[Note – The annual Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll will take place on Sunday, October 21, 2018 from 1:30-4:30 p.m. (The rain date is the following Sunday). This event is free to the public and features over 75 locals dressed in period costume portraying both the famous and infamous people buried at Maple Hill Cemetery along with notables affiliated there. The cemetery was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Alabama has many ghost stories attached to it. Five governors of Alabama rest in Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Alabama. One of these governors is Thomas Bibb, Alabama’s second governor.
Governor Thomas Bibb
He is the subject of one of many ghost stories connected with the cemetery. It is said that if a person stands near his grave at dusk on warm evenings, a stately carriage drawn by four black horses can be seen driving with the governor seated in the carriage.
The five Alabama governors buried in the cemetery are:
- Thomas Bibb (1782-1839) served 1820-1821
- Clement Comer Clay (1789-1866) served 1835 to 1837, formerly a U. S. Representative and U. S. Senator
- Reuben Chapman (1789-1882) served 1847 to 1849, formerly a U. S. Representative
- Robert M. Patton (1809-1885) served 1865 to 1868
- David P. Lewis (1820-1884) served 1872 to 1874
Maple Hill Cemetery is the oldest and largest cemetery in Huntsville, Alabama. On September 14, 1822, LeRoy Pope sold the original two acres of land to the city of Huntsville to be used for the cemetery. The oldest marked grave is that of Mary Frances Atwood, the infant daughter of William and Martha Caroline Atwood, who died September 17, 1820.
The Huntsville Pilgrimage Association has an annual free cemetery stroll that benefits the cemetery. Donations are accepted and appreciated. Donations help to restore and preserve the cemetery. Click here for more information.
Another ghost story connected to the cemetery is the ‘Dead Children’s Playground’. Some people say that it is the spirits of the cemetery’s children that come out to play. But another legend tells another story, around 1960 several children were abducted and their bodies were later found at the area of the Dead Children’s Playground. It is said that swings move by themselves and sometimes the ghosts of children are seen playing at the grounds. People have also heard laughter and children calling out, when no one has been in the area.
The cemetery was expanded later to include two acres on which LeRoy Pope and his family are buried. During the Civil War, 187 unknown Confederate soldiers and an uncertain number of Union soldiers were buried there.
Many other notable people in Alabama, including several senators, representatives, Confederate leaders, Union leaders and businessmen are buried in the cemetery as well.
Another ghost story concerns one of these businessmen. Albert Russel Erskine ( 1871-1933) was an industrial magnate, dropped out of school at the age of 15. He started his career as a $15 a week railroad office boy and through hard work became the president of the large Studebaker Automobile industry in South Bend, Indiana. He was a civic leader and president of Notre Dame University’s lay board. But when the Studebaker Company went into receivership after the depression, he shot himself. Many years before, he built an imposing mausoleum in Maple Hill Cemetery and he was buried there. It is said that an apparition of an angel appears at night on the portal of his mausoleum.
Albert Russel Erskine mausoleum
There are now over 80,000 people buried in Maple Hill Cemetery and it covers over 100 acres.
VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past – now in paperback
Check out genealogy books and novels by Donna R. Causey