Strangeness Even in Death

Bill Standley, 82, was an Ohio man who really loved riding his Harley. The biker was buried in a giant Plexiglas and wooden box where his body rested astride a 1967 Harley Davidson. Standley’s sons constructed the unusual coffin for him.


Children’s graves are always melancholy places since they died young, but these graves in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis featuring stone sculptures of children in cribs are particularly heartbreaking.

Holding Hands

J.W.C van Gorcum was a Protestant and his wife, J.C.P.H van Aefferden, was a Catholic, so they were not allowed to be buried together in the same part of their cemetery. Instead, they were buried on opposite sides of a wall and their graves are connected by a custom headstone featuring two clasped hands of stone.


In the Recoleta Cemetery in Argentina, a man is buried in his family mausoleum with a statue of him sitting on a chair. When his wife died years later, she requested her statue face in the opposite direction to represent their marriage: the two had not spoken in 30 years before his death.

Little Angel

Rosalia Lombardo died of pneumonia in 1920 at the age of two. Her Sicilian father had her body mummified and sealed behind glass in a coffin rich with nitrogen gas to create the permanent look of her having just fallen asleep.


Fernand Arbelot was a musician and actor who died in 1990 and was buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Paris. He wished to gaze at the face of his wife for eternity, which is what his unusual headstone depicts.


Matthew Stanford Robison was confined to a wheelchair for most of his young life. His grave at Salt Lake City Cemetery has a statue of him jumping out of his wheelchair and overcoming his earthly burdens.


Elisabeth Demidoff, a princess of Russian nobility, had a loveless marriage and died as a slightly unhinged but very wealthy woman. In her will, she left millions to anyone who could stay in her mausoleum for a week without going completely bonkers. Many have tried, but they all failed and the fortune remains unclaimed.  Where do I sign up?


Georges Rodenbach was a 19th century Belgian writer who wrote a story about a man mourning his dead wife. His tomb in Paris’ Père Lachaise Cemetery features a bronze statue of himself emerging from the tomb with a rose in his hand.


When Thomas Chase was laid to rest in the family crypt in 1813 in Barbados, the grave diggers were shocked to find the coffins had moved around in the sealed tomb. In 1816 after the death of young family member, the sealed tomb was opened and again the coffins had been tossed about.

The governor of Barbados had sand placed on the floor to catch the footprints of the culprits and had the tomb sealed, but years later it was opened and the coffins had moved again and no footprints were found. The governor had the coffins removed and the crypt remains abandoned to this day.

Read more about The Moving Coffins of Barbados.


There are cages over most of the graves in the Logierait Parish Church in Scotland. The Victorian-era church folk were not afraid of a possible zombie apocalypse. Instead, the cages were placed over the tombs to deter grave robbers.


The Floral Hill Cemetery in Illinois is where you can find this grave with a pool table.


When Florence Irene Ford died at the age of 10 in 1871, her mother was so grief stricken that she had a glass window constructed at the head of the coffin and stairs that lead down to the crypt. The mother visited her daughter all the time, especially during thunderstorms because the girl was afraid of thunder. In 1950, the glass wall was covered with cement to protect it from vandals.


A boy named Ray Jr. had a dream of owning a Mercedes Benz, but he died in 1981 at the age of 15. His wealthy older brother commissioned a 26-ton granite sculpture of a full-sized 1982 Mercedes Benz 240 diesel limousine. The Mercedes tomb is located in Linden, New Jersey.


Inez Clarke was a six-year-old girl struck and killed by a bolt of lightning in 1880. On her grave is a life-sized sculpture of Clarke holding a parasol and a flower. The artwork is encased in a large Perspex box. Children who have visited the cemetery sometimes report playing with a little girl in “old-fashioned clothes.”

parking lot

The Mary Ellis grave is an 1828 gravestone located in the parking lot of a former Loew’s movie theater in New Brunswick, New Jersey. It remains about seven feet above the rest of the parking lot. According to oral tradition, Ellis was a spinster who returned every day to this location to look for the boat in the Raritan River of the sailor who promised to marry her. He never returned because he loved the sea more.


Rufus E. Case is buried in his family crypt sitting upright in a rocking chair and seated next to his child’s coffin. Per his request, he is facing his home state of Louisiana.


In the Tana Toraja land on an island in Indonesia, babies in the community are placed in a special burial tree. If the child dies before it has started teething, the mother will wrap a baby in a cloth and seal it off in the tree. The people believe that the baby is absorbed by the tree as it heals.


When Sarah Milburn Davis died, her husband, John, was so grief stricken that he spent every penny he had on an extravagant grave featuring statues and marble stone chairs flown over from Italy. This all happened during the Great Depression, so the over-the-top grave understandably upset the locals. The Davis Memorial has become a tourist attraction in Hiawatha, Kansas.


When Jonathan Reed’s wife, Mary, died, the man was so distraught that he moved into the Brooklyn tomb with her. He added a wood stove, furniture, paintings and an empty casket for himself.


This grave belongs to a woman who came into Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia in 1816 with her husband. The woman was very ill and the husband asked that no one reveal their true identities, even after she died. Her tombstone reads, in part, “To the Memory of a FEMALE STRANGER whose mortal sufferings terminated on the 14th day of October 1816 aged 23 years and 8 months. This stone is placed here by her disconsolate husband in whose arms she sighed out her latest breath and who under God did his utmost even to soothe the cold dead ear of death.”


Lilly Edith Gray’s grave in Ontario, Canada has a disturbing message: “Victim of the Beast 666.”

Jack Crowell, buried in Middlesex, Vermont, owned the last wooden clothespin manufacturing factory in the United States. He originally wanted a real spring in the clothespin so that children could play on it in the cemetery, but that plan was nixed.


Masakado was a powerful samurai during his life who became somewhat of a demigod after death. He was decapitated in the year 940, but his head refused to rot after three months and his eyes rolled around in his head. His head was eventually buried in what is now Tokyo and it is said that if Masakado’s grave is disturbed, a great natural disaster will befall the land. This explains why the 1,000-plus-year-old memorial site is still in such pristine condition.


This beloved grandfather was so fond of kayaking that his family held his service with his body sitting up in one.


Frankenstein author Mary Shelley’s husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, was cremated on the the beach at Via Reggio in Italy in 1822 after a sailing accident, but his heart did not burn. It was returned to Mary, who kept it in her desk drawer until her death in 1851. The heart was wrapped in an early manuscript by John Keats and placed in the coffin beside Mary.


The cemetery in Uralmash has many buried Russian mafiosi. Most of the gravestones have life-sized granite etchings of the fallen criminals, so it’s like a bizarre police lineup. Alexandr Khabarov, leader of one of the 1990s gangs, is buried here and has the granite likeness of himself as well as a 24-hour security camera installed. No one is going to steal from him, even if he’s dead.

Jay's Grave, Dartmoor

Called Jay’s Grave, this burial mound in Devon, England is thought to be the resting place of a suicide victim in the 1700s. Since you can’t be buried on hallowed ground if you take your own life, Kitty Jay was buried at a crossroads outside the church. Someone regularly leaves flowers on her grave, but investigations have been unable to determine who is leaving the floral tributes to Jay.


Located at the Alter Friedhof Cemetery in Germany, this pictured grave belongs to Caroline Walter, who died in 1867 due to tuberculosis. After Walter’s death, her sister hired a sculptor to create a lifelike sculpture of Caroline and make it look as if she had fallen asleep in her bed while reading a book.


Voodoo queen Marie Laveau is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans. Some tourists draw “X” marks in accordance with a decades-old belief that if people wanted the voodoo queen to grant them a wish, they had to draw an “X” on the tomb, turn around three times, knock on the tomb, yell out their wish, and if it was granted, come back, circle their “X,” and leave Laveau an offering. Due to frequent vandalism, Laveau’s tomb can today only be accessed on a guided tour.


Charles Pigeon became famous and wealthy for being the first man to produce and market a patented, nonflammable, nonexplosive portable gas lamp. The grave of him and his wife features the two of them reclining in bed–he in a business suit and she in an elegant dress. She appears to be listening intently as he writes something in a notebook.


World Greatest Electrician


This weathered grave marker has broken off and fused with a tree. The grave is located in Smolensk Cemetery, which is said to be the oldest cemetery in St. Petersburg, Russia.


Rumor has it that this is the grave of a professional maze-maker.


The Shaeffers must have been serious couch potatoes, because their grave in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Thompson, Ohio has a full-size couch atop it, including a carved pillow and remote control.


This grave in Bonn, Germany has literally been swallowed by a growing tree.


Adra Michelle Craven was a high school cheerleader who was killed when she was camping and a tree her friends were cutting for wood crashed into her tent and killed her. Craven was really interested in marine biology, which explains the unique dolphin gravestone.


Dr. T.J. and Idalia Weed had to endure the deaths of five infant children. The couple memorialized them by having five protruding cherub heads on the babies’ grave.

parking meter

The parking meters say “expired” in case you were wondering.


Karl Bratz’s grave is molded in the shape of a keg, so we’re guessing he was the life of the party and wanted to remain as such even after death. The epitaph reads, “Have a drink on me.”


The grave of Elijah Jefferson Bond at Greenmount Cemetery in Maryland is marked by a ouija board, which is pretty creepy. Bond was best known for filing the first U.S. patent for the ouija board, so ouija historian Robert Murch sought out Bond’s unmarked grave and erected this gravestone for him in 2008.



About the author

Jason Donner

Jason Donner devoured the universe and you are all living inside him.