Charlotte M. Sitton: the “The Crying Woman” of Adelaida Cemetery, California4 min read
Located west of Paso Robles, California, Adelaida is now over-ridden with wineries, but still rich in history and the strange.
Originally, a mixture of mercury mines, farms, and ranches, it was first settled in 1859 by James Lynch, a sheep rancher.
Pioneers flocked to the area due a perfect weather that seemed to make everything grow, and the population eventually reached a size of seven hundred scattered throughout the area amongst hills and valleys.
The old trail to Mission San Miguel was opened in 1797 and used predominantly in the 1860s and beyond for the shipping of mercury.
A post office was established in 1887, and Mennonite Christians of German origin established their presence there in the 1890s.
It is said that the mercury from the mines still runs off into the water supply, causing the wild animals that drink from the pools and lakes to behave oddly, driven crazy from the high mineral content in their drinking supply. And in fact rumors of odd behavior or suicidal actions on the part of the local wildlife are common.
Only the schoolhouse and cemetery remain today.
If the history is true, the name for the settlement came from the first settlers, three families of which each had a daughter named Adelaida.
Yes, I know that seems a bit far fetched.
The cemetery is a favorite haunt for local ghost-hunters who often describe strange mists, glowing scarlet eyes, and the sounds of footsteps following them around its grounds.
Not by chance, It lies at the summit of a commanding hill amidst thousands of acres of fog-shrouded vineyards.
It was started by Wesley Burnett in the late 1800s and is rather large consisting of two separate levels, a lower level and an upper level.
The first person buried there was Mary K Burnett in January of 1878, the wife of Wesley Burnett and her grave can be found in the upper level. Wesley was buried next to her, and the cemetery recognizes him on the back of a wooden sign that hangs from a tall tree near the front gate.
Ironically, his grave didn’t even have a marker on it until the fall of 2001 when his great granddaughter had one placed on the spot where records showed his grave to be.
However, the records of who is buried where are extremely incomplete as over time nature and people have destroyed a lot of the old markings showing the real locations of the graves.
To the right of the gate, a small abandoned caretaker’s shed sits, where the word “Kill” was painted on the front.
Some visitors have reported running across what may be a caretaker ghost or hearing heavy footsteps pursuing them near the shed.
Adelaida Cemetery is also rumored to have a lot of spiritual activity including a bleeding tree, but the most persistent legend among the moss-draped trees relates to Charlotte M. Sitton, supposedly a Mennonite woman the young wife of a minister, whose children both died in a diphtheria epidemic.
As story goes, a distraught Charlotte ended her own life by hanging herself in the local school or taking poison.
Although it sounds good, there has been no evidence uncovered so far that would lend credence to the tale. Several accounts relate that she sunk into a depression from which she never recovered, and took her own life a few years later.
Many youngsters’ graves give 1887 as the date of death, which is probably the year that the epidemic raged through the little town.
Charlotte, who was nineteen when she died, in 1889. Those who have investigated the accounts say that whatever the cause of death, the suicide was probably hushed up so that the woman could receive a Christian burial next to her beloved children.
Today she’s said to appear every Friday evening between 10 and 11:30 p.m. to lay flowers at her childrens’ grave, wandering among the trees and headstones in a white dress, weeping.
This last element may be an Anglo variant on the Latino tale of La Llorona (The Crying Woman), yet another spirit held to earth by long-forgotten tragedies.
Other versions of the same story differ slightly placing Charlotte in a long flowing pink dress and referring to her as The Pink Lady. Yet another story doesn’t reference Charlotte by name, and instead simply a ghostly lady in white who goes around placing flowers on the graves of many different children from multiple families who died of diphtheria apparently around World War I time frame.
Author’s notes: From Paso Robles, drive 12 miles west on Mountain Spring Road, which turns into Adelaida Road. Turn right on Klau Mine Road and continue about a mile north. Cemetery’s gates are on the right, near Chimney Rock Road. It seems also that the residents of the cemetery like to steal your car keys thus stranding you out in the middle of nowhere.
In any case, according to experts, do not go alone!
Images from web – Google Research