Archive for the ‘ Spooky and Scary ’ Category

At Rest In Germantown

Seven years ago today, we buried my father.

Humor me here as I re-post this one…It’s not all about him, but I think he’d have liked it.

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There are myths, stories, and fables galore about the Germantown Union Cemetery in Germantown, Ohio.

Most of them are false.

One particular story, popularized in the 1980s and ballyhooed on a yahoo contributor website, is totally false.

A ruse.

A con.

The story grabs one’s interest quickly by saying, “If you’re looking for a place in the Germantown/Miamisburg area of Ohio to see some ghosts and ghouls this Halloween, look no further than the Germantown Cemetery. The Germantown Cemetery is reputed to be one of the most haunted places in Montgomery County, Ohio, second only to the Air Force Museum, and possibly the Patterson Homestead.”

Pish-posh!

The story goes on to say that a Confederate soldier, who died in one of battles in Southwestern Ohio, is buried there.  There is a Rebel there, but no one is sure from whence he came!  There were very few battles in Ohio, and none of them were close to Germantown.

Again, pish-posh.

The fable tells us that the soldier haunts the burial ground because A:  he had a change of heart and realized that the Union was the right side and asked that he be buried in a Union Cemetery, or B:  his family couldn’t afford to retrieve the body and bury him in his southern homeland, or C:  he’s lost in the afterlife and looking for his battalion.

Pish-posh times 3.

First of all, when the Germantown Cemetery was founded back in 1849, it was just that, simply the Germantown Cemetery.

Articles of Incorporation

It didn’t become the Germantown Union Cemetery until 1979.  I hate to burst the hopes and dreams of paranormal investigators every where, but it wasn’t even named for the few Union soldiers buried there, nor for the Union, its victory, or anything to do with the War Between The States.

It is called the Germantown Union Cemetery because two civic bodies own, run, and maintain it.

German Township, and the City/Village (depending on population this week) of Germantown work together to keep the place UP.

There are three board memebers: a trustee from the township, a council member from the village, and an at large representative.  No, there is not a weigh-in!

According to someone in the know, like guy running the place these days, Mark Steinecker, some teenagers had too much hooch and weed one night and came UP with the story.  It was told, re-told, and well, a lie told often enough…

Again, pish-posh.

But, there are some things that make the Cemetery interesting.

There’s a movie and Broadway star buried there.

Eddie Bruce, a Germantown native came home to rest in the 46 acre cemetery on the West end of Germantown.

Eddie Bruce

And there is one soul interred there who actually witnessed Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

Witnessed Lincoln Assassination

The Cemetery was started in 1849 for the same reason most of the rural cemeteries were started.  The city fathers decided that all those graves in the Lutheran churchyard were just too risky to the town’s water supply, and well, the Rural Cemetery Movement was revving UP to high gear, and there you have it.

Let’s buy some land, move some bodies, and start a Cemetery.

So, in 1849, bodies buried in 1811 were moved along with others from Warren Street to Market Street in the new landscaped cemetery.

It is typical movement material.

Beautifully landscaped, laid out if you will, and designed for solitude, solace, comfort, and beauty, the park covers 46 acres, contains 11,000 graves, and over 8,000 headstones.

Many of them bear the names of founding fathers.

Union Veteran

And the first families of Germantown have many, many ancestors resting there.

It is truly a place of beauty.

Another view

Tall towering trees shade graves over 100 years old.

Drive Graves and Trees 1

And newer sections, added over time, are no less beautiful in their simplicity as they wait for nature to take over and the trees to grow UP around them.

Another view 4

You’ll find one year old graves interspersed with 100 year old plots; the cemetery isn’t just a piece of history, it a working cemetery with a full crew who keeps it beautiful year round.

Another view 3

As I said, it is the final resting place of the founding fathers, newcomers, friends, classmates, and family.

We buried my father there just over three years ago on a hot and rare October day.  He would have been 92 today.

Flag Ceremony

When I get UP there, I go out the cemetery.  I pass high school friends, mentors, teachers, and family – blood and extended.

It is a resting place, just as the city fathers planned. But it isn’t the final resting place.  It is simply a stopping point.

It Happens…

bela-old

Bela Lugois, Hollywood’s most famous Dracula once said, “I look in the mirror and say to my self, “Can it be you once played Romeo?””

young-bela

Today’s his birthday.

 

 

All Cooped UP!

Speaking of odd things about politics, I learned a new word this past week.

Cooping.  Cooping was a practice in 19th Century US politics in which unwilling and often unwitting folks were forced to vote.

That’s right, forced to vote, and sometimes, more than once.

Maybe that’s where that vote early vote often slogan came from?

But anyway, innocent bystanders would be nabbed off the street or from a bar by “cooping gangs” who were working for a particular political candidate. They were taken to a room called the coop, held hostage, often plied with alcohol, and taken to the polls in groups.

If they refused to comply, they were often beaten. Some were killed.

And from time to time, they’d change their clothes or add a disguise to fool the polling folks.

This really happened folks, right here in the good old U S of A!

And it may have happened to one of America’s most famous literary figures.

On October 3, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was found delirious, in “great distress”, and in need of “immediate assistance”, according to Joseph W. Walker, the poor soul who found Poe.

Poe

Walker took Poe to Washington Medical College where he died a few days later early in the morning of October 7th.

Never coherent long enough to give any one a clue as to how his situation came to be or explain the fact that the clothes he had on were not his, he continually called the name Reynolds throughout the night.

The corrupt electoral atmosphere of the day has to be considered in Poe’s death.  The violence, political gansterism, storming of polling centers, ballot box theft, and a basic disrespect for human life set a likely stage for such an incident.

Of course, Poe’s death was attributed to contemporary euphemisms such as cerebral inflammation or congestion of the brain:  pretty words for the DTs, alcoholism, or even syphilis.

No one really knows how the American king of the macabre died, but cooping is just as good a guess as any.

At Last…

Well, October’s over, and tonight’s Halloween.

All Hallow’s Eve.

Carved Pumpkin

I hate to see to see the month end.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts as much as I have researching and writing them.

Some are “true”, some are truly works of fiction. All made me think, as I hope they did you.

As the days wore on during the creative process, I found myself getting darker and darker even if the writing did not.

It worried me a tad.

But, tomorrow is All Hallows’ Day, or more correctly, All Saints’ Day, when some celebrate the earthly accomplishments of the followers of Christ.

So, if this has brought you down, not to worry, there’s light ahead.

I don’t really believe in ghosts, and am quite sure that most instances can be explained away by natural causes, the movement of the earth, or the over active imagination of the person telling the story.

Or liquor.

Or evil.

I do believe in evil.  It exists.

What really makes these things happen?

Well, if you knew what I really believed, you’d be scared to death!

Thanks for being so faithful in your reading!  And let me know.  Was the work worth it?