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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tombstone's "Boothill Cemetary and Louisiana's, "St. Louis Cemetary," two of America's Most Hauted Cemetaries

    Everybody gets the chills when they walk through a cemetery, particularly at night, mostly, it is all in our heads. Walking through hundreds of deceased people that are buried six feet under, could get you thinking that there's a possibility of encountering a ghost. There is however, always speculation surrounding the existence of ghosts in cemeteries, but those who have witnessed strange phenomenon and ghostly apparitions will assure you spirits dwell near their final resting places. Come and take a walk through some of America's most haunted cemeteries and read about the ghosts that choose to linger there. Open your mind and turn on your imagination.
    I'm writing about two of the most haunted and famous cemeteries in the United States, adding to my list of Haunted Places to visit.  Both St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans, Louisiana and Boothill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona; are known for their ghostly inhabitants. These spirits often stay near their final resting place, stuck in between this world and the next.

    Many ghosts are believed to haunt St. Louis Cemetery. As the oldest cemetery New Orleans, it is filled with ornate tombs built above ground (due to the marshy land) and mysterious mausoleums. Visitors have experienced the sounds of weeping coming from within the tombs, witnessed phantom figures, Civil War ghosts and yellow fever victims restlessly stalking through the maze of crypts.
     The movie, "The Exorcist",  was made from the story about,the St Louis Exorcism which happened in 1949. The real exorcism happened at the old Alexian Brothers Hospital and the true exorcism has been a story told over and over down through the years. The story has earned St Louis a real place in the paranormal history of America. St. Louis Cemetery is the oldest and most famous. It was opened in 1789, replacing the city's older St. Peter Cemetery (no longer in existence) as the main burial ground when the city was redesigned after a fire in 1788. The diversity and integration of the early city's population is as evident in death as it is in life. Some of its more famous inhabitants include.; Etienne de Bore, a wealthy pioneer of the sugar industry and the first mayor of New Orleans; Homer Plessy, the plaintiff from the 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson Supreme Court decision on civil rights; and Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial, the first African American mayor of New Orleans. Also, the renowned Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau believed to haunt the crypt that she was buried in. On June 16, 1881 the New Orleans newspapers announced that Marie Laveau had died peacefully in her home. This is noteworthy if only because people claimed to have seen her in town after her supposed demise. Onlookers say that her ghost appears in the cemetery as a large black Voodoo cat with fire red eyes. If you let the cat see your back, legend has it, you will be cursed forever. Other notable New Orleanians here include Bernard de Marigny, the French-Creole playboy who brought the game of craps to the United States; Barthelemy Lafon, the architect and surveyor who allegedly became one of Jean Lafitte's pirates; and Paul Morphy,one of the earliest world champions of chess. Delphine LaLaurie is also believed to lay in rest here. Architect and engineer Benjamin Latrobe was buried there after dying from yellow fever in 1820 while doing engineering for the New Orleans water works; as well as fallen soldiers from the Civil War and the victims of the cholera epidemic of 1849. That event made it more critical for the city to have room for burials cemetery spans just one square block but is the resting place of many thousands. A Protestant section (generally not vaulted) lies in the north-west section.  St. Louis Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. It benefited greatly from a huge restoration project in 2004. Now it is a hot tourist spot. If you get lucky you just may see the spirit of Marie Laveau, they say she still conducts voodoo rituals, from the grave.
   Now we can continue onward with our haunted cemeteries tour onto the final stop; Boothill Cemetary, in Tombstone, Arizona. Tombstone was once a thriving silver rush town, Tombstone is now the true embodiment of a ghost town. The scenes of incredible violence that took place in its lawless streets still resonate, especially the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral among the Clantons, the Earps and Doc Holliday. Three of the Clanton gang were killed in the fight, which only lasted about 30 seconds. They now rest in Boothill Cemetery, alongside gamblers, smugglers and outlaws. Outlaws were buried midway down the hill amongst other thieves, people who were shot, stabbed or just found dead somewhere and were brought to be buried there. There are even people who are buried there on the hill that have "UNKNOWN" on the headstone because they never knew who it was that had died. There were always people dying. It was unusual when someone died of natural causes. There are dozens of "boot hill" cemeteries across the country, especially the West. The name refers to those who "died with their boots on" or in a violent way. But Tombstone's cemetery, and the entire town, is considered to be one of the most haunted. Ghosts of outlaws and the Clanton gang are often seen in the cemetery, hoping to avenge their death. Here is Tombstone's original Boothill hearse below.

     Located on the northwest corner of the town, the Boothill graveyard is believed to hold over 300 persons, 205 of which are recorded. This was due to some people (especially Chinese and Jewish immigrants) being buried without record. There is a separate Jewish cemetery nearby with some markers restored, and there are also marked graves of Chinese. However, most of the loss was due to neglect of grave markers and theft of these wooden relics as souvenirs.  For example, when former Tombstone Mayor John Clum visited Tombstone for the first Helldorado celebration in 1929, he was unable to locate the grave of his wife Mary, who had been buried in Boothill. Does her ghost haunt the graveyard with the many others that reside there? Is she looking for her husband?

     The Tombstone "boothill" cemetery was closed in late 1884, as the new "City Cemetery" on Allen Street opened. Thereafter, Boothill was referred to as the "old city cemetery" and neglected. It was used after that only to bury a few later outlaws (some legally hanged and one shot in a robbery), as well as a few colorful Western characters and one man (Emmett Crook Nunnally) who had spent many volunteer hours restoring it. Currently, the Boothill Graveyard is open to the public without fee, and is a popular stop for tourists visiting Tombstone. It seems like a great place to visit. There must be at least a few gunslingers haunting the grounds of the Cemetery, seeking revenge. Are you brave enough to dare to go there? To feel the icy breath of a ghost on your neck and your arm hairs raise? I am. So St. Louis  and Tombstone Cemeteries are on my list of Haunted places to visit.

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