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If you’re going to spend an hour or two in a cemetery, you want to be sure it’s haunted.
And, once you’re there, you want to know where to investigate for the best ghost hunting results.
Here’s a video with real-life examples.
Fiona shows you the kinds of headstones and graves that might be haunted, with real examples from a Maine cemetery. She explains which might be haunted, and why she’d investigate similar graves and grave markers. Note: This Kennebunkport cemetery is NOT recommended for ghost hunting.
My best tips for finding haunted graves quickly.
1. Start with any grave that seems to get your attention.
Maybe you’ve noticed something odd about it.
More often, you don’t know why you’re drawn to it… but you are.
2. Read the gravestone carefully. See what other graves are nearby.
Where I find one member of a family with a gravestone that seems to stand out, I look for a relative with a second “odd” gravestone.
Usually – but not always – it’s nearby, but not necessarily in the same plot enclosure.
3. When two or more related gravestones (or graves) seem odd, you’ll usually find a ghost, too.
In haunted cemeteries, the most haunted graves stand out because they’re odd or (deliberately?) overlooked.
That’s true at least 90% of the time. They’re ideal for ghost hunting.
Learn more: How to Find Haunted Cemeteries
Here’s an example of a grave that stands out…
Case Study: Capt. Bird Holland… and his wives
This monument in Oakwood Cemetery (Austin, Texas) is a classic example of the respect given to fallen soldiers in the War Between the States.
It 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.
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.
And then, a surprising history emerged
When I researched Bird Holland, I learned he may have fathered as many as three sons.
They were Milton, William, and James.
Even more odd: Their mother was a second woman named Matilda Holland. It looks like 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 Holland fought on the side of the Confederacy.
His son, Milton, was a Union soldier and led the troops in a battle at Petersburg, Virginia. Sergeant Major Holland was one of just 22 African-Americans to receive the Medal of Honor during the Civil War.
Both men were heroes.
And every one of those graves has an “odd” feeling to it.
I’m sure at least one is haunted.
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 my book about ghosts in Austin, Texas, I might have had better EVP results. There’s a lot I’d like to ask Bird and the Matildas. Milton was buried in Arlington National Cemetery; I’m not sure I’d find a ghost at his grave.)
Start with one unusual gravestone, and then…
When you’re ghost hunting and you see one unusual gravestone, keep it in mind as you continue your research.
When you find a second, related grave that seems “odd,” historical research may improve your investigation results.
Sometimes, you can do some quick historical research, on site, with your phone… if you have a good Internet connection. (At many haunted sites, phones seem to have connection problems, or batteries go completely flat.)
More often, you may need to visit a local library or historical society.
Mostly, I’d love to ask Matilda Rust Holland how she felt about her husband’s sons. I’d also visit the Austin (TX) grave of the other Matilda Holland, to see if ghostly energy lingers there, too.
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… fighting for the other side.