Do two words go together more than ‘haunted’ and ‘cemetery’? I think not. It’s impossible to imagine acres dedicated to the dead resting in peace without some of those dead lingering less than peacefully in the area. North Carolina itself has history that dates back to America’s founding, so of course, our cemeteries and especially historic cemeteries are extra terrifying. If you’re looking for places that are eerily beautiful in the day, but extra spooky at night, these seven are filled with history and haunts.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Cedar Grove Cemetery, New Bern
During the yellow fever epidemic that ravaged New Bern, Christ Church ran out of room to bury the dead, so Cedar Grove was established in 1800. It's home to a beautiful coquina wall that surrounds the gravesites. Those buried here range from a confederate general to multiple congressmen, and even the inventor of Pepsi, Caleb Bradham.
Flickr / rjones0856
Most of the haunting myths and legends revolve around 'The Weeping Arch' that was built in 1854. It's made from a local stone called 'shell stone' that consists of fossilized remains of sea creatures and sea shells. The name 'weeping arch' was coined from the fact that it bleeds on people - or, drips a strange liquid of clear water tinted with a red, rusty color.
Legend has it that during a funeral, the pallbearer to be hit with a drop of liquid from the arch will be the next to die in the group. An origin of this mysterious stone dates back to a duel between a Governor Spaight and a man named Stanly. Spaight was killed in the duel, but the arch is said to drip three drops, pause, and drip three more drops to "Avenge Spaight's blood." Whatever might be true - I'd watch out for those mysterious drops if you plan to visit.
2. Riverside Cemetery, Asheville
Riverside was established in 1885 and since, over 13,000 individuals have been buried here. You'll even find famous grave sites belonging to authors Thomas Wolfe and William Sydney Porter (O. Henry). Influential southern politician, Confederate officer, and former NC governor Zebulon Baird Vance is also buried here.
The cemetery is also the resting place of many veterans, including 18 German sailors from WWI. Yet, its close location to the 1865 Battle of Asheville has the area surrounded in ghost stories. People claim to hear the shouting of troops, gunfire, and even an entire phantom Confederate army.
3. Old Settlers' Cemetery, Charlotte
Old Settlers' is one of the oldest cemeteries in North Carolina, buried here you'll find notable and prolific figures that date back to the founding of Charlotte. Thomas Polk (great uncle to U.S President, James K. Polk) is buried here. In 1775, Thomas built his home at the crossroad of Great Wagon Rd (now Tryon St.) and a Native American trading path (now Trade St.). He is said to be the founding father of Charlotte.
Now located in the heart of Charlotte's Uptown, much mystery surrounds this historic cemetery. While prominent figures were laid to rest, it's also the burial site of many African American servants. The cemetery was used from 1774 to 1878 until Elmwood Cemetery was built right across the street. Due to the historic nature, both Elmwood Cemetery and Old Settlers' are said to be one of the most haunted sites in Charlotte.
4. Elmwood Cemetery
In the fall, haunted ghost tours are offered in both Elmwood Cemetery and Old Settlers'. Neither have lights, but the lights of the city somewhat illuminate the area, but at night it's so dark you will need to bring a flashlight. Elmwood/Pinewood Cemetery is an example of Charlotte's diverse yet segregated past. Elmwood was built in 1853 on 100 acres and included the separated Pinewood Cemetery for burial of African Americans. Today, many notable Charlotte figures are buried here, like developer Edward Dilworth Latta, Charlotte mayor S.S McNinch, and Charlotte's first major African American architect W.W Smith.
In the 1960s, the cemetery fell victim to a Civil Rights controversy when councilman Fred Alexander insisted a chain link fence be built to separate the two. Since the 1800's, Elmwood didn't serve as just a place for the dead, but also the living. People would take afternoon strolls in the area and it was even designated as a park. While Old Settlers' represents the vast amount of prominent figures in Charlotte's Revolutionary History, Elmwood is home to those of the 'new south' movement. All of the divisive energy and lingering history is still felt today. While beautiful, it also is very eerie.
5. Old Smithville Burying Ground, Southport
As the oldest cemetery in Southport, Old Smithville is a story of North Carolina's historic past along the Cape Fear. The cemetery dates back to before the Revolutionary War, by the time Smithville was recognized as a town in 1756, the small cemetery had already existed for a number of years. Many important people of North Carolina's early past are buried here, like Governor and Colonel Benjamin Smith who fought under the command of George Washington. The burying ground is also a reminder of the tragic past involving early ships out to sea, including a memorial honoring five sailors who disappeared off the coast during a severe storm and were never seen again.
Also a large burying ground for Confederate soldiers, the hauntings said to happen here are somewhat interesting. For one, there is the 'Singing Ghost Tony' or better known as Tony Caseletta, an Italian immigrant and musician. In 1882, on his way to work, the boat he was riding in sunk and Tony was the only casualty. Buried here, Tony is said to haunt both the cemetery and the nearby Inn, he's also still singing away, which can sometimes be heard.
With loads of oak trees draped in Spanish moss, this southern cemetery is somewhat gothic in appearance as well as stories. There's also a gravestone here that is marked "Joe's Legs" that appears to be giving passerbys the middle finger. Another notable headstone belongs to a giant, yes you read that right, a giant. Elias Gerthal Gore stood was 7-feet-11-inches and was said to weigh around 400 pounds.
6. St. James Episcopal Church, Wilmington
A notoriously haunted cemetery, St. James is included on many Wilmington ghost walks. St. James Episcopal Church was built in 1739, and five years later the first grave was dug. Today, it is regarded as one of the most haunted cemeteries in the state and this mainly revolves around a man who was buried alive.
In 1810, after the young Samuel Joselyn got in a fight with his wife, he rode away on horseback in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter. The next day, a search party found his body cold, frozen, and in four inches of water. He was buried soon after but in the days that followed friends of Joselyn reported that he came to them in their dreams begging them to dig up his body. They gave in to his request, but later wished they hadn't. They found him in a dried puddle of blood, his fingers down to the bone from trying to claw his way out. Centuries later, visitors to the cemetery claim to see the figure of a man leaning against Joselyn's headstone. Many believe that due to the horrific nature of his death, he continues to the haunt cemetery to this day.
7. Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh
Oakwood Cemetery was established in 1869 near the Capitol Building in the historic Oakwood neighborhood of Raleigh. From Confederate generals to notable politicians, many are buried here along the 102 acres. Oakwood Cemetery has been rumored to be haunted for a number of years, so much so, even paranormal investigators have studied the area.
For being a somewhat beautiful place during daylight hours, the nature of the hauntings here are actually quite angry. Visitors have reported being 'punched,' receiving stings on their neck (with red spots to follow), and even scratches along their arms. Paranormal investigators found that when at the cemetery, their flashlights failed within ten minutes and thermometers were reading patches of 47-degrees on an otherwise, nice, warm night with temperatures in the 70s. WNCN even sent one of their own reporters to ghost hunt with paranormal investigators, in which things got extra spooky and weird. After reading
it's hard for even the non-believer not to think something slightly strange is going on here.
If you’re looking for more haunting history in North Carolina, did you know there’s an
underwater ghost town deep within the mountains?