I’m going to tell you an ghost story today. Not an old tale but rather an urban legend style creeper perfect for tweaking and retelling in just about any graveyard with a suitable statue. This legend comes with two names; the more common, and the one I know it by, refers to the location as Gray’s Island, but the setting is really Gray’s Island Cemetery in Hillsborough.
There’s a statue found there; a white, stone replica of a lady long dead. At first glance, you might mistake her for a traditional Catholic grave marker as she quite resembles a Virgin Mary icon. That’s not the case; rumour has it that she was carved to match the lady buried beneath her. As distraught husband with more money then sense had her made to keep his wife alive, if only in a statuary sense. In the years since, one of her delicate hands has gone missing, no doubt taken as a ghoulish souvenir by one of the many haunted places pilgrims who’ve trekked into the cemetery after dark with plans to challenge the semi-famous ghost.
Our lady of the graveyard is also noted for her empty eyes. Perhaps shiny, decorative fakes have been removed or maybe she was carved with deliberately vague eyes; this long after the statue was placed it really is hard to be accurate about her history. In any case, the eyes as the essential feature of this reputed haunting, but then again I guess it depends on the story teller since I was sold an entirely different version in my teens. Here’s the tale as you’ll most often hear it:
“As the legend goes, close your eyes, walk circularly around the base of the statue three times [It’s always three times in these stories, isn’t it?] and you’ll get a very special surprise. When you open your eyes and catch the stone lady’s gaze, she’ll be looking right back at you with eyes as human as yours. All the better, she’ll be crying tears of blood for added effect.”
A nice – if slightly over dramatic – little ghost story to spur a late-night drive to Hillsborough among bored friends, no? I like the story I was told much better, even though it ended in that nights designated driver (read that as the one among us who had access to her parent’s SUV for the weekend) turning back for home just as we arrived at the Hillsborough town limits.
“Years ago, a man whose wife was murdered cried and cried until he was all lout of tears and then he decided he couldn’t live without his wife. Since he couldn’t bring her back, he did the next best thing and had her statue carved and placed in his back yard. He spent hours alone with the statue every day, but passers by would see him talk then pause and respond, as if he was having a conversation, but there was no one visible in the yard, only him seated on a bench alongside his dead wife’s statue. A few years later, the man’s grief took over. His body was found curled at the statue’s base.
“After her husband died, the dead woman’s statue was relocated to the family plot in the cemetery. Years ago, her hand went missing, but that’s ok, the trick will still work. Cover your eyes and walk three times around the statute. Stand with your back to the Gray’s Island lady and she’ll reach out and tap you on the shoulder. That’s why her hand was taken; too many people were frightened so bad they were taken away to the hospital. The cemetery staff thought that if they removed the hand, no one would be tapped on the shoulder but it didn’t work, did it?”
Story by Bouncingpinkball
Update from CBC News: The head mysteriously reappears after two decades.