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Catman – An Urban Legend

newspaper clipping from Colonel Armwell Long's obituary

You may have heard about Catwoman, the iconic superhero known for her ultra-tight leather suits and wall-climbing abilities that look even better on the big screen. But there’s also another fictional feline that you should know about…a Delaware urban legend that’s far less sexy and far more scary. Like many other ghosts who haunt hallowed grounds, the Catman is said to hang around the Long Cemetery in Frankford, Delaware. But this graveyard is more than just a favorite spot; he has a special attachment to the property that is said to go back decades. 

The Long Cemetery

Located at the end of an old dirt road near Selbyville in Sussex County, Delaware, Long Cemetery dates back to the 1800’s.  Joe Long Cemetery, its full name, is also known as Colonel Armwell Long Cemetery. Long served in the War of 1812 and died in 1834 at the age of 80. He was the commandant of Sussex County, Delaware Militia and Waples Company during the War of 1812. He was executor of David Long’s will, and probably donated the land for the Col. Armwell Long Cemetery where it was turned into a public graveyard.

The Legend of Catman

Before he was one of the most famous ghostly figures and urban legends in Delaware, Catman was a caretaker on the cemetery grounds who took his job very seriously. He didn’t just look after graves and keep the place looking hauntingly beautiful – he also scared away teenagers who were causing trouble among the headstones. Any time a young adult would pull out the ouija board or try to get frisky among the dead, Catman was there to banish them…and it wasn’t exactly difficult to do with a face like his. While he wasn’t literally a human-cat hybrid like his name suggests, he had feline-like features that were very intimidating. His stare was as intense as any favorite feline, and people would generally run the other way at the sight of Catman.

Long Cemetery with gravestones near where catman was buried

When Catman died, it’s said that he was rewarded for his lifelong dedication to Long Cemetery with an above-ground tomb. This was sadly torn down in 1994 due to threats of vandalism, but those who saw the landmark prior to its destruction noted a few strange markings on the tomb. Like a set of cat scratches, perhaps? While his body may not be physically at the cemetery anymore, Catman still makes his presence very known throughout the grounds.

scary cat eyes

Not only have there been supposed sightings of his ghost throughout the years, mostly from teenagers and young adults, but there’s also a neat party trick for those who are brave enough. All you need to do is head over to the remains of the brick wall that sit at the back of the property, and knock three times. It’s said that doing this will cause the former caretaker to come mess with your car. Your vehicle will stall or fail to start, leaving you behind at the cemetery that Catman cherished so greatly. If this seems like a fairly harmless prank, that’s because it is…especially compared to other urban legends that involve bloody hatchets, cheating scandals, and escaped mental patients with a hook for a hand. But Catman’s goal is not to kill or hurt, only to scare away the mischief from Long Cemetery.