Creepy stories about cemeteries are a staple of local folklore in any given community. A well known urban legend, often circulated in e-mail forwards, is the tale of a man or woman who spent the night in the arms of a statue in a graveyard on a dare, only to be found dead the next day. This legend was possibly instigated around a bronze statue in a Baltimore cemetery, dubbed Black Agnes or Black Aggie by locals. The statue is a replica of "Grief," whose somber, seated figure covered in a hooded shroud was originally erected in Washington D.C. The curse of the Black Aggie statue derives its name from the Civil War general over whom the statue rests: Felix Agnus. Horror stories surrounding the statue of Black Agnes often involve curses being bestowed on those who get too close to the mysterious monument. Those who spend the night in its lap are said to be haunted by the ghosts of those buried there. The statue's eyes supposedly turned red at night and tragedy would allegedly befallthose who touched the statue. While it's hard to separate fact from fiction in these kinds of stories, the tale of Black Agnes is a fascinating piece of local folklore.
Long since removed from the public due to vandalism, the Black Agnes Statue was found in Baltimore but now resides in the more protected grounds of the Dolley Madison House in Washington, D.C. But before its departure, Black Aggie fostered a plethora of haunted stories, and if you do a little digging you might start to find that some of these manifestations are rooted in truth. Do the ghosts of a Civil War general or the suicidal wife of a socialite really haunt the grave of Felix Agnus, and the cemetery of Pikesville, Maryland? And if not, what does haunt it?
The Black Aggie statue that was legendary in Baltimore is actually a replica of a statue made by American sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens. St. Gaudens was commissioned to make the statue by a man named Henry Adams. In 1885, his wife Marian “Clover” Adams committed suicide by drinking potassium during a bout of depression over her father’s death. Before she died, one of her life grievances was that she could not conceive a child. Originally, only a modest marker was placed over her grave in Rock Creek Cemetery In Washington D.C.
After some soul-searching on a trip to Japan, however, the despairing Henry decided he wanted something more elaborate to mark his wife's grave. He requested that St. Adams make a marker with an eastern feel. While it took over four years, the sculpture of an androgynous figure draped in a robe was placed over the grave in 1891. The statue was never officially named, but was sometimes referred to as “Grief” or “Adams Memorial.”
Urban legends that circulated around the statute often assume, due to its name, it marked the grave of someone named Aggie. However, before the statue was moved due to vandalism, it originally marked the grave of the Civil War veteran who originally ordered it built. Felix Agnus was buried under Black Aggie until the statue was moved to Druid Park. Civil War cemeteries are notorious centerpieces of haunted stories, and Black Aggie is no exception.
Some legends claim the statue is cursed, and those who sit in its lap are killed within a few days or months. One popular tale involves a group of three teenagers who drove to the cemetery during a full moon and sat in Black Aggie’s lap. According to the story, within a week all the teens suffered misfortune. One teen got into a dangerous car accident, another fell and broke their leg, and – worst of all – one teen died when their canoe capsized in a river.
The statue has drawn various rumors and superstitions over the years. One such rumor is a warning to pregnant women. There's some belief the statue was actually erected in memory of girls who were sexually assaulted. Thus, if pregnant women pass through the shadow of Black Aggie, they will end up miscarrying.