October 31, 2010

October Horror Mania: Midnight Mary

I've been super busy at work lately, but I wanted to end this month with one more tale of Yankee style horror: Midnight Mary!

If you visit New Haven Connecticut's Evergreen Cemetery, you might stumble upon the somewhat ominous grave stone of Mary E. Hart. The epitaph reads

At high noon
Just from and about to renew
Her daily work, in her full strength of
Body and mind
Mary E. Hart
Having fallen prostrate
Remained unconscious, until she died at midnight
October 15, 1872
Born December 16, 1824

Above this, large bold letters spell out the following:


In his book Legendary Connecticut David E. Philips explains that because almost nothing is known about the real, historical Mary E. Hart, many legends have arisen to explain her spooky funerary monument.

Most of them are pretty gruesome. For example:

  • A few days after Mary was buried, one of her aunts had a dream that she was still alive in her coffin. To calm the aunt's fears, the family opened Mary's grave. They were horrified to see her body twisted in a painful position and her fingers shredded and bloody. The aunt had been right! They reburied Mary and put up the gravestone to detract attention from her premature burial.
  • Mary had been a witch while she was alive, and threatened on her death bed that anyone who disturbed her grave would die at midnight. Naturally, three teenagers went to her grave at night to test the theory. Ha! Nothing happened. Until, seven years later, one of them was found dead with his throat ripped out. Seven years later the second died the same way. Finally, after another seven years, the last interloper died as well. The throat-ripping murderer was never found.
  • Three sailors visiting New Haven decided to see if the legend of Midnight Mary was true. When they didn't report back for duty the next day police searched the cemetery. Their hats were found near Mary's grave, but their bodies were found impaled on the iron fence surrounding Evergreen Cemetery. Something had frightened them, and all three had died while trying to escape over the fence.
There are a couple Midnight Mary videos on YouTube. This first is a trailer for a horror film. I love that it starts "Sometimes summoning the dead isn't such a good idea." Sometimes?!

And this is footage of some brave college kids who go to see Mary's grave. How will it end?

Have a safe and happy Halloween!


Wade Tarzia said...

I am enjoying your blog. This post here reminded me of the time my friend and I were visiting anold cemetery when we were young men, seeking Lovecraftian mysteries of course, and in Pepperell Massachusetts came across a small old site with the grave of a man who lived to old age. This epitaph read "Few and evil" -- immediately our imaginations thrilled to the possibility of a real "Wizard Whately" buried in loathing by townsfolk Silly, but harmlessly fun. I have not yet tracked what this saying is but it sounds Biblical, something like "Feew and evil are the days of life" or some such.

Peter Muise said...

Hi Wade!

I'm glad you like the blog. I hope you've given up seeking Lovecraftian mysteries. As any Lovecraft reader will tell you it never ends well!

Rich Clabaugh said...

Great story Peter! I enjoyed it so much I loosely adapted it for one of my stories!