Monday, March 10, 2014

Debunking a Kentucky Cemetery Legend


This morning, I saw a Facebook post for a cemetery legend out of Marion, Kentucky.  The legend was that of the Pilot's Knob Cemetery Witch Girl.  Since I'm always short on interesting places in the Bluegrass State, I decided to research this location a little more and add it to the Haunted Kentucky Page.

What I found was not exactly shocking.  From what I can find, there is not one single supporting piece of evidence to show that there's even a grain of truth buried somewhere in the deep recesses of this urban legend.

As the stories go, Mary Evelyn Ford lived with her mother near Marion, Kentucky around the early 1900s.  For reasons unnamed, the mother and the girl were universally believed to be witches by the townspeople, and thus, in an act of vigilante justice, the townspeople swooped in and burned both mother and daughter alive.  The mother's charred remains were taken away, yet the little girl's body was buried in the Pilot Knob Cemetery.  However, it was believed that without proper precautions, her spirit would seek vengeance on those who took the lives of her mother and herself...so she buried in a lead-lined coffin, and covered in concrete and gravel.  As an added precaution, her grave was surrounded by an iron fence, made of interlocking crosses, designed to keep her spirit from escaping.

That hasn't stopped her from trying, however.  Visitors to the site have noted that they've seen the apparition of the little blonde girl, wandering back and forth in her white iron cage, wearing a singed white nightgown.  She reaches out to those who get close enough, trying to pull them in with her.  She's even been seen making faces at people, peering through the iron bars.  If you do manage to climb over the fence, its said she'll hold you down and pull you into her grave with her.

In reality, Mary Evelyn Ford was the youngest of at least six children born to James Andy Ford and Mary Rebecca Davis Ford.  According to her death certificate, she passed away on May 31, 1915, just a few weeks after her fifth birthday, from peritonitis.  Her mother, who legend claims is missing, is really buried in the same cemetery, dying in 1955 after outliving her husband and at least two of her children.  It seems like the legend was nothing more than a made up story intended to keep people away from the cemetery at night...and to account for why Mary's grave seems to be the only one with a gravel top and iron fence.

But...that still doesn't account for some of the other spooky goings-on in the cemetery, one of which is directly related to the little witch girl.  There is said to be an evil presence in the cemetery, that of a man known only as The Watcher.  The Watcher allegedly was killed at a nearby bridge, but is drawn to the cemetery by the little witch, whom he tries to capture, but cannot, due to the fence of crosses.

Links:
Pilot Knob Cemetery (has pictures of Mary's death certificate and links to tons of info on the legend)
Find-a-Grave Listing for Mary (includes links to parents)
Louisville Ghost Hunters Society (investigation and readers' comments)

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