Sunday, October 23, 2016

THE GHOSTS OF THE OLD PIONEER CEMETERY ~ John K. Olsen Ephraim, Utah ~ Saga of the Sanpitch

 Photo by Scott Law 

  At the turn of the century there was a very common superstition that all graveyards were inhabited by ghosts who slept by day but were very active come nighttime. Those ghosts were of special interest to the young folks of Ephraim with whom I associated. This fear of ghosts was kept alive by many parents as a means of controlling their offspring. Their threat of “If you don’t do as I say, I’ll give you to the ghosts”, brought immediate compliance in almost every case.

 I lived on our farm north and west of the city. On my way to or from town I had to pass the old Pioneer Cemetery, but that fact did not trouble me. I accepted it. I was mature enough to know that most events have a reason for happening, and also I knew that most ghosts were most prevalent at Halloween time. As this holiday approached I heard more and more real or fanciful stories regarding ghosts.

 It seemed to me that the other kids began to become interested in me and the fact that I passed the cemetery so often. One night, just west of the cemetery, I brought my horse to a stop by yelling, “Whoa, whoa!” several times before I reached down to undo the wire that held our farm gate closed. My horse did not seem to understand because he kept shifting our position, and perhaps I even said several other words. Suddenly I was startled to hear voices coming from the cemetery. I am frank to admit that these voices scared me and I hurried for home. I decided that the safest thing to do was to not tell anyone about my fright, but to stay home nights.

 A short time thereafter Jim, my brother, came to me and proposed that we go to town that night. Thinking there would be safety in numbers, I decided it would be safe to go with him. At the gate those voices from the graveyard were again heard. To my surprise Jim said, “Those ghosts scare hell out of me when I am alone, but for some strange reason I would like to see a ghost tonight.” So he, too, had heard the ghosts. Jim’s presence buoyed me up and made me feel just like he felt. “I, too, would like to see a ghost tonight,” I answered. Right then and there we agreed to investigate. At first we whispered as we communicated with each other. The ghost voices whispered back. We talked more loudly and again the ghosts answered. Now we knew the secret, for the voices we had been hearing proved to be the echoes of our own voices coming from one place in that old cemetery. We pondered this knowledge, if those ghosts didn’t leave the graveyard, then it was fear of ghosts that left us.

Maybe there were never any ghosts there at all. For since the spring cleaning of the old Pioneer Cemetery in 1907, those ghostly voices have never been heard. What caused the echo has never been explained and the mystery has never been solved. After that date all has been peace, quiet, dryness, and serenity in that fenced-in land of the dead.

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