East Hill: Bristol's Most Haunted Cemetery Jan 1, 2014 12:55:50 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Jan 1, 2014 12:55:50 GMT -5
East Hill Cemetery is the most haunted place in the city of Bristol
BRISTOL, Va. – Several times I have been asked what I consider to be the most haunted place in Bristol. That is no problem. If my informants are telling the truth, that honor goes to our historic East Hill Cemetery. I have literally heard hundreds of tales of sightings or soundings in that old town burying ground. Even some strange things have happened there before the cemetery began.
According to stories handed down in the King family, the area where the cemetery now is was a favorite hunting ground for Gen. Evan Shelby. Then after he became a bit demented, he often spent hours sitting on stumps or logs, very content thinking he was back home in Maryland. Thus what had been called Round Hill for some time, was called Maryland Hill.
Soon after Shelby died, strange things began to happen. Hunters reported seeing images of the general wandering around in the forest that then covered the hill. The images would suddenly appear then just as suddenly vanish. In those days, folks told of seeing a tree burning, making a high torch-like flame on top of that hill. Strangely this usually happened on dark rainy nights. No sign of fire could be found after such sightings. Such sights could be seen after the Rev. James King established his home at what is now 54 King Street on Solar Hill. From that high point, a clear view of Maryland Hill could be seen and there were reports from the family of having seen what became known as “the burning tree ghost.”
Then came late February 1857. Little Nellie Gaines, age 5, was buried there. That was the beginning of what is now East Hill Cemetery. Later that year, two more little girls were buried there. Soon afterwards, a man passing the burial ground on a cold and snowy evening heard the sound of children playing on the hill. When he looked toward the sounds, little lights were flashing about with the sounds. Through the many years since, there have continued to be similar sightings of ghostly glows upon the hill.
Let me share one of the latest stories I have heard. There are at least 4,000 bodies buried there. It is very common for people to come or call seeking information concerning their ancestors. It has been my privilege to help many of these persons with their search. Some time ago a lady called from Morristown, Tenn., stating that her great-grandmother, whom she did not know, was buried somewhere in the old cemetery. I found the name and section in which she was buried. It is one of the larger sections there. A little later this woman came to Bristol armed with her notebook and camera. She parked her car and began her search. It was a daunting task. I well know that experience. Sometimes you can search for hours without results. This woman patiently searched on and on but did not find her great-grandmother’s grave marker. Her mother had told her that there was a small flat marker at the grave. I well know that many such markers become covered over and lost. Finally the sun set over the western hills. Twilight was coming on. This lady gave up for the day and started back to her car. She heard nothing but had a sudden urge to look back up the hill one more time. She was startled to see a tall grey-haired lady standing beside a low shrub. This lady kept pointing downward toward that shrub. Fascinated, the lady stared at this strange sight. The tall lady beckoned her to come with one hand but continued to point with the other. Then suddenly, the figure disappeared. At that point most people would have fled the cemetery. But not this lady. She quickly walked to the shrub and covered by it was the grave marker for which she was searching. After copying what she wanted, she again headed for her car studying much about this strange appearance. She had noted the figure was dressed in a long pale pink dress. Suddenly her mind clicked. She remembered she had been told her great-grandmother was buried in a long, pale pink dress, her favorite color. She told me that she firmly believed that she had finally been able to see her relative.
Source: Bud Phillips, The Herald-Courier, December 30, 2013.