I’m rerunning my October stories to get in the Halloween spirit. Okay, bad pun, but when else can I tell some of my favorites? I hope you enjoy.
October has always been my favorite month. One reason is that my birthday’s in October. I’ve always loved Halloween, too. Spooky stories are fun. My family has our own family ghost story, passed down through the years. It involves a woman named Della Barnes, a distant relative who was born in 1874.
According to family legend, Della was was a beautiful young woman who was married to a doctor. While he was busy out healing the sick of western Kentucky, she was reportedly at home having an affair with an ardent suitor. When her doctor husband discovered the truth, he surgically removed several fingers from both of her hands, the better to make her unattractive to other men. The story goes on to say that when she died several years later, he had a statue of her erected at her grave in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Paducah. The statue, it is said, originally featured Della’s hands completely intact, but after several days, the exact fingers she was missing mysteriously dropped off, and continued to do so after repeated attempts to repair them.
These were stories my grandmother told us, and they were backed up by our visits to the cemetery where we saw for ourselves the statue of Della complete with missing fingers. By the time I saw it, vandals had also dripped red paint down the front of her dress, for effect, I suppose.
I took this photo from Google Images because I couldn’t find any of ours from back in the day. Sadly, the last time my brother visited the cemetery, the statue had been broken in half and lay in ruins, again the work of vandals.
The truth was somewhat disappointing. According to the original obituary from 1887, Della Barnes died from an accidental morphine overdose at the age of 22. (If I’m disappointed, think about poor Della.) She was never married, and thus never had a romantic fling with a mysterious stranger. And, as far as anyone knows, she had all her digits at the time of her death.
Regardless of the circumstances of her death or her physical condition at the time, there are local reports of people seeing the ghost of Della Barnes walking the paths of Oak Grove Cemetery on moonlit nights. She’s probably looking for the little shits who broke her statue.
While ghostie stuff is not necessarily my bag, baby, stay tuned. I just might have another little spine-chiller up my sleeve before Halloween.