Haunted Cemetery Statues in the United States

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Not haunted, but a girl can dream.

In elementary school, our music teacher played a 1980s PBS cartoon set to Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre” on Halloween. The cartoon began with a statue of a cloaked skeleton coming to life after sunset, using his instrument to summon skeletons from their graves. Since then, I have always imagined the statues I see in cemeteries becoming animated at nightfall.

In an article about haunted objects in Collectors Weekly. Michael Shermer of the Skeptics Society said, “[…] anytime you have a human figure, people are likely to think it holds some kind of invisible force, because of our propensity to believe in the afterlife and that humans carry a soul.” What better place than a cemetery, then, for stories about statues coming to life? They are so close to death, bodies, and souls.

The following are cemetery statues believed to exhibit characteristics of the living: moving, bleeding, crying. Some of these statues are also a gateway to the afterlife, having the power to predict or even cause death.

Inez Clarke and Eternal Silence (Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, IL)

In Graceland Cemetery stands a memorial with the statue of a young girl behind protective glass. Legend says this young girl, Inez Clarke, was struck by lightening in the 1800s. On stormy nights in the cemetery, the statue is said to disappear (hiding from fear?), leaving an empty glass case. She then reappears in the morning. There’s an excellent detailed description on Find A Grave (also to be credited for the image).

The Eternal Silence statue (aka “The Statue of Death”) in Graceland Cemetery is, on its very own, very eerie and spooky. The statue memorializes Dexter Graves, who in 1831 led 13 families from Ohio to, what would become, Chicago. The hooded bronze statue, a version of the Grim Reaper, was designed by Lorado Taft.

Supposedly, if you stare into the eyes of Eternal Silence, you will see a vision of your own death. There have also been many reports of the statue raising and lowering its uplifted arm. Further, the statue (up until the 1970s) could not be photographed, “stemming from amateur photographers reporting malfunctioning of normally cooperative cameras, or inexplicable destruction of camera film” (Atlas Obscura).

The Haserot Angel (Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland, OH)

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Image Credit: Ian MacQueen // CC BY-SA 3.0

This statue, named “The Angel of Death Victorious,” is a life-sized bronze statue of a seated angel. She holds a extinguished torch upside down, which represents a finished life. Some visitors believe that the statue is crying black tears, but could it just be the effects of aged bronze?

The Bleeding Statue (Forest Park Cemetery, Brunswick, NY)

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Image Credit: Pinterest

I discussed a haunted mausoleum in this very cemetery in an earlier post. According to urban legend, this cemetery is a gateway to hell. One day when the mausoleum/receiving tomb was opened, it was revealed that the bodies were missing. So, already a creepy place.

The cemetery also has a headless angel statue with a bleeding neck. One popular theory is that the blood is just moss. Moss is boring though. Let’s go with blood.

Black Aggie (Druid Ridge Cemetery, Pikesville, MD)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

The Black Aggie is a name given to a statue that once resided on the memorial of General Felix Agnus in Druid Ridge Cemetery. The statue was moved because of damage caused by visitors, and eventually ended up in a courtyard behind the Dolley Madison House in Washington, D.C.

When Black Aggie lived in Druid Ridge Cemetery, there were many scary stories attached to it. According to legend, the dead of Druid Ridge would gather around the statue at night. The statue was also believed to cause blindness and miscarriages (Source).

The statue too became an attraction for local teens seeking a thrill. One story about Black Aggie describes a fraternity ritual where initiates have to spend the night at the foot of the statue. For one pledge, this method of hazing led to his death. From Spooky Maryland

What had been a funny initiation rite suddenly took on an air of danger. One of the fraternity brothers stepped forward in alarm to call out to the initiate. As he did, the statue above the boy stirred ominously. The two fraternity brothers froze in shock as the shrouded head turned toward the new candidate. They saw the gleam of glowing red eyes beneath the concealing hood as the statue’s arms reached out toward the cowering boy.

With shouts of alarm, the fraternity brothers leapt forward to rescue the new initiate. But it was too late. The initiate gave one horrified yell, and then his body disappeared into the embrace of the dark angel. The fraternity brothers skidded to a halt as the statue thoughtfully rested its glowing eyes upon them. With gasps of terror, the boys fled from the cemetery before the statue could grab them too.

Hearing the screams, a night watchman hurried to the Agnus plot. To his chagrin, he discovered the body of a young man lying at the foot of the statue. The young man had apparently died of fright.

The Black Angel (Oakland Cemetery, Iowa City, IA)

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Image Credit: Billwhittaker // CC BY-SA 3.0

In Oakland Cemetery stands a 8.5-foot bronze statue of the Angel of Death, which was erected in 1913 and marks the grave of Teresa Feldevert. Like the Black Aggie, there are many thrill-seeking games involving the eerie statue. On Halloween, young people dare their friends to touch or kiss the statue. Touching or kissing the statue, rumor has it, will strike you dead (unless you are a virgin). And, like Black Aggie, this statue allegedly causes miscarriages.

Little Gracie (Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, GA)

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Image Credit: Pinterest

Behind a private iron fence sits the grave of Gracie Watson marked by a statue of Gracie sitting on a tree stump. In 1889, Gracie (age 6) died of pneumonia, leaving behind her grief-stricken parents. Her spirit still lingers in her parents’ hotel. Hotel staff have reported Gracie’s disembodied voice in the back stairwell, a place she once hid in during her parents’ parties.

Many visitors to Gracie’s memorial leave small toys and gifts. It is said that if you remove gifts from the site, she will cry tears of blood. Visitors to the cemetery have also reported seeing a young girl in a white dress skipping through the property, only to vanish into thin air.

Dolls to the Wall: A History of Haunted Dolls

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Haunted dolls have always been my greatest fear, which I blame on being introduced to the movie Chucky far too early in my youth. This fear grew when my dad told me of the scary nightmares (or not?) he had of his teddy bear flying around the ceiling at night. A devoted X-Files fan, I only missed one episode when it was on TV: “Chinga” (but I sat through “Home” fine). Co-written by Stephen King, the episode followed Scully as she tried to solve the case of people inflicting wounds on themselves in the presence of a doll. Side note: I finally faced my fears and watched it, and it wasn’t so scary and a fun Monster-of-the-Week episode.

I am not alone in my fear of dolls, Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures also shares the fear. I feel much less wimpy knowing that a buff guy who locks himself in abandoned mental institutions (at night) is also afraid of dolls.

Speaking of Ghost Adventures, on one  episode they visited Isla de las Munecas or “The Island of The Dolls” located in a floating garden of Xochimilco, Mexico. Story goes that a man, Julián Santana Barrera, was very distraught he could not save a drowning girl. Later, he found a doll floating in the same spot of the young girl’s drowning. He hung the doll in a tree to show respect, but began to hear whispers and women screaming. To appease the angry spirit, he began to collect broken dolls and parts and hang them in trees. The island is covered with creepy dolls and is now a spooky/quirky tourist attraction.

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Island of the Dolls (Photo Credit)

Now, I’m not going to go to The Island of the Dolls to face my fear, so I instead immersed myself in all things haunted dolls. Dolls to the wall, if you will. 

Robert

The doll, once owned by artist Robert Eugene Otto (family called him Gene), is allegedly possessed by spirits. This story takes place in Key West, Florida.

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From Wikipedia

Gene was given the doll by a Bahamian servant that practiced voodoo and was upset with the family. The 40-inch tall doll was a young boy wearing a sailor costume (also seen holding a teddy bear).

As a young boy, Gene would shout at night. His parents would enter his room and find furniture moved. These types of pranks would happen often and Gene would say, “I didn’t do it. Robert did it.” The family claimed that they could see, in the corner of their eye, glimpses of Robert running around. Neighbors, too, claimed to see Robert moving back and forth through a window.

Gene grew up, became an established artist, and inherited his parents’ house. Robert stayed close to his side, even through adulthood. Gene’s wife, frightened of the doll, was rumored to have died of insanity after locking Robert in the attic. Supposedly,  Gene died with Robert at his side. Legend also says:

Robert supposedly attacked people, sometimes locking them in the attic. People who passed by claimed to hear evil laughter coming from the Turret Room. For some time, Robert remained in the empty house by himself until a new family purchased the mansion and restored it. The doll was once again moved to the attic. This pleased it as much as the last time. The doll was often found throughout the house. On one certain night, Robert was found at the foot of the owners’ bed giggling with a kitchen knife in hand. This was enough to send them fleeing from the home.(From Creepypasta Wiki)

You can visit Robert at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida. Be careful taking pictures of this doll. He allegedly places curses on those who do. The walls near the glass case he now lives in are covered with letters asking Robert for his forgiveness, requesting he remove the hex he has placed.

Annabelle

Annabelle is a haunted rag doll that inspired the films The Conjuring and Annabelle. The case was also taken up by famous paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren. She also inspired me to freak the hell out. So, in the 1970s, a mother purchased a doll at a second-hand store for her daughter’s 28th birthday. Her daughter (Donna) was a college student who lived with a roommate (Angie) in an apartment. Both women began to notice this doll was strange.

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Lorraine Warren holding Annabelle

The doll would slightly change positions during the day and would sometimes be found in different locations of the home. The girls also found notes throughout their apartment. These notes were written with pencil on parchment paper, both materials they didn’t have in their apartment. These notes would read “Help Us” in the handwriting of a small child.

One night, Donna came home to find blood on Annabelle’s hands and chest. She contacted a medium at this point. During a seance with the medium, it was revealed that a spirit named Annabelle Higgins inhabited the doll. They learned Annabelle was a 7-year-old girl that had died on the property and that her spirit entered the doll because she felt comfortable with Donna and Angie. Donna and Angie said she could stay.

Annabelle didn’t chill out, though, and began to take it out on their friend, Lou. Poor Lou:

Donna and Angie’s friend Lou was reportedly attacked by Annabelle on several occasions. After expressing his distaste for the “evil” doll, he awoke one night to find her “slowly gilding up his leg” before moving onto his chest and “strangling” him. Lou, who at first believed the ordeal was a bad dream, claims to have blacked out from the strangulation. The next day, Lou entered his friend’s apartment only to hear strange noises coming from Donna’s room. While searching the home for a possible break in, he felt a presence behind him and was soon after cut and left with “7 distinct claw marks” on his chest. The scratches, despite causing him to double over in pain, healed almost immediately. Lou’s injuries caused Donna to finally believe in the doll’s evil nature. After contacting a priest to help her with the matter, Donna was later directed to speak with the Warrens. (From IBT)

The Warrens entered the scene and informed Donna and Angie that this doll was not possessed but most likely manipulated by an inhuman spirit. This spirit, they warned, wanted to take over a human body. Oh, great. The Warrens had the apartment exorcised and took the doll with them, which must have been a fun car drive.

The Warrens said weird behavior continued with Annabelle in their care, including levitation. Annabelle may have been responsible for deaths, too:

A priest who visited the Warren’s home and insulted Annabelle, telling her “you can’t hurt anyone,”  was reportedly involved in a near-fatal car crash after the visit. Two of the Occult museum visitors, a couple, reportedly crashed their motorcycle after poking fun at the doll’s abilities. The man, said to have slammed on Annabelle’s case, died instantly after crashing into a tree in route home from the museum. His girlfriend survived but was hospitalized for a year after the crash.  (From IBT)

The doll now lives at the Warren Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut if you ever wanna kick it with a demon doll.

For more information, visit the Warren’s New England Society for Psychic Research website. As a warning, the site automatically plays a recording of a child singing, which wasn’t a fun surprise for me.

More Creepy Dolls

I’m still afraid of dolls, but that makes their legends even more fun. Though, I will not be purchasing a haunted doll online anytime soon. Would you?