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Hauntings of Gurnsey Hollow

Most cemeteries are eerie by nature—many seem like natural places for hauntings to occur. Gurnsey Hollow Cemetery, located outside of Frewsburg, is an even more likely candidate for paranormal activity than most graveyards. Not only is it well hidden and extremely old (the oldest stones date back to the very early 1800s), but it is also the site of a brutal tragedy that has caused the area to become spooked ever since.

A casual visit to the cemetery reveals that many children are buried here. Stories say that one of

these children is not only interred here, but actually met her ultimate demise here as well. And her death was truly shocking and bloody.

The young child in question was a seven-year-old mentally retarded girl. She was killed by a gang of local townsfolk who chased her into the cemetery late one night. It has been lost to the ages whether the girl was killed because of some specific infraction, or whether she was simply feared and hated because of her genetic condition. Regardless of the exact circumstances, the end results were the same—tragically, the poor girl was stoned to death by the angry mob. Her body was buried in the same cemetery she was killed in—and since the day of her death, her ghost and a number of others have terrorized late night visitors to Gurnsey Hollow.

Besides the ghost of the mentally challenged girl, people have also seen a lady in white and a little boy patrolling the cemetery grounds. The little boy follows visitors out to the main entrance then disappears. He is not the only guardian of the cemetery—an elderly woman also stands on the outskirts of the graveyard glaring at trespassers. People often hear unearthly moans, see apparitions and orbs, and experience electronic equipment failures once they step onto the graveyard’s confines. Most people experience this with flashlights and cameras—some even say that their cars shut off when approaching Gurnsey Hollow.

From the Author Regarding the Gurnsey Hollow Cemetery

I am fascinated by every site I have visited in the course of researching and writing Weird NY. But none have intimidated me and frightened me as much as the Gurnsey Hollow Cemetery. My trip there was easily one of the more chilling experiences I have had in my entire life—including my five years in the employ of the Weird NJ/Weird US family of magazines and books, which have led me to visit hundreds of purportedly haunted sites personally.

My trepidation about the place started when I rolled into the very quiet town of Frewsburg knowing nothing about the location of the cemetery except that it was somewhere in the vicinity of this village. I headed to a local gas station to see if I could track down anything more specific. A young girl was manning the counter—she seemed to be in her late teens or early twenties, and I figured that she would have heard of the place.

Gurnsey Road starts off very desolate, but still relatively normal. It’s paved, there are homes on it, and it seems like nothing more than an out-of-the-way country road. After just a few scant miles, though, it turns into a single-lane dirt road that would rival any featured in this very book’s “Roads Less Traveled” chapter. The road is bumpy and potholed, and twists and turns through a thick forest. There are very few homes on this section of the road, all of them peppered and posted with large “No Trespassing” signs. There are also burnt-out old school buses in the woods, as well as dark trails that lead into the deep forest. At each curve it seems that the road cannot go on for much longer, but coming around that curve, one is just greeted by an even skinnier and more poorly maintained section of road.

After a number of miles traveling down this precarious path, any adventurer would be a bit intimidated. This only makes it worse when one is nearly at the end of the road and looks off to the left, where there is a tiny gravel trail leading into the woods. This trail is blocked by a rusty gate and two large granite stones. This is the entrance to the Gurnsey Hollow Cemetery.

That’s right—out in the middle of nowhere, to get to the cemetery itself, you have to get out and walk. Sitting in my car, I had to consciously turn off my own ability to experience fear as I grabbed my camera. I got out, slammed the door, and sprinted up to the tiny cemetery up the hill from where my car was parked. When I got to it, I saw that it was fenced in by black iron cemetery gates. This made the place even more frightening—there was exactly one entrance/exit to the cemetery. All I could think about, standing out there alone in the woods, was that this meant that if anyone else came up that trail after me, I was completely trapped inside the Gurnsey Hollow Cemetery. In effect, being in the cemetery is like being in a cell with about twenty graves.

Speaking of the graves, the large majority of them have been desecrated. Centuries-old obelisks are tipped over everywhere. Only the more basic, smaller, harder-to-destroy graves have been left unscathed. I frantically snapped pictures as quickly as I could. I noticed the sound of a stream or small waterfall coming from the woods beyond the iron bars off to my right. I also heard the distinct sound of a low-pitched, guttural moaning.

I made my way through this place at an even faster pace. At the top of the hill, overlooking the entire burial ground, was a large cross. I approached it, figuring that it was a necessary photograph to have in my survey of Gurnsey Hollow. When I got closer, I saw the charred remains of some sort of bonfire sitting directly in front of the cross.

This was the last straw, in my mind! Maybe this was just the remains of some local high school kids’ weekend of drinking at the cemetery. But, alone in those circumstances, I would not have been surprised at all if I were told that this fire was the remains of some sort of Satanic right or Pagan sacrifice. I turned and literally ran.

Maybe it was just because I was alone, or because the sun was quickly falling as I took these pictures at the end of a very long day. But in that moment, running down that trail at the end of that long dirt road, Gurnsey Hollow was completely terrifying. If you decide to visit for yourself, please take caution.

I don’t think words or even pictures can do justice to the atmosphere of this very unique and disturbing place. –Chris Gethard

You can read more about Gurnsey Hollow and all of New York’s other strange cemeteries in Weird New York.

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