Tag Archives: cemetery

Cousin’s Ghost Story in Cemetery

  1. Details
    1. Collected on 03/23/2024 
    2. Genre: Memorate 
    3. Language: English 
    4. Nationality: Mexican-American
    5. Relationship to Informant: Friend’s Younger Sister 
  2. Text
    1. Summary
      1. The informant’s cousin told her this ghost story about when he and a group of his friends decided to use a Ouija board in a cemetery in Mexico. One boy asked the Ouija board when he was going to die, and the Ouija board responded “soon.” A little while after, he begins to cry uncontrollably, and he starts walking away from the group. The informant’s cousin runs after him, but when he grab’s his friend he sees that he has no face. The friend snaps out of it, but has no memory of crying or walking away. They return to the group, and the other boys ask who they were talking to because they saw a third figure standing with the group. The cousin and his friend have no idea what they are talking about because they thought it was just the two of them. They decide to leave, but the boy who asked when he would die began having awful nightmares. About one month later, that boy commits suicide. 
    2. Direct transcription of folklore:
      1. “So, this was told to us by our cousin on our mother’s side. Essentially, somewhere in Mexico they would go there with a couple friends every now and then to just hang out at the cemetery to spook each other out. One time, they invited girls because they wanted to scare the girls. So, they are there and it’s pretty late at night. They decide to pull out a Ouija board because they want to scare these girls. They had essentially already been hearing some spooky sounds in this cemetery, so the girls were already kind of spooked. They start doing the Ouija board, and it starts moving, and they are like ‘oh my gosh it’s actually moving.’ So, the girls are spooked, and they are like ‘we are actually going to leave…like this isn’t fun for us.’ So they leave, and the guys stay, and they are like ‘haha this is so funny bla bla bla bla bla.’ At some point, one of the friends – we will call him Rob – asks the Ouija board when he is going to die. The only thing the Ouija board says is ‘soon.’ So, everyone is like ‘ah, this is so scary … yada yada yada.’ But whatever, they keep playing because obviously they think it is more of a joke. At some point, the friend who asked that question starts uncontrollably crying. Everyone is like ‘what the h***?’ And Rob gets up, and he starts walking away. So, everyone’s like ‘oh maybe he is going to do something, who knows.’ So, two of the friends get up and they start walking over. The guy is walking pretty quickly, so they have to catch up. So, our cousin is the one that catches up to him and the other friend that was with him kind of like gives up. And he goes to talk to him and be like ‘hey man what’s up?’ and he turns him around and he has no face. And so then he freaks out and gets really spooked. Then Rob turns back around and then like turns again and then his face is back to normal. Rob is just like ‘oh my God, what’s going on’ and our cousin is freaking out that it was just in his head. So he’s like, ‘you just started crying’ and Rob remembers nothing of this. He doesn’t even remember how he got over there. So, they start walking back together kind of freaked out about the whole situation. When they catch up to the friend that started following but then kind of gave up and he was like ‘who was that guy that you guys were talking to?’ and they’re like ‘what guy?’ he’s like ‘there was a guy over there with you guys who was talking to you guys.’ They had no idea what happened, and decided to go home. As it turns out, Rob commits suicide a month later. Apparently, he was also plagued by nightmares that started right after that night in the graveyard.”
    3. Context 
      1. The informant is a young woman in her early 20s who attends UCSB. This story was told to the informant by an older cousin on her mother’s side. It has become a family story, but it is told with a serious tone because it deals with serious topics. 
    4. Analysis 
      1. This story deals with scary subjects such as death and suicide, so it serves as a warning for young people to not mess with the spiritual world. The boy who asked the spirits when he would die ended up taking his own life, which tells the audience not to see death and ghosts as a joking matter because it can have real consequences. The ‘third figure’ that the friends saw is assumed to be the devil, or at least a spirit figure with very harmful intentions. “Spirits may appear in order to reinforce social norms, proper behavior, and traditional customs.” (Valk, 33) In this case, the spirits appear to reinforce proper behavior. Overall, this memorate is used to instruct others not to instigate contact with the devil or the spiritual world. It also tells listeners to take things seriously, because what started out as a joke ended up as a terrible experience with permanent harm.

“GPS and Cemetery are a bad combo.”

Informant is a 50 year-old Taiwanese woman and this is her memorate happened on a camping trip. The interview was conducted through a facetime call.

Informant: It was during summer a couple years ago. I took the kids on a camping trip about an hour away from the city. One of my sister’s kids said that she had something earlier that day and asked us to pick her up at a nearby train station. We arrived at the site in the afternoon and by the time I was supposed to pick her up, it was pitch black outside. There was a cemetery on the side of the road at about halfway between the train station and the camping site. I remembered it because we saw that earlier when we were heading to the site. I remembered setting the GPS map to the train station and I took a quick glance at where the route would be, nothing unusual, just one big straight road that leads to the town where the station is. I started driving and as I was approaching where the cemetery is located, the map start asking me to turn right. There is one small muddy road cutting through the cemetery and the GPS kept asking me to go through there, but it makes no sense at all because the station should be straight ahead down the big road. The closer I got to the intersection, the more I felt weird about the entire situation. The street lights were flickering and glowing in a strange tone and I just felt this uncanny feeling that the something is trying to pull me into the cemetery, down that road. I didn’t dare to look through the passenger window because I was convinced that I might see things that I shouldn’t see. As I drove past and away from the intersection that I was asked to turn by the GPS, the street lights seemed to go back to the normal, dimmed, warm-yellow tone and the strange feeling went away. Anyways, that is why you should always have a basic sense of where you are going and don’t fully rely on GPS. God knows what would have happened if I had just followed the GPS.

The memorate demonstrates the common Taiwanese belief of the existence of ghosts. Cemetery are usually seen as a cursed or bad place where the wandering spirits or hostile ghosts will try to haunt or harm someone, either out of fun or malicious intention. In Taiwan, you often heard that GPS or other technologies involving energy wave passing through air and space often malfunction when the device is near the cemetery. The scientific explanation of this is still unclear. This type of experience therefore was explained way by the common belief of ghost.

Redash Cemetery


DS is one of my best friends from my hometown in Tennessee. She is twenty years old and goes to our community college. I called to get her version of the folk-legends about the infamous cemetery in the town next to ours, since she has been there multiple times. The cemetery’s name is Redash and is nestled down a long windy abandoned road we call “ ‘ole 63.”

Main Piece:

DS- Redash is a small, super old graveyard on the back road of 63. Everything on that road is just creepy anyway like all the burnt buildings and how it seems to always look dark even during the daytime. Even driving to get there will freak ya out.

Interviewer-Okay so tell me about the legend of Redash itself, like things that are common knowledge about it, even if you haven’t been there.

DS- It’s like a very known and accepted legend around here. So, there are like two different storylines about Redash. One is that there is some kind of half-man-half-goat that will run you out of the cemetery if it thinks you are there to like screw around and be disrespectful. The other one, which is the most common, is about the witch’s grave. She will be sitting on her grave crying over it and people leave coins on her grave if she doesn’t bother them. The major no-no is taking money off her tombstone; apparently horrific accidents have happened to several people who did that. There’s also just a bunch of weird paranormal stuff that kind of varies depending on personal experience.

Interviewer- Okay, so now give me your take on what happens, since you’ve been many times.

DS- I know it sounds crazy, but just walking up to the graveyard has made my stomach absolutely drop every time, and not in like a nervous way. It’s a feeling that I can’t explain and everyone that I’ve asked feels instantly uneasy when they get out of the car too. There really is a women buried there from the 1800s that was said to be a witch and there is always money there, but I would never touch it. I can’t say I have seen her, but I swear I have heard cries. One time we could have sworn we heard someone scream at us to leave and then we all felt such a bad aura that we left. But some of my friends that have gone had terrifying experiences, like after one girl got back in her car, she had scratches all over her body. Oh, and the red eyes, that’s a very common sight from almost everyone.


DS’s account of Redash is an example of a memorate, and supernatural experiences that have a strong impact like hers are the fuel that keep local folk-legends alive. This ghost story contains many of the classic supernatural characteristics like cryptozoology, a witch, and a cemetery. The legend of Redash also contains an aspect of spirits upholding moral standards by the witch cursing someone if they steal money from her tombstone. This follows Valk’s idea that spirits in legends are purposeful and can serve as a warning to the living. Valk also asserts that ghosts can be a way for the living to deal with economic changes, which is relevant to the history of the area where Redash is located. It used to be a booming coal town, but it has been completely desolate for at least half a century. Perhaps the memorate that started the Redash legend was influenced by the economic uncertainties that were to come.

The Whaley House

Context: Z is a 21 year old Filipino American man. Growing up with a close community of Filipino friends and family. Z went to an elementary school within California. This story was collected over a Discord audio call.

Z: “The one that I thought of the other day, which is ‘spooky’ but not really, is The Whaley House. Which is like the only ghost house I know of, like, a unified school district takes everyone in the school district out of class to go visit it for like a week. There’s like a bunch of weird stories, and I don’t know a lot of the history off of the top of my head, but I know there was a family that lived there in the 1800s, and they all had some untimely deaths. Then there was some guy who was hanged who got buried in the graveyard adjacent to it.” 

Intv: “So there were just a ton of stories surrounding the place?”

Z: “Oh yeah, and you know one thing that I think really contributed to that, were the people who would always be walking around in period dress, like era accurate garb to the 1800s and you’d wonder if you saw a ghost. You know, it’s supposedly one of the most haunted houses in America, but I’ve never seen a ghost there, and I don’t know if I really believe in all of it. I think it’s probably just an old house, but it at least made an old house fun.” 

Analysis: I find it very interesting that the Unified School District of San Diego actually pulls  children out of class for a week to go and study the myths of The Whaley House. While some historical activities are present (like children learning how early settlers panned for gold) it really is a week that glorifies to the children of San Diego just how important culturally folklore can be. As Old Town and The Whaley House are two major tourist attractions within an already tourist heavy city. 

Holding Your Breath As You Pass A Cemetery

Main Piece:

Subject: Well. Whenever I pass cemetery, I hold my breath because I don’t want to disrespect the spirits who aren’t as lucky as I am to breathe. Because then they might come and haunt me.

Interviewer: Where did you hear that?

Subject: Um… from my older sister. Yeah you do it because you don’t want to disrespect the ghosts as you pass by. They’ll literally haunt you. Because they’re like, “Fuck you. You can breathe and I can’t.” You’ll piss off the spirits. I also used to think that you could like literally breathe them into your lungs. Like if you inhaled when you went past a cemetery, then they would enter you through your lungs.

Context: The subject is my 17-year-old younger brother in his senior year of high school. He is supposed to attend Yale in Fall of 2020. He is of Ashkenazi Jewish and Russian descent. We have been quarantined together due to the Coronavirus pandemic and staying at our home in Charleston, South Carolina. After dinner, we were sitting in the dark in the living room and I asked him to tell me any folklore he could think of off the top of his head.

Interpretation: I remember being taught this superstition from my older sister as well. It was a very appealing superstition as a kid because it felt like a game. Whenever I would pass a particularly large cemetery, it was a great challenge between my siblings and I of who could hold our breath the longest. Related to this superstition is the act of covering your mouth when we yawn. Breath has always been associated with life and spirit, so it makes perfect sense that breathing when you passed the dead would be offensive. I thought it was interesting how this superstition seems to specifically in the context of driving in a car. It’s not realistic for a person to hold their breath as they walk past a cemetery, so it suggests that this superstition practice is modern. The old version of the superstition seems to go back to The Black Plague, when it was believed that the illness could be transmitted from dead bodies because of people inhaling as they passed by. The “spirit” that possessed people was actually the plague.