Example: [Musick, 1977]
A marble gravestone in an old deserted cemetery in West Virginia was the legend trip site for a particular group of young adults in the vicinity. The marble statue was of a seated lady, her hands outstretched to all that pass by the resting place. The legend stated that the woman in the grave had died of a broken heart when jilted by her fiancé. The legend trip was an initiation rite: new members had to spend the night sitting in the statue's lap. But the last time anyone tried this, the young woman who sat in the statue's lap met with a tragedy. The difference, you see, was that the young woman was a direct descendant of the fiancé!
The next morning the young girl was discovered, still sitting in the statue's lap. She was dead. On her body were found marks as though she had been held in a superhuman clutch. Perhaps the seated lady had gained revenge.
Origins: Told as having happened in various parts of the United States, this legend has been with us for quite a while. The victim is always a teenage girl, and a sorority initiation dare is what usually serves to impel her to sit in the statue's lap. The flourish in the exampled cited above that tells of the girl being related to the man who'd done the ghost wrong is unusual: most versions make no mention of a connection between victim and murderous spirit. (It's probably more frightening that way, because then the victim could very well be anyone.)
Other versions have it that just falling under the statue's malevolent gaze is enough to seal one's fate:
I remember reading a story about a graveyard in the Midwest (Chicago?) with a statue in it called "Black Aggie". It was said that if you fell under her gaze after dark, you would die. They say her eyes glow red at night.
My grandmother used to tell this: A young girl had a pajama party with several of her teenage friends attending. Shortly before midnight she told her guests that there was a grave in the edge of the woods behind her house and anyone going there on a full moon and standing to close to the grave would be pulled into the grave by the bony hand of the old man buried there. One
We all thought this was a true story until we got older.
The statue did once mark a final resting place in
Up against that, a Civil War general wouldn't even register. Even if he were one that
Oddly enough, the statue that started out in Baltimore and ended up in Washington was a copy of one already in Washington. The original can be found in Rock Creek Cemetery, where it marks the graves of Marian and Henry Adams. In 1866, depressed by the death of her father, Marian Adams swallowed potassium cyanide while her husband was paying an emergency Sunday visit to his dentist. Grief-stricken over her loss to the end of his life, Adams commissioned a special monument from the well-known sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The statue has come to be called "Grief," although it never was officially so named either by its creator or its patron. There is no writing to be found on it, so very few know it's actually the grave marker of both Henry and Marian (he joined her underneath there in 1918) and not just a lovely bit of statuary.
It's ironic that the original statue (which is erected over the grave of a grief-stricken woman) never became a target either for fraternity initiation rites or for murdering ghost legends, whereas the Baltimore copy (erected over the grave of Civil War General who'd lived a full and rewarding life) did. Just goes to show that facts never get in the way of a good ghost story.
A number of communities have "killer statue" legends, and Black Agnes is only one of them. Adding to the confusion is the superimposing of one legend onto another. A scary
Barbara "bloody married" Mikkelson
Sightings:   The "knife pinning the garment to the grave death" is the plot of a Twilight Zone episode which originally aired on
Last updated: 10 October 2004
Brunvand, Jan Harold. Curses! Broiled Again! New York: W. W. Norton, 1989. ISBN 0-393-30711-5 (pp. 79-81). de Vos, Gail. Tales, Rumors and Gossip. Englewood: Libraries Unlimited, 1996. ISBN 1-56308-190-3 (pp. 303-304). Dorson, Richard. Buying the Wind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964 (pp. 309-310). Gallagher, Joseph. "A Wordless, Anonymous Memorial." The New York Times. 1 December 1985 (p. 31). Musick, Ruth Ann. Coffin Hollow, and Other Ghost Stories. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1977 (p. 112). Pohanka, Brian C. "Let's Save the Adams Monument Grove." The Washington Post. 23 April 1992 (p. A22). Rodricks, Dan. "This Just In ..." The Baltimore Sun. 17 January 1997 (p. B1).