Ghosts of Ohio
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Speaking For The Dead : Descendant Of A Woman Who Inspired Ghost Stories Sets The Record Straight

Cleveland Free Times

TWO YEARS AGO, a Free Times cover story, “Haunted Ohio,” featured the legend of the Dark Angel of Maple Grove Cemetery. The tale claimed that an angel statue was vandalized by locals who believed that it was possessed by the evil spirit of an Erie County woman who’d murdered her infant daughter, then killed herself.

Last week, the Free Times received the following from Richard Lemmers, a National Park Service ranger in Gettysburg, Pa.:

“Last winter, while researching family genealogy on the Internet, I discovered that my maternal grandmother, Lydia Fischer Nuhn, was the central figure of a rather disturbing urban legend that originated in Erie County. The legend centers on an angel statue. The stone statute once stood next to the graves of my grandmother, who died in 1926, and her older sister, who died in 1921. Near the base of the dismantled statue are also the graves of Lydia’s infant daughter and husband.

“The story involves the evil entity that is supposed to inhabit the site as ‘The Death Angel’ or ‘Dark Angel’ of Maple Grove Cemetery. Within the last 10 or 15 years, unfounded, ridiculous rumors began to spread that the angel statue was haunted or possessed by a demonic entity that caused death to follow shortly for anyone who stared at it too long or who disrespected the burial site. The yarn also has it that the angel flew around at night, pursuing people and killing cattle.

“Gullible people have believed that the statue was possessed by an evil spirit because Lydia had killed her infant daughter, then later committed suicide. Lydia actually died of heart disease in 1926. If anyone needs evidence, my sister recently procured a copy of our grandmother’s death certificate.

“In June 1918, when Lydia was 41, she had a rough time with the delivery of her fourth child, Betty Clair. The baby died a few days later. Lydia almost died herself from giving birth. Today that type of thing rarely happens, but back then it was not unusual.

“For the last five years of her life, Lydia suffered from heart disease. My mother was only 16 when her mother passed away, but she told us about watching helplessly as her dear loving mother slowly died at home while bedridden.

“I am sure that if my mother, who passed away in 1993, had learned about the urban legend concerning her mother, she would have been extremely pained by it.

“I talked over the phone with one of the cemetery’s former caretakers. He told me that one night not too many years ago, five teenaged boys broke off the angel’s head. All five were later killed in a car wreck just a short distance down the road. Speeding at over 100 miles per hour, the vehicle left the road and crashed into a tree. It was a horrible, violent end to their graveyard antics. Were they just drunk? Or were the trying to escape the imagined wrath of ‘The Death Angel’? Alcohol and drugs play strange tricks on people. It’s a tragedy nonetheless, caused by a stupid, made-up ghost story.”

© 2008 The Ghosts of Ohio