Urban Legend: The Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

Cemetery Angels

Loss has a way of striking us where it hurts most—our experiences shape who we are, as well as how we interact with and see the world around us. As a result of varied cultural and religious preferences, there is a symbolic connection between angels and death. It is popular, especially within religious traditions, to erect angel statues alongside the traditional headstone. Angels represent the symbolic connection between heaven and earth, but their additional meaning of strength, peace, faith, protection, and beauty can be comforting to those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. Angel costumes and art are associated with Christmas and other popular holiday celebrations. However, a certain black angel in an Oakland cemetery has become renowned for darker supernatural reasons.

Angelic Symbolism

The many different poses that these angels assume also contribute meaning to their presence over their respective graves. Angels represented in prayer signify the deceased’s devotion to god, an angel pointing upward can act as a symbolic guide for the soul to find its way to heaven. A weeping angel shows immense grief over the death of a loved one and an angel with their head bowed can symbolize the mourning of a sudden or unexpected death. Although angels are most commonly made from granite, they are often created from bronze as well—a granite angel would have less of a reaction to environmental factors, whereas bronze statues can come with unexpected consequences.

The Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City

In 1839, before the Iowa Territory became a state, its capital was located in Burlington; Governor Robert Lucas decided that the capital ought to be closer to the center of the territory and so the legislature created Iowa City. When the capital of the territory was finally moved there, two years later, the tiny hamlet had blossomed into a small city, at which point they recognized a problem arising—they had no place to put the dead. By 1843, the legislature deeded the Oakland Cemetery to the people of Iowa City.

The Truth Behind the Legend

Terezie (anglicized as Teresa) Karásek was born in Strmilov, Bohemia, in Czechia (formerly the Czech Republic) on October 14, 1836. In 1865, at the age of thirty, she married František Doležal, a doctor from Moravia. After two years of marriage, Teresa birthed their first son, Otto who died when he was two weeks old. After the loss of her first child, Teresa became a midwife; she obtained her certificate in Vienna and moved back to Strmilov where she became a prolific midwife, delivering nearly one hundred children.

Immigrating to the United States

Closer to her forties, Teresa had her second son, Eduard (anglicized as Edward)—by the time he was four years old, Teresa left her husband and moved to the United States in 1877 with her son. It’s unknown why she left her husband, although it was fairly commonplace at the time for immigrants from Bohemia and Slovakia to find themselves living in Iowa, working on the railroad, and taking jobs at farmsteads.

In many tellings of her history, Teresa is said to have been a physician that turned to midwifery once she arrived in America, whereas others maintain she was a midwife her entire career. Either way, Teresa’s son Edward had planned to follow her example and enter the medical field as a doctor and in his late teens, he worked at a drugstore. Unfortunately, Edward contracted meningitis around the age of 17 or 18 and passed away in 1891, at which time he was buried in the Oakland Cemetery. Over his grave, she erected a monument of a tree stump with an ax sticking out of it in his honor—it is generally assumed that this was intended as a metaphor for his life being cut short.

Loss of A Second Son

Soon after Edward’s death, Teresa is said to have moved around a lot, having lived in Chicago, and even marrying her second husband, Joseph Picha, in Minnesota. When that marriage didn’t work, her travels landed her in Eugene, Oregon which is where she met and married her third husband, a German rancher by the name of Nicholas Feldevert. The two were married on March 20, 1897, by Justice of the Peace A.E. Wheeler in the parlor of Wald House in Eugene, Oregon. Nicholas had also been married twice before and had experienced the death of his only daughter whom he had seen die as a child.

Back to the Family Plot

Her husband, Nicholas, died in 1911; it was around this time that she moved back to Iowa City and brought her husband’s ashes along to put to rest next to her son. In memorial to her late husband, she commissioned Mario Korbel, a Chicago-based Czech sculptor to create what has come to be known as the locally famous monument the Black Angel.

The Black Angel in Oakland Cemetery is not to be confused with the Black Angel in Council Bluffs, Iowa—which is considered to be a great work of art sculpted by Daniel Chester French, the same artist who created the seated Abraham Lincoln inside of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and the Minutemen in Concord, Massachusetts.

While there is a disagreement on the timeline of the commission and when it was delivered, it is believed that the statue was commissioned between 1911 and 1913 and that it was delivered to Oakland Cemetery between 1912 and 1915. Without historical documentation to lend as evidence of its commission, completion, and delivery it’s difficult to say, with authority, the exact dates.

Teresa’s Philanthropy

 When Nicholas died he left behind no heirs and by default left his estate estimated at $30,000 (more than $800,000 by today’s inflation rates) to his widow, Teresa. Teresa sold the ranch and began to send money back to Strmilov as a patron for students and public welfare—scholarships and community projects benefited from her generosity in this respect. As her years dwindled, she made a point to spend her husband’s wealth since she also had no immediate heirs to leave her money to. Projects in Bohemia, including a grade school in Strmilov, benefited from her generosity.

The Angel’s Appearance

At one point, the statue that watched over the Feldevert family plot in earnest was a glorious golden-bronze monument that represented the love and grief of Teresa at her many losses in her lifetime. The 8.5-foot sculpture took Korbel months to create and being cast out of bronze, it wasn’t exactly a cheap commission. The story that we’re told is that the statue was not immediately installed, as Teresa was said to have been unhappy with the final result. This is another source of conflicting accounts—as some versions of the story insist that it was immediately installed upon arriving via train; others believe that the statue sat in a barn for six years while Teresa pursued a lawsuit. When she inevitably lost the suit, it’s assumed that she paid the artist the $5,000 he was owed, then eventually installed the angel atop a four-foot pedestal where her husband’s ashes were interred and moved the monument of her son to stand alongside the angel.

At the End of a Long Life

Teresa died of cancer on November 18, 1924, at which time her ashes were placed beside her husband’s and although the monument displays her birthdate, she did not leave any money behind to inscribe the monument with the date of her death. As such, her remaining estate was appraised at $1,393.21 and since she had no immediate heirs, she willed $500 to a monument for fallen soldiers in Strmilov, $500 in books for the town’s public library, and whatever was leftover to be used for scholarships for two or three boys in town that were deemed worthy of the aid.

The Reputation of the Black Angel

The Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery has been a destination for those looking for paranormal thrills for literal decades; with all of the creepy legends surrounding it, how could those who have a thirst for the paranormal stay away? It’s likely that the stories about the monument are based less on fact than on fiction, with the tendencies of writers to embellish for the sake of a good story. As seen by the story of Teresa and her family’s life there was no immediate reason for the Angel to be haunted or cursed—loss happens, but there was no infidelity to speak of, no one committed suicide, nor was anyone murdered. So, why has the monument become part of such a famous urban legend?

The wild myths and legends that surround this monument were spawned primarily from the unsettling appearance that the monument took on after Teresa’s death. While the truth remains that the statue was forged in bronze and has oxidized over the years due to environmental factors—but that’s kind of a buzz kill isn’t it? The truth is, the creepiness of the blackened bronze isn’t lessened when people are eager to believe in the paranormal. To those who don’t do a deep dive into the true story behind the Black Angel, it’s clear to see how its reputation could make even seasoned investigators quake in their boots.

The Myths that Fuel the Superstition

Teresa Feldevert was, in life, a mysterious woman which led to many believing that she was in fact a witch—whether she ended up cursing, possessing, or simply haunting the statue is a source of some debate. Had she called some nameless evil to inhabit the Angel? Or was it simply her evil nature that caused the Angel to turn black as a reminder of the sins of her family? Was there really a severe storm that raged the night following Teresa’s burial, where a bolt of lightning struck the Angel and turned it black?

The myths become even more outlandish from there, based solely on rumors that make no sense after looking into the legend. Some believe that a man erected the monument upon his wife’s grave, but that his wife had been unfaithful throughout the marriage which caused the Angel to turn black due to her infidelity. Others maintain that a preacher buried his son beneath the Angel but it turned black because the preacher had actually murdered his son.

It’s believed by some that the Angel darkens every Halloween in recognition of the people that have been killed by the evil curse upon the statue. It doesn’t help that first-hand accounts from visitors report ghostly voices and strange anomalous lights floating around the statue. So what should you do (or not do) to avoid becoming the next victim of the Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery? We’ve compiled a list of simple rules to survive your encounter with the Black Angel.

  1. Never touch or kiss the Angel—to do so means instant death (unless you’re a virgin).
  2. Never kiss a girl near the Angel in the moonlight, or else the girl will die within six months.
  3. Never touch the Angel at midnight on Halloween, to do so means you’ll die within seven years.
  4. If you’re pregnant, never walk beneath the statue’s wings, otherwise, you’ll risk a miscarriage.
  5. If you happen to be a coed of the University of Iowa, then tradition states you must be kissed in front of the Black Angel.
  6. If a virgin is kissed in front of the Angel then the Angel will return to its original Bronze color and the curse will finally be lifted.

The Statue Vandalized

Throughout the history of the Black Angel, it has been noted that the black covering has never worn off to reveal the original bronze. The monument has, however, changed colors over the years when vandals have tried to paint it. One particular incident was recorded as having happened on a cold day in January of 1965 when the angel was painted a silvery gray—due to the weather, it remained that color until it was warm enough to reduce the risks of damage from the repairs. It’s also known to have had several fingers removed with hammers and hacksaws on a separate occasion, a bold move considering the alleged story that defacing the Angel will bring death.

Sources:

https://www.goiowaawesome.com/iowa-city/2018/03/2670/tales-from-iowa-city-the-black-angel-of-death

https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/16409

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/black-angel-of-oakland-cemetery

https://paranormal.lovetoknow.com/ghosts-hauntings/black-angel-oakland-cemetery

https://www.thegazette.com/life/time-machine-teresa-dolezal-feldeverts-black-angel

https://www.thegazette.com/life/time-machine-teresa-dolezal-feldeverts-black-angel/#?secret=txk88YPIGy

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Urban Legends – The Cursed Buckout Road

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore NA

When you mix a long history of violence with an abandoned mansion on a spooky road surrounded by woods, you know what you get? The paranormal. Since Buckout Road in White Plains, New York has this combination, naturally, it has quite a bit of paranormal history. Though this one is especially interesting with arson, grave robbing, witch trials, and more littering its history.

History of Buckout Road

Quite a bit has happened on this shady road in New York. To begin, there was a large event where many slaves were illegally released. This established the first free black community in New York. It’s been rumored to have been a checkpoint in the Underground Railway as well. There was a clash between Native Americans and white settlers which ended in mass murder, with some victims even being scalped. One of the more well-known incidents there included the murder of a family member that lived in a mansion on Buckout Road. This was the Buckhout family, they had initially lived in Sleepy Hollow, which you likely have heard of from the story of The Headless Horseman. The road was named after this once prominent and landholding family. On the road stands one lone headstone that belongs to John and Charlotte Buckhout. John and Charlotte had not been the murder victims in their family though, it was actually the wife of Isaac V. Buckhout, whose name was Louise. Isaac had discovered that Louise was having an affair with a man named Alfred Randall, and he viciously murdered the two lovers. Issac was eventually hanged for his actions on New Years day in 1872. He was later buried in Sleepy Hollow.

Albert Fish

Albert Fish was one of the worst human beings imaginable, and it is alleged that he owned a residence on Buckout Road. He was a child killer, and he was also a cannibal. Some consider him the real life Hannibal Lecter, and he has other names such as the Brooklyn Vampire, The Gray Man, and more. Fish was born in 1870, he was always a quiet and unassuming man who kept a very private life. His family had a long history of mental illness, his brother was in an asylum, his uncle was diagnosed with mania, and his mother routinely suffered from hallucinations. He went on to consume human waste, stick needles into his pelvic area, and just overall become very unstable. He began to eat raw meat, eventually graduating to human flesh. He went on to murder and eat three children, he is just another example of the evil that can be connected to Buckout Road.

Witches and Ghosts and Cannibals, Oh My!

You can’t be on a haunted street without seeing an old, and a worn-down red barn, right? This is exactly what used to reside on Buckout Road. Multiple people have claimed to have a paranormal experience with it too. It was said there was a family of cannibal albinos that lived in the home, and if you disturbed them, they would eat your flesh. If you stopped your car in front of the barn and honked your horn three times, they would come out and attack you. There was one report of that a teenager went to put an M-80 (a powerful type of firecracker) into the mailbox to prank the ghostly albino family. But when he opened the mailbox, he saw the decapitated head of a child inside.

There have also been a surprising amount of reports of witches on this road. It was said that three women were burned at the stake on suspicion of them being witches, and this was before the Salem witch trials took place. It is rumored that these three witches left three white X’s on the road in a certain spot, and every once in a while these three markings are reapplied. Supposedly if you flash your lights three times on the markings and turn off your car engine, your car will not start back up. Many locals claim that they have had car trouble on that road.

The final, less common occurrence was of a ghost called the Leatherman. He was said to be a ghostly figure that drives on the road at night, looking for his home which is a long gone cave. There are not many who have claimed to have seen the Leatherman.

Movie and Book

There is a book with an in-depth look at the history of Buckout Road, it is called Buckout Road: Revealing the Horrifying Truth of Westchester County’s Alleged Haunted Street by Eric Pleska.

Index

http://www.the13thfloor.tv/2017/05/17/what-dark-mystery-lurks-on-new-yorks-buckout-road/

http://rightondudes.com/buckouthistory.html

https://allthatsinteresting.com/albert-fish

https://www.bedofnailz.com/buckout.html

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Urban Legends: Dark Magic at Malheur Butte in Ontario, Oregon

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

A seemingly unassuming dead volcano in Eastern Oregon, the Malheur Butte has long boasted a secret history of witches practicing dark magic, as well as strange creatures who appear in the dead of the night to keep visitors away. It is said that the shadowy past of Malheur Butte entails one full of dark magic and that witches used to meet in secret on the rugged tip of this dead volcano whose history dates back over thousands of years. 

Malheur Butte
Malheur Butte

The history of the Malheur Butte spans between fifteen and twenty million years, so far back that not all of the details are known about this geological landmark. With a history that expansive, it’s not really hard to believe that people have experienced odd occurrences and reports that have accumulated throughout the years. Over the last century, people have experienced strange beings, from ghosts and witches to sprites and fairies, at Malheur Butte. One thing this once-active volcano does not lack, is paranormal activity and phenomena.

Before the days we could consider to be modern, Native Americans used the butte as a lookout point to watch for settlers coming in on covered wagons. It is believed that many people met their demise on the trail, and their spirits linger on—haunting the area to this very day. Legends dictate that the Malheur Butte was once a place where witches would gather to celebrate their dark occult practices. Covens would regularly meet there to perform their bone-chilling rituals and ceremonies. Then again, there was a history before that, one that rarely—if ever—got recorded into what we consider known-history. For millions of years the Malheur Butte was an active volcano, but now a few million years after its slow and agonizing death–this formerly ferocious threat–that spanned the distance between the northern border of modern Washington to the northern region of modern California, would spew forth floods of lava in a series of volcanic eruptions. In the times of the active volcano, the lava dammed up the streams and created lakes and swamps that otherwise would have remained in existence for millions of years before they filled with sediment. The Snake River once contained one of many such lakes and many geologists agree that Lake Idaho once covered most of easter Oregon more than two million years ago. The sediment that at one point covered the Malheur Butte was then deposited in Lake Idaho by volcanic eruptions and the Butte was eventually exposed over time to what is now visible today.

First-Hand Experiences…

Dark Magic - Black Goo on Hands
Photography by Ian Espinosa

There have been so many first-hand paranormal experiences reported after visiting the area—especially at night, an area that is now considered rife with terrifying, imp-like creatures that appear out of the shadows to chase visitors away. Reportedly, with the appearance similar to small black dogs, with long skinny limbs, over-sized heads, and dark empty pits where eyes should have been—these stories account for the reports of the loud unidentifiable sounds that have been spoken of.

I’ve been here a long time…a long time, and I’ve seen somethings that I expect most folks read about in books…The witches? I’ve heard about the witches since I was a boy, and I was always told not to go to the butte after dark. So of course I did! Can’t say I’m positive I saw witches, but more than once I’ve seen robes…long robes that flap in the wind, more than one. Sometimes women laughing, but not in a funny way…more of a serious kind of laughing. I don’t know. I know each time I left pretty fast! I think there are witches, either ghosts of witches or living witches. I don’t have the intention to interrupt them, either.

Unidentified Longtime Resident of Vale, Oregon
Ghosthunting Oregon by Donna Stewart

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Urban Legends: The Gypsy Curse of Lafayette, OR

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

It’s said that the town of Lafayette, Oregon has been cursed since the 1800s when a woman was accused of witchcraft and then hung for her alleged crimes. Before her execution, she placed a curse on the town, saying that it would burn down three times–and it has since burned in its entirety twice–those who are wary of the curse she placed wonder when it will happen again! To this day, her ghost is seen roaming the town’s cemetery. Another version of the legend has it that in 1886, a woman and her son killed the woman’s boyfriend, her son was arrested and hanged for the crime–in this version of the story, while her son was being executed, his mother screamed that the town would burn down three times.

Here’s the real story…

Richard Marple, his mother Anna, and his wife Julia moved to Lafayette, Oregon from Corvallis in 1885. Despite the availability of jobs, Richard was unable to keep a job, so he turned to a life of crime–allegedly–but he was suspected of multiple robberies. Between 1885 and 1886, his mother Anna became involved with a local shop owner by the name of David Corker. Unfortunately, on November 1, 1886, Corker was found hacked to death by an ax and his store had been pillaged and town Sheriff Harris brought Richard in for questioning. While Richard was not a fan of Corker–even disparaging the man during his questioning–he maintained his innocence. Evidence of his guilt, including a bloody shirt, a bloody piece of paper, as well as tools that he could have used to break into the store were found at his home. Richard, not relenting, made a claim that the evidence had been planted at his home by the sheriff’s office to frame him.

Neither his mother nor his wife corroborated his alibi and stated that he had not been at home when the murder was being committed; Richard was subsequently convicted of first-degree murder on April 9, 1887. His mother, Anna, was indicted as an accomplice, but a lack of evidence resulted in the charges against her being dropped. By November 11, 1887 Richard was set to be executed by hanging next to the county jail and thirty people bore witness to his death. Sheriff Harris ordered that Richard be executed with a black hood over his head, and Richard desperately yelled one last thing out into the crowd, “Murder! May God judge you all!” Unfortunately for Richard, when the trap door was released, the knot slipped under his chin and instead of breaking his neck, he was slowly strangled to death over the span of eighteen minutes.

It is true that during Richard’s execution, his mother Anna shouted that the town would burn and never prosper–after his death, Richard was buried at the Oddfellow’s Masonic Cemetery in Lafayette. According to sources, Richard apparently confessed his guilt to a fellow inmate while his execution was pending and ended up implicating his mother, stating that she had become involved with Corker in order to gain his confidence. After Richard’s execution, his mother moved to Jackson County for the remainder of her life and was buried in the cemetery there. Several years after she moved out of the area, their home in Lafayette was destroyed and the bloody ax used to kill Corker was discovered. It’s not known whether Anna Marple was a witch or a gypsy, but since she was not buried in Lafayette, it is unlikely that she haunts any of the area’s cemeteries. The fact that she was reported to have cursed the town to burn down and it completely burned down twice may have been entirely coincidental. Fires were actually a commonplace occurrence that people had to face in the years before buildings were constructed out of less-flammable materials.

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