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Maryland

7 Saint John graves that definitely aren’t haunted

Ghosts aren’t actual. Right?

But in the event that they have been – they may hang-out these seven last resting locations in Canada’s oldest integrated metropolis.

1. Halloween double killer

While his title is omitted from the stone, Munroe’s property is the ultimate resting place of architect and double assassin John A. Munroe, who murdered Maggie Vail and her baby on Halloween in 1868. (Julia Wright/CBC/New Brunswick Museum – Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick # 1966.14.96)

1868, on the afternoon of Halloween, 23-year-old Sarah Margaret (Maggie) Vail and her younger daughter road on Black River Road to satisfy her demise.

At Vail’s facet was John A. Munroe – a married, revered Saint-John architect, father of two, identified for engaged on a number of the metropolis’s best properties and buildings.

Three years earlier he had began a relationship with single working class Vail. Their secret affair resulted in a daughter, Ella May.

It ended violently on October 31, when Munroe grew to become offended together with his lover as they rode into the agricultural neighborhood of Simonds. He shot Vail within the head, strangled her baby, and hid their our bodies within the thorns, the place they lay undiscovered till the following fall.

Munroe was rapidly linked to the crime and, after a sensational trial, discovered responsible on February 14, 1870, he confessed: “It was the money, my anger at her at the time, and my bad thoughts… [that ] made me commit the bad deed.”

Munroe was hanged at Saint John Gaol on Sydney Street on February 15, 1870. While Munroe’s title doesn’t seem on the gravestone, he’s buried in his household plot at Fernhill Cemetery.

It was Maggie Vail and Ella May Commemorated in 2013 with a memorial in Old Cedar Hill Cemetery in West Saint John.

2. Death from a damaged coronary heart

The grave of mom and son Dora and Harry Hurwitz within the Shaarei Zedek Jewish Cemetery has a tragic historical past. (Julia Wright/CBC)

The Hurwitzs have been Russian Jews who immigrated to Saint John in 1907 and settled close to Long Wharf.

In the spring of 1921, their 16-year-old son Harry contracted appendicitis and was admitted to the General Public Hospital for surgical procedure. It wasn’t successful. He died on the night of April sixteenth.

After her son’s demise, Harry’s mom, Dora Hurwitz, “came up to Fernhill early in the morning and stayed here until dark,” stated Roy Clayton, longtime Fernhill Cemetery employee, in a 1975 interview with the National Film Board.

It was “a case of heartbreak if there was such a thing,” Clayton stated. “We got her a bench over there to sit on. She was a small woman, her feet would not touch the ground. She sat there all day and cried and took no notice of anyone.”

Less than a year later, Dora was also dead. The official cause was heart failure.

She and her son are immortalized together in two enameled portraits in Shaarei Zedek Cemetery.

The young mother and young son are immortalized in enamelled photographic portraits, unusual for a 1920s Saint John tombstone. (Julia Wright/CBC)

3. Shipwrecked, killed and dug up

(*7*)
The weathered tombstone of the Musquash castaways, Col. Joshua Chandler, William Chandler, Sarah Grant, Major Alex Grant and Miss Elizabeth Chandler in Fernhill Cemetery. (Julia Wright/CBC)

This stone dates from 1787 – unusually old for Fernhill Cemetery, which was established in 1848.

According to an 1883 book about the Chandler family, Col. Joshua Chandler, his daughter Elizabeth, and his son William sailed from Annapolis, NS, to Saint John in March 1787 to settle business matters involving the family estate.

Their ship got caught in a snowstorm, missed harbor and ran aground at Musquash Point.

William attempted to swim to shore, “however was crushed between the ship and the rocks and drowned,” writes George Chandler.

Col. Chandler, Elizabeth, and others managed to land, however “they were miles from any habitation and the weather was severe. It is said he urged his daughter to leave him… from which, so numb from the cold, he fell and soon died.”

The unfortunate Chandlers and Grants died on March 11, 1787 after wandering in the woods for days. They were buried in the Old Burying Ground at the end of King Street.

Seventy years later, by order of attorney-turned-judge Amos Botsford and his wife Sarah Chandler, they were exhumed and placed in the family plot in the newly laid out rural cemetery.

4. Ruthless assassins

The old Church of England Cemetery on Thorne Avenue, home to the grave of murder victim James Briggs Jr., is one of the oldest Protestant cemeteries in Saint John. (Julia Wright/CBC)

Located in the Old Church of England Cemetery on Thorne Avenue, this Gothic pillar is dedicated to “our most respected and lamented brother James Briggs Jr., aged 23, who was shot dead by some ruthless assassins while standing at Long Wharf in Portland came by”.

Riots and violence between Catholics and Protestants in Saint John had reached its peak on September 6, 1847.

Briggs, the son of a wealthy Portland shipbuilder, was leaving a Sons of Temperance meeting when he got into a scuffle with two Irish Catholics, Dennis McGovern and Edward McDermott. He was shot in the head by these two “ruthless assassins” – likely in connection with his membership of the Orange Order, a Protestant political society.

His murder ushered in “a summer of unprecedented violence in the history of Saint John and Portland,” writes Scott W. See in the book Riots in New Brunswick.

The resulting vigilance led to the establishment of a Saint John police force.

5. Storm Skeleton

Bones were found in the roots of a tree behind the now-demolished St. Peter’s Church on the north end of Saint John. (Julia Wright/CBC)

On Sunday 6th July 2014 parishioners arrive at St. Peter’s Church in the north end made a horrifying discovery.

An old tree at the back of the church had fallen in post-tropical storm Arthur, exposing its extensive roots. When they looked more closely, they discovered a human skeleton in the roots.

The bones were collected at the church and sent to the coroner.

Police said the bones “appeared very old and had previously surfaced from ancient burials on the property.”

Peterskirche has since been demolished; However, a small cemetery remains.

6. Three is a lot

William Henry Harrison is buried with all three of his wives at Fernhill. (Julia Wright/CBC)

Unusually, Henry Harrison chose to be buried at Fernhill Cemetery with not just one or two, but all three of his wives: Sarah Slocomb, Rebecca Slocomb, and Lavinia Knight

“It used to be unusual to have three spouses — but not common to be buried with that many,” says cemetery historian Deborah Trask. “It would have been economical to put them all on one stone.”

One can think about the vigorous conversations the thrifty Harrison and his three wives may have within the afterlife.

7. Seances, monks and concrete legends

Urban legend surrounds the unusually ornate pyramidal tomb of the Rev. William Thomas Wishart in Fernhill Cemetery. (Juliet Wright)

If you dare peek into the crack on this pyramid-shaped tomb in Fernhill Cemetery at night time, native lore says you will note a knife or scissors, stated to be a homicide weapon, glistening within the moonlight.

It’s a spooky story – and an city legend. But the true story of Rev. William Thomas Wishart is nearly as sinister.

Born in Edinburgh in 1809, Wishart was a controversial, bombastic man of God who preached at St Stephen Presbyterian Church on the nook of Charlotte Street and King Square North.

His preaching was so unorthodox that he was ultimately introduced earlier than a church court docket and dismissed from the church in 1846.

But his preaching apparently didn’t cease after his demise in 1853. In 1854, two self-proclaimed Nova Scotian religious mediums, Alfred and Annie Cridge, positioned an commercial within the native papers claiming they’d “spiritual communications from Rev. Wm. Thomas Wishart,” which they might share with different “manifestations” at a public discuss.

Saint John’s newspaper commercial of September 23, 1854 for a lecture by spiritualist mediums Alfred and Annie Cridge, who claimed to make use of “psychometrics” to channel the spirit of the late Rev. Thomas Wishart. (Submitted by the Saint John Free Public Library)

The Cridges toured North America, speaking with the spirits via desk tapping, computerized writing, and psychometrics — the debunked “science” of “reading” objects and guessing details about the particular person they belonged to.

What unorthodox messages Wishart allegedly conveyed from past his pyramidal tomb stays a thriller.

A last memento mori, courtesy of the Gregory household stone bench in Fernhill Cemetery. The inscription reads: “Sit here and think/For you, my friend/Must share this fate.” (Julia Wright/CBC)

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