The Introduction
  In 1977, I attended the second grade at Kenwood Elementary School located at the corner of Hohman Avenue and 165th Street in the city of Hammond, Indiana, where I have been resident for over 35 years. My second grade class was on the first floor and its windows faced right across Hohman Avenue; right across where the city’s oldest cemetery stood – Oak Hill Cemetery.

Oak Hill Cemetery

The Start of Something not Good
   Oak Hill Cemetery was established in 1885, about a year after the city of Hammond became incorporated which was on April 21, 1884.
In 1886 George Hammond, co-founder of Hammond, Indiana, died unexpectedly which eventually led his multi-million dollar meat-packing business to be merged with a well-known Chicago based business and personal rival of George H. Hammond. The George H. Hammond Company was known as one of the nation’s largest and best meat-packing plants this country has ever seen and there’s no telling what would have happened to George H. Hammond’s meat packing empire had he stayed alive.

Northwest Indiana’s most  Mysterious Epidemic at the turn of the Century
   Soon after Hammond, Indiana’s most powerful resident, George H. Hammond passed away suddenly, other deaths started to occur; mostly of children. From 1886 to about 1910 there were a number of unexplained deaths of children that ranged from newborns to ten-year olds. It seems it was quite common for children to pass away at a very early age and those medical reports would claim “crib death” as the known cause. The few adults that passed away unexplainable, however, those medical reports could not be found. It’s been wondered if there was some sort of epidemic that was spreading through Hammond during the turn of the 20th century which caused these mysterious deaths.

To this day, children have been seen roaming the grounds of Oak Hill Cemetery.

My Personal Experience with the Haunting of Oak Hill Cemetery
   The first time I saw a child on the other side of Oak Hill Cemetery’s fence, I really thought nothing of it. I was just walking to school at the age of seven (which was a little more common back in those days), minding my business and I happened to glance over across Hohman Avenue. When I did, I saw a boy who looked about the same age as me, but just standing there in the cemetery. When I got to the next street (Kenwood Street) and began to cross it, I realized that I was just a block away from my school (Kenwood Elementary School). So I continued to walk south down Hohman Avenue on the west side of the street and I looked over again to where I saw the boy in the cemetery standing the first time.

Yep, there he was – looking in my direction, and I can say, I was a little shocked to see him still standing there. He was facing my direction, but I couldn’t tell if  he was looking at me or not.

I felt that he was.The last stretch of sidewalk down Hohman Avenue was from Kenwood Street to Cleveland Street (about one block). Once I crossed Cleveland Street, I was officially on school property. I’m closer to the student’s entrance to the school that was off Cleveland Street, even though the address to Kenwood Elementary School was 6416 Hohman Avenue. the entrance that was off Cleveland Street was the mostly used by students, faculty and visitors.

I didn’t look at this boy again until I knew for sure that I had passed him – then I looked back.

Shit.

He was staring at me alright, and he looked like he was staring at me hard, as if he was angry, angry at me. I refused to look away right away; I was going to show this kid I wasn’t afraid of him. I did eventually wave him off though – but just to see where I was going.

Forget that kid.

Stupid kid. I should tell on him, why isn’t he in school?

I decided to pick up the pace a little bit. I looked down at the sidewalk as I quickened the pace. Trying to look like I was in serious mode because I had to get to school, that kid in cemetery was still in my head.
Questions were piling up on my mind:

  1. Was he still staring at me?
  2. Was he following me?
  3. What was he doing?
  4. Why did he look so angry?

Before I knew it, I instantly looked up and turned my head, almost without thinking – I couldn’t believe I did it… but – he wasn’t there, he wasn’t even there… but where did he go? I stopped for a moment and looked around the area where he was standing and couldn’t find him anywhere.

I started to relax.

The moment I felt myself at ease, I remember thinking to myself then how lucky that kid was because I was going to say something, I was going to say something like, “Hey, kid…”…

Just then, I turned my head back straight ahead when out of the corner of my eye, I saw that boy again.

The hairs stood on end at the back of my neck as I turned again towards the cemetery. There he was, only this time he somehow got exactly across from me. Still on the other side of the fence of Oak Hill Cemetery, but it totally freaked me out. It was still early in the morning and I was already on the verge of pissing my pants.

From what I remember, besides whimpering while hauling ass the rest of the way to Kenwood Elementary School, was that image of that boy just standing there – right on the other side next to the fence, burning into my memory.

What freaked me out I think, was that he was closer to me than when I first saw him. I mean, I know he was still on the other side of the fence of Oak Hill Cemetery, but still…he was closer.

That’s all I can say.

He was close enough to me to where I remember seeing him standing right next to the fence with his right hand clenching the chain link fence that separated us. He had the chain link fence clenched at shoulder height. Even though I looked for just an instant at him, I remember him being heavy-set with his mouth open on his slightly chubby face. I want to say his eyes were what scared me the most. They looked dead to me; dark and dead.

By the end of the week, I’ve told about all my friends and the story eventually leaked to other classrooms and other grades.

Finally, stories about people seeing “ghost children” roaming the grounds of Oak Hill Cemetery started coming up. Stories that have been told for almost a century and get popular for a few weeks every decade or so and then lose interest; until another ten years has passed and somebody else claims to see a ghost child behind the cemetery’s fence.

Glad to help out.

Comments
  1. Jim Zahrndt says:

    There may be something here related to “Old Whiting Cemetary” from Whiting, IN. I’ve been doing genealogy research for over 20 years and not too long ago found relatives of mine buried there – my paternal great-great-grandmother as well as two children – one who died with her in childbirth in 1907, as well as an 18-yr old son who died from a tyhphoid vaccination (published in the Chicago Tribune in 1907).

    What was interesting is the 1st child born in the US from my lineage died in the middle 1880’s and was buried in “Old Whiting Cemetary”. That area in Whiting was purchased in the early 1900’s by Standard Oil and the “residents” moved to other cemetaries. In my research, a local mortician was contracted to move them to other cemetaries, but lost money on the contract as more bodies were found buried than registered. Standard Oil never used that land, and now homes reside on it.

    According to information located, some still “had their boots on” or “money in their pockets” ….. implying a rather hasty and informal burial. My own relative, who was several months old only, was never found after her move. The so-called records that were to have been kept regarding graves found and where they were moved to were “misplaced”. Oak Hill was one of the cemetaries that were to be the “final after final” resting place, as well as a cemetary near where the Swift plant was located near the Woodmar shopping center. THe name escapes me, but it was also abandoned in the middle 1940’s …. My guess is the lost “residents” are simply searching …………

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