The ghosts of Williamsburg – Illinois and Ridge Cemetery
The little girl, who had just three years old was gone from her rural home. Missing. Her parents, started down the road which snakes along the crest of Williamsburg Hill looking for their daughter, and they found her about halfway down the street to the old cemetery. Definitely relieved, they took her home.
A week or so later, the family was in the car and passed the street that leads to the cemetery. The little girl said, as if everything is normal: “the people who live down there want me to come and stay with them.”
Knowing that the little girl knew nothing of burial customs, nor even what a graveyard was, the mother asked: “what people?”
The little girl looked confused, guessing that the mother knew all about their cold and buried neighbors: “the people in the ground!”
Someone else witnessed what appeared to be a 19th century funeral in progress in the graveyard, which when she turned to look again, had disappeared.
I’m not the one who invented this story. It comes from noted researcher of all macabre things in the state of Illinois.
Williamsburg Hill is the highest point in Shelby County, Illinois. Even if there are no signs, nor any markers visible, it seems that once there was a town here.
Cold Spring was a region which took its name for the natural springs in the area. Along with the springs there were also forests, ideal for timber harvesting and, in addition, good farmland. In short, an good place to settle. But roots were hard to plant deep in the 19th century frontier, because nature and not only has a way of ripping them back up again. Native Americans were common in the zone, but this was not easy live there: you had to watch for bear, panthers, wolves and wildcat, which could not only be fatal to humans, but were known to wreak havoc on livestock.
Industry started with a mill and the real Williamsburg was born in the fall of 1839. An anonymous writer described the town in the late 1800’s in this way:
“The village, though not one of the oldest in the county, has a rather ancient and antiquated appearance. It is also beautifully situated. Orville Robertson carries on a general store here, and is postmaster. Dr. Thomas J. Fritts administers to the sick in this locality J. W. Torbutt is the blacksmith of the village, and J. P. Dunaway is a carpenter and builder. The Methodist denomination and the Masonic lodge have built here a commodious two story building. The lower story is used for church purposes, and the second story as a Masonic hall. The Methodist Church, known as the Ridge Camp ground, was one of the early church edifices erected in the township. Camp meeting was held here for many years in the early times. Here frequently officiated the venerable Peter Cartwright, the pioneer of Methodism in Illinois.”
All perfect, for those lived in Williamsburg in the 1870’s, but sometimes fate can be fatal: when they laid the tracks for the railroad, they didn’t go through the city, and already in 1881 it began to die. By the turn of the 20th century, Williamsburg was well on its way to becoming a ghost town. Even the church was taken down and moved to nearby Lakewood. The stagecoach station was the last to go, in about 1960, where it had stood as though waiting for the coaches to come back, and with it, life to the by now dead town.
The strange occurances of the supernatural and ghostly on Williamsburg Hill are well accounted on the web and tell by locals. You have most of the paranormal activities like mysterious lights, strange shadows, aliens and it seems even Bigfoot has made a few appearances! According to a legend, the early settlers were warned against settling on the hill by the native Americans, who refused to set foot on its slopes due to evil spirits that lived there.
Williamsburg Hill rise over 60 meters in a starlingly flat plain. At its base, the cornfields turn to forest and the narrow street snakes its way up to the top. The graveyard is clearly marked, and after turning down the lane and passing a microwave tower, the Ridge Cemetery is a short distance.
Some think the tower might be the explanation for the hauntings on the area, charging the atmosphere and somehow making the dead angry!
Ridge Cemetery is a beautiful place, even without the graveyard, surrounded by a dense forest topped by a few ancient, gnarled trees, whose fronds casting shadows on the stones below. Most of the stones are old, weathered carvings whit inscriptions barely legible. Vandalism has been a problem here, as well as the ever present satanists and cultists who always seem to frequent spots like this!
In the midwest, but not only, once a location gets some creepy stories, black robed figures chanting and some animals’ mutilation are sure to follow.
However, Williamsburg Hill in Ridge Cemetery is a really quiet place. If usually everywhere you are in the United States, you hear only traffic, planes, cars and trucks on the interstate, the only sounds here are the leaves rustling in the breeze, and the songs of birds. Maybe the Indian stories were true, and the hill is a place of spirits. And maybe, with no place else to return, the ghosts of Williamsburg go back to the only place left which they know, the cemetery!
Source Images of Ridge Cemetery: Graveyards.com