Who wants to bother with ho-hum, not-very-creepy “haunted” cemeteries?
I’ll bet you feel the same way. 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 results.
Here’s one technique I’ve used with success, to find intensely haunted graves… the kinds of graves that are eerie, even in broad daylight.
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.
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.
When two or more related gravestones (or graves) hold my interest, there’s usually a story to be told.
For example, the following photos shows the memorial of Capt. Bird Holland. It’s a classic example of the respect given to fallen soldiers in the War Between the States.
This tribute 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.
The unusual Holland family plot
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.
Recently, my research into the Holland family uncovered an interesting history. Bird Holland may have fathered as many as three sons – Milton, William, and James – by a second woman named Matilda Holland. 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.
Both men were heroes.
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 in Austin, Texas, I might have had better EVP results.)
The lesson – Look for unusual gravestones
My point is: When 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.
Frankly, I’d love to ask Matilda Rust Holland how she felt about her husband’s sons.
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.