Sunday, May 18, 2014
The Haunted Cemetery
For lovers of the paranormal, the Rural Cemetery is also the subject of local ghost stories. There are stories of in old-fashioned pajamas seen drifting along the paths at twilight. Some accounts describe them as elderly, others as young. Other stories talk of glowing orbs appearing in photographs, unexplained shadows, and spectral black dogs. It's also said that the old Superintendent's Cottage is now home to spirits and that an out-of-control horse which died after crashing headfirst into a monument at the base of the North Ridge on an August evening in 1906. The horse, which had been hitched to a buggy outside a church on Fifteenth Street in nearby Watervliet, had become spooked and bolted, dragging the buggy down Broadway and into the Cemetery. The unfortunate horse, which was buried in the fields near the barns, is said to still gallop wildly along the Cemetery's roads.
Even the often-repeated urban legend of the hitchhiking girl has featured the Rural Cemetery as its setting,though the local variation of this tale is usually set at Graceland Cemetery on Delaware Avenue just south of Albany. In more recent years, vague stories of mysterious black sport-utility vehicles (along with “men in black”) seen driving around the Cemetery have appeared on the internet.
I've personally experienced a few odd things in the Cemetery. Several years ago, while walking in the general vicinity of the McIntyre plot, I felt someone gently, but firmly touch the back of my head. I could rule out overhanging branches, mischievous friends, and such normal explanations. On another occasion, I looked up from photographing a Revolutionary War veteran's headstone and saw - briefly, but clearly - a white figure walking towards me in the tall grass. In the 1990s, while walking with my dog on the Middle Ridge just uphill from the DePeyser Douw vault, I heard a beautiful female voice humming a few bars of a melody just about a foot from me. The tune repeated twice and I noticed my Pomeranian was staring intently in the direction that the voice came from. There was no one nearby.