In life, she was known by the name Mary E. Hart, but today most people in New Haven, Connecticut, now know her simply as Midnight Mary.
She was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, and her tombstone can be found at the back of the cemetery, on the path that parallels the iron wrought fence that separates the graveyard from Winthrop Avenue.
As story goes, at 48 years old, Mary dropped to the floor one day at midnight. Believing her dead, her family had her buried at Evergreen Cemetery. However, one night her aunt had a terrible nightmare that Mary was not actually dead.
Eventually she convinced the family to exhume the body, but, upon doing so, the exhumers found Mary’s nails bloodied from scratching, a petrified look on her face and the grisly confirmation: she had been buried alive. Mary may have suffered a stroke and, when she fell to the floor, her family believed she was dead.
Like others at her time, she had only been mostly dead…for a while, anyway. Burying 2 meters under and leaving her to rot eventually made her all dead.
Of course, there’s no documentation that this ever happened, and her quick death combined with her odd tombstone have given rise to some strange legends. In fact, the story seems to have started from her epitaph.
Inscribed on the giant brick of pink stone that marks her grave is the following: “At high noon just from, and about to renew her daily work, in her full strength of body and mind, Mary E. Hart, having fallen prostrate remained unconscious, until she died at midnight October 15,1872…born December 16,1824.”
Nothing strange, but a single line of bold, black text above the rest states: “The people shall be troubled at midnight and pass away.”
It’s said that she was a witch and that the inscription on her grave is a curse, and that if you visit her final resting place at midnight, she’ll rise from the grave and make sure you die a horrible death.
But not only: If you desecrates her grave at any time, you’ll die that night at midnight or, in any case, shortly thereafter.
Actually, the phrase is an abridged Biblical passage from Job, chapter 34, verse 20, in the Old Testament and, in context, is just a statement about being resigned to fate. The complete passage, in the King James original version goes, “In a moment shall they die, and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away: and the mighty shall be taken away without hand.” And, of course, the passage makes sense when one reads the rest of the marker.
However, over the years, locals and spook story spinners have interpreted that phrase to mean that Mary hated the world enough for burying her alive to curse it with her final epitaph.
In any case, some locals also said they have gotten to the point where they doesn’t want to go to the cemetery, as weird things tend to happen at night in the neighborhood, which leads them to wonder whether it’s someone or “something” else.
Images from web – Google Research