It’s called “taphophilia” (“taph” from the Greek for tomb and “philia” meaning an inordinate fondness), but we’ve been referring to what we do as a cemetery crawl. Basically, Shana and I enjoy going to cemeteries, observing the intricate masonry work on many of the stones, sometimes picking up decorative objects that have fallen to neglect, and paying our respects to those who have long been forgotten. Those that follow us on Facebook are probably very familiar with the many photos we’ve posted over the years of the numerous cemeteries we’ve visited.
There are times that those buried there reach out to us, perhaps offering one last message from the past to today’s society. Sometimes a connection is established with an entire family, and we feel compelled to research who they are. Shana frequently connects with the children and the sad fate they faced at such a young age. Yes, paranormal activity and spiritual connections can happen at a cemetery — I’ve witnessed it too many times to even consider this a debatable issue. And then there are times that we venture off to a cemetery looking for answers to mysteries from long ago that have never been answered.
Twice recently, we’ve gone searching for the graves of lynch mob victims, both murderers, but had justice carried out upon them by local rabble stringing them up from trees. One we found. The other we did not. As paranormal investigators who focus heavily on research and history, it’s a loose end we like to tie up. Unfortunately, sometimes that loose end will remain hanging, but more often than not that end is at a cemetery. Mortality is the one thing in common we all share, after all.
Sometimes the process happens in reverse. Occasionally, we’ll visit a cemetery and the story there will lead us to investigate the people and/or the area further. The sheer number of child graves at the St. Omer Cemetery in Illinois weighed heavily upon Shana the first time we visited, and in a return visit she discovered a back entrance to the cemetery that may have once been used by the townsfolk before they abandoned the town. What had once been an aside to the “Witch’s Grave” that is there suddenly became a prominent focus. Similarly, just down the road in Ashmore is what we call the “Crazy Portal Trees,” an area of the cemetery in which trees have been strategically placed to box in a set a graves and the effect on the senses is dramatically felt. The first time I ventured in I called out to Shana, “Oh, this is creepy,” and later on I saw a figure that wasn’t either us us walking just beyond. Of course, we followed up with a return visit and continue to research.