|Photo by Gravefinder, of Find-a-Grave|
Like many similarly spooky legends, this one is all over the map. Websites that feature lists of hauntings, such as Shadowlands and Iowa Haunted Houses, note that apparitions of horribly burned people and apparitions of people missing their hands have been spotted in the area. And although it is no longer there, an abandoned home adjacent to the cemetery property was said to be rather scary itself. Those brave enough to attempt to walk up the front steps of the home found the task physically impossible---something always stopped them from making it to the top.
The most talked about legend, however, is that of Joseph Stoneking. Joseph Stoneking was born on February 9, 1849 in what is now Wetzel County, West Virginia. He passed away on March 17, 1916.
It is discussed among legend trippers that if one were to go behind the trees to the rear of the cemetery, they would witness the ghost of Joseph Stoneking sitting atop his own grave. Anyone unlucky enough to experience this would be dead shortly after.
Fueling this fear, undoubtedly, is the rather grim epitaph found on the tombstone that Joseph shares with his wife, Lucinda:
DEAR CHILDREN AS YOU PASS BY
AS YOU ARE NOW, SO ONCE WAS I
AS I AM NOW, SO SOON YOU'LL BE
PREPARE FOR DEATH AND FOLLOW ME
While a tad unsettling today, this epitaph (and small variations of such) were actually quite common here in the United States throughout the late 18th century to the early 20th century. The blog, Vast Public Indifference, has a nice little write-up about the origins and use of this verse, so definitely go check that out!
And, if you're in the area, actually check out this peaceful little cemetery...but only if you plan to do so respectfully. In years past, the cemetery has seen bouts of vandalism, such as tombstones being knocked over and the cemetery sign being shot at. Another aspect of Joseph's tombstone legend has visitors actually urinating on it, as doing so is believed to cause the epitaph to disappear. Obviously, if you get a dark colored stone with lighter colored engraving wet, its going to be harder to read...so keep it in your pants and refrain from pissing on someone's relatives!