With all apologies to pumpkin patches and community haunted houses across the region, if you’re intent on getting your inner spook on this Halloween, there’s no better place to visit than a New England graveyard. From the historic to the just downright weird, a wide array of famous names can be found on gravestones throughout each state.
Igloo aka Iggy
(b. 1924, d. 1931)
Claim to fame: Pet of polar explorer, Richard Byrd
Buried: Pine Ridge Cemetery for Small Animals, Dedham
Traveling to the ends of the world with his polar explorer owner, Richard Byrd, Igloo — nicknamed Iggy — became a minor celebrity in the late 1920s. The wire fox terrier accompanied Byrd on the historic first flights over the North and South Poles, in 1926 and 1929 respectively, as well as a winter expedition to Antarctica in 1928. His journeys were documented in the 1931 children’s book biography “Igloo,’’ and his death in 1931 of food poisoning made national news. Buried in Pine Ridge Cemetery for Small Animals in Dedham, Igloo’s gravestone, which is in the shape of an iceberg, reads “Igloo–He Was More Than A Friend.’’
Lillian Gertrud Asplund
(b. Oct. 21, 1906, d. May 6, 2006)
Claim to fame: Longest-living US Titanic survivor
Buried: All Faiths Cemetery, Worcester
Lillian Gertrud Asplund — who at the time of her death was the last US Titanic survivor and the last person to remember seeing the ship sink — lived a quiet life, first in Worcester, then in Shrewsbury. She rarely talked about the disaster and refused to give interviews about the incident or her private life. Asplund, who was 5 years old when the Titanic went down, lost her father and three of her brothers, including a fraternal twin, in the sinking. Another brother and her mother survived.
(b. Mar. 26, 1874 d. Jan. 29, 1963)
Claim to fame: Acclaimed writer and poet
Buried: Old Bennington Cemetery, Bennington, Vt
Born in San Francisco, Frost moved to Massachusetts as a young boy. He became famous for his writings about rural New England life and was awarded four Pulitzer Prizes. Some of his most well-known works include “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’’ and “The Road Not Taken. “
Barney Hill Jr.
(b. Jul. 20, 1922, d. Feb. 25,1969)
Claim to fame: Claimed to have been abducted by aliens.
Buried: Greenwood Cemetery, Kingston, N.H.
Barney Hill Jr. and his wife, Betty, made national news in the 1960s when they claimed to have been abducted by aliens in New Hampshire’s White Mountains on Sept. 19, 1961. The couple alleged the extraterrestrials held them for two hours. Their story inspired several movies and books, including the recent book, “Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience: The True Story of the World’s First Documented Alien Abduction.’’
Mary Baker Eddy
(b. July 16, 1821, d. December 3, 1910)
Claim to fame: Founder of the Christian Science Church
Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Mass.
Mary Baker Eddy endured a tumultuous early life. Her first husband died less than a year into their marriage, leaving her with a son and no way to provide for her family. She suffered a series of illnesses which left her bedridden. Her family sent her son away to be raised by others. She sought meaning, comfort and cure in Christian contemplation. Eventually, she came to believe that prayer is the only true way to restore heath. By the end of her life, she was a celebrated and controversial healer, spiritual leader, and author.
(b. Dec. 4, 1858 d. July 5, 1937)
Claim to fame: Inventor of earmuffs
Buried: Fairview Cemetery, Farmington, Maine
Frustrated by having to choose between a bulky scarf or chilly ears while ice skating, 15-year-old Chester Greenwood came up with a solution — ear-shaped wire loops with fur. He later added an adjustable steel band to the creation and manufactured the “Champion Ear Protectors’’ — the world’s first earmuffs — in his hometown of Farmington, Maine.
Isabella Stewart Gardner
(b. April 14, 1840, d. July 17, 1924)
Claim to fame: Art collector and philanthropist
Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Mass.
Isabella Stewart Gardner was a woman who wrote her own rules. Stories about the well-heeled “Mrs. Jack’’ are legendary. A passionate Red Sox fan, she celebrated their 1912 championship win by sporting a headband emblazoned with “Oh you Red Sox!’’ in bold red letters to a formal concert at Symphony Hall. She rode an oxcart through the jungles to see the ruins of Angkor Wat. A passionate traveler, her experiences inspired a world-renowned collection of paintings, sculpture, furniture, textiles, drawings, silver, ceramics, rare books, and photographs. She conceived of the eponymous museum to house her treasures, arranged them “just so’’ in a Venetian-style palace, and left instructions not to move a darn thing.
H. Richard Hornberger
(b. Feb. 1, 1924, d. Nov. 4, 1997)
Claim to fame: Author of the novel, “M*A*S*H*
Buried: Hillside Cemetery, Bremen, Maine
Inspired by his experience as a captain in the Army Medical Corps during the Korean War, H. Richard Hornberger, a surgeon, wrote the novel, M*A*S*H. Using the pseudonym Richard Hooker, Hornberger had the book published in 1968. In 1970, the book was turned into a movie by the same name and then a television series in 1972. The show, which ran for 11 years, was one of the most popular series in television history.
Cornelia “Fly Rod’’ Crosby
(b. Nov. 10, 1854, d. Nov. 11, 1946)
Claim to fame: An avid sportswoman and Maine’s first licensed guide
Buried: New Sharon Village Cemetery, New Sharon, Maine
Known as the “First lady of the Maine Woods,’’ Cornelia “Fly Rod’’ Crosby did it all. An avid sportswoman, she was also a writer with a nationally syndicated column called “Fly Rod’s Notebook,’’ the first licensed guide in Maine, and the first Maine woman to shoot a caribou. In 1895, Crosby impressed the crowds at the Sportsmen Show at Madison Square Garden with her outdoor skills, including a showing of her fly fishing abilities. The appearance attracted many tourists to Maine.
(b. Sept. 2, 1948, d. Jan. 28, 1986)
Claim to fame: Selected to be the first civilian in space; Killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
Buried: Calvary Cemetery, Concord, N.H.
In 1985, NASA choose Christa McAuliffe out of more than 11,000 applicants for their “Teacher in Space’’ program — a program in the 1980s intended to inspire students, honor teachers, and stir public interest in the space program. McAuliffe was supposed to give two teaching lessons from space and spent several months preparing for the journey. However, on Jan. 28, 1986, McAuliffe’s shuttle, the Space Shuttle Challenger, exploded 73 seconds after takeoff, killing McAuliffe and the other six crew members aboard.
(b. 1836, d. 1911)
Claim to fame: Pioneer of American board games.
Buried: Springfield Cemetery, Springfield
Born in Maine, this game pioneer burst into Americana consciousness in 1860, when he debuted “The Checkered Game of Life,’’ a version of checkers that would, 100 years later, become “The Game of Life,’’ as we know it today, unreliable spinner, stick figures, and all. Also known for his work toward educational causes, Bradley has an elementary school named after him in Springfield, where he was buried in 1911. His company, which went on to release well-known games such as Hungry, Hungry Hippos, Twister, and Stratego (right) is now a division of Rhode Island-based Hasbro.
(b. 1860, d. 1927)
Claim to fame: Accused of chopping up her parents.
Buried: Oak Grove Cemetery, Fall River
“Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.’’ Though acquitted of the charges, Lizzie Borden’s name is synonymous with one of the more frightful stories in Massachusetts lore, accused of killing her parents with an ax in Fall River in 1892. The Borden home, the alleged scene of the crime, still stands today as a bed and breakfast, once even bestowed with the honor of being the “World’s Creepiest Destination,’’ by The Travel Channel. Borden’s grave reads, “Lizbeth’’ since she changed her name after the trials.
Maggie and Mary Gibb
(b. 1912, d. 1967)
Claim to fame: Siamese twins.
Buried: Forestdale Cemetery, Holyoke
Born in Holyoke to Margaret Gibb, who is widely believed to be the first woman to survive such a birth, conjoined twins Maggie and Mary went on to live the next 54 years literally attached at the hip. They were among the longest-living Siamese twins on record, and worked in vaudeville and with the Ringling Brothers Circus. They died of cancer, which spread from one sister to the other, in 1967 at Holyoke Hospital.
Maria von Trapp
(b. 1905, d. 1987)
Claim to fame: Inspiration for “The Sound of Music.’’
Buried: Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vt.
Upon arriving in the United States, the von Trapps were probably happy to discover that the hills were still alive, in the Vermont town of Stowe, where they made their American home. Maria and her family’s escape from Nazi Germany remains one of film’s most endearing stories to this day. Today, the farm they called their home, atop a hill overlooking the mountains of northern Vermont, is home to the Trapp Family Lodge, a luxurious hotel serving Stowe and the Mad River Valley.
(b. 1926, d. 2006)
Claim to fame: Paranormal investigator
Buried: Stepney Cemetery, Stepney, Conn.
A noted “demonologist,’’ and author of many books having to do with the paranormal, Warren and his wife, Lorraine, founded the New England Society for Psychic Research in 1952 and later opened the Occult Museum. One of their most notable investigations into the paranormal, was the Amityville horror case, made famous by both book and film (right), and they claimed to have investigated more than 10,000 hauntings in their career together. Warren is survived by his wife, who continues to run the museum, offering the Halloween opportunity to spend a supernatural evening with her, including a trip to a haunted graveyard and dinner.
Mercy L. Brown
(b. 1877, d. 1896)
Claim to fame: Rumored to have been a vampire.
Buried: Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Exeter, R.I.
Months after her death from tuberculosis, Brown’s body was exhumed by residents of Exeter, who believed that the deceased Mercy was, in fact, a vampire, who was inflicting her brother with the same disease that killed her, her mother, and sister. Because she died in the midst of a New England winter, she was kept in a crypt at the cemetery, which helped preserve her body. It was dug up the following March and examiners discovered little decomposition and blood still in the heart. Her heart was removed and burned, to stop the vampire from doing further harm to her brother, who drank the remains of the heart mixed with water to try to cure the disease. Nonetheless, he died. Mercy Brown is known to this day as “Rhode Island’s last vampire.’’
(b. February 24, 1836, d. September 29, 1910)
Claim to fame: Renowned artist
Buried: Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Mass.
“Look at nature, work independently, and solve your own problems,’’ Winslow Homer advised. A renowned painter, he was born in Boston, raised in Cambridge, and lived most of his life along the New England coastline. For a time, he even lived in a lighthouse in Gloucester. Homer began his career as a commercial illustrator, but soon yearned for artistic freedom. While he achieved critical praise throughout most of his career, it wasn’t until late in his life that he achieved financial success. From intimate scenes of violence and camp life during the Civil War to sun-kissed beaches in Barbados, his work is characterized by an austere, yet authentic moodiness.
George Edward “Duffy’’ Lewis
(b. April 18, 1888, d. June 17, 1979)
Claim to fame: Red Sox outfielder
Buried: Holy Cross Cemetery, Londonderry, N.H.
As one-third of the “million dollar outfield’’ that was composed of Tris Speaker and Harry Hooper, Duffy Lewis patrolled Fenway Park’s left field long before Jim Rice or Manny Ramirez. In fact, the Red Sox outfielder played left long before there was a Green Monster, its predecessor a 10-foot cliff at the spot Lewis roamed and became adept at handling. Thus, the incline became known as “Duffy’s Cliff.’’ Lewis, who was the first player ever to pinch-hit for Babe Ruth, was traded to the Yankees following Boston’s 1918 World Series title.
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