While the most famous grave at St. James Episcopal Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia belongs to slain beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, the eeriest plot belongs to a woman named Mary Meinert. It’s marked by a large marble statue of a woman cradling two infants in her arms.
Thanks to her unique memorial, Mary has become a celebrity at St. James Episcopal. Those brave enough to venture through the graveyard at night claim to hear the sound of a woman weeping near Mary’s memorial. Those that have gotten close enough say the statue weeps tears of blood. Others have heard the sound of a young child calling out, “Mommy!” Spookier still, it’s said that the two babies in Mary’s arms switch positions.
Local legend states that if you approach Mary’s statue on Halloween night and circle her memorial three times, asking “Mary, Mary, how did your children die?” her ghost will appear.
A local group of ghost hunters had not one but two camera batteries completely lose power as they approached the statue on a research trip in 2005. Furthermore, all claimed to hear footsteps behind them, though they appeared to be the only ones in the cemetery.
Ghosts of Marietta, a Marietta ghost tour group, offers a trolley tour that includes a trip through St. James Episcopal Cemetery. The tour, known as the Scary-etta Ghost Tour, provides guests with an expanded version of the Meinert grave legend. According to representative Betsy Throop, Mary’s marble statue is said to weep tears so real that they roll down the statue’s face and dampen the bodice. Said tears are seemingly shed for the infant twins cradled in Mary’s arms. The legend states that if you run around the statue 13 times and say “Oh Mary, Oh Mary, what happened to your babies?” then she will begin to cry.
Betsy is quick to discourage visitors from an after-hours visit to St. James. For starters, trespassers may be arrested. More importantly, as Betsy warns, “It’s NEVER think it is a good idea to taunt the spirits!”
Otherworldly retributions aside, the spell of the Mary Meinert grave endures, as does the allure of its alleged Halloween hex. Many have wondered how Mary came to rest at St. James, and if, perhaps, the presence of the infants in the statue indicate that she died in childbirth. Some believe she died, with her babies, in a fire.
The truth is, Mary (her real name was Marion) Meinert died of a lung ailment, most likely tuberculosis, in 1898.
According to findagrave.com, her obituary appeared in the Marietta Journal on May 26, 1898:
“She was one of the most patient, lovable women in Marietta. She had a heart that sympathized with suffering humanity and one who did more charitable work in visiting the poor and sick ministering unto their need that did Mrs. Meinert. She was a truly a disciple of Christ and went about doing good.”
The explanation for her arresting memorial is revealed in her obituary as well.
“She was in her 34th year of her age at the time of her death. She leaves behind her husband and six children, of that number were twin girls four weeks old.”
It’s clear that Mary was a beloved mother and member of her community—so much so that her headstone was erected to include her twin girls, who entered the world just as Mary left it.
As for the stories about Mary’s ghost: you’ll have to visit her grave on Halloween night to find out the truth for yourself.
Special thanks to Betsy Throop of Ghosts of Marietta and the Historic Marietta Trolley Co. who helped with this piece. Join Ghosts of Marietta in Georgia on one of their many ghost tours, which are offered year-round!
Featured photo used with permission: Dennis Tudor / Flickr