Death is a pretty straightforward affair for most Americans. We have our grieving process – visitations, funerals, interment. We know what’s expected. There’s a body in a coffin, or sometimes cremated, and we gather together as friends and family to say goodbye at a gravesite. The ritual provides comfort and closure. But some people do death a little bit differently and in this article, we are going to visit some of the strangest grave sites across the country.

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Normally here at See America, we take you to a single destination, be that on the podcast, or in our vast collection of travel stories, but this time we’re changing it up a bit. We’re going to take a journey across the country to the final resting places of —some famous, some infamous, some completely unknown. These people all left their mark at the last possible moment, with some of the strangest tombs you’ll find on earth.

New Orleans, LA

Let’s begin in a city where the dead are particularly prevalently honored: New Orleans. Because of its high water table and below-sea-level elevation, bodies have been buried for centuries in above-ground mausoleums.

In the cities famous St Louis Cemetery #1 rests the body of Marie Laveau. Laveau was known by some as a hairdresser, by others as the most famous and the most powerful of the city’s voodoo practitioners. Laveau died in 1881 and is said to be buried in the tomb of her husband’s family, the Glapion’s. Some historians dispute this as her final resting place, but it is mentioned in her obituary and is the most likely spot.

She is said to still work her magic from the grave. For decades, visitors have been drawn to Laveau’s mausoleum for the chance of having their wishes granted. St Louis Cemetery dates to 1789 and is the oldest cemetery still standing in New Orleans, full of some of the city’s most prominent dead.

But one of the strangest gravesites is empty — for now. Long a lover of the oddities of the world, actor Nicholas Cage formerly lived in what is said to be one of the most haunted mansions in New Orleans. Cage now lives in Las Vegas, but he was somehow able to purchase two plots in St Louis Cemetery — no easy feat. He used one of them to build a nine-foot-tall stone pyramid that is quite different than the other 200-year-old graves. There is no name on the pyramid, but it is engraved with the Latin words “Omnia Ab Uno,” which translates to “Everything From One.” Whether Cage plans to rest in the pyramid is a mystery. He doesn’t speak about it. Strangely, some people have begun a tradition of leaving lipstick kisses on the tomb’s backside.

Baltimore, MD

Elijah Bond patented one of the world’s first commercially sold so-called “talking boards,” which allowed people to talk to the dead. He trademarked the Ouija board, and it was quickly cemented into the American ideal of the paranormal. Ironically, Bond was buried in an unmarked grave that eventually became lost over time.

In 2007, after a 15-year search, a paranormal enthusiast and Ouija board collector found the grave at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore. Money was raised to build a proper tombstone, which, on one side, is fairly standard, with the name Elija Bond, his birth and death dates, and the words “patentee of the Ouija Board”. On the other side of the headstone, however, is a large engraving of a Ouija board.

Picture: Elijah Bond Gravesite.

Volunteers and donation funds were pulled together to create Bond’s truly memorable headstone, which bears the traditional name, birth and death dates on one side, and a replication of a Ouija board carved into the other. The grave is now a popular destination for nostalgia fans and people interested in the supernatural. After years of resting in obscurity, Elijah Bond himself is finally being communicated with, one way or another.

New Haven, Vermont

During the 18th and 19th centuries the fear of being buried alive had grown dramatically, and for a good reason – it actually happened way too often due to “Lazarus Syndrome,” which is the spontaneous return of circulation after failed attempts at resuscitation.” Coffins would be exhumed, with fingernail scratches found under the lid. One man set out to make sure it never happened to him.

In New Haven, Vermont’s Evergreen Cemetery, Doctor Timothy Clark Smith, arranged for his grave to have a set of stairs underneath a large square capstone beside his burial mound and is said to have been buried with a bell in his hand and a breathing tube. He installed a horizontal window at the surface, centered squarely on his face so that people could check on him to ensure that a mistake wasn’t made. Today, you can only see a few inches down the six-foot-long cement shaft due to moisture and the age of the glass.

Atlanta, GA

There are lots of other graves throughout the U.S. in strange locations like the middle of parking lots. But There are a whole lot of them in Atlanta, home to the world’s busiest airport. Runway construction at the Atlanta airport continues to engulf former communities, and one of the latest was even built over the top of I-285, sandwiching two century-old cemeteries between two runways. The two cemeteries remain publicly accessible. Hart Cemetery is the smaller of the two and is a family plot first used by the Hart family in 1860. It is surrounded by the raised runways and the airport’s razor-wire fence. William Hart, who is buried here, died while traveling to Washington, D.C. to receive a pardon for deserting the Confederate army.

Pictured: Nancy Barnett Gravesite.

Amity, IA

The 200-year-old grave of Nancy Barnett is one of the odder plots in the united states, not because of the grave itself, but what surrounds it. Nancy’s relatives didn’t want her grave disturbed when the county decided to put the road through the old cemetery. The family never gave in, and the county decided to just build the County Road 400 right through it. At the grave, the road splits slightly, Nancy sits in the middle of it, with a lane on either side of her resting place. Oddly, archaeologists exhumed the grave recently and found the remains of at least six other people, whose identities are unknown.

Iowa City, IA

Iowa City’s Oakland Cemetery is home to a striking statue that some say is haunted—the bronze Black Angel. The sculpture watches over the graves of Teresa Dolezal and her family. Teresa worked as a midwife until 1891, when her son Eddie contracted meningitis and died.

The boy’s body was buried in Oakland Cemetery and a monument carved in the shape of a tree stump was erected to mark his grave. Teresa moved to Oregon where she married a man who quickly died. Stricken by the two losses, Teresa returned to Iowa City and had Chicago artist Mario Korbel sculpt an eight-and-a-half foot tall bronze angel to memorialize her loved ones. When the statue was erected in 1913, Eddie’s monument was moved beside it, and the ashes of her late husband were placed within the statue’s base, joined by Teresa’s ashes in 1924, though no death date was added to Teresa’s name at the base.

By the time of her death, the bronze statue had turned black. Some locals claimed that it was because she was evil or mysterious and that the statue changed its color to warn others to stay away from her grave. One story tells of a thunderstorm on the night of Teresa’s funeral. A lightning bolt struck the angel statue, scorching it black.

The Black Angel statue is now said to be possessed and dangerous. One legend says that any girl kissed in the shadow of the angel’s wings will die within six months, and anyone who touches the angel on Halloween night will die in seven years. Kissing the angel directly, meanwhile, will cause a person’s heart to stop instantly.

Pictured: Hadji Ali Gravesite

Quartzsite, AZ

During the mid-1800s when much of the southwest was still uninhabited desert, the U.S. government attempted to manage the terrain by trying to take a page from the Middle East: with camels. They hired camel drivers to haul goods across modern-day New Mexico and Arizona. One such man came from Syria. Born Philip Tedro in Syria, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Hadji Ali, which members of the U.S. Cavalry pronounced as “Hi Jolly.” They hired him as the first member of the experimental Army Camel Corps.

Eventually, the camel corps was disbanded after it was found that the much larger camels spooked the native livestock and horses. Jolly passed away in Quartzsite, Arizona in 1902, where his grave is marked by a pyramid made of stone, topped by an etched metal camel.

St. Omer, IL

In what’s left of the Illinois ghost town of St. Omer is a small cemetery, featuring a strange Barnes monument. It’s a ball, on top of a pedestal, facing north and south while all the rest of the graves in the cemetery face west. Four people are buried here, Marcus Barnes, his parents, and his wife, Caroline, whose stated date of death could never have happened: February 31, 1882

The legend is that Caroline Barnes was a witch. She was hanged, and the sphere atop her tombstone is actually a crystal ball, said to glow on moonless nights. The legend is that her death date was set as a February day that never happens because the witch would rise every year on that day, but if her death date never came she wouldn’t reappear. The ball has repeatedly been found with melted white candle wax dried atop it.

Marcus Barnes died in a sawmill accident in 1881. In reality, Caroline was not hanged. Just two months after Marcus’s death, Caroline would die of pneumonia at the age of 23. “February 31st” was likely just a typo too expensive to fix, and there was no one left in the Barnes family to care.

Logan, UT

Hundreds if not thousands of other strange graves exist all across our great country. Some morbid, some uplifting, some humorous, and some even downright helpful. Like the resting place of Dr. Wade Andrews in the Logan City Cemetary of Logan, Utah. The doctor’s favorite thing in life was his wife Kay’s fudge. Kay engraved her recipe on his gravestone.

Want more great destinations? Continue exploring unique overnight destinations with a stay at the Lizzie Borden Bead & Breakfast, or check out the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Co.


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