Founded in 1565, St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest continuously-occupied city in America. Since antiquity and all the way to modernity, St. Augustine has been embroiled in all manner of skulduggery. Bloody events pop out of its history, from tribes of natives butchering each other, colonial periods rife with genocide, war, pirate raids, to famine, and plagues. As a region that passed from one Imperialistic dictator to the other every couple of years, when modernity finally made its triumphant entrance, St. Augustine devolved into a haven for smugglers, rum-runners and corrupt officials. If you don’t believe me, the city is scattered of ancient, historic sites and more than its share of old haunted houses and graveyards, each and everyone with an unsavory story to tell. There are for example a county jail that was nothing more than a concentration camp, or every kind of hotels, like posh hotel for the slimy rich, their horrible wives and their harem of mistresses, another owned by slave traders and still another owned by a rum-runner. But also a clinic built over a mass grave and a warehouse once occupied by Satanists.
But, back to cemeteries, probably the most notable of the haunted graveyards is the Huguenot Cemetery. The cemetery, although named “Huguenot Cemetery” isn’t believed to contain any members of the Huguenots, a French Protestant sect, that started in 16th century in France, and was pivotal to St. Augustine’s history…until they were slaughter by the Spaniards (but that’s a whole other story).
Home to approximately 436 of the city’s deceased and located across from the historic City Gate, Huguenot was the first public cemetery and the only one that offered burials for Anglo-American civilians. Established in the early 1820’s and closed in 1884 after an outbreak of Yellow Fever that completely overcrowded the cemetery, it served as a burial ground for non-Catholics that lived in the city. The bodies of Catholics were laid to rest in the nearby Tolomato Cemetery and, despite their ghosts are restless enough, is the Huguenot Cemetery that holds the honor of being the most haunted cemetery in the city.
According to local folklore, ghost sightings, orbs, strange lights and noises abound on any night in the graveyard.
Of all the wandering entities that call the cemetery home, the most popular is problably the ghost of honorable Judge John Stickney.
With his death in 1882 of Yellow Fever, poor Judge Stickney left his children without parents, since his wife had passed away years before. Sadly enough, shortly after his death, family members from Washington D.C. came and took the children north leaving no one to tend to his grave.
Years later, after the children grew into adults, they decided to have their father’s remains moved closer to home so they could see to it that flowers were kept on his grave.
On the day of the exhumation, the gravediggers took a short break to refresh themselves from the grueling Florida heat. In their haste, they left the casket open, only to return to find that thieves had stolen the Judge’s gold teeth. To protect their jobs, the two workers simply closed up the casket in the hopes that no one would notice the missing teeth. But someone did: the judge himself. Of course, Judge Stickney’s ghost was none too amused and to this day it still haunts the cemetery. Even though his physical remains were removed, his ghostly remains have stayed in place and visitors to the cemetery report seeing his shadowy apparition roaming aimlessly among the headstones, apparently searching in vain for his gold teeth. Either way, he’s always there, among the graves, in the grounds, searching continuously.
Also a young girl, believed to be around 14 years old, was buried here. She perished after being exposed to yellow fever and her body was dumped at the Old City Gates. When no one came forward to claim this poor girl, she was put to rest in paupers’ tomb inside the cemetery without any rites and no one to cry by her grave.. But is she really resting? Many say no, as they have seen her ghost floating among the trees, and she has even been known to wave to guests she encounters. She is always described as appearing in a flowy white gown.
In any case, some who’ve toured Huguenot Cemetery have heard the sound of a man laughing, others hear leaves crackling or bushes moving but see nothing that could be making the noise….
Images from web – Google Research