The Quick 10: 10 of America's Most Haunted Cemeteries

iStock/GeorgePeters
iStock/GeorgePeters

I live just across the street from a cemetery, and this time of year it's certainly not hard to creep myself out a little bit when walking the dogs after work - especially in the evening when the sun is sinking below the horizon, giving everything an eerie glow. But despite scaring myself, I can't say that I've heard of any actual hauntings or sightings that have happened there. That's not the case for these 10 cemeteries, which are considered to be some of the spookiest sites in the U.S. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. St. Louis Cemetery #1, New Orleans. There are three St. Louis Cemeteries in the Big Easy, but #1 is said to be the most haunted. It's the oldest, for sure, opening in 1789 to replace St. Peter Cemetery, which burned in 1788. It's no wonder the cemetery holds some haunts - with more than 100,000 people buried in a section of land about the size of a block, you'd expect that a few of them might have a little unfinished business. The tomb that tends to attract the most attention is that of Marie Laveau, the famous voodoo priestess. People mark three "X"es on her tomb, believing that doing so will cause her to grant them a wish.
2. Stull Cemetery, Kansas - the Gates to Hell. OK, probably not, but you have to admit that a church reduced to rubble does spark the imagination. And the fact that the crumbling church finally fell down on Good Friday - also good fodder. Rumor has it that if you go up and knock on a rock in the rubble pile as if you were knocking on a door, the Devil himself will rise up and answer.

3. Western Burial Ground, Westminster Presbyterian Churchyard, Baltimore, Maryland. It's fitting that the cemetery Edgar Allan Poe now calls home is considered one of the scariest in America. Poe's ghost has been spotted, of course, but another freaky story is that of the Cambridge Skull. A minister was murdered, you see, but his head never stopped screaming, even after he died. The murderers finally gagged the skull and buried it in a block of cement to attempt to muffle it, but if you listen closely, it can still be heard. If you're one of the lucky ones to hear it, the story goes, you'll never get the sound out of your head and will likely be driven insane.

4. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery, Chicagoland. This cemetery isn't only home to apparitions of people - apparitions of an entire house have been reported by a startling number of people who can all identify a similar white farmhouse with pillars and a porch swing. Bachelor's Grove also has "evidence" of the paranormal - the picture to the left was taken in 1991 and has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times. What do you think - altered picture? Other strange reports from Bachelor's Grove have included unexplained lights, faces in the mist and faces that appear on tombstones only to disappear shortly thereafter.
5. Howard Street Cemetary, Salem, Massachusetts. With its witch hunt history, it seems safe to assume that Salem is probably one of the most haunted places in the U.S. The oldest cemetery there is no exception. In fact, one famous resident of the grounds wasn't just buried there - he died there too. Giles Corey was the only person to die by torture during the Witch Trials. Corey refused to admit guilt or innocence regarding his use of witchcraft, because either way he answered would allow city officials to take his property. So the sheriff made Corey lie down in a hole in the middle of the field and then added stones to a board placed across his chest. More stones were slowly added until Corey was eventually crushed to death two days later. Now Corey is said to appear in the cemetery right before tragedy strikes the town; he was supposedly seen just days before the Great Fire of 1914.

6. Resurrection Cemetery, Chicago. Between this and Bachelor's Grove, Chicago's a scary place to be! I know you've heard this ghost story before, and this might be the place it originated: many years ago, a girl was walking home one night after a dance. She was hit and killed by a car, and has spent the last 80 years hitchhiking to the cemetery. When a kindly driver accepts and pulls up to drop her off at the gates, she vanishes. In Chicago, this gal is called Resurrection Mary. Many people have reported seeing her or almost hitting her in the road, and some people have even claimed to have picked her up. While it sounds like one of those urban legends, there may be an element of truth - in 1927, a girl named Anna Norkus did die in a car accident on her way home from the Oh Henry Ballroom.

7. Cemetery Hill, Gettysburg, Pa., might be one of the only places where you can experience a ghost smell. Because so many died at the Battle of Gettysburg, it was impossible to clear the bodies and get them buried in a timely fashion. As you can imagine, the stench would have been awful. For quite some time after, people couldn't walk near Cemetery Hill without something to mask the stink of death, so they dipped handkerchiefs in peppermint and vanilla and held the cloth to their noses. To this day, some people report smelling peppermint at Cemetery Hill.

8. Boot Hill, Tombstone, Arizona. You might think Deadwood's Boot Hill would boast the most ghosts - after all, it's home to Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock, among others. But it's Boot Hill in Tombstone that has the photographic "evidence" of ghosts. To me this one definitely looks like a Photoshop job, but maybe you can tell me otherwise. A tourist was taking a picture of his friend in Old West gear at Boot Hill and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary until the film was developed, revealing a man in a cowboy hat who appeared to be rising out of the ground. You can see it to the left, or zoom in here. What do you think?

9. Hollywood Forever, Los Angeles. Hollywood just lends itself to ghost stories, doesn't it? So many broken dreams and scandals. And a lot of them seem to have ended up at Hollywood Forever. Some of the ghosts that have been seen include Clifton Webb, Virginia Rappe (the girl at the center of the Fatty Arbuckle murder/rape scandal), and William Randolph Hearst. Now, Hearst isn't actually buried at Hollywood Forever, but people have reported seeing him visiting the grave of his old mistress, Marion Davies.

10. Union Cemetery in Easton, Ct. This cemetery is an oldie dating back to the 1600s, so it's easy to believe that it could be haunted. The graveyard is also known as the White Lady Cemetery because of the famous ghost that reportedly haunts it. As you might suspect, a mysterious ghost adorned in white roams the grounds of the cemetery and sometimes even ventures beyond the gates a bit and into the road. Like Resurrection Mary, drivers have reported "hitting" her when she appeared out of nowhere in the road. Other people have told stories of a set of red eyes peering at them from the confines of a bush or a tree.

When I was growing up, high school kids (me included) loved to freak themselves out at an ancient cemetery and church called Mars Hill. It was way out in the country, which makes it extra-scary. You even had to cross a Crybaby Bridge to get to it. Do you have a cemetery of local legend near you? Let's hear your most chilling tales in the comments.

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10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

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The Maestro: 10 Facts About Ennio Morricone

Peter Tea via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Peter Tea via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Famed composer Ennio Morricone died on July 6, 2020 at the age of 91, leaving behind a body of work that eclipses the idea of “productivity” itself. It’s not just that Morricone composed thousands of hours of music for hundreds of movies. It’s that he managed to create so many original, indelible moments over and over again, in such a broad variety of genres for so long, without acquiescing to repetition or compromising his creativity. The last, best comfort to take in his absence is the thrilling—and rather intimidating—volume of music he left for us to revisit and, more likely, discover while celebrating his legacy in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

In spite of his seemingly constant presence in the film industry for more than 70 years, there are many details about Morricone's life and career that even longtime fans may not know. In honoring the man and the artist, we’ve collected a handful of facts and figures about the Oscar-winning composer and his vast, incredible, and unforgettable body of work.

1. Ennio Morricone made music for 85 of his 91 years.

Ennio Morricone was encouraged to develop his natural musical abilities at a young age—he created his first compositions at age 6. He was taught music by his father and learned several instruments, but gravitated toward the trumpet. When he was just 12 years old, Morricone enrolled in a four-year program at the prestigious National Academy of St. Cecilia in Rome, where he was born, and completed his studies within six months.

2. Ennio Morricone's career primarily focused on film, television, and radio compositions, but he also worked in popular music.

Morricone’s professional career began in 1950 as an arranger for jazz and pop artists. He helped compose hits for a diverse slate of stars including Nora Orlandi, Mina, Françoise Hardy, Mireille Mathieu, and Paul Anka, whose song “Ogni Volta” (“Every Time”) sold more than 3 million copies worldwide.

Morricone later worked with Pet Shop Boys, k.d. lang, Andrea Bocelli, and Sting. From 1964 to 1980, he was also part of Gruppo di Improvvisazione Consonanza (or “The Group”), an ensemble focused on avant-garde improvisations. Although it was reissued a few years ago, original copies of their 1970 album The Feed-back once fetched as much as $1000 on the collector’s market.

3. Ennio Morricone hit the ground running as a composer—and never slowed down.

Many of Morricone’s first efforts in the movies were as an orchestrator for more established composers, but he quickly joined their ranks. Between 1955 and 1964, when he created his breakthrough score for A Fistful of Dollars, he either orchestrated or composed (or both in some cases) some 28 film scores. During this time, he was already working with Michelangelo Antonioni (L’Avventura), Vittorio De Sica (The Last Judgment), Lucio Fulci (twice!), Lina Wertmüller (I basilischi), and Bernardo Bertolucci (Before the Revolution).

4. Ennio Morricone helped turn A Fistful of Dollars into a worldwide classic.

When Sergio Leone hired Morricone for his first Western, he’d already embarked on an iconoclastic journey, referencing Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. Leone’s initial “concession” was to evoke Dimitri Tiomkin’s score for Howard Hawks’s Rio Bravo in its music. Morricone combined ideas from Tiomkin’s music with an arrangement of folk singer Peter Tevis’s cover of the Woody Guthrie song “Pastures of Plenty” to create what became the opening title theme. The music won the Silver Ribbon Award for Best Score from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists and forged a longtime partnership between Morricone and Leone.

5. During their heyday, Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone worked in a way that was virtually unprecedented outside of musicals.

The music in Leone’s films is at once one of their most distinctive features, and also one of their most inextricable. Later in his career, Morricone explained that he would often compose portions of the music for Leone’s films before shooting began, and then scenes were staged and shot to match the timing and rhythm of the composer’s music. “That’s why the films are so slow,” Morricone joked in 2007. His use of so many then-unconventional instruments, including electric guitars, the mouth harp, and sound effects like gunshots redefined the musical landscape of the genre, while Leone razed its traditional morality tales to explore darker, more complex stories.

6. A Fistful Of Dollars spawned a lifetime of awards.

Morricone won his only competitive Oscar just four years ago, and had previously received an honorary Oscar in 2007. But after that recognition from the Italian National Syndicate of Journalists, he racked up hundreds of nominations and awards from the Motion Picture Academy (five other nominations), the American Film Institute (four), the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (six nominations, three wins), the Grammys (five nominations and four awards including their Grammy Hall of Fame and Trustees Award), and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (a Career Achievement award and a win for his score for Once Upon a Time in America). Somewhat predictably, much of the work he did in “genre” films, even the acclaimed “Spaghetti Westerns,” was marginalized at the time, but went on to be appropriately recognized and reevaluated for its impact and artistry.

7. Ennio Morricone was both a critical and a commercial success.

Morricone's work with Leone raised his profile as a formidable collaborator for filmmakers and gave him worldwide chart success. His score for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly sold more than 2 million copies, and the soundtrack to Once Upon A Time In The West, his fourth collaboration with Leone, sold approximately 10 million copies worldwide. It remains one of the top five best-selling instrumental scores in the world today. To date, Morricone has sold more than 70 million records worldwide.

8. Ennio Morricone’s partnership with Sergio Leone was exemplary, but he wasn’t the composer’s only frequent collaborator.

From A Fistful of Dollars to Once Upon a Time in America, Leone’s final film, he and Morricone always worked together. While working primarily in Italy, he often teamed up with Sergio Corbucci and Sergio Sollima, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Dario Argento, among others. After being courted by Hollywood, Morricone began developing long-term partnerships with American and international filmmakers like Brian De Palma, Warren Beatty, Samuel Fuller, and Roland Joffe. By the late 1970s, he was working with John Boorman and Terrence Malick, and by the 1980s and ‘90s, he was regularly collaborating with John Carpenter, Barry Levinson, George Miller, and Pedro Almodóvar.

Beginning in 1988, Morricone began working with Giuseppe Tornatore on the Oscar-winning Italian film Cinema Paradiso, and subsequently worked on all of Tornatore's other films, including 2016’s The Correspondence and the director's commercials for Dolce & Gabbana.

9. Quentin Tarantino championed Ennio Morricone’s work even before the two of them ever worked together.

Quentin Tarantino’s films are always an exciting pastiche of past and present influences, and he has used cues from Morricone scores in many of his films, beginning with Kill Bill: Volume 1 and 2. Tarantino first hoped to work with the composer on Inglorious Basterds, but when the timing couldn’t be worked out, the filmmaker utilized eight older tracks by Morricone on the soundtrack.

Morricone composed the song “Ancora Qui” for Django Unchained, but it wasn’t until The Hateful Eight that he composed a full score for Tarantino, who still used archival tracks—namely, some unreleased cues from his score for John Carpenter’s The Thing—to expand the film’s musical backdrop. In 2016, Morricone won his first competitive Oscar for his work on Tarantino's film after being nominated six times over the course of nearly 40 years. Morricone also earned an Honorary Oscar in 2007 "For his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music."

10. Morricone’s discography remains an embarrassment of riches—at least, whatever’s left of it.

Though the extent of the loss hasn’t been reported, Morricone’s was among the work reportedly destroyed in the 2008 fire on the Universal backlot where the company’s Music Group stored original recording and master tapes from some of the world’s best-selling artists. But Morricone recorded more than 400 film scores throughout his career and more than 100 classical pieces, not counting the thousands of pieces licensed for use. More and more of them have been restored and re-released digitally, on CD and vinyl. Meanwhile, his work continues to elicit as strong reactions from moviegoers as the images they were originally written to accompany.

Yo-Yo Ma released an album of performances of Morricone pieces in 2004 that sold more than 130,000 copies. His work tested and redefined the boundaries of film composition, what instruments could be used, and how music and imagery could work together to tell stories and generate powerful feelings. And each listen of those recordings, whether of transgressive experimentation, pointed drama, or lush sentimentality, honors Morricone's enormous talent and evokes his irreplaceable spirit.