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Challenges to investigating cemeteries: trespassing and vandalism

Challenges to investigating cemeteries: trespassing and vandalism

By Rick Hinton

Cemeteries seldom fit in with the typical reported haunting of a private residence, building or stretch of ground. There’s just not the link or back story that would suggest ghostly shenanigans. Not to say that it doesn’t happen, because occasionally it does, and they can certainly be creepy (particularly at night).

However, creepy feelings don’t always guarantee a ghost, no matter how much you might want it. If you choose to investigate, there are other factors to consider: public cemeteries are open from dawn until dusk, and then, figuratively speaking, the gates are shut and locked. Private cemeteries, on the other hand, are a harder nut to crack – you need permission!

Off of Main Street, the Greenwood Cemetery in its infancy. (Submitted photo)

The police will frown on trespassing – in either public or private cemeteries. They don’t care who you are, what you’ve experienced, or what paranormal shows you’ve been watching. There is a reason for their interest in you after dark. Vandalism of cemeteries has resulted from many nighttime excursions by individuals with a completely different agenda. People are put on edge – and rightly so – when vandalism occurs on the final resting grounds of their deceased loved ones. It all comes down to respect.

The Greenwood Cemetery Chapel. (Photo by Rick Hinton)

A caretaker’s home was originally located to the left of the front entrance of the Greenwood Cemetery. This residence was demolished many years ago and today, not a hint remains of its tenure. Today there is no caretaker’s home, but there are other buildings. The present chapel building was dedicated June 4, 1884, and still standing watch over the rows of monuments in the older, original section of the cemetery. It is a building that has witnessed the timestamp of unfolding years as Greenwood, and nearby U.S. 31, has grown. The chapel, small in stature, once hosted funeral services on its main floor. The basement held other duties: storing bodies during the colder winter months until the ground thawed for burial. The chapel now serves as the office for the caretaker. At night they go home.

The same view today. (Photo by Rick Hinton)

In 1894 bodies that were buried in Presbyterian and Baptist cemeteries in Greenwood proper were exhumed and moved to the west section of the “new” cemetery. Graves from the North Madison Avenue Cemetery were also relocated when the church at that location vacated and moved. Throughout the years various graves of those born in the 1700s, and remains of many others buried in cemeteries throughout Greenwood, were reinterred into the Greenwood Cemetery. The cemetery, in its infancy, was a beehive of activity.

Some feel that older cemeteries tend to be more haunted, reasoning that rigid religious beliefs of that time period helped create a mindset contributing to paranormal activity. I suppose it’s possible, but not necessarily set in stone; nothing is, involving the paranormal. Still, another question that might be entertained: why would spirits linger to stand watch over their buried bodies? Or is it something else?

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