Introduction to Rhode Island
The first permanent settlement in Rhode Island was established at Providence in 1636 on land purchased from the Narragansett Indians by Roger Williams. It was the 13th colony and ratified the constitution in 1790. It is the smallest state in the Union at only 1,212 square miles, but with 5,053 documented cemeteries it has one of the highest number compared to its size. It is no surprise that Rhode Island cemeteries are quite haunted.
Sherman Lot is also known as Clark Sherman Lot or Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Burrillville #1. It can be found in Providence County 15 feet south of Wakefield Road at telephone pole #89, a half mile from Buck Hill Road. There are five members of the Sherman family buried here. The markers have only names, but family records show the burials took place in the late 1800s. The tombstones have now all been stolen.
The legend here is about Laura Marsh Sherman. If you visit her grave on a night with a full moon and call her name while dancing around the grave 13 times, she will come and talk to you.
There’s a story of a high school girl who did just that and was disappointed when nothing happened. The next day at school one of her friends said she saw the girl driving past the restaurant where the friend worked and she wanted to know who the old lady was sitting in the back seat of her car.
Oak Hill Cemetery
Oak Hill Cemetery is also known as Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Woonsocket #7. It is located on Rathbun Street in Providence County. The town of Oak Hill was incorporated in 1856 and the Oak Hill Cemetery Corporation paid industrialist Edward Harris the sum of one dollar for about 17 acres to be used as the city cemetery. There are roughly 4,000 interments here, dating back to 9-month-old Emma Morse in 1813. The cemetery is located two blocks north of Precious Blood Cemetery.
Precious Blood Cemetery
Precious Blood Cemetery is also known as Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Woonsocket #6. It lies at the corner of Rathbun Street and Diamond Hill Road, two blocks south of Oak Hill Cemetery. There are over 24,000 interments here, including 7-term governor Aram Jules Pothier.
The spirits that are restless here and at Oak Hill have every reason to be uneasy and agitated. In August of 1955 the region was hit by a category 1 hurricane and then immediately hit with another one. Both cemeteries are bordered by water on the western side and the hurricane along with the torrential rain caused catastrophic flooding.
Many of the caskets rose up out of the ground. Some floated down the flooded streets and some even made it to the ocean, never to be seen again. A lot of the bodies were returned to the cemeteries, but it seems not all made it back to exactly where they started.
The spirits here are restless, probably looking for what was originally meant to be their final resting place and looking for their loved ones. Glowing white lights and disembodied voices have been reported here.
Elder Ballou Meeting House Cemetery
The Elder Ballou Meeting House Cemetery is also known as Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Cumberland #27. It is located on Elder Ballou Meeting House Road in Providence County. There are approximately 500 interments here, dating back at least to 1725.
This cemetery is very creepy. The first thing a visitor sees upon entering the graveyard is a line of stone crypts built into the side of a hill. One person described it as a “macabre motel of death.”
The grounds are unkempt with shaggy bushes here and there. It feels abandoned, but almost every visitor has remarked that they feel like they are being watched. There are reports of a grey man meandering throughout the cemetery. If someone tries to approach him he simply disappears only to rematerialize further away.
One visitor warns people not to go to the cemetery after dark. This is the story she told. While walking around in the cemetery after dark she heard footsteps behind her. When she stopped so did the sound of footsteps. She began to run and again heard something running behind her. The sound didn’t stop until she jumped into her car. She vowed not to visit the cemetery at night ever again.
Exeter School Cemetery
Exeter School Cemetery is also known as Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Exeter #35. It is located at the back of the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery in Washington County. There are 84 graves here, all residents of what was called the Ladd School. The markers are just roughly cast concrete stones.
The Ladd School was established in 1908. It was created as a place for the “feeble-minded,” but as time went on it housed more and more criminals and people thought to be a detriment to society. That included anyone from a drunkard to a “loose” woman. The caretakers mistreated their patients, even going so far as performing forced sterilizations. There are several ghosts in the Exeter School Cemetery who were “patients” at the school. One is a nine-year-old boy who suffocated to death after being put in a laundry sack and hung on a showerhead.
Screams can be heard coming from the old building and from the cemetery at any time of the day or night.
Chestnut Hill Cemetery
Chestnut Hill Cemetery is also known as Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Exeter #22. It is located on Ten Rod Road in Washington County. There are over 600 interments here dating back to 1747.
The legend here is about the supposed vampire Mercy Lena Brown. She was born in 1872 and died in 1892. Mercy was the middle child of George and Mary Brown. The all lived a peaceful life in Exeter until an epidemic of tuberculosis swept through the northeast. Hundreds died, including Mercy’s mother and her sister. When Mercy died her brother Edwin had also become sick.
The superstitious townspeople knew nothing about viruses. After Mercy’s death people started claiming to have seen her walking in the fields with Edwin. Edwin himself had even proclaimed that Mercy had been sitting on his chest and she was suffocating him.
Everyone began to blame Mercy for the sicknesses and it was declared that she was a vampire. The only way to know for sure was to open her coffin and find out. She had died in January and her coffin had been placed in a vault along with others because the ground was too frozen to have burials until the spring.
On March 17, 1892, Mercy’s father and brother, town officials and a medical doctor were there to watch the gruesome task. First they checked Mercy’s mother and sister. Their bodies showed the natural decomposition that was expected. But when Mercy’s coffin was opened it was a different story. Her body had moved, her nails and hair had grown, and her veins and organs were full of blood.
She was proclaimed to be a vampire. They knew they had to desecrate her body to keep her from rising anymore. They removed her heart and burned it on a nearby rock. They mixed a concoction containing the ashes and fed it to Edwin to cure him. He died a little while later.
There were close to 100 people who were desecrated in this manner during the 1800s. This and similar occurrences earned Rhode Island the nickname “The Transylvania of North America.”
Quidnessett Memorial Cemetery
Quidnessett Memorial Cemetery was established in 1902 in Washington County. The oldest dated tombstone is that of Sir John Aylsworth in 1653. There are over 3,000 interments.
This cemetery is very well kept and has many unique headstones. People say this is a beautiful, calm, final resting place during the day. The night is a different story. The whole cemetery takes on a negative vibe after darkness falls. Strange lights are seen and dark figures roam around the graves.
One theory as to who is haunting Quidnessett Cemetery is that they are soldiers. Unidentified bodies from World War II were moved from Davisville to make room for new military facilities. They were reinterred here. Maybe they are upset or confused by the move.
Burdick Lot is also known as Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Charleston #17. It is a small family cemetery with 23 interments located on Buckeye Brook Road in Washington County. The dates range from 1856 to 1932.
This cemetery has the typical haunted cemetery occurrences. It is surrounded by a thick stone wall and various colored orbs are often seen within the wall. Disembodied voices are heard, but the words are rarely decipherable. They sound as if they are coming from a great distance. Shadowy human shapes are also seen moving around the tombstones.
Haunted Cemeteries of Rhode Island
Haunted Cemeteries in Nearby States
- Haunted Cemeteries of Connecticut
Connecticut has almost 3,000 cemeteries. As one of the first places settled in the New World, it has many cemeteries that have been haunted for a long, long time.
- Haunted Cemeteries in Massachusetts - Part One
Massachusetts was home to the very first settlers to the New World. Here are some of their haunted cemeteries.
- Haunted Cemeteries in Massachusetts - Part Two
Massachusetts is an historic state and has many, many haunted cemeteries. Here are some more of them.