Haunted Cemeteries – Look for Connections

Here’s an interesting pattern I’ve noticed when I’m investigating haunted cemeteries: Where I find one member of a family with a gravestone that seems to stand out, there’s usually another one (or more), not necessarily in the same family plot.

And, when two or more related gravestones (or graves) hold my interest, there’s usually a story to be told.

For example, the memorial of Capt. Bird Holland is a classic example of the respect given to fallen soldiers in the War Between the States. This tribute stands out because the inscription is so ornate.

However — for me, as a paranormal researcher — something more than that seemed odd. At the time, I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Memorial to Capt. Bird HollandCaptain Holland was a widower at the time of his death. His wife, Matilda Rust Holland, preceded him in 1858, after only one year of marriage. Her apparent grave is unusual, for another reason: Only leaves fill the space beneath the horizontal stone. (I’ve indicated that space with a red rectangle.) The leaves are inside some ornate ironwork. I assume her body is there, under the ground, but it is an unusual grave design.

Open area at Matilda Rust Holland's grave marker.Recently, my research into the Holland family uncovered an interesting history. Bird Holland may have fathered as many as three sons — Milton, William, and James — by a second woman named Matilda Holland. She was a slave on Bird’s father’s plantation.

During or shortly before the 1850s, Bird purchased freedom for those three sons (but not their brother, Toby, who may have had a different father) and sent the them to school in Ohio.

In the Civil War, Bird, fought on the side of the Confederacy. His son, Milton, was a Union soldier and led the troops in a battle at Petersburg, Virginia. Both men were heroes.

You can read more of the story here: Milton Holland, born August 1st, 1844, and in the book Texas Cemeteries by Bill Harvey. (If I’d had that information when I was researching in Austin, Texas, I might have had better EVP results.)

My point is: When you see one unusual gravestone, keep it in mind as you continue your research. When you find a second, related grave that seems “odd,” it may be time for historical research to improve your investigation results.

Frankly, I’d love to ask Matilda Rust Holland how she felt about her husband’s sons. And, I’d be interested in how Bird felt about his son Milton’s heroism — being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor — for his valor during the war.

Damaged Gravestones and Neglected Graves

When ghost hunting in haunted cemeteries, I always look for damaged gravestones. Sometimes the person named on them is indignant or grief-stricken over what’s happened. The grave was his or her final resting place, and it’s been neglected or even vandalized. There’s no excuse for that.

The following photos show the kinds of damage I’ve seen — and investigated, successfully — in haunted cemeteries.

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Damaged graves

For more information about cemetery research, read my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

Every Gravestone Tells a Story

In my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries, I list signs and symbols to look for on or near gravestones. The artwork and inscriptions can tell a story.

The following photos show a range of graves with interesting features.

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Unexpected materials in gravestones

Left to right: Wooden grave marker (TX), iron headstone (Henniker, NH), zine monument designed to look like granite (Nashua, NH).

Note: When I’m selecting graves to investigate, I’m always interested in expensive and ornate grave markers that have been neglected or even damaged. That’s usually an individual or family with wealth and power, and something changed so the grave hasn’t been maintained.

 

Haunted Cemeteries – Watch Out for Metal

It would be simple to say, “avoid metal when ghost hunting in haunted cemeteries.”

Unfortunately, the metal issue is more complex. Like many things we encounter when ghost hunting, there are two (or more) sides to this topic.

An abundance of metal in a haunted Columbus (TX) cemetery.
This Columbus (TX) cemetery is lovely, and has an abundance of metal in it.

Metal can retain magnetic charge. That can happen for a variety of reasons, and it’s so common, you must do a baseline check of anything metal near your equipment. You’ll also look for things that might contain metal, including reinforced cement walls and some gravestones that have been mounted with metal supports (inside) or broken headstones repaired with metal.

One of the biggest surprises was when we were investigating a Northfield (NH, USA) cemetery and kept seeing strange, fleeting EMF spikes near the stone wall surrounding the cemetery.

We finally found some barbed wire that a tree had grown around — the wire was barely noticeable at dusk, but we found it on a follow-up visit in daylight (photo below) — and parts of it seemed to retain magnetic energy.

So, look carefully for any metal that might need a baseline check.

However, as I said, there’s another side to this: Metal might attract ghostly energy, as well. We’re still trying to figure this out, but — for now — I recommend looking for metal when you’re in a haunted cemetery. As long as you do baseline checks, so the metal doesn’t skew your EMF readings, you might benefit from nearby metal.

Here’s what I’ve found:

  • Metal — and I don’t mean just shiny, reflective metal — seems to increase the likelihood of orbs. As you can see in the photos, below, orbs show up around old, corroded and mossy metal.
  • We seem to record better EVP around metal in cemeteries. Is it acting like an antenna or an amplifier? I have no idea.
  • Then there’s what seems to happen to metal at some cemeteries. As some photos show, the metal — especially wrought iron — seems to get twisted. It’s unlikely anyone stood there and did that with their bare hands.

The twisting is difficult to explain. Initially, I figured the iron fences had been taken down at some point, and stacked, and some of the metal bent under the weight. Or, I thought a branch might have fallen and bent the metal on impact.

Those are reasonable explanations for some twisted cemetery fences, but that’s not enough to explain the volume of distortion I’ve seen in haunted cemeteries across the U.S. and Britain.

The following photos show some examples of metal to look for — and look out for — when you’re ghost hunting in cemeteries.

Click on any photo to see it larger.

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Metal in cemeteries

To learn more about getting the most from haunted cemetery investigations, read my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

Haunted Cemeteries – Unmarked Graves

Unmarked graves can be among the most active areas in any cemetery.  However, they can be among the most difficult — and perhaps dangerous — to deal with.

Many unmarked graves reflect a sad story. Perhaps the family couldn’t afford a gravestone, or the marker was moved, lost, or stolen. In some cases, the graves contain multiple bodies, especially from times of war, or rampant and contagious disease when the bodies had to be put to rest quickly.

Others graves are unmarked for a reason: The deceased may have been a criminal, or despised by family and community.

It’s difficult to know. However, unmarked graves can be haunted by angry or even mean spirits. EVP from those gravesites can tell quite a story.

The following photos show examples of unmarked graves.

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Unmarked graves

In three photos, you can see what to look for in some cemeteries: depressions in the ground. They’re easiest to spot when a natural feature — stacks of leaves or parched grass — define them.

Two photos show signs that indicate unmarked graves. They could be anywhere in the cemetery. (The metal marker is from City Cemetery in Columbus, Texas. It’s one of my favorite ghost hunting locations. The other is a marker at a cemetery in Austin, Texas. The bodies probably aren’t there. The marker is a memorial to the many soldiers who never returned, and are buried in unknown locations where the American Civil War (the War between the States) was fought.

One photo shows a large family plot at Arch Hill Cemetery in Northfield, NH (USA). That’s an odd plot because it’s well defined. The memorial indicates that the family was wealthy at one time. However, the size of the plot and the lack of markers to indicate others buried there… that’s odd.

I explain more about unmarked graves in my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

Haunted Cemeteries and Damaged Crypts

Unlike broken and discarded headstones, severely damaged above-ground graves and crypts may not be as useful for paranormal research. Not if you’re looking for ghosts, anyway.

It seems to be one extreme or the other. Either the ghost shows up to complain whenever he (or she) realizes an audience is present… or the ghost has long abandoned the grave. Either he’s crossed over, or he’s followed the body (or selected pieces of it) to wherever it’s stored, now.

Click on any photo to see the larger version.

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Broken gravestones

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In my experience, many empty graves and open crypts attract something non-ghostly. For all I know, they’re aliens. I’m not really sure, and that’s not my research field, anyway.

I know that something seems to frequent those sites, and it’s not human. Never was, unless it’s the ghost of a completely emotionless sociopath.

I avoid whatever-it-is. Ovilus responses are weird. EMF can be even stranger. I haven’t tried EVP at those locations.  It’s not a ghost, so I’m not interested.

You may feel differently. Investigate at your own risk.

Above all, do not enter an open crypt. That’s trespassing, and the air inside could make you ill, at the very least.

According to local lore, bodies in crypts in New Orleans (and probably other very hot climates) decay to dust within a year. So, those warm-climate crypts are probably less risky than those in more northern locations. However, you still run the risk of inhaling dust from rat droppings and health-endangering bacteria and viruses.

Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries – Outside Graves

The following photos are related to research techniques described in my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

All of the following photos are from South Street cemetery in Portsmouth, NH (USA), and they’re within about 30 feet of the cemetery walls.

The “Where’s Waldo?” photos aren’t related to anyone actually named Waldo. The term references a children’s book, because it’s such a challenge to spot these kinds of headstones in wooded settings.

Note: Several years ago, after my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries, was published, one of Mr. Mooney’s relatives contacted me. She planned to have the stone restored to the deceased’s grave.

Click any image to see it larger.

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Graves outside cemetery walls

GhostHuntingCemeteries-200hThe hidden gravestone is in a directly in line with where the toe of my shoe points. Only the very tip of the stone (or perhaps a corner of it) is above the ground. It’s in the top 1/3 of the photo, and between two somewhat horizontal sticks.

For more book-related photos, see my Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries article.

To understand how these photos relate to ghost hunting, read my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.
This edition is now out-of-print, but you can find it at many public libraries.

Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries

Cemetery - Image by suga_shackGhost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries is Fiona Broome’s original book about finding and evaluating the best haunted cemeteries, and locating the most active areas in them.

People pass by haunted cemeteries every day and don’t notice them. This book helps ghost hunters of all levels discover great haunted sites near their homes, schools, and businesses.

The early editions of Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries are now out of print. However, many public libraries own copies of it. And, some booksellers may still have the book in stock.

MORE INFORMATION

Related articles

Related to Chapter 2

Related to Chapter 4

Related to Chapter 5

Free downloads

Videos

Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries - 3rd editionABOUT THE BOOK This book will be most interesting to two very different kinds of readers.

  • Beginners will learn how to find local haunted cemeteries that are free (and legal) to visit. New ghost hunters will discover the tips & tricks that professionals use to find the most haunted cemeteries — and the ghosts in them — quickly and easily. This book is a quick course in ghost hunting at haunted cemeteries, taking readers from absolute beginner to confident researcher in a short amount of time.
  • Professionals will probably skim the introductory materials and then discover Fiona’s best-kept secrets to identifying the most active, haunted cemeteries and the “hot spots” in them. Ms. Broome shares tips to locate “sinners’” graves at church and community cemeteries. She also explains two fast & easy ways to find some of the most active graves as soon as you walk through the cemetery gates. Whether you’re conducting your own research, training a team, or conducting a ghost-related event, you’ll find useful tips and tricks in this book.

To learn more about ghost hunting in haunted cemeteries, read the book. Ask your public library if they own a copy.  (You may also find used copies of this book, online.)

Haunted Cemeteries – Gravestones and Monuments

Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries - 3rd editionHaunted cemeteries can be ideal research sites for any ghost hunter. Whether you’re looking for a “good scare,” scientific evidence, or to help a lost soul “cross over,” many cemeteries are convenient, open to the public… and haunted.

The following photos may convince you to explore cemeteries near your home, school, or workplace. They’re related to the 2015 edition of my popular book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries: A How-To Guide.

Most of the photos are self-explanatory. Hover your cursor over any photo to see a brief description. Click on it to see the photo larger, with additional information.

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Tip: Move your cursor away from the enlarged photo so the additional information — not the navigation — is clearly visible.

Learn more about investigating haunted cemeteries. Read Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

Free ‘Haunted Cemeteries’ Worksheet

Phebe (Phoebe) Hutchins headstoneYou can download Fiona’s own worksheet for evaluating haunted cemeteries.

It’s free, and you can copy it (without changes) for your own use or for your team, as much as you like.

In her book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries, Fiona explains how to use the worksheet. However, most experienced ghost hunters will be able to use the worksheet right away. (The worksheet includes a sheet of basic instructions.)

  • Complete the basic information before leaving for your investigation.
  • During the investigation, fill in details about things you notice there, such as unmarked graves and famous graves.
  • Use this worksheet to record things that you observe and your team mentions, including “gut feelings” about the cemetery.
  • After the investigation, complete the form as you decide if the cemetery is genuinely haunted, and if it’s worth additional research.

Visit Fiona’s website for this free download:

Worksheet: Evaluating Haunted Cemeteries, by Fiona Broome
You can open this worksheet and print it with any free PDF reader, including Adobe Acrobat Reader. (You probably have a PDF reader on your computer, already.)

More free worksheets

You’ll find more worksheets and mindmaps related to haunted cemeteries and other aspects of ghost hunting listed at Fiona’s Free Downloads links.

Free ghost hunting course

You can take Fiona’s free four-week Introduction to Ghost Hunting course at EncounterGhosts.com/free-course/.

In this free course, you’ll learn the basics of ghost hunting. Topics include:

  • How to start ghost hunting
  • Where to find ghosts
  • What to expect and what to do
  • How to continue your research as a ghost hunter
  • Ghost hunting as a hobby and as a profession

And, when you conclude the course, you can print and display your own certificate of completion.