Monday, September 26, 2011

Creepy Feeling in a Cemetery

Last Sunday my husband and I did a genealogy visit to St. Michael's Cemetery in the South Side of Pittsburgh.  It is a quite old, German Catholic cemetery.  Neither of us had ever been to this cemetery.  We were looking for my husband's great, great grandparents Phillip and Margaret Jageman.  I also wanted to find the grave of his great grandfather's (Frank Jageman) first wife.  Even though she is no blood relation to my husband there was just something that drew me to her when I was researching this family.  Her name was Elizabeth Staudinger Jageman and she died in her early 30's in 1892 from typhoid fever leaving four children, one just 3 months old. 
Jacob & Maria Staudinger, parents of Elizabeth
The cemetery records for this cemetery are at best sketchy due to a fire in 1903 that destroyed all the records prior to that year.  The very helpful man at the office had said there was no stone for the Jageman's but I was hoping maybe the records were wrong.  Both of us descend from mostly poor working class families and many of our ancestors do not have stones.  But this set of Jageman ancestors were rather well to do.  If anyone would have a stone they might.

When we arrived and got out of the car we could hear church bells ringing.  I joked that maybe my husband's ancestors were welcoming him.  We found the Staudinger plot rather easily but our Elizabeth did not have a stone, only her parents.  We found at least the general area of the Jageman plot but sadly no markers. 

As we walked around looking for the Jageman plot I felt uneasy.  Just a weird, unwelcoming feeling.  I have no idea why.  As we left my husband also said he felt the same way.  Which is odd because he thinks my fascination with ghosts and spooky things are just plain nutty.  I was actually glad my daughter had decided against going with us.  Usually I beg her to go because she seems to have a knack for finding tombstones of our ancestors.

Now I love visiting any cemetery.  I always get a peaceful and calm feeling when I go to cemeteries.  This is the first time in all my years of cemetery visits that I have felt this way.  Usually my hubby has to pull me kicking and screaming to the car to leave a cemetery.  I love just wandering around looking at all the different tombstones, imaging what the people were like who are buried there.  Not this time.  We saw a few interesting tombstones and I declined my husband's offer to walk over and look at them.  As we drove away I commented that I didn't think his Jageman ancestors wanted us there.  I joked that maybe we should have brought and left a cigar for Phillip Jageman.  He owned a tobacco shop in the 1880's and listed his occupation as a cigar maker on the census.

Later in the day my husband remarked that St. Michael's had no trees.  I had not noticed during our visit but he was right.  Not one tree.  I thought that was strange, all the cemeteries I have visited have trees.  Maybe it makes the upkeep easier.  Maybe that contributed to my weird feelings.

We had no odd experiences while there like I sometimes do in cemeteries except the creepy feeling.  But later that afternoon we had to take my daughter to the local movie theater to meet friends.  We got there early so we parked in the lot to wait for her friends.  After about 10 minutes of sitting in the car I smelled cigar smoke.  My husband rolled his eyes at me because of what I had said about leaving Phillip a cigar at the cemetery.  But within a few minutes he got that pale look on his face and said "I smell a cigar too".  We scanned the parking lot but saw no one.  Maybe it was Phillip's way of saying "Sorry we made you uncomfortable, thanks for the visit"!  Would love to hear from anyone else who has experienced a similar "creepy" feeling in a cemetery.

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