Monday, September 2, 2013

The Horseshoe Tombstone

a tale told by James Heinzman

Hshoe2 This story is about a tombstone up at Otterbein Cemetery in Perry County that has a horseshoe on it which appears to be bloody at times.

In 1844, or thereabouts, there was a young man named James Henry who lived in that area. At the time, he was courting two different young ladies and he couldn't make up his mind on which one he was going to marry. Being that period of time, he always drove a horse and buggy. His horse would always take him home at night if he went to sleep. It always returned to his house.

On night the horse went to one of his lady friend's house instead of his house. So he decided that he would marry her. That would be the one that he would make the choice of marrying. He married her and she was a avid horse fan, too. She always rode her horse around. Later on, she became sick with an illness and died in a short time. He was in deep mourning and always went to Otterbein Cemetery to put flowers on her grave and mourn.

One day, he was up there and his other girl friend came past and stopped to see him and they struck up a romance. Then he married her. He still kept, of course, the horse of his first wife. And one day, a passerby was going past Otterbein Cemetery and saw a bloody horseshoe on his wife's tombstone. He said it was an ill omen.

The skies became dark, all the cattle were spooked and they had thunder and lightening storms. The next day, in the morning, Mr Henry was going to take his new wife to town with the horse and buggy and have his first wife's horse to connect up to the buggy. He went out to the barn to feed the horses and was going to return to eat breakfast that morning but he was out there a long time and didn't return. Mrs. Henry went out to the barn. The barn was deathly quiet instead of noisy like the morning with the horses eating. Mr. Henry was laying, behind his first wife's horse, on his face. She turned him over and there was a print of the horseshoe in his forehead where his first wife's horse had kicked him. She took off screaming and hollering of course.

They buried him and whatever happened to her I do not know but even at times now, on foggy nights, you're supposed to be able to hear the hoof beats of him and his first wife riding horses up Otterbein Road, late at night when it's foggy.

Hshoe3The one thing I like about this story is that you can actually go to the cemetery and expect to see something as the photos below show. The graveyard is located in the western portion of Perry county just off of State Route 22. Otterbein Road runs south off of Route 22. Less than a mile up the road you will encounter a red brick church. The graveyard is adjacent to the church. Mary Henry's grave is oddly enough as far away from the church as possible. It sits by itself in the far southwest corner of the cemetery. It is easy to identify as the headstone is fenced off with a metal grate, and the headstone itself is supported by a metal frame. I do believe the stone was damaged by vandals some years ago. My in-laws have told me that the stone there is not the original one, but a replacement. (Apparently the mark came back on the second stone too!) They have also told me that the mark on the back of the headstone was examined by a local university, and that the reason for the mark is still unexplained. I must point out that I cannot verify this.

This post, including photos and commentary, originally appeared on on James A Sheets' site.

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