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The beginnings of Greenwood Cemetery: Part I

The beginnings of Greenwood Cemetery: Part I

By Rick Hinton

Cemeteries and paranormal investigators? Intended more as a memorial for the living, cemeteries are a repose of peace, tranquility and temporary separation from the routine of daily life. They encompass reflection in an oasis of quiet reverence, where one contemplates their own mortality amid a calming setting of trees, grass and monuments. Life temporarily demands a degree of utmost importance during the span of our visit. Yet, for many investigators, sometimes there is false reasoning: it’s a graveyard … it must be haunted! This is also just an assumption.

Cemeteries are hallowed grounds of historical significance – highlighting the life and times of a generation come before us, often shaping a town’s history. Cemeteries are also our own final destination, with our own pages to write and leave behind.

The main entrance to Greenwood Cemetery hasn’t changed over the years; just the number of graves. (Photo by Rick Hinton)

The Greenwood Cemetery, 620 W. Main St., holds a silent vigil as the surrounding area has steadily grown with change throughout the years. Expansion has transformed the US 31 corridor, remodeling the veneer of a former small town residing in the countryside. Officially established in the summer of 1884 by a group of 34 motivated town residents, it consisted of only 12 acres. It was humble beginnings as the ball began rolling. The first burial was in that same year. It wasn’t until 1907 that the cemetery expanded north by the acquisition of 25 additional acres. It was then that the business of the Greenwood Cemetery took a firm grip.

New paranormal groups seem to gravitate toward the shadowy, mysterious world of cemeteries. It can be a training ground for equipment and personal reactions to sometimes adrenaline-fueled situations, however, the police will frown on trespassing. They don’t care who you are or what paranormal shows you’ve been watching. There’s a reason for this. Vandalism of cemeteries has resulted from nighttime excursions by individuals with a completely different agenda. People are put on edge – and rightly so – when this vandalism occurs at the final resting place of their deceased loved ones. It all comes down to respect!

The main entrance to Greenwood Cemetery hasn’t changed over the years; just the number of graves. (Photo by Rick Hinton)

Originally, a caretaker’s home was located to the left of the front entrance to Greenwood Cemetery. This residence was demolished many years ago and today not a hint remains that it ever existed. The present chapel building was dedicated on June 4, 1884, and still stands watch over rows of monuments. It’s a building that has witnessed the progression of the unfolding years as Greenwood 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 months until the winter ground thawed. The chapel now serves as the office for the caretaker.

In 1894, bodies that were buried in Presbyterian and Baptist cemeteries in Greenwood proper were exhumed and moved to the west section of the 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 the remains of many others buried in cemeteries throughout Greenwood, were reburied in Greenwood’s Cemetery. In its infancy, it was a beehive of activity.

The main entrance to Greenwood Cemetery hasn’t changed over the years; just the number of graves. (Photo by Rick Hinton)

Some feel that older cemeteries tend to be haunted, reasoning that rigid religious beliefs of the period helped to create a mindset that contributes to paranormal activity. I suppose it’s possible. Yet, another question that might be entertained – why would spirits linger to stand watch over their physical body? Or is it something else?

To be continued.

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