Young girls grave is haunted, some locals, visitors say

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 15, 2006

The facts alone are creepy.

A young girl dies before her time. Her mother is unable to let go and has a walk-in grave built.

The woman spends each night sitting underground, facing the glass wall that separates her from her daughter. She sings, reads, anything to comfort a child who was afraid of the dark.

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Iron flaps up top can close or open to protect mother and daughter from winds and rain.

And the stuffed animals are buried on the other side of the glass too.

But it&8217;s not the facts that give longtime cemetery director Don Estes the heebie-jeebies.

Estes, now retired from the director job, doesn&8217;t believe in ghosts. He&8217;s walked the roads at the Natchez City Cemetery at night many a time. And he&8217;s never seen a flying orb.

But the 1871 grave of Florence Irene Ford makes him believe &8212; sort of.

Five cement steps lead down to the glass window &8212; which has since been bricked over.

Estes routinely gives tours of the cemetery and the grave of 10-year-old Ford.

&8220;I brought a lady out here one time, and she just got frantic,&8221; he said.

&8220;Twelve years ago her mother had brought her here. Her mother went down the steps and came out screaming, rolling on the ground with a green glow all over her.&8221;

The young woman told Estes how a cemetery worker at the time witnessed the glow. After a few minutes it began to fade. The worker bent down and scooped it off, making a ball he could hold in his hands.

He later released it into the air, where it went up, sparkled and disappeared, Estes said.

Sensible Estes didn&8217;t quite believe and began some research of his own.

He found the cemetery worker, Mr. Davis.

&8220;He told me the exact same story,&8221; Estes said. &8220;He said it felt like compressed air or like a tennis ball in his hand.&8221;

The account was so similar, that Estes became a believer, he said.

&8220;I believe because I had an actual testimony of an actual man, and I had it verified and I didn&8217;t prompt him in any way,&8221; Estes said.

But Jacqueline Stephens, who runs Ghost Tours with her husband, has even more evidence, she says.

Stephens uses a cell sensor to detect electromagnetic waves, energy and, well, ghosts.

She didn&8217;t get any positive readings Monday night &8212; 135 years after Irene died, to the day &8212; but she has before.

&8220;I got three readings one time, right in the center,&8221; she said. &8220;The best reading came down the steps.&8221;

A positive cell sensor reading falls at about the number 5 on the sensor&8217;s scale. The detector can be affected by electricity and streetlights, but Estes says there are no outlets near Irene&8217;s grave.

And that&8217;s not good for Irene. The little girl was, after all, afraid of the dark.