Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hollywood Cemetery and the Richmond Vampire


My favorite atmospheric cemetery around these parts is Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond on a brooding hillside with its plunging valleys and somber trees.



Generally in terms of spooky atmosphere quota I find British cemeteries are superior to those in America, although there are some fantastic cemeteries in Charleston, South Carolina, that moulder away under southern skies, draped in Spanish moss. I would link here to an earlier blog if I could be bothered to find it. Scotland has some dank and brooding acropolises in which hulking granite tombs with large angel wings and yawning vaults hint at doom under cloudy skies.

Hollywood Cemetery is one of the most famous boneyards in the United States. Those buried here include President James Monroe and John Tyler and Jefferson Davies, the only President of the Confederacy.

There's a huge imposing pyramid here that's a monument to the thousands of Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. Hollywood Cemetery encapsulates all of the dashed dreams of the old Confederate capital.

The tale of the Richmond Vampire is one of the most eerie episodes associated with this massive cemetery. And it appears to be based in fact.

Back in 1925, Church Hill suffered a massive cave-in of a train tunnel. A train was trapped in the tunnel, and people died in the darkness.

There were tales of a strange and ghastly creature that clawed his way out of the collapsed tunnel. Reports say his mouth was covered with blood, his teeth were jagged, and there was decomposing skin hanging off his arms and legs.

The tale suggests instead of seeking medical attention, the creature headed to Hollywood Cemetery, where he hid himself in a crypt marked WW Poole.  There was no birth date on the grave, just a date of death in 1922, three years before the tunnel cave-in. There's another story which sounds more plausible if no less ghastly. Local historian Greg Maitland advances the tale of Benjamin F. Mosby, a fireman who was shovelling coal when the tunnel collapse occurred. He was burned beyond all recognition and his skin hung over his body and face in strips.

Mosby was rushed to Grace Hospital, where he died 24 hours later. "And did you know that at the time, the saying 'going to Hollywood' meant that you were dying?" Maitland explains. "Most urban legends have some basis in truth. And the same is true in this case." 

Happy Halloween.

14 comments:

  1. Fascinating. I could spend hours in old cemeteries shooting pics and doing stone rubbings, which I just found out is illegal in New England. There's one in my hometown with graves that date to the late 1600s and early 1700s, and contain the town's founding families. It's really cool.

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    1. really - it's illegal to do stone rubbings in New England? sounds somewhat Big Brother

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  2. That is a really cool story. Poor guy. He just wanted to make an honest living but now everyone thinks he's a vampire. :(

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    1. I know Jen - oh well I suppose once you are dead your reputation can take a hit anyhow..

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  3. Oh my gosh. Spooky story either way. Happy Halloween, David!

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    1. thanks Daisy - happy (belated) Halloween to you too

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  4. Here's a Britishism that comes to mind after reading this post: Crikey! :)
    Mina's Resurrection Blogfest!

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    1. tis a bit of a Crieky one Mina - a gosh one too :)

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  5. PS Yes I accidentally published the Mashnee Island post last night instead of scheduling it for the 5th. It will publish in a couple of days. :)

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    1. K - yep it was a load of funny script JoJo

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  6. That was the perfect Halloween-time post.
    I see a Jewish tombstone just right of the statue. I enlarged it, but couldn't make it out. Do you happen to know whose it is, David? I'm just curious.

    Be well and stay safe.
    xoRobyn

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    1. You too Robyn - will aim to check next time I am there if I can make it out..

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  7. There are some pretty great cemeteries close to where I live. One of my favorites is a very old small one that's in the middle of a wooded area im the middle of nowhere. It's very spooky.

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  8. that is a cool story. I've lived here my whole life and never heard this story. Pretty cool though.

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