URNING FOR A HAUNTING

By Gregory Myers, President - Paranormal Task Force
Edited by Laura Helbig

Prior to becoming a paranormal researcher and investigator, I was an avid genealogical
researcher seeking out my ancestral roots every free moment I had.  One of my genealogical
mysteries had been the fate of a great great grandmother (Granny) on my maternal side.  I
spent many weeks with my genealogical pick axe digging for the gem which would tell me
the date of her death, burial location and other prized data.  She outlasted my great great
grandfather in life, and she moved on after her children were grown so my task was very
difficult. She seemed to have that ability to elude census records, city directories and other
records where people would normally find their ancestors listed.

Through my research, however, I discovered Granny had married again shortly after the
death of her first husband.  This second spouse died a short time later leaving her widowed
once again. This name change put me one step closer to uncovering that gem I had been
digging for.  Although this discovery left me excited for a time, I was once again at a dead
end and no closer to learning the date of her death or where she was buried; I elected to
move on and spend my precious time and resources investigating another branch of my
family tree.

A few years later I was at a courthouse researching another branch of the family tree when I
stumbled upon a handwritten marriage record which listed her under a third name. Was it
possible that she had wed a third time?  The bell inside my head rang, "Could this be the
same great great grandmother who was widowed a second time in life by her second
spouse?"  I quickly grabbed the clerk and had her go retrieve the full marriage document
listed on this index.  After impatiently waiting for about a half hour, I finally had the answer to
my question and it was YES!  This third and final marriage was enough to lead me to an
obituary in a local paper and the date of her death, October 28.

This was not the end of my genealogical detective work. I still had not obtained the final
golden apple of this family branch: her burial location. The obituary indicated she had been
cremated in St. Louis. No more information was given.  The discovery of the date of Granny’s
death led me to spend many more weeks checking local cemeteries for a record of where
her cremated remains may have been buried but with no luck.  I was about ready to write her
off as having been placed in a hole in one of the many old "potter field" type burial grounds.
If this was the case, further searching would be fruitless. Most of these old burial grounds
had been long forgotten and new homes and businesses had been built on top of them.  I
wasn’t quite ready to throw in the towel, however, and I began doing research on local
crematories of that time. I found that only two were operating the year of her death.  I first
contacted the better known one which is still fully operational today, but was disappointed
with the "No" I received for an answer concerning her records.  

The second crematory I contacted was less known and tucked away within the city.  I was told
that I would need to come in person and speak to Norbert, who was the one familiar with the
old record books from that era.  Upon arrival, I was awed by this little piece of forgotten
history located right in my back yard.  Norbert himself was a very friendly, elderly gentleman
who gave me a tour of the facility which included the cemetery, columbarium, old church,
and the old crematory furnaces.  He boasted about the grand history of this facility which
included its being the first crematory west of the Mississippi River and the place where
Jesse James’ brother, Frank James, was cremated.  He even showed me the handwritten
index book with Frank James' name scribed within it.  I was also given a tour of the chapel
which is situated right above the crematory furnaces.  When services were held, the coffin
and body would descend though the floor via a hydraulic system and be lowered into the
furnace area below thus giving the same "lowering of the casket" that is experienced at a
graveside burial.  Norbert also explained that the furnaces of that time did not get hot
enough to fully incinerate a body, so an old gear type bone grinder was used to further grind
the remains prior to placing them into a temporary cardboard box or actual urn.  I was quite
intrigued with the history of this facility and overwhelmed with Norbert's friendliness and

Finally, we got around to the quest which brought me there.  With Granny’s name and the
date of her death, he looked into the old handwritten records and confirmed that she had
indeed been cremated there on Halloween (October 31), 1928, and no one had ever claimed
her remains.  Norbert then went over to a metal locker type cabinet which housed hundreds
of small cardboard boxes and pulled one out and laid it upon a table in front of me stating
with a smile, "Here she is!"  He then pulled out some papers, handed them to me, and asked
me to write my name and address on them followed by, "Sign this line here."  I asked him
what these were for, and he just solemnly replied that after 60 years it was time for her to go
home.  Without much thought, I went ahead and signed the papers given to me and held her
remains in my hands.  I thought "Wow, this was a bit more than I expected to find."  After
further discussion, Norbert retrieved a wooden urn that he had in a drawer.  It was a double
chambered with two areas in it for the remains of two separate people.  It was beautiful and
the price was right so I took it.  Norbert then opened the box and placed Granny’s remains in
it for me to take home.  With a big smile and a "Thank you," I took her with me and went back
to my apartment where I lived.

After arriving home I realized I really had gotten more than I bargained for. I had hoped to
find the date of her death and where she was buried; instead, I actually held her in my hands!
Now the question was what to do with her remains.  After doing more research, I finally found
one person alive who had actually known Granny.  This was an elderly lady who was basically
adopted into the family and Granny’s adoptive grandchild.  She told me that she had been a
young child the last time she saw Granny. She also remembered that Granny had been part
Native American and had told the family that she wanted a Native American ceremony and
burial when she died. Since no living relative then knew what to do, the family left her at the
crematorium, locked in a metal cabinet and eventually to be forgotten.

I didn’t know what to do with her either, so I placed her decorative urn on a wooden shelf in
my living room.  Granny may have been forgotten by earlier generations, but she would soon
make sure that I would never forget about her!

Soon after I had brought Granny home, my wife and I started to experience strange noises
and cold spots in the room where she was displayed.  I soon became accustomed and
adjusted to these new conditions without thought.  At that time, I was still pretty much a true
paranormal skeptic who had long ago forgotten about earlier teenage life experiences with
the unknown.

The story had just begun, however, for my wife who is very sensitive to paranormal activity
and a true believer.  When I would return home from work, my wife would tell me about
seeing an older lady wearing long lace top boots and a brown dress and a white shawl.  As
more time went by, she began adding other details such as seeing a disfigured eye.

This went on for some time, and being a skeptic at the time, I dismissed her comments as
those of an impressionable woman who was just imagining things.  Later, pregnant with our
first child, my wife started to tell me she was afraid of the spirit from the urn as it would make
the entire living room shake.  Furniture would move and the shaking almost toppled our fish
aquarium.  Even I once heard the odd noises and witnessed the shaking.  Despite what I had
seen and heard, I just wore my blinders and dismissed my wife’s fears as those of a woman
who was either crazy or hysterical.  Then came the night when my wife gave me the
ultimatum, "Either the box goes, or I go".  Crazy or not, I was not going to loose a wife over
the cremated remains of a distant relative.

I thought about the problem and finally devised a plan. Since this was a relative from my
mother’s side, I called her and explained that we had no place in our small apartment where
the urn could be either safely displayed or stored. Could she take it? Did I tell her the entire
truth? No! Her answer would have been a solid NO if I had told her the whole story, so hook,
line and sinker my mother bought the story and told me to bring it to her house for safe

As I grabbed the box from the shelf it had sat upon, I heard a very loud and unusual noise
like a large board splintering.  I couldn’t see any signs of damage, however, in that moment
the shelf unit began to violently shake, my skeptical mind opened up a bit as some fear
actually developed within me.  Without thought, I uttered to the box, "You better be good or
else I will open you and flush you down the toilet." Things then got quiet, and I proceeded
down our steps to the car and took the urn for a short ride to my parents where I left my
Granny and her great granddaughter to catch up on old times.

After Granny’s departure from our homes, life went back to normal and the memories of the
wooden box almost faded from my mind. “Normal” in our household was only temporary and
those memories had not fully faded before my mother called me and demanded that I pick up
the wooden urn and take it back home with me.  Acting dumfounded, I asked her, "Why?"  
She had many “whys.” She said that since the urn had come to her home lights in her house
would go off and on by themselves, and she was seeing an apparition. My mother did not
know whether she was dreaming or waking up in her sleep, but she had begun seeing an old
lady standing at the foot of her bed.  And, yes, the old lady was wearing a white shawl, brown
dress and lace up boots! My mother also remarked that the woman how she did not walk but
rather floated from one place to another.  My God!  This was the identical description my wife
had given me months ago. Fearing ridicule and embarrassment, we hadn’t told my parents or
anyone else about what we had experienced in our apartment.

My wife thought it was funny and asked, "Is your mother crazy too?" I didn’t know what to
say, but I did have to plead with my wife to allow the wooden urn back into the apartment.  
For some reason, she agreed, and I retrieved it from my parent's home.  

This time the activity seemed to be gone.  Maybe Granny remembered my threat about
flushing her down the toilet; whatever it was, it worked, and my wife did not complain of any
further activity associated with the wooden urn. Eventually it became one more decorative
piece in our apartment and a conversation piece for some years to come.  When we moved,
Granny and her urn came with us and lived in our master bedroom on top of my chest of

Before she died, I spoke to Granny’s last living relative, and asked her what she
remembered of my great great grandmother.  She told me that Granny was a bit wild and that
some people had called her "One-Eye Mary" because when younger she got into a fight and
was hit in the face with an object that left one of her eyes disfigured and possibly blind. This
relative also told me of how Granny always wore a white shawl, the lace top boots, and
brown or dark color dresses. I began then to realize that neither my wife nor my mother were
crazy, not at all.

Some kids and some years later, the wooden urn decided to reactivate, and my wife began
insisting that she was seeing Granny again.  This time I was more of a believer because the
home we now lived in was paranormally active.  I had recently experienced seeing a full
figured apparition gazing upon me while I sat on the porcelain throne in our upstairs
bathroom. This sighting caused me to grab a shotgun and yell for my wife to call 911; I was
sure someone had broken into our house.  Later, after I had completed a thorough search
and destroy mission of the house, and after listening to my wife’s mocking (and rightfully so)
laughter, I realized that either my wife had never been crazy, or I just joined her ranks.  

One day I was outside and our Native American neighbors stopped to ask me some
questions.  They said that from time to time they would see a blue glow around our house.
Did I have any Native American relics or remains inside?  At the time, I did not think of
Granny’s remains and told them “no.”

More time went by, and activity associated with the urn increased to the point that my
youngest child saw Granny’s apparition and was afraid.  Soon after, the shaking episodes
returned, followed by a night where I, for the first time, witnessed her manifestation and saw
her through the reflection of my computer monitor.

I then remembered Granny was part Native American and sought advice from my Native
American neighbors. They told me Granny’s spirit was grounded to our plane and attached to
her remains because a proper ceremony had never been conducted that would release her
spirit back into nature.

Soon after this discussion, my neighbors’ sister and her brother-in-law were visiting from
Oklahoma. To our luck, the brother-in-law was a spiritual leader within the Cherokee
Community.  After meeting him, I explained the situation to him.  He agreed that a ceremony
would have to be performed to release her spirit.  With his assistance, a Cherokee ceremony
was conducted seventy years after Granny’s death finally releasing her spirit at a nearby
river.  My wife, children and I all participated.  It was a beautiful and magical ceremony which
I will remember the rest of my life.  When it came time, I tossed a handful of Granny’s remains
into the running water. We heard a loud popping and crackling when they first entered the
water followed by the release of what appeared to be a fog or mist coming from the water.
Oddly enough, this was the only handful of her remains that created such a magical and
unexplainable moment as subsequent releases did not make any noise or cause an
abnormal reaction at all.  It would seem that each handful of Granny tossed into the running
water would have the same results. In this case, we set aside logic and our desire to explain
the unexplainable and allowed our hearts and souls to experience a true spiritual and
magical moment.

The empty wooden urn still sits upon my chest of drawers as a reminder of Granny and her
yearning to be set free.  My wife has only mentioned seeing Granny one time since the day
of her ceremony and that was to thank us for giving her what she had wanted and waited
decades for!

Thank you to Laura Helbig for final editing!
© 2007 by Gregory Myers – Paranormal Task Force

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