I find it interesting how tragic events become forgotten as time passes. Usually, the more tragic the event, the longer the story seems to stick around in the collective memory. That doesn’t seem to always be the case, however.I often stumble upon strange bits of news, or tragic events while searching for something completely unrelated; whether I come upon them while digging through old newspaper archives or looking through death certificates.It was while I was browsing through death certificates that I came upon something unusual on November 11th, 1965. Instead of the typical 15-20 deaths listed during the previous days, November 11th has 52 death certificates.
taphophile (plural taphophiles)
If you haven’t noticed by now, I LOVE CEMETERIES! I think they are some of the most beautiful and peaceful places to visit. I love that the headstones often leave little hints about the people buried beneath them. If you take the time to learn a little about tombstone symbolism and wander around your local cemetery, you might be surprised at how much you can learn. And, if you take it a step further and do some research you might be surprised with some of the stories these people have to tell from beyond the grave. I definitely consider myself to be a tombstone tourist, and usually while on vacation I make a point to check out at least one cemetery.
The Dead History’s Top 5 Favorite Cemeteries:
5. Mt. Olivet Cemetery – Salt Lake City, Utah
Mt. Olivet Cemetery is my favorite cemetery in Utah. It’s located in Salt Lake City, near the University of Utah and directly across the street from the Rice-Eccles Stadium. It’s unique in that it is the only cemetery formed by an Act of Congress. Local churches petitioned the Federal Government for land to use as a non-denominational cemetery, and the government granted 20 acres. The Mount Olivet Cemetery Act designated the cemetery as a burial place for all people and signed by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1874. ((http://www.mountolivetcemeteryslc.com/MO-History.html)) The cemetery holds approximately 26,907 burials, the first being in 1877. ((https://utahdcc.secure.force.com/burials/searchcemeteries?City=&County=&Name=olivet))Mt. Olivet Cemetery is one of the most peaceful spots in all of Salt Lake City. It also has quite a few mausoleums which are my favorite type of monument. Deer can usually be found wandering around the cemetery or lying in groups in the shade. The reason Mt. Olivet Cemetery made my list of Top 5 cemeteries is because of the W.F. James Mausoleum.From the outside, the W.F. James mausoleum appears like an average mausoleum. There’s nothing overtly intriguing about it. But, take a peek through the doors and you’ll see why it’s one of my favorites.I’ve peered through many a mausoleum door and window, and it’s really uncommon to see a picture of the deceased hanging on the wall inside. Not only can you see W.F. James’ tomb, but there’s also a small altar and hanging above is a portrait of the man himself.William Fletcher James was a well-known known business and mining man who spent many years in Salt Lake City. He died in Long Beach, California on December 19th, 1919 and his body was returned to Salt Lake City to be interred at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. It’s fitting that Mr. James was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. He was a distinguished Civil War soldier who served with the Twentieth Wisconsin Regiment. He also happened to be a personal friend of Ulysses S. Grant, who signed the act creating this cemetery.((Salt Lake Mining Review, December 30th, 1919))
4. Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Hollywood, California
The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Los Angeles and is the final resting place of many well-known actors, directors, musicians, and others from the entertainment industry. It also happens to be one of the first cemeteries Matt and I explored together. Founded in 1899 it holds approximately 46,798 interments.((https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=cr&CRid=8033&CScn=hollywood+forever&))By the time Matt and I got to Hollywood Forever Cemetery it was almost closing time, so, unfortunately, we didn’t have as much time to look around as I would’ve liked. We tried to see as much as possible by wandering around before they came to kick us out.
3. Green Mount Cemetery – Baltimore, Maryland
As far a “beautiful” cemeteries go, Green Mount Cemetery is definitely near the top of the list. It also has a ton of really interesting mausoleums. To enter the cemetery you must pass through a castle-like gateway, and once inside the headstones stretch out in all directions as far as the eyes can see. Established in March 1838, it was officially dedicated on July 13th, 1839.((https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Mount_Cemetery))It’s most well known for the number of historical figures buried here, including John Wilkes Booth and two other Lincoln assassination conspirators.The Booth family plot is located in the Dogwood area of the cemetery and is fairly easy to find if you look for a large obelisk. In this family plot are at least 11 members of the Booth family, including the infamous John Wilkes Booth. You won’t find a headstone for John Wilkes Booth, however as he is buried in an unmarked grave. In fact, even the cemetery it seems has forgotten just where his grave actually is.((http://www.surrattmuseum.org/effort-to-exhume-booths-body))
2. Père Lachaise Cemetery – Paris, France
Père Lachaise cemetery had been on the top of my list of places to visit for years, mostly due to my obsession with Jim Morrison during my youth. I finally got the chance to visit a couple of years ago and it was amazing! Père Lachaise is an enormous cemetery, over 100 acres and literally packed full of graves. Opened in 1804, over 1 million people have been buried there to date, with estimates of 2-3 million counting the remains kept in the Aux Morts ossuary.((https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A8re_Lachaise_Cemetery)) It’s also the most visited cemetery in the world with over 3.5 million visitors each year.It took a lot of wandering and getting lost a couple of times (because I didn’t grab a map) but I finally found Jim’s grave. Click here to read more about my adventures inside Père Lachaise.
1. Mt. Moriah Cemetery – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mount Moriah Cemetery is just an amazing cemetery, and, it’s a cemetery that is in need of our help. Created in 1855, what began as 54 acres of burial plots grew over the years to more than 200 acres. In the time period when Mount Moriah was created, there was a new style of cemetery, the rural ideal. The rural cemeteries were laid out like giant parks with large open spaces of landscaped grounds. Prior to the garden cemetery, cemeteries were usually located in small lots inside the city. These were often overcrowded and graves would need to be emptied and reused at some point.So why does Mt. Moriah need our help? This is where things get really strange! Mt. Moriah is considered to be an abandoned cemetery. In 2011, the city was made aware that the last board member of the group that “owned” and cared for the cemetery had died years prior. The cemetery was officially closed and ownership has been locked in legal battles ever since.When Matt and I visited the cemetery in the summer of 2016 we saw that people were using parts of the cemetery to dump junk and trash and most of the cemetery was completely overgrown. The group, The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery are working so hard to care for this wonderful cemetery. The work they are doing is truly amazing given just how large this cemetery is.My favorite part of Mount Moriah is mausoleum hill. I’m really hopeful that The Friends of Mount Moriah are one day able to fully restore the beauty of this fantastic old cemetery.
Do you have a favorite cemetery? Have you visited any of the cemeteries mentioned? I’d love to hear from you, comment below!
The Historic Calumet Hotel, located in Pipestone, Minnesota is said to be one of Minnesota’s most haunted hotels. It was also featured on Gordon Ramsay’s Hotel Hell. A friend of mine visited recently and told me I should check out the history of this haunted hotel.The hotel that currently sits on the corner of Main Street and Hiawatha Ave is not the first to grace this corner. The fact that there have been two buildings on this site also hints to a possible cause of the spooky activity.
The first Calumet Hotel was a three-story, wood-framed building with a brick veneer. It was built in 1883, at a cost of around $25,000 ($567,000 in today’s money). During the early years of train travel, it was common for evening trains to arrive hours before the next train would depart the station. Many of those travelers would need a place to stay and the Calumet filled that need. The Calumet Hotel soon became known for being one of the premier hotels in all of Minnesota.
Image Courtesy of The Pipestone County Historical Society
A Pipestone Horror
Within three short years, the hotel was completely destroyed by fire. At approximately 1:30 am on December 16th, 1886 a fire originating from the hotel’s kitchen quickly engulfed the building. Due to a lack of water and no real firefighting equipment, the hotel burned to the ground within a matter of hours.Numerous newspapers mentioned that one person was killed and two were fatally injured but did not die right away. I could only confirm the one known death, that of Rev. Alfred Stoddard Orcutt. Reports say he was trying to ensure that all the guests of the hotel had made it out safely when the building collapsed on him.The death of Rev. Orcutt caused the city officials to realize they lacked the ability to fight fires in town. Within a week the town organized a fire department, started plans for local waterworks, purchased two chemical firetrucks, and a hook and ladder truck.
By September 27th, 1888, the new Calumet Hotel opened for business in the same location as the original building. This building held a bank and hotel. The bank entrance was located on the corner of the block and the entrance to the hotel was from Main Street through a Syrian arch. The “new” Calumet Hotel was much bigger than the original hotel and had 50 rooms. In 1913, a fourth floor was added which brought the total number of rooms to 90. For years the Calumet Hotel was known as the place to stay for travelers passing through Pipestone. Everything was fine until Valentine’s Day, 1944.
Man, 53, Perishes In Pipestone Fire
At approximately 10:30 pm on Monday, February 14th, 1944 fire once again broke out at the Calumet Hotel. And oddly enough, it started in the kitchen of the hotel. Even though Pipestone now had a fire department, and they managed to put the fire out fairly quickly, a guest named Chris E. Herschberger did not manage to escape in time.The damage from the fire was quickly repaired, but over time as train travel became less popular, guests of the Calumet Hotel became less frequent. By 1978 the building was in such bad condition it was deemed to be unsafe and closed by the State Fire Marshal. It was purchased in 1979 and renovated into the hotel it is today, opening for business again in 1981.((National Register of Historic Places)) While much of the hotel was remodeled, the staircases and the lobby area have remained virtually untouched. Interestingly enough, this is where most of the paranormal activity is reported.
Ghosts Of The Calumet Hotel
Paranormal activity has been reported throughout the hotel, but Room 308 seems to be the hotbed of activity. Hotel staff says that Room 308 was the room that Charles Herschberger was staying in the night he died. A bellboy working the night of the fire in 1944 couldn’t understand why Charlie, as he’s often referred, didn’t simply climb out the window.((https://www.pipestonestar.com/articles/memories-of-a-bellboy/))Guests staying in Room 308 have reported the lights and TV will turn off and on at random, and they often feel like they are not alone in the room. Housekeeping reports that items will be moved about the room on their own as they’re cleaning it.
Staff at the front desk report that they will get calls from Room 207 with the person on the other end asking for various items such as toothbrushes or razors. When the employee goes to bring them the requested items they find that the room is unoccupied and locked.
Apparitions & Spectral Music
The ghostly activity also includes sightings of more than one well-dressed apparition.An older, well-dressed man has been sighted lounging in the lobby. Interesting that he is seen here as the lobby is one of few areas of the hotel that has remained pretty much unchanged since 1887. Witnesses report that he is wearing old-fashioned clothing and will sit calmly until promptly disappearing when approached. Could this be Rev. Orcutt from long ago still hanging out in the old hotel?A woman in a bright dress (often said to be red) has been seen walking the hallways of the hotel. She usually disappears from view as soon as she realizes she has been seen.And as if all of that isn’t enough on its own, hotel guests and staff often hear phantom piano music. While there is a piano in the dining room when the music is heard the lights are off and no one is near the piano.It seems to me that most of the activity is residual in nature. Not surprising given the tragic history at the 134-year-old Calumet Hotel.
On a recent trip back to my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona I decided to bring Matt to one of Arizona’s most talked about haunted locations: The Hotel San Carlos.Located on the southwest corner of Central and Monroe, the Hotel San Carlos has been a fixture of downtown Phoenix since 1928. It can also be seen, very briefly, in the center of the opening scene of one of the best thriller movies ever made, Psycho. By the time Psycho was filmed, the Hotel San Carlos had been in operation for 32 years and had gained the reputation as one of the nicest hotels in Phoenix. It was so nice that it hosted many celebrities of the era such as Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, and Clark Gable. Not only was it one of the places to stay, it was one of the places to be seen.But we didn’t come just for the history. It turns out the Hotel San Carlos is also known to host a fair share of spirits. Over the years staff and visitors alike have reported seeing a woman wandering the hallways who promptly disappears, the sounds of children laughing and crying, and disembodied footsteps. A few guests have even said they were woken in the middle of the night by a knock at their door only to find there is no one there.
The Hotel San Carlos sits on the site of Phoenix’s first school. Originally built in 1874, the small adobe building served the children of Phoenix until 1879 when it was replaced by a larger brick structure. Known as the Central School, this building remained in use until it was condemned in 1916. By 1920 it was finally demolished with plans to build a million dollar hotel on the site.The fact that two different school buildings were on this site from 1874 until 1916 is often listed as being the cause for the disembodied sounds of children that are sometimes heard. While the buildings themselves are long gone, one piece of that history remains, and it’s located in the basement of the hotel.While it doesn’t look spooky, this is the oldest part of the building, the original well. Well, the original well is located underneath the modern electric pump pictured above. If you took that pump off, inside would be the brick lined well that was dug for the first school in 1874.I have seen stories that children fell into the well and drowned and that is the cause of some of the hauntings at the Hotel San Carlos, however, I could find no record of this ever occurring. This well provided drinking water for the hotel until sometime in the 1970’s when it was switched over to use for the air conditioning system.The original chilled water spigots can still be found in most of the hotel rooms today.
We met with one of the hotel staff and were given a tour through the building. While in the lobby she told us of a recent event that took place while she was sitting at the front desk. She said the lobby was empty and she heard a loud banging noise coming from around the corner. The only thing around the corner was a short hallway leading to the stairwell.As she got up to check it out she heard a loud crash and the sound of shattering glass. As she turned the corner she saw broken glass on the floor beneath a framed picture. The picture, however, was still hanging on the wall, with half of the glass missing. She couldn’t explain how it happened as no one else was in the lobby. She said they even went back to check security footage to see if someone had come from the stairwell and no one had been in that area for hours prior to the noise.As we explored the different floors of the hotel I kept thinking about the Hotel San Carlos’ most famous specter with the saddest story; the ghost of Leone Jensen.Being from Phoenix, I had heard the story of Leone Jensen before. The most common story is that Leone Jensen was a 22-year-old woman who was staying on the 7th floor of the hotel. She had just traveled from across the country to meet with her fiance in Phoenix. Once she arrived, she found that he no longer loved her. Heartbroken and alone she made her way up the stairs on the 7th floor to the penthouse above and jumped off the roof.In the years since her suicide on May 7th, 1928 people have reported seeing a woman in a long dress on the roof of the hotel. When they try to get a better look at her, they find that she’s disappeared. A wispy figure of a woman has also been seen wandering the hallways of the hotel.After we were done with the guided tour, we explored the rest of the hotel and went out to check the rooftop pool. It is said that this was Marilyn Monroe’s favorite hotel to stay at while she was in Phoenix. She would request a room on the third floor so that she could easily access the pool. She would sunbathe here for hours.
Things That Go Bump In the Night
Finally, we decided it was time to call it a day and went back to our room. We were both so exhausted it didn’t take long to fall asleep. I woke up around midnight and got up to use the bathroom. While I was standing in front of the sink washing my hands I heard a strange sound coming from the room above ours.I stood there for a good thirty seconds or so just listening to it. The only way I can describe it is it sounded like someone was dragging a piece of heavy furniture across a wood floor. That’s not something you would expect to hear in a hotel at 12:30 am! I can’t say I’ve ever heard anything like it while staying in a hotel. As I was listening to this sound I was trying to come up with an explanation for it.The problem was, there are no wood floors in the hotel. The rooms and hallways are carpeted, and the bathrooms have tile floors. They’re also way too small for anything to be dragged across the floor. On top of that, we hadn’t heard any sounds other than when we were in the lobby. Just as I went to go wake Matt up the sound stopped.Other than that incident our short stay was uneventful. This hotel has so much history that it’s not hard for me to see why it has the reputation of being haunted. The spirits that apparently decided to never check out of the Hotel San Carlos don’t seem to be malevolent. Like with other haunted locations it seems they just want people to know that they’re still around. If you’re ever in Phoenix, stop by and check it out for yourself.
Have you stayed at the Hotel San Carlos or another haunted hotel? I’d love to hear your experiences, comment below!
Located on the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains just a few feet from the Utah – Wyoming border in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest is an area called Suicide Park. And in this area lies a very small cemetery, Suicide Park Cemetery. Not exactly the greatest name for a cemetery, but this is an unusual cemetery, and quite possibly the only known cemetery of its type in the United States.
Tie Hack Camp
Suicide Park Cemetery is part of what remains of a tie hack camp that was located in this area from approximately 1916 until the 1930’s. Tie hacks were the men responsible for supplying the railroad companies with the lumber needed for railroad ties. It was backbreaking work in often less than decent conditions.To give you an idea of how many ties were needed it takes approximately 3,000 railroad ties to lay one mile of track. Tie hacks worked 10 hours a day and made the equivalent of $140 a day.((http://www.sweetwaternow.com/history-of-union-pacific-tie-hacks/))They would move from camp to camp building small cabins to live in, and would normally dismantle their cabin and take it with them to the next site. There are a couple of cabins remaining in the Suicide Park area.
Deaths at Camp
The first death that occurred at camp was that of Ole Olsen (one newspaper lists his name as Olaf Nelsen). Ole or Olaf was 75 years old and the only man buried here that I could not locate a death certificate for. Other accounts say that he was given the option of returning to town and dying in a house that would’ve been much more comfortable. Apparently, Ole refused and was later found dead in his bed. His tombstone lists his death date as May 14th, 1928 but the newspaper article which was printed June 1st, 1928, puts his date of death as May 26th, 1928.
Do you know of a great urban legend or a haunted location that you’d like to learn the real history of? Send me the info and it could be featured in a future Dead History post.
I received a request to research Mouth Cemetery, and I’m not going to lie, I got a little excited because what a name for a cemetery! Turns out the name is based on geographical location, and not because of something quirky. Despite this, after doing a bit of research I found that the cemetery and surrounding area are known for having a history of strange occurrences.Located in White River Township, Michigan, not far from the shores of Lake Michigan the cemetery is surrounded by dense trees in a somewhat remote area. At a little over 165 years old, Mouth Cemetery has fallen into disrepair over the years and appears to be mostly overgrown. Based on its remoteness and unkempt appearance it’s not hard to see how this cemetery has gained the reputation of being one of Michigan’s most haunted locations.Visitors to the cemetery have reported seeing strange mists among the bushes and trees, hearing the sound of footsteps behind them yet turning and finding no one, seeing a young girl in an old-fashioned white dress, and disembodied sounds of crying and screams. As if all of that wasn’t enough, there is also an urban legend connected to Mouth Cemetery, the cursed chair!
With a name like Mouth….
Located near the mouth of the White River, in White River Township, Mouth cemetery got its name from an old town nickname. Locally the town was often referred to as “the Mouth” or simply “Mouth”. The nickname stuck for the cemetery and also one of its first schools. Long before White River Township existed, there was a large Native American village at the mouth of the White River. According to stories passed down through the years, and a few historical records, a great massacre between tribes occurred on the north shore of White Lake in the mid-1600’s.In 1854 the White River Village post office was established and the town had become a thriving lumber town. The earliest date found on tombstones in the cemetery was 1851, but it is thought that burials took place in this cemetery around 1830. In 1859 all the township records were burned by city officials after it was determined to be impossible to reconcile the financial records. With these records, all early records of burials at Mouth Cemetery were also destroyed.
While many of the people buried at Mouth Cemetery have been lost to time, one of the most talked about graves here belongs to Captain William Robinson. Interestingly enough, the ghost of Captain Robinson has reportedly been seen and heard over the years, but not at Mouth Cemetery.The ghost of Captain Robinson and his wife Sara are said to haunt the nearby White River Light Station. Captain Robinson maintained the lighthouse from when it was built in 1875 until his death 45 years later in 1919. He was not ready to retire, despite the fact that he was 87 years old. Eventually, he was forced to retire due to his age and the responsibilities of keeping the lighthouse fell to his grandson. Many at the time felt that he died from depression over having to leave the place that he loved so much. Captain Robinson died the day before he was set to leave the lighthouse. The staff of the White River Light Station, report hearing the sounds of footsteps and the thunk of a cane after the lighthouse is closed for the night.Towards the end of his life, Captain Robinson used a cane to get around. I found mentions of the sounds of his distinct gait. It doesn’t seem that Captain Robinson is alone at the lighthouse, however. When tidying up after visiting hours are over, museum staff report that dust rags will be moved when left near a specific display case.
A Cursed Chair
Not only is Mouth Cemetery rumored to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in Michigan, it’s also home to an urban legend. According to the Grand Rapids Paranormal Investigations blog, a teenage boy who sat in a chair in the woods near the cemetery was killed in a car accident one year to the day following sitting in the chair. It’s also referred to as Sadony’s chair, which we’ll get to later.The legend of the cursed chair brought so many people to the cemetery that local police removed the chair to deter further legend tripping.
Valley of The Pines & Joseph A. Sadony
In the research request, the laboratory of Joseph A. Sadony was mentioned. The ruins of his laboratory are visible from the cemetery. Joseph Sadony was known as a “philosopher-scientist” and focused his life on the study of intuition. He was also known to have an uncanny ability to foretell future events, including his own death. To say that he was an interesting person would be an extreme understatement.When I first started researching the cemetery I couldn’t understand the connection to Joseph Sadony or events that occurred nearby at his estate, Valley of The Pines to Mouth Cemetery. He died in 1960 and is buried at Valley of The Pines. I read numerous newspaper articles printed during his lifetime about him and Valley of The Pines. I also read many different current websites about his life and beliefs. Most of the articles written about him were very positive. A few articles referred to Valley of The Pines as a cult and painted a less than flattering picture of Joseph Sadony. It was then that I realized that his name is mentioned in connection to Mouth Cemetery because he lived close to the cemetery, and he was considered to be a very unusual person. Over the years of researching haunted locations and urban legends, I’ve found that even just a little bit of weirdness is often enough to spark an urban legend.Even if he had lived today he would be considered unusual and different, let alone during his lifetime (1877-1960). In an interview with his granddaughter, she said how her father told her that people would often see Joseph Sadony walking down the street and they would cross to the other side so as to not get too close. They were afraid that he could read their minds. That was when I realized that the close proximity of the mysterious Valley of The Pines, the place where Joseph Sadony kept a laboratory and wrote his newspaper columns and books, made for a perfect “creepy” background to the strange occurrences in this old cemetery.
Do you know of a great urban legend or a haunted location that you’d like to learn the real history of? Send me the info and it could be featured in a future Dead History post.
Detroit Free Press, Sun, Jan 16, 1994
While researching local haunted places to write about I kept finding references to people being buried in the Poor Farm Cemetery. The strange part was that I’m very familiar with the cemeteries in this area and I had never heard of the Poor Farm Cemetery before. Most of the mentions of burials at the Poor Farm were of elderly people with no family to care for them or people who got sick and died while passing through town. The poor farm was also sometimes used as a pest house in the late 1800’s. Intrigued I started to see what I could find about the Poor Farm, where it was located, what happened to it, and most importantly where the cemetery is.I didn’t find much information at first. It took quite a bit of research to piece together the history of the Poor Farm. Utah has a great website that will help you find where people are buried, or allow you to browse cemeteries by location. Possibly because this database is still being updated, I wasn’t able to find any information on the Poor Farm Cemetery until just recently. I found it listed under the Poor House Cemetery and there’s not much information given. The lack of information is strange for a few reasons. Usually, this website will list an address and dates of when the cemetery officially opened, as well as first and last burial. As you can see below, there’s little to no information given, and the cemetery status is listed as abandoned.
History of the Poor Farm
Before we get to what happened to the Poor Farm, and more importantly its cemetery, I want to give some background on the Poor Farm because it’s pretty impressive. The Poor Farm, which was the nickname for the Weber County Infirmary was located near 2700 W & 5600 S in Roy, Utah. Originally built in 1888 it was a small structure that was created to care for the sick, poor, and elderly who had no means to care for themselves.The Poor Farm was situated on many acres of land and had a large farm that allowed it to be somewhat self-sufficient. They raised fruits, vegetables, cows, and chickens. The people who lived at the Poor Farm, who we would call patients or residents today, were referred to as inmates at that time. They were expected to work on the farm to the extent of their ability in return for their lodgings and care.In 1921, a 70-year-old resident of the poor farm, Charles Reed started a fire with his pipe that destroyed a good portion of the building. Instead of fully demolishing the building, it was decided to remodel the old building, adding on much-needed space. In January 1922 the “new” infirmary was completed.
Weber County’s New Infirmary
In 1956 the county decided that a new, modern facility was needed. By 1958 construction had begun on the new county infirmary, changing its name to the Weber County Chronic Disease Hospital. (This was later changed to Weber Memorial Hospital). As you can see in the picture below, the new hospital was built directly behind the original Poor Farm house. The new hospital opened to patients in April 1960, and the building remains in use to this day as an assisted living facility.
What Happened to the Cemetery?
Given its history, it’s not surprising that there were many deaths at the Poor Farm. Most of the deaths were due to natural causes such as old age or illness. There were also a few pretty unusual deaths that occurred here.What I can’t quite figure out, however, is why some people were buried in the Poor Farm Cemetery, and others were buried in the city cemetery. I assume that most of those who were buried here had no money or family in the area. It would have been simply easier to bury them here. There is also one killer buried here with an interesting connection to 25th Street and Electric Alley. I will share his story in a future post. Due to the lack of surviving records, it’s difficult to piece together the stories of those buried here.From what very few records survived it appears that most burials took place from 1888 until approximately 1906. The state burial database claims 25 interments at this cemetery, but there could be upwards of 30. I’ve found a few newspaper mentions of funerals at the Poor Farm Cemetery that aren’t in the state burial database. Death and burial records in Weber County before 1905 are hit or miss. It seems as if there are no surviving records from the Poor Farm.
The Mystery of the 1980 Dedication Plaque
Here is where things get even stranger. After the old Poor Farm was replaced by the Weber Memorial Hospital, the surrounding land began to be sold off. In 1980 a dedication plaque was placed at the old cemetery. A ceremony was held, and there was talk among city and county officials of preserving the old Poor Farm Cemetery. However, that didn’t happen.Instead of being preserved, houses were built in the area surrounding the old Poor Farm. The plaque was also moved to its current location, just west of the Roy Public Works building. The graves of those buried at the Poor Farm Cemetery were not moved. Let me just say that one more time, the graves of those 25-30 people who are buried at the Poor Farm Cemetery were not moved. According to a local genealogist friend of mine, houses were built on top of the Poor Farm Cemetery.
Poor Farm Cemetery Location
North of the old Weber Memorial Hospital there is a square area of land that is fenced off and undeveloped. It’s east of the corner of 5200 S 2700 W. It sits behind some houses and is owned by the Utah Transit Authority. That in and of itself isn’t too unusual. There are railroad tracks along the entire east side of the old Poor Farm land. Surrounding those tracks is undeveloped land owned by the UTA. What I do find unusual is a small, rectangular strip of land leading east from 2700 W. Owned by the city, it almost looks like it could’ve been the old path to the cemetery.Were houses built on top of the old Poor Farm Cemetery? It’s hard to say for certain, but I believe it’s highly possible. I can’t figure out why the cemetery wasn’t preserved. Did people figure it was forgotten and not worth preserving? It doesn’t seem like setting aside the land containing the old cemetery would’ve cost the city a lot of money. I can guess why the developer chose to build over the graves and pretend the cemetery never existed. Due to the lack of records, it would’ve been incredibly challenging and expensive to try and locate all the burials and re-inter them in another cemetery.So, the Poor Farm Cemetery is still in its original location. Where that exact location is, and how many are buried there, however, will probably never be known.***Many of the locations featured on The Dead History are located on Private Property. Please do not trespass at these locations!!!***
Do you know of a great urban legend or a haunted location that you’d like to learn the real history of? Send me the info and it could be featured in a future Dead History post.
I’ve always been drawn to the cemeteries of New England. Mostly because they’re among some of the oldest in the United States, and also I love the style of headstones that were popular in the late 1700’s, early 1800’s. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make it to that part of the country to see for myself. Thankfully, I have great friends who are nice enough to visit creepy places and send me lots of pics. The Granary Burying Ground is Boston’s third oldest cemetery and is the final resting place of many Revolutionary War patriots, most notably Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine.
One of the most impressive and my all time favorite cemetery is the Cimetiere du Père Lachaise, in Paris. Located in the 20th arrondissement, it covers 110 acres and holds over 1 million people. The cemetery was established in 1804 by Napoleon, and is known as the first garden cemetery.