For as long as we have buried our dead graves and cemeteries have had a certain sense of ominous allure. Here hauntings are drawn like moths to a flame, and sometimes there are some truly strange graves which have managed to spin legends and folklore around themselves. Here we will take a detour off into the misty confines of old graveyards, to take a look at some very mysterious and supposedly haunted graves of some notorious historical witches.
We start our tour of strange witch’s graves in the U.S. state of Mississippi, along the Yazoo River. It was here where in the late 1800s there was said to lurk a witch by the river banks, who was said to lure in unsuspecting fishermen to their dooms, sadistically torturing and killing them. When the number of vanished missing people grew, it is said that suspicion fell heavily on an ugly old hermit lady who lived along the river, which was backed up by the testimony of one Joe Bob Duggett in the fall of 1884, who claimed that he had peered into the hag’s windows to see the old crone cavorting about and chanting over two dead bodies hanging from the ceiling. When her home was searched by authorities there was allegedly found to be the macabre scene of bodies hanging in the shadows from some rafters, confirming Dugget’s wild tale.
The suspected witch then fled, after which she was chased by the Sheriff through the thick, mosquito clouded misty swamps of the area. She was apparently finally cornered there in these wilds, but rather than allowing herself to be captured she ran off into some quicksand and was slowly devoured into the earth. It was as the witch was slipping under the quicksand that she supposedly unleashed a curse in which she commanded that the city would burn, saying “In 20 years, I will return and burn this town to the ground!” as she choked out her last breaths. Chains were built around her grave to reign her evil in. Strangely enough, in 1904, exactly 20 years after her death, Yazoo City would experience a catastrophic fire that would burn the entire town to the ground, with many witnesses telling of how the flames seemed to alight and jump from building to building as if under conscious control. When the grave was checked it was found that two of the chain links had been broken and the headstone cracked.
The grave of the witch herself supposedly lies at Glenwood Cemetery, and still carries the chains meant to imprison her evil spirit and the curse she carries, as well as the cracks. The story goes that if even as single one of these links is ever broken again the town of Yazoo will again burn to the ground in 20 years time, and the grave is supposedly intensely haunted by ghost lights, anomalous noises, cold spots, and the apparition of the witch herself, and there is the strange fact that the chains on the grave seem prone to an abnormal rate of rust and decay, needing to frequently be repaired. The grave has gone on to be a popular place for ghost hunting tours, but unfortunately in 2016 some vandals apparently broke the chains again. Time will tell if the curse once again proves to be true.
Another famous and very ominous grave of a witch is that of what has gone on to be called The Chesterville Witch, from the heart of Amish country in Chesterville, Illinois, in the United States. It is said that in the 1900s there was a young woman living among the quaint Amish community here who was accused of being a witch when she challenged their faith and was allegedly seen carrying out dark rituals at night. In response to this the town banished her to the wilds, after which she was found dead a few days later in an empty field under mysterious circumstances, her body left to rot out there for all to see.
The body of the girl was then buried at the local cemetery, just a plot of feral, weed choked land really, and a grand oak was placed over the grave in order to keep her from returning to life, which many of the townsfolk believed she certainly would. This oak would become the center of legends that would congregate around it, such as that her ghost could be seen loitering about or that those who tried to damage the tree or even touch it would meet with bad luck, misfortune, and death. Here there is an iron fence surrounding the gnarled tree, and next to it a stone grave marker oddly with nothing written on it. In recent times, curse or not, there have been many vandalism attempts on the tree and even attempts to kill it, yet still it stands. No word on whether the ones who inflicted this damage still do, though.
Staying within the United States for now we have another witch of a sort, the famous and powerful Voodoo priestess Marie Catherine Laveau, of the state of Louisiana. Back in the 19th century, a creole form of Voodoo became popular amongst slaves and the downtrodden people of color in the area, which incorporated many different elements of African, Catholic, and Native American religious practices, and which is mostly referred to now as New Orleans Voodoo. Louisiana Voodoo also brought about the reign of the Voodoo Queens, who were priestesses who held great power and influence in their respective communities. Some, such as the 19th century priestess Marie Laveau, were so powerful and respected that various prestigious members of society, such as politicians, judges, lawyers, businessmen, and wealthy landowners, all came before them for consultation before making important decisions concerning business or matters of the state.
Marie, originally a hairdresser, was the daughter of another powerful Voodoo priestess also called Marie, and her powers were thought to be very potent indeed, able to even save condemned prisoners from death. In 1881, after a lifetime as being considered to be one of the most powerful Voodoo practitioners the region had ever seen, Marie died, and her body was buried at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, in the tomb of her husband’s family, the Glapions. Ever since then, her legacy has been surrounded by dark legends and lore. The most well-known of these is that she is said to have stated that anyone who was to draw an “X” on her grave, turn around three times, knock on the tomb, yell out their wish, and leave an offering, it would be granted. This became so commonplace that the tomb became absolutely riddled with “X”s scrawled upon it, to the point that the whole area, and indeed the whole cemetery, was eventually sealed off from these vandals, with a large fine waiting for those who break the rules.
Whether any of this is true or not, some of these Voodoo priestesses were so well known that to this day their graves command respect and gather about them gifts from the faithful, and Voodoo continues to be a popular tourist attraction within the city of New Orleans, with people coming from far and wide to visit the graves and purchase amulets, potions, and powders from various Voodoo vendors, or to visit the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. It remains an interesting little historical oddity.
Moving outside of the United States we come to Woodplumpton, Lancashire, England, where there is the mysterious grave of the witch called Meg Shelton. She was accused of all manner of witchery such as transforming into animals and stealing milk (?), and it turns out she was supposedly ended in 1705 by a barrel that fell to crush her against a wall. She was supposedly then buried at St Anne’s Church, in Woodplumpton, head-first in a tight shaft so that she wouldn’t be able to come back to life and dig her way out, something she had apparently already done on more than one occasion, and the top of the grave was covered with a huge stone to keep her in there. Her grave has said to been haunted ever since, and the stone is still there as a reminder of her dark legacy. Meg’s grave is still visited to this day and is well-talked about, and there is often talk of the paranormal coming from here.
Finally we have the witch Lilias Adie, who was active in Torryburn, Scotland in the 18th century. She was brought in on the serious charges of being a witch in 1704, and admitted to being the Devil’s wife under questioning (i.e. torture.). She was then imprisoned, but died under the harsh conditions before she could be properly tried, after which her body was taken to a beach at West Fife to be buried in the muck and her grave covered with a large boulder. Not long after that, her grave was raided by grave robbers and the rest supposedly swept out to sea to leave only the stone behind. Her remains have remained missing ever since, and there has been an active hunt for them over the years, particularly since most of the ones executed for witchcraft were burned to ashes and left nothing behind, meaning that this is a rare intact set of witch remains. This was because those who died before they could repent their witch ways were forced to be buried normally, only with certain precautions taken, meaning that this is an unusual case in this area of the world. One local historian, Kate Stewart, has said of this:
Lilias Adie is the only witch’s grave in Scotland – the rest were all burned. I don’t think even a lot of local people are aware of just how important the grave is, or even that it’s there. There’s also the campaign to return Lilias’ bones. They were sold to St Andrews students in the 1800s. We’re trying to trace her to bring her home to Torryburn.
Some of the bones were supposedly found but sold to private collectors over the years, and the missing skull’s last whereabouts was the Empire Exhibition at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow in 1938. The hunt has gone on to find the missing remains of this historic witch ever since, and that large boulder headstone remains on that beach, where it can be visited to this day. These are very spooky stories of the long gone witches of lore, who even in death have managed to hold an influence on the world. Are they and their dark magic really tied to these graves, or is this all urban legend and myth? Whatever one may think, these rank high amongst some of the most mysterious and indeed haunted graves there are.