Monday, January 27, 2014

The Devil's Baby of Ravenswood

From Find-a-Grave user, FRAGGLEROCK66
It was recently brought to my attention (thanks to an article from WhoForted?) that the Ravenswood Cemetery in Jackson County, WV is home to quite the fascinating combined urban legend and ghost story.  The story is known locally as the Devil's Baby, although not much has been published about it online.

According to the legend, there is a Devil Baby buried in the cemetery and on moonlit nights, visitors have reported hearing the eerie, disembodied cries of an infant as the clock strikes midnight.   These cries are said to be those of George Elwood Sharp, infant son of Louis and Willa Sharp.  George was born on 27 April 1915 and passed away on 21 July 1917, making him a little older than two years of age at the time of death.  A tombstone was erected in his honor on to which was added a ceramic tombstone portrait, a popular choice in funerary art at the time.

It is this tombstone portrait of a slightly younger George that is actually the whole basis of the Devil Baby legend...

The porcelain or ceramic tombstone portrait was patented by two French photographers in 1854 and was a process that was especially popular, and thus perfected, by the Italians throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The portrait is created with a porcelain (or ceramic) tile which is either solid, or applied over a metal base.  It is produced by firing an image over that porcelain tile at a very high temperature for several hours in a kiln.  Ideally, the process is designed to resist fading for at least 100 years.

From Who Forted blogger, Ted Derek Cochran
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case with George's portrait.  Severe weathering has caused an alarming pattern of fading and discoloration.  To some, when the moonlight hits it just right, the baby's image appears to take on the appearance of having horns.  To others, the teeth appear as vampiric fangs.  All take note of the eerie white void of the eyes.

The horns and fangs have led to the legend of the Devil Baby moniker, but there is one more interesting aspect of this tombstone portrait:  it glows!  Although more likely due to the material composition of the portrait than a paranormal explanation, the picture does actually appear to give off a soft glow in the dark and thus, sparking a decades old local legend about an innocent child.

If you decide to check out this legend for yourself, please remain respectful. Please be advised that according to West Virginia laws, it is trespassing to enter a public cemetery after dark without permission.  Also keep in mind that this IS a legend.  Although not much is known about George Sharp and his family, we do know that he was someone's child...a child that was taken too early.

Links of Interest:
Tombstone Portraits
The Devil's Baby (Who Forted?)

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