Chances are, you’ve that heard ghosts haunt Union Cemetery, one of the town’s oldest burial grounds at the corner of Sport Hill Road and Stepney Road. Believed to be the most haunted cemetery in America, it is referenced in countless publications, websites and blogs that deal with the paranormal.
As local historian Elizbeth Boyce has noted in “Easton’s Ladies in White,” the cemetery has become a “must see” destination for ghost-hunting road trippers ever since paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren’s book “Graveyard: True Hauntings from an Old New England Cemetery” popularized stories about a lady in white whose spirit haunts the Easton graveyard.
“The historic value of the cemetery is amazing. It is a beacon for people across the United States,” said Darrin Silhavy, the cemetery’s sexton.
Bruce Nelson, director of research for the Historical Society of Easton, has pointed out that the Unions’s “dubious distinction” as America’s “most haunted cemetery” has led to costly acts of vandalism. Even more significant than its prominent place in popular culture and local folklore is the fact that the Union Cemetery remains deeply connected to Easton’s history and pre-history, and area residents have multiple generations of family members interred there.
This important historical site needs funds and volunteers to maintain its grounds and care for its gravesites–some of which date back to the 1700s. The Union does not currently receive funds from the town to maintain it because it is not among the four town-owned cemeteries. Historically, the sale of gravesites funded the cemetery’s upkeep, but because the cemetery no longer has that source of revenue, the property has begun to fall into disrepair.
The state of Union Cemetery has increasingly caught the attention of the town’s Cemetery Committee, which oversees town-owned cemeteries. Joan Kirk, a committee member, said the committee has discussed maintaining a portion of the graveyard where Civil War veterans are buried. “There is a whole process that needs approval from the town and state, and Union Cemetery has to accept it,” Kirk said.
In addition to exploring these possible sources of support, Silhavy has set up a Go Fund Me page with the goal of raising $4,000 to maintain the graveyard. Funds raised will go towards grass mowing, insurance, and the overall upkeep of the graveyard. The link to donate is found here.
In April, scouts from Troop 66 of Easton led by Senior Patrol Leader Alex Weiss partnered with Troop 306 of Redding and Cub Scout Pack 166 of Monroe to earn community service time for cleaning up the grounds. Each Scout spent a total of four hours resulting in a combined 40 hours of service to clear leaves and brush around the cemetery’s southeast entrance.
Another volunteer effort to clean the graveyard is scheduled for Saturday, May 7 at 9 a.m. Volunteers are asked to bring tools, lawn mowers, grass trimmers, brush shears. The rain date is May 8 at 9 am.
Bob Laskay, a member of the Union Cemetery Association, said the volunteers who help clean up the cemetery grounds are wonderful, essential, and greatly appreciated, but he also emphasizes that a long-term plan is needed for the cemetery. The association is now looking for volunteers to serve on its board of directors to help oversee the cemetery.
“The cemetery needs physical maintenance and most importantly a reestablished board of directors,” said Laskay.
The cemetery is also looking for descendants of the deceased resting at Union Cemetery to help contribute to its upkeep. Contact Bruce Laskay at 203-264-9408 or Bob Laskay at 203-268-9716 if you are interested in serving on its board.
For a detailed history of the Union Cemetery, including additional information about its current status as an active cemetery, please read Bruce Nelson’s column, “The Sad State of the Union,” from the Courier’s History Corner series.
To donate to the effort to clean up and maintain the Union Cemetery, visit the Union Cemetery Association’s Go Fund Me page: https://gofund.me/9922a860.
To volunteer to help clean up the Union Cemetery on May 7 at 9 a.m., please bring tools, lawn mowers, grass trimmers, and/or brush shears if you have them. The rain date is May 8 at 9 a.m.
Photo at top: Union Cemetery c. 1920. Courtesy of Historical Society of Easton.