Recently, I visited my hometown of Centralia, IL. While visiting gravesites of relatives with my grandma Bunny and great grandma Joyce I got to meet Harriet. Annie Marshall. Annie was the daughter of the town doctor; she died in 1890 at the age of 11. Her mother and father were so crushed by her death that they memorialized her with a grand tombstone featuring a life-sized sculpture of Annie holding her beloved violin. As we cruised through the cemetery on the rocky paths my grandma pointed Annie out and told a haunting tale.
“Every evening just as the sun sinks below the horizon leaving Centralia in the dusty shadows of twilight H. Annie Marshall begins to play her violin for exactly one hour in order to soothe the souls of the dead and the damned, keeping them from raging up out of their rotted coffins in the night and taking to the narrow streets of the time-forgotten town. Before her death, Annie volunteered regularly at the local asylum playing beautiful songs to calm the tortured souls. It was said that the only time when the residents of Centralia weren’t haunted by the violent screams of the patients at the asylum was during the hour of the day when Annie was there sedating them with the sounds of her beautiful instrument. And everyone knows that all living souls should stay far away from Elmwood Cemetery at dusk else you take the chance of hearing the sad song of Violin Annie’s strings and if you are unfortunate enough to actually hear one of her torrid tunes your days are numbered to a very few that will drive you mad, dragging you to a tortured death and burial in Elmwood Cemetery where she will play for your wretched soul for all eternity.”
Is my grandma creepy or what?
…Ok, so it didn’t happen exactly like that and the local legend and history are a little different (mostly on the pertinent facts, but who’s checking?).
My factual research confirms that at the age of 11 H. Annie Marshall who was the beloved daughter of Dr. W. Scott Marshall died from diphtheria. Local legend is sparse and tells me only what my grandma did that evening in the cemetery, that Violin Annie can be heard playing her instrument at night. There is no local asylum and never was to my knowledge despite the fact that my family makes up a large percentage of the population of Centralia and we are as my great grandma would say, “crazier than two pet coons” and no, I’m not quite sure what that means. Truth of the matter is Centralia is a great little town with a proud paranormal free history, but hell, what’s a small town without a decent ghost story.
Tell me about some of your personal hometown/homemade hauntings and ghost stories.