Westminster Church and Burying Ground
Baltimore, Maryland

One of America's most haunted cities happens to be in the midst of a
bustling modern city. Westminster Presbyterian Church and Burying Ground is
located at the corner of Fayette and Greene Streets in Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1786 a committee from the First Presbyterian Church Congregation
purchased a peach orchard from John Eager Howard, a wealthy local citizen.
It was more than a mile from the center of the city of Baltimore. Soon the
affluent were having elaborate tombs built for their departed relatives. As
prominent veterans of America's wars started to die off it also became a
fashionable place to be buried. Edgar Allan Poe, his wife, and his
grandfather were buried there, as well as twenty-four generals and eight
congressmen. Also interred there are hundreds of men who had served in the
Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

During the first half of the nineteenth century the city of Baltimore spread
further out until Westminster's bucolic surroundings were converted into
cobblestones and row houses. In 1850 city officials declared that all burial
grounds that did not have a church attached to them had to be moved to
outside the city. The Presbyterians wanted no part of this. Instead, they
used existing pathways as an area for the walls. Arches were built so that
the bereaved could have easy access to the graves underneath the church.

It was about this time that local residents became concerned about the
deterioration of the cemetery. Vagrants took shelter under the arches, which
led to the arches being cemented closed. During the Civil War the Union army
took over the grounds. They stored their weapons in the tombs and vaults.

Another problem during the mid-nineteenth century was that the cemetery was
located close to Davidge Hall. This was where the local medical students
learned their trade by dissecting corpses. Once, two medical students were
caught covertly removing bodies to take back to Davidge Hall. As they were
caught, the commotion raised a crowd. The mob hanged one of the students
from a nearby street light.

As the twentieth century dawned things declined further. The cemetery was
often robbed by vandals looking for jewelry. After World War I the
neighborhood began changing and Presbyterians worshipped elsewhere. Local
kids began using the cemetery as a playground. One minister reported seeing
children running around with skulls on the ends of broomsticks.

The spirits may be wandering because so many of the bodies have been moved.
There is doubt that Edgar Allen Poe is actually in his grave. A "lost" plot
of Revolutionary War soldiers was discovered to have been moved to a vault
under one of the walkways.

People visiting the grounds have heard mysterious footsteps and seen hazy
figures and mists. The most frequently seen spirit is Lucia Watson Taylor.
When she died in 1816 she was sixteen years old. She has been seen kneeling
in prayer by her own grave, all dressed in white. Three different caretakers
quit their jobs after seeing her ghost.

Many psychics and ghost hunters have visited or spent the night in the
church. They all confirm that calm, peaceful spirits inhabit the burying

EVP, or Electronic Voice Phenomenon, is often researched at Westminster
Burying Ground. During this process an investigator will bring a new,
unwrapped tape to the site, then simply record as they walk around. Spirit
voices are usually not audible until they are played back, and even then
they must be listened to carefully. Researcher Sara Estep often records at
Westminster. Among others, she has recorded a woman's voice saying "We are
down beside you." and a man saying "I will be there. I will be there."

In 1981 the Westminster Preservation Trust took over the property and
restored it as much as possible. It is now open to the public and anyone can

by catmz@theshadowlands.net

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