Martin Oaks Cemetery and Crematory has been a part of Lewisville, Texas for a long time. The cemetery dates back to Civil War times, the crematory has been around for many decades.
Many visitors tell us that the grounds have a rustic charm, an historic appeal. A college student (from Richardson, Texas) who was working on landscaping in the cemetery, recently told us that it was the most peaceful place he had ever worked.
But Martin Oaks is still a cemetery — and when you own a cemetery, there’s always a popular question which arises. Do you see ghosts?
To date, although all of us have heard the proverbial “bump in the night;” these bumps have all been explained by natural causes, no ghosts.
Ghost stories seem to have an almost preternatural appeal. When well told, they last forever — literally capturing the imagination of generation after generation. Take, for example, the contemporary “Phantom of the Opera” Based on a 1910 novel by
Gaston Leroux, this tale has legs: it has set Broadway and West End London records, been filmed and portrayed in a variety of media. Long before the Andrew Lloyd Webber score and the masterful production by Cameron Mackintosh, this work transcended potboiler literature — as author Harper Lee once said, “it’s deep calling to deep.”
The origin of ghost stories actually go back as far as our earliest days in the cradle of civilization.
Some theorize that these fears developed out of dreams — or at least some imagined circumstance of extreme peril.
First through the oral tradition and then by writing, ghosts passed from more primitive cultures to modern days.
William Shakespeare lived during a pretty superstitious period of time, so ghosts and witches appeared in his works. In a handful of his plays — Hamlet, Julius Caesar and Macbeth — the apparitions are quite striking. Hamlet: look there, see how it steals away; Macbeth: blood will have blood; Julius Caesar: some devil that makes my blood cold,,,
Charles Dickens, perhaps the most accomplished English writer than Shakespeare, created the memorable ghost of Jacob Marley (who carries with him the chain of his misdeeds as he wanders without respite). Marley’s depiction in annual Christmas Carol productions is almost always the visual treat of the evening.
Another highly respected British author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was an ardent believer in spiritualism. A medical man by training, Doyle promoted séances and communication with the dead — nothing could convince him that this pursuit was anything but valid. At one point he proclaimed that he would rather be remembered for his spiritual work than his novels. In his excellent book, “The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes,” author Andrew Lycett describes Doyle as a man who saw himself as a missionary traveling the world to spread the gospel of spiritualism.
Interestingly enough, if you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, you will be disappointed if you expect Doyle to pin one of the mysteries on a ghost. About as close as he gets to this is in “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” where the footprints of a gigantic hound belong to a real dog, not some phantom spirit.
In 1844, Edgar Allan Poe published “The Premature Burial,” about a topic that was very much alive (accept the pun, if you will) at the time: fear of being interred while still alive. Apparently there was enough concern about this that corpses were sometimes equipped with alarms to signal that they had been entombed prematurely. Poe, aware of commercial possibilities, constructed a very alarming tale that proved his prescience: the story still is popular and has been filmed successfully. It’s not really a ghost story, but rather in the gothic horror neighborhood connected to cemeteries.
It is not our intent to present a complete survey of all supernatural stories, but only the ones we find of interest.
Future blogs will continue this exploration. Feel free to offer your thoughts.