reports were filed, no one was apprehended for the crime.

According to urban legend, this cemetery is a gateway to hell. People have reported that a headless angel statue bleeds from the neck (which many believe is just moss). The mausoleum (or the before mentioned receiving tomb) was opened by residents, revealing that there were no bodies inside. People believe the bodies disappeared or walked off. Others argue it was simply a holding area for bodies to be buried, and that it never served as a final resting place.

If you need a scare, Weird US has two stories from readers that have visited the site!

Massock Mausoleum (Spring Valley, IL)

From Illinois Ancestors

The small Lithuanian Liberty Cemetery was established in 1914 and holds less than 20 memorials. In the corner of the cemetery stands a mausoleum with the bodies of two brothers. According to legend, “The Hatchet Man” guards the mausoleum at night and chases off anyone that enters the cemetery.

As with many cemeteries, there has been vandalism. In the 1960s, a local boy allegedly broke into the mausoleum and took a skull. The boy drove around town with the skull on his dashboard. Once word got out that it was indeed real, the skull was returned and the mausoleum doors were cemented shut. In recent years, a burned dog’s head was found on the mausoleum steps and was linked to animal sacrifice.

Another legend tells of a reporter who poured holy water down the vent of the mausoleum, which caused a groaning noise from inside.

People have also reported a pale and thin apparition walking around at night.

So, is the scary story about the family tomb fact or fiction? 

This story is based on true events.

Book Notes: Supernatural Superstitions

Each week, I walk many blocks to the used bookstore to explore its supernatural and horror section. It’s one of those book stores where shelves are filled and the floor is covered with stacks of books. You can usually find me sitting on the floor, turning the pages of some new find.

Now that I have my own room for my reading and writing, I have the space to build a substantial supernatural library. And, nothing could make me happier. I have always taken notes when reading, because I don’t want to forget what I’ve read. I also like something to reference when I return to a topic. This is why I’ve always kept a commonplace book. In fact, the first post of this blog was book notes from Herbert Thurston’s Ghost and Poltergeists.  

Today’s notes are from a recent find, David Pickering’s Dictionary of Superstitions. This book contains superstitions about food, body parts, weather…really, a variety of subject areas. Below are notes I took the interesting supernatural entries. Enjoy!

Fariy (p. 100): “Great care should be taken to avoid dark green ‘fairy rings’ in the grass, which mark the place where the fairies have held a circular dance at midnight (the rings are actually made by a fungus). It is said that these may even indicate the whereabouts of a fairy village. It is throught very dangerous to sleep in one of these rings or even to stop into one after nightfall – especially on the even of May Day or Halloween – and livestock are also reputed to keep their distance from these phenomena.”

Ghost (p. 116): “Measures that may be taken against encountering ghosts include, according to Scottish tradition, wearing a cross of rowan wood fastened with red thread and concealed in the lining of one’s coat.”

Gremlin (p. 122): “The only way to foil the activities of gremlins, apparently, is to lay an empty bottle nearby – the mischievous creatures will crawl inside and stay there.”

Hallowee’en (p. 125-6):

  • “Hallowe’en is generally considered a time where extra care should be given not to linger in churchyards or do anything that might offend the fairies or other malicious spirits.”
  • “It is also risky to look at one’s own shadow in the moonlight and the most inadvisable to go on a hunting expedition on Hallowe’en, as one may accidently wound a wandering spirit.”
  • “Children born on Hallowe’en will, however, enjoy lifelong protection against evil spirits and will also be endowed with the gift of second sight.”
  • “In rural areas farmers may circle their fields with lighted torches in the belief that doing so will safeguard the following year’s harvest, or else drive their livestock between branches of rowan to keep them safe from evil influences.”
  • “According to Welsh tradition, anyone going to a crossroads on Hallowe’en and listening carefully to the wind may learn what the next year has in store and, when the church clock strikes midnight, will hear a list of the names of those who are to die in the locality over the next twelve months.”
  • “Several of the most widely known Hallowe’en divination rituals relate to apples. Superstition suggests that, if a girl stands before a mirror while eating an apple and combing her hair at midnight on Hallowe’en, her future husband’s image will be reflected  in the glass over her left shoulder. A variant dictates that she must cut the apple into nine pieces, each of which must be struck on the point of the knife and held over the left shoulder. Moreover, if she peels an apple in one long piece, and then tosses the peel over the left shoulder or into a bowl of water, she will be able to read the first initial of her futures partner’s name in the shape assumed by the discarded peel. Alternatively the peel is hung on a nail by the front door and the initials of the first man to enter will be the same as those of the unknown lover.”

Nightmare (p. 189):

  • “Superstition maintains that nightmares are sent by the devil and his minions to trouble the dreams of sleepers. Such demons steal into bedrooms in the dead of night, often taking the form of spectral horses (hence ‘nightmare’).”
  • Remedies for nightmares
    • “These include pinning one’s socks in the shape of a cross to the end of the bed or else placing a knife or some other metal object nearby, on the grounds that the latent magic of the iron or steel will see off malevolent spirits.”
    • “Carefully placing one’s shoes under the bed so that the toes point outwards is also said to be effective.”
    • “Other precautions include sleeping with the hands crossed on the breast and fixing little straw crosses to the four corners of the bed.”
    • “Any lingering ill effects resulting from nightmares may be dismissed by spitting three times on waking up.

More notes form this book to come!

Cemetery Tour: Greyfriars Kirkyard

edin4A few years ago, I traveled to Scotland for 3 months for my PhD program. As someone that has toured many small town cemeteries in America, the Scottish cemeteries were quite the cultural shock. Before reaching my final destination of Dundee, Scotland, I stayed in Edinburgh for a few days. When not drinking Scotch and reading in pubs, I was in Greyfriars Kirkyard: a graveyard that houses a loyal dog and a violent poltergeist. Burying people since the late 16th century, the graveyard is home to many interesting people and stories.

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Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier who supposedly guarded his deceased owner’s grave in the kirkyard for 14 years. After Bobby passed on January 14, 1872, he was buried not too far from his owner’s grave. When I saw his grave (below) it was covered with sticks, which I assumed were for a heavenly game of fetch. A fountain (above) was built on the corner of Candlemaker Row and George IV Bridge in Edinburgh. While some challenge the validity of the story, I think it’s too sweet to fact-check.

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While a sweet dog sleeps near his owner, another resident attacks visitors. Located in the graveyard is an eerie mausoleum (below) with the tomb of Sir George Mackenzie. Nicknamed Bluidy Mackenzie, he is buried among many that he harmed on earth:

In the 17th century, Scotland was going through an intense religious struggle, started by King Charles introducing the Common Book of Prayer and declaring all opposition to the book an act of treason and the draconian lawyer George Mackenzie was the man responsible for putting the opposition down.

George Mackenzie was a lawyer and the Lord Advocate during the rule of Charles II and quickly earned a reputation as one of the most vicious persecutors of the covenanters, the people who rose up and signed the National Covenant in 1638, around. Mackenzie’s brutal and unfeeling treatment of the protesters even earned him the moniker “Bluidy Mackenzie.” Many covenanters were imprisoned in a section of Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, where he delighted in their torture; guards were allowed to beat the covenanters at will, and eventually their heads would decorate the spiked gate. (Atlas Obscura)

The violent history related to the kirkyard has left an aggressive residual energy, leaving many visitors with scratch marks and bites:

The earliest story relates to a boy from the adjacent George Heriot’s School fleeing a corporal punishment and hiding within the tomb. He allegedly became trapped inside and went mad as a result. More tangible as a story is the 2004 verified story of teenage Goths who entered the tomb via the ventilation slot to the rear (now sealed). They reached the lower vault (containing the coffins) broke the coffins open and stole a skull. Police arrived as they were playing football with the skull on the grass. The pair narrowly escaped imprisonment on the little-used but still extant charge of violation of the dead.

In 1998 a new phenonenum materialised dubbed The Mackenzie Poltergeist. Between 1990 and 2006 it is alleged that there were 350 reported attacks and 170 reports of people collapsing. Night-time visitors (on the ghost-tours) reported being cut, bruised, bitten, scratched and most commonly blacking out. Some complained later of bruises, scratches and gouge-marks on their bodies. No day-time events were reported. Most attacks and feelings of unease occurred in MacKenzie’s Black Mausoleum and the Covenantors Prison. As a publicity stunt this also led in 2000, to an exorcist exorcising the graveyard. (Wikipedia)

I luckily left his grave unscathed and the doors are locked, which stopped me from doing anything stupid.

If you are brave enough, maybe you can visit and sing the old children’s rhyme: “Bluidy Mackingie, come oot if ye daur, lift the sneck and draw the bar!” Or not. Probably don’t.

The poltergeist was featured on Episode 19: “Bite Marks” of the Lore podcast, which I highly recommend.

Bluidy Mackenzie’s tomb




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I like how chill this guy looks on his gravestone.

Greyfriars Kirkyard is an interesting representation of the good and evil on earth…and in the afterlife. A place where many are laid to rest, the graveyard is alive in many ways. As the Scottish writer Walter Scott once said, “Death–the last sleep? No, it is the final awakening.”

Indiana Cemeteries: Heady Cemetery



When I was a young girl living in Fishers, IN, my friend and I found a cemetery in the middle of our subdivision. Its location seemed random, but modern development building around (and unfortunately on top of) old grave sites isn’t new (I mean there’s a grave in the middle of the road in Amity, IN). My friend and I, for some very odd reason, thought we were the first to stumble across this graveyard and took ownership of it. We began to clean up, pick up fallen branches and pile them at the edge of the cemetery. We made a list of each gravestone, marking the name, date of birth and death. We then called up everyone in the phone book with corresponding last names to let them know we found their ancestors’ graves. I was an odd child.

I was attached to the cemetery, as are a lot of spirits. The cemetery, dating back to the 19th century, has many members of the Heady family. Many legends surround the graveyard, including a grave-robber that accidentally dug up his son’s own body (yeah, I don’t know) and completely lost it. He now haunts the area.


Near the cemetery is a hollow (126th Street/Allisonville Road) where a schoolhouse ran by the Heady family burned down. Several children were killed and their spirits will appear on foggy nights on that road. Historical records of such a school have not been found. I’m not sure if it is true, but I’ll let you know when I return to my hometown on a foggy night.

These photos are from a recent visit back in November, 2015.

Lambs, which represent innocence, are often found on children’s graves. Allison passed away at the age of 2 months, 1 day.
The symbol represents a hand pointing to heaven.
Here we see another lamb and pointing hand. The dove represents God, a messenger of God.
This gravestone marks three graves. Three Weeping Willow trees, which represent sorrow and mourning, appear at the top.