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- Paranormal Beliefs & Experiences
True Tales of a Haunted Church
I will leave out the name, but it's a real place. The church by the cemetery was over 100 years old. My grandpa pastored there for several years. My mom helped with things like teaching Sunday school, overseeing the kitchen, and straightening up the sanctuary.
I will write a disclaimer: not all of these stories can be proven, and none of them have ever been explained. I relate them because they are interesting, and I've tried to remain true to the details that were given to me by those who were actually there.
A tangle of high and hideous weeds had taken it over the old cemetery. When my grandpa took charge of the church he took it upon himself to cut them. The graveyard was fenced, and he would often find the gate open even though he had always been very careful to close and latch it when he left. He suspected local hoodlums at the time, but could never catch anyone doing it.
One morning as he brought his mower through the gate he noticed a large golden retriever lying beside one of the headstones. He spoke to it and walked toward it, but it disappeared.
Many odd items turned up in the graveyard, and he would stop his mower and pick them up. He found jewelry, trinkets, and other odd valuables, and he would always store what he found in a safe place and wait for an owner to show up and claim it. No one did. He asked around. No one knew anything about it.
Flowers and other grave ornaments were often found in the wrong place. He'd put them back where they belonged each time, and each time when he returned they would be out of place again.
Local pranksters? Maybe. Thieves dropping off their stolen stash? Perhaps. But the vanishing dog remains a mystery.
A single entrance led to an enclosed staircase at the top of a high tower, which was the only way up to the church bell. At least twice a week it would ring spontaneously, sometimes by day, sometimes at night. If my grandpa was within earshot he would race to the top of the stairs to see if he could to catch whoever was ringing it, but he always found the tower empty. He stood and watched while the bell continued to ring. Several times he tried to grab the rope but could not. Every time he reached it inexplicably eluded him. His kids would often hang around outside. His daughter (whom I interviewed) accompanied him to the top on more than one occasion can attest to these facts:
a. She saw nobody there.
b. The bell tower had no other entrance or exit.
c. It had no hiding places under or near the stairs.
d. There were no windows in the tower.
Many people from the congregation experienced this and confirmed what they saw.
A member would be coming, going, or socializing, on the grounds, in the parking lot, or near the entrance. Someone would startle him or her by seeming to have approached silently and unnoticed and would ask for directions. The churchgoer would answer the question, and the stranger from out of town would say "thank you" and vanish. No one really saw the person disappear, but if you looked away for a moment and then looked back the visitor would be gone. I asked about transportation: did the visitor have a car, and what sort of car did he or she show up in? No one ever noticed the visitors having any car of any sort, either arriving or leaving.
Big Cats and Glowing Eyes
Black cats are the stuff of legends. Either these were enormous house cats gone wild, or they were immature cougar cubs with dark faces and pink tongues. Either way they could be spotted at all hours prowling about the graveyard. They were never seen setting foot outside the fence. Many people reported them, including my mom.
At night eyes would glow from the cemetery's direction and could be seen from the church parking lot. Many animals' eyes reflect light in the dark, but this was known to happen even if no headlights were pointed in that direction.
The cats never approached anyone for a handout, nor did they attack or chase anyone. All who spoke of the sightings seemed convinced these mysterious animals were real and alive. No one ever seemed to find out where they came from or why they chose to live in a cemetery.
Blue Ladies and Black Hoods
One day my grandpa got up early and went to the church sanctuary on an errand. When he got there he saw a woman dressed in a sparkling blue gown standing beside the altar. He asked her if she needed any help. Her image became translucent, then faded away completely.
In the cemetery and on the church grounds vaguely detailed black hooded human figures could be seen standing around or wandering aimlessly. Bold church members would try to approach them, but like the graveyard dog they would vanish. The phantoms never followed or threatened anyone, however. Church members and the pastor's family alike reported seeing them.
Flying Books and Kitchen Kettles
Strange noises were a common occurrence. The source was never found. These included footsteps in empty hallways, doors slamming, and voices calling. Sometimes they called what seemed to be an unintelligible name--whatever they were saying it was never in English, a fact attested to by several people. No one ever understood a single word of it, but many reported hearing it.
While my grandpa studied, books on his bookshelf would suddenly fall to the floor hard and fast like they were violently pushed.
Items in the church were often found in different places than they'd been left. The entire kitchen was found to have been rearranged on a regular basis. Nothing was ever stolen or broken, just moved. My grandpa had an idea one night and tied black thread to both kitchen doorknobs. The next day the threads were still in tact, but upon entering he found all the utensils had been rearranged.
He collected decorative crosses in many colors and styles, and he brought some of these from home to display at the church. He put some up on the wall as decorations. Some were set on various tables, and some were in his study. Like other things, these would also be found to have been moved, and the ones on the wall were routinely found in the wrong direction, turned either upside down or sideways.
My mom recalls one night when she was in front of the mirror in the ladies' room before the people started arriving for evening church services. She heard the main restroom door open and shut, but when she looked she saw nothing and went back to tidying up. Suddenly she felt a chilly breeze out of no where, and a sensation brushed her shoulder like the fingers of an invisible hand. Something grabbed at her leg and pulled at her coat, but she still couldn't see anything, so she bolted out the door and scrambled into the sanctuary.
The Pipe Organ
Even though the huge pipe organ was over 100 years old and had fallen into disrepair, the people kept it because of its antiquity. There was a hidden room behind it full of gigantic pipes.
My grandpa would pore prayerfully over books in his study trying to get ready for his Sunday sermons. (Though this happened several times, he was usually alone.) My mom was with him on one occasion, standing in the vestibule near the coat rack doing some cleaning and straightening.
Suddenly the building reverberated with a song neither one could recognize. Both went quickly to the sanctuary to investigate. My mom got there first. She said she couldn't see any keys moving but it was definitely pipe organ music and it was definitely coming from the organ. When my grandpa got there he opened the door to the pipe room and turned on the light. No one was there. The music kept on playing and they both shrugged and went back to work. My mom says she has never heard that song anywhere else and has no idea what its name is.
My other grandfather once asked my "preacher grandpa" to get the organ fixed so that his son, who became my dad, would have a place to practice, thus corroborating the fact that the organ wouldn't play.
Take a Detour
A crossroad ran along the outside of the graveyard. It was rumored that this was an unlucky place to travel. Many car accidents happened right in front of the cemetery.
The church's name has changed since my grandpa's time. I don't think I'll tell you where it was, but I'll give you a hint: it's somewhere in the Land of Lincoln.