A ghost story for the Halloween season

By Dolores Renfrow - Country through and through

The ancient cemetery lies on a long forgotten hillside among brambles, hidden from sight. Many years have passed, but the strange story about the old cemetery is still told by folks in eastern Kentucky. Handed down through the years, it remains in my memory as one of the most bizarre ghosts stories I’ve ever heard.

A young woman named Nora became ill and lapsed into a comatose state. The old country doctor attending her announced one night, as friends and family surrounded her, that she was dying. A short time later, after examining her; he pronounced her dead. As was customary in those days, she was “laid out” at the home with family, friends and neighbors sitting up with the corpse. Nora was buried in the old cemetery the next morning. Later that evening, one of the grace diggers realized that he’d left his shovel at the old cemetery and decided to go back and get his tool; fearing that someone would find it and carry it off.

As he approached the graveyard, that late fall evening, he saw his shovel laying nearby. He stopped to gather up the tool, and as he did so, he heard a faint noise.

“Help me… help me,” faintly the cry could be heard. The man stood in horror, the sound seemed to be coming from the fresh mound of earth.

“Oh Lord,” he whispered. “It can’t be!”

Throwing the shovel aside, he ran to get help. When he arrived at a nearby house, he stumbled onto the porch and began screaming, “You all got to come quick… They a moaning and groaning in the cemetery.”

The folks inside were stunned to hear his incredible tale and hastened to gather a group of of local people, which hurried with lanterns lit, to the cemetery. They promptly began to dig up the grave of Nora, who had just been buried. Soon one of the shovels something solid. “Here it is!” the man shouted.

Quickly the remaining soil was removed, exposing the rest of the coffin. Although no sound could be heard, it was decided to open the lid to the coffin, to see what exactly was going on.

As they stood, holding lanterns high, the lid was opened. But the lining of the coffin was ripped and torn, as if clawed away in an attempt to escape. The bystanders were also shocked to see the horrible grimace on Nora’s face; one of pure terror.

They murmured among themselves. “She weren’t dead when when we buried her. She couldn’t a’been. Just look at the inside of that coffin. Why, she tore it all to pieces trying to get out.”

Deciding that she was now indeed dead, they re-buried Nora. Rumors began to circulate about the old cemetery and folks became afraid of the place. The forest and undergrowth claimed the spot as its own.

And, as it is said, that on dusky fall evenings, Nora’s ghost wanders that old cemetery, moaning and crying, “Help me! Help me!”

Till next time.


By Dolores Renfrow

Country through and through

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