With Halloween comes thoughts of haunted mansions, ghosts and goblins. It’s a chance for both old and young to dress in character for a day as princesses and pirates, zebras and zombies. Then there are parties and trick-or-treating, not to mention scary locales to explore.
For those who are more interested in the scare than the fun, a visit to an old cemetery just might do the trick. Cemeteries can be creepy no matter the time of year, but at Halloween, they take on a higher level of eeriness.
Walking through an old cemetery is eerie as one reads the epitaphs. To us in modern times, it is shocking how young most people died. And the children . . . child after child lost during infancy by the same family. There are so many women who died during childbirth leaving behind a husband and family. Sometimes one can feel their presence and sense the heartache and suffering.
But the graves in those old cemeteries are about far more than a good scare. They represent the struggles and the laughter, the battles and the victories of those who came before us. They are full of tales from a bygone era, many of which are long forgotten, lost to a history that was never recorded or passed down through the generations.
So if you are looking for a little history or to the feel the presence of our ancestors, or just a good scare, here are a few old cemeteries to consider visiting.
This is one of many old cemeteries sprinkled throughout California’s Gold Country. Each mining camp had at least one of its own, with many having separate graveyards representing the faiths of those who came to make their fortune in 1849.
Graves at the Lone Pine Pioneer Cemetery
The Lone Pine Pioneer Cemetery is one of three burial grounds in the small town of Lone Pine, Calif. The second is a mass grave where the victims of the 1872 earthquake were buried. The third cemetery is where current burials take place.
There is a strong feeling of a presence when visiting this cemetery. When this reporter attempted to photograph one grave, the shutter would not release but the digital SLR worked perfectly fine on the next grave. When this reporter tried the first grave again, the shutter again would not release. Someone did not want his or her photo taken!
The cemetery at the Manzanar Relocation Center remains intact to this day. However, only a few graves are left as families chose to have their loved ones moved. Next to the human cemetery is the pet cemetery, also with several graves remaining.
Mission San Xavier del Bac
This cemetery is located just to the west of the Mission San Xavier del Bac near Tucson, Arizona. The mission itself was 1797. Although the cemetery is off limits to visitors, there is a museum at the mission is open every day but Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas. The mission itself is open every day but may not be available at any given time due to funerals and weddings. Weekly mass is still held at the mission.
This photo got this reporter escorted off of the reservation by a Tribal police officer who definitely was not the basis for the character of Officer Jim Chee. It should be noted there were absolutely no signs stating photography was prohibited.
Calico Ghost Town
Today Calico Ghost Town is a tourist attraction and county regional park. But in the late 1800s it had a population of over 1,200 as miners and their families hoped to strike it rich. Every Halloween it is haunted. This year the theme is “Attack of the Zombie Miners.”
Gallop, New Mexico
This is a Navajo cemetery in Gallup, New Mexico but non-Native Americans can and are buried there. It is still used for modern burials. The graves are rustic and reflect the local culture.
Daggett Pioneer Cemetery
The Daggett Pioneer Cemetery is a combination of old and new. Graves date back to the 1800s but there are many long-time residents and war heroes from recent decades buried there as well.
The cemetery dates back to the 1800s and contains the remains of the first resident of Bodie, Calif., a nearby ghost town. It sits up against the Eastern Sierra Nevadas and is picturesque no matter the time of year.