The Weeping Arch: My Hometown’s Haunted History

The Weeping Arch: My Hometown’s Haunted History

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by Taylor Young

From the old graveyards to the historic homes, my hometown certainly had its encounters with the supernatural and the paranormal. When I was growing up, I consistently came into contact with my hometown’s history, and it definitely influenced my opinions on the spiritual world and its complexities.

The small town that I grew up in until I was a sophomore in high school was New Bern, N.C. Founded in 1710, it is the 2nd oldest town in the state, and was founded where two rivers, named the Neuse River and the Trent River, met. This town is most widely known for being the “Birthplace of Pepsi” in 1898 and for being the first capital of North Carolina. New Bern is also known for the Tryon Palace, a mansion built for the governor a short time before the American Revolution, and it is an icon of the tax corruption that upheaved British rule in the Colonies. More recently, New Bern has been the setting for some of the works of famous author, Nicholas Sparks, including “The Notebook.” Throughout its history, New Bern has been an economic and cultural hub for the eastern region of North Carolina. It is no wonder, then, that ghosts have been known to haunt the historical downtown areas. Exploring the stories of these ghosts had become a highlight of the tourism options in my town. Ghost tours are offered regularly that take tourists through the downtown area throughout the year, and a special tour is offered during the Halloween season.

When I was still in middle school, I went with a family friend on the annual Ghost Walk that took place 3 evenings of every October. Each year had a focus, and you would walk through many historic sites in the downtown area, and it always started with the Cedar Grove Cemetery. This past year, for instance, the theme was “The Haunted Housewives of New Bern.” What fun would that be? At every site or home that was on the tour, there would be live actors telling the ghost stories associated with that particular place, and sometimes these actors were portraying the ghosts themselves.

Although I do not strongly remember all of the stories that were told to me on this walk, I remember one particularly creepy legend associated with the Cedar Grove Cemetery on Queen Street. This cemetery was built in 1800 when too many yellow fever patients passed away and had filled the local church’s cemetery to capacity. In 1854, an arch was built within the fencing on the cemetery, and that is what the legend is about. The legend says that a pallbearer who gets dripped on by water from under the arch will be the next to die. Because of the number of individual stories that have been told about the dripping form the arch, it has become famously known as the Weeping Arch. On the Ghost Walk, everyone entered the cemetery through this arch after hearing this legend. When I walked through, I got dripped on. I was not marked for death, however, because the organizers of the walk decided to exaggerate the dripping by hanging an IV bag of water on the back of the archway. Although I wasn’t dripped on by any water that came from the actual arch, I had become legitimately nervous, and the creepy tone was set for the rest of the evening.

Haunted House

As a Christian who has read about spirits and demons in the Bible, I have never believed it impossible for supernatural phenomenon to exist. I like to hear any ghost story. I have heard stories from my friends’ own experiences, seen movies about ghosts and demons and read about them, but the Ghost Walk in my hometown had been the source of some of my favorites. The Ghost Walk I went on made my taste in ghost stories refined because after going on those tours, I wanted every ghost story I heard to be historic and as plausible as possible. I also had an increased pride in my hometown after the Ghost Walk because my town has enough history to be haunted, and not too many towns have as many stories to tell. I have never had any direct contact with any spirits, but I have had that feeling of something being present with me even when I was alone. That feeling always reminds me of my encounter with the Weeping Arch. I always accept these feelings and the supernatural possibilities because I believe that having occasional experiences with the supernatural deepens my spirituality and refines it. Having an instinct about the supernatural also gives you an idea of how real some ideas of the occult can be. I definitely believe the ghost stories of New Bern are truer than the existence of vampires that glitter in the sun. Ghost stories and history makes me feel at home and ideas about life a lot more intricate.

 

If you want to learn more about the ghost tourism options and the history of my hometown, here are some sources:

Sources: Ghost Walk: http://newbernhistorical.org/ghostwalk/

Ghosts of New Bern: http://www.ghostsofnewbern.com/

The Weeping Arch: http://hauntedstories.net/mysteries/north-carolina/weeping-arch-new-bern

Tours: http://www.visitnewbern.com/walk_to_remember_tour.php

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