• Graveyard Shift

The Horrid Story Of Octavia Hatcher, A Grieving Mother Who Was Buried Alive

Stories of people who were buried alive are always chilling, especially as this is a common human fear. Imagine waking up six feet under in your coffin with no one to hear you scream. Allegedly in 1889 in Pikeville, KY, a woman named Octavia Hatcher was buried alive after succumbing to a sleeping sickness. While the story is not verified, it's the stuff of local legend in Pikeville and many residents believe the tale to be true. 

There is a statue standing in the local Pikeville cemetery today of Octavia Hatcher. According to legend, it was commissioned by her grieving husband after he discovered a horrible mistake had been made and Hatcher had been buried alive. Over the years, the statue has been a target of vandalism and rumors have circulated about paranormal occurrences near the cemetery. Whether Octavia Hatcher was really buried alive or not, this hasn't stopped her tale from capturing local imagination.

  • James Hatcher Had A Coffin Custom Built To Avoid Being Buried Alive Himself

    James Hatcher became terrified of succumbing to the same fate as his wife after her death, and not without good reason considering how common the sleeping sickness was at the time of her death. In order to ensure he wouldn't suffer like his wife, he had a custom coffin built to help prevent him from being buried alive. Rumor has it James was buried with a string tied around his finger that was strung up to a bell found above the ground. In the event he was accidentally buried alive, James could ring the bell to call for help.

  • James Hatcher Had An Elaborate Monument Resurrected In Octavia's Honor

    According to the story, James Hatcher’s heart was broken after he discovered the tragic accident. After Octavia was reburied, he splurged on an expensive memorial for her. He had a life-sized statue of Octavia holding her baby boy built over her grave to commemorate his late wife.

  • The Statue Was Vandalized Over The Years

    Sadly, the statue James had commissioned was vandalized over the years. The baby Octavia held was knocked out of her arms and now lies at Octavia’s feet. As vandalism continued, the family took steps to prevent it. A fence was put around the grave and the statue was placed on a marble base to make it more difficult to reach.


  • Some Doubt The Story Is True

    Not everyone buys the buried alive story. While it’s been passed down for generations, and the saga mostly remains consistent, there isn’t a lot of solid evidence about Octavia Hatcher’s burial. There are no newspaper articles from the time verifying her death, and it seems unlikely such a tragedy would go unreported in such a small town. James Hatcher’s death was reported in 1939, but there were no mentions of his wife’s earlier tragic passing in newspaper articles. This leaves some suspicious that the story is merely the stuff of local legend.