Cemetery

Tombstones spread throughout The Oconee Hill Cemetery, located behind Sanford Stadium, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Brayden Robinson)

Ghostly carriages, spirits and the sound of crying babies are just a few of the legends existing around UGA. Since the early 1800s, many people have come and gone from this town. Legend has that some whom died many years ago might still linger around the Classic City just waiting to be visited during the week of Halloween.

While reliable information is hard to find on the many haunted locations, ghosts have been "seen" around Athens-Clarke County. Two cemeteries and one of the older fraternity houses seem to be the locations of these spirits. 

Oconee Hill Cemetery is located right across the street from the stadium off  Cemetery Street. This gravesite has been around for almost 250 years, and with that comes the ghostly carriage that is said to appear between the older and newer sections of this cemetery.

According to a 1972 article in the Red and Black, the ghost is that of a farmer who drunkenly drove his carriage off a bridge. Legends tells that he drives over the bridge near his grave under a full moon to complete what he set out to do.

Although most of the stories are legends, the Athens Welcome Center tries to provide as much historical context as possible. 

"We've put together these sort of word of mouth, oral legend kind of stories from all over Athens," said Janet Parker, tour administrator for the Welcome Center. "We've also researched the stories to try and match the actual history with the legend that we've heard."

Old Athens Cemetery, located off of Jackson Street, was the original burial site during the 19th century. This sacred plot of land was created around the year 1810. It played host to many burials all the way until 1898, the year of the final burial in this graveyard.

Also rumored to be haunted, the cemetery was visited by a team of ghost hunters in the late 1990s to discover some readings of paranormal activity. One can only guess of the old ghosts still roaming the area. The cemetery is now being renovated to restore the effects of time and vandalism.

Graveyards are chiche homes for hauntings, but the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity house is also known for its ghost story.

Some people believe this fraternity house holds the faint cries of a newborn baby. According to southern travel writer Daniel Barefoot, rumors have circulated for years about the noise, but little historical evidence is available to put the story into perspective.

There are many other haunted buildings, theaters and houses throughout Athens waiting to be discovered by some students looking for a fright not produced by someone wearing tons of make-up and fake blood. The Athens Welcome Tour hosts the Haunted Happy Hour tours every Thursday, taking patrons through a tour of historically-documented sites of the paranormal and ending near the Creature Comforts Brewery.

The tour is part of the Welcome Center’s Folklore, Facts and Fables series, which details and explores the myths and legends of Athens.

“If you want to hear the real behind the scenes behind these tales and see how realistic these stories are, the origins of the real tales, then it’s a really good tour to take,” Parker said.

UGA’s oldest building Waddell Hall, built in 1821 as Philosophical Hall, offers a chance to hear the sounds of a fight between two lovers from World War I. It is said that the man returned home from the war only to end the quarrel by murdering his love interest, followed by his own suicide.

Halloween is quickly approaching and if dressing up isn’t your thing, just take a stroll around campus. There is no telling what one might find in a town with an history like Athens.

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