The “Huntingtonville Mystery”: Investigating A Graveyard Ghost at Calvary Cemetery In 1880
The tale of a Graveyard Ghost back in 1880 at the Catholic Cemetery, what is now known as Calvary Cemetery (operated by Our Lady of the Sacred Heart) is just one of many such investigations during the era conducted by the local newspapers, this being one from the Watertown Daily Times. The location for those unfamiliar is Huntington Street extended past Eastern Blvd. as it turns into Ridge Road. There, along the Black River and across from Delano Island, are the Calvary Cemetery, the Huntington Rural Cemetery and the Degal Israel Cemetery (also known as the Huntingtonville Jewish Cemetery.)
What follows is the complete article printed in the August 23, 1880 Watertown Daily Times and provides something of a glimpse at beliefs 140+ years ago.
The Graveyard Ghost
Something in the Catholic Cemetery–How the Good People of Huntingtonville Became Excited Over Strange Noises From the Catholic Cemetery
News reached us on Saturday that a ghost had been seen in the vicinity of the Catholic cemetery at Huntingtonville, and upon receiving this startling intelligence two of our reporters lost no time in hastening to the scene.
We first encountered two men on the road, who, though comparatively ignorant of the Catholic cemetery ghost, knew of a ghostly affair that occurred near one of the lime kilns. It seems that the rest of an individual of that neighborhood had not been disturbed by a raven like Poe’s, but equally as annoying reptiles known in profane history as bedbugs.
He had arisen from his bed, and with the aid of a lantern had hunted for the vermin, and when the inquisitive neighbors saw the light and the man with the sheet, they immediately came to the conclusion that it was a sphinx from the other sphere, and arming themselves, they advanced upon their victim, when they found the circumstances as above related.
We then passed on and going bravely to the haunted grounds approached John Cole, who informed us that about three weeks ago the neighbors began hearing strange noises in the cemetery; that they were moans and could be heard a half mile; that on Tuesday and Saturday of last week, he and George Pickett, armed with weapons, stayed in or about the cemetery until a late hour, but heard and saw nothing; yet when they had returned home on Tuesday night, and were disrobing themselves and while the clock was striking the magic hour of twelve, they heard three blood-curdling shrieks. It is the opinion of Mr. Cole that the animal in the grave yard is a panther.
The only man that had ever seen anything was a young fellow—whose name we withhold because he is an orphan—who a week ago last Saturday night was passing the grave yard, when he saw an object about three and a half feet high moving slowly away from the gate. According to all accounts the young man did not stay long enough to make a very minute investigation, but while his hair stood on ends and his face was devoid of color, he took to his heels and never stopped to look back until he had put a good half mile between himself and the object of his terror. He reached the brick yard in safety.
John Burns, a near neighbor, has heard the noises several nights. They did not sound to him like screech of a panther or any other animal. Mr. Burns believes in ghosts. He has seen tracks about five inches in diameter.
Wallace Gains is of the opinion that the animal in the woods is a hedge-hog. He has seen the tracks.
The last man interviewed was Silas Cole, who is of the opinion that there is nothing of the whole matter; that the people have allowed their over-excited imaginations to get away with them.
Kind reader, we have laid all the facts before you of the “Huntingtonville Mystery,” and now you are at liberty to decide whether they have ghosts, panthers, hedge-hogs, or too much imagination, up the river.