Does Reading and Writing About Haunted Places Encourage Vandalism?

I received the following message on Facebook concerning Volume 3 Issue 2 of the Legends and Lore of Illinois about Ramsey Cemetery. I have always felt it was wrong to blame fans of folklore and ghost stories for the vandalism that occurs at rural cemeteries whether they are rumored to be haunted or not. Others, however, have a different opinion.

“I am writting you about your write up about Ramsey Cemetery in Feb. 2009. This is my family cemetery. It is not haunted. There is no werewolf or warlock or ghosts. These are all stories that have been imagined by people that were either high or drunk. This beautiful cemetery has been plagued by partiers, drinking, drug use, littering and vandalism. Tombstones have been toppled over and destroyed. Graves have been dug up, property has been destroyed.

This Cemetery is not a long forgotten place that has been left for decay. It is the finally resting place of my loved ones…my grandparents & great-grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins. My Uncle that died serving his country is resting here. One day I will lay my parents to rest here and some day it will be my finally resting place as well. Please try to show respect for those buried here and their familes that mourn them.

You wrote about the Ramsey Cemetery in Feb. 2009. In April 2009, 40 tombstones were pulled down. Including my grandparents and Uncles stones. Thank you so much for encouraging people to find my family cemetery, walk through my family property searching for non-exsisting caves and ghosts, werewolves and warlocks. One question? Did you have permisson to tresspass on private property looking for caves, werewolves, warlocks and ghosts?”

A link to the Illinois laws and statutes governing cemeteries has been available on this website for a long time. Here was my response to this lady’s concerns:

“I am aware of what happened at Ramsey Cemetery and other cemeteries like it. It is a tragedy that some people do not respect burial places. However, you cannot blame my publication for what happened. Those stories are well known in the area and have been written about in books and articles, and elsewhere on the Internet. I am simply retelling the stories. Many rural graveyards (unfortunately) suffer vandalism without having any stories associated with them. I have never encouraged any acts of vandalism and, in fact, am very interested in cemetery history and preservation. One of the purposes of my publication was to provide pictures and as much information as possible so that people do not feel the need to go there. But even if they did, my readers are respectful of burial grounds and take care to leave them as they were found.”

What do you think? Vote in our poll or leave your comments below.



  1. That is an interesting question and glad it has been raised. So my thoughts are: No the author, investigators, etc. that bring light to a location should not be to blame for vandals of the said location. That is like saying a song or movie cause a person to commit a crime. The person committing the crime made a choice to do what they did.

    That said when we are interviewed and/or do our library presentations we stress over and over again that going into a location either after hours (for public locations) and/or without permission is trespassing and trespassing is breaking the law. We always have permission, in writting, to be at a location we are at. If it is an vacant location we will notify the authorities so that they know we will be there. We following the rules. We make this statement as a precaution…like a warning label on McDonald’s coffee cups that content are HOT… We don’t want people to get any ideas from information we have shared. If that makes sense.

    Michael, maybe add a foreward to each book with a “warning” about trespassing and vandalism. Just a thought!


  2. I am the chairperson for the Illinois state chapter of the Association of Gravestone Studies and I have taken classes in restoration with the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency. In 2011, Michael and I did travel to this location to photograph the cemetery, Ramsey is a registered cemetery which it is public. The day we was there a farmer stopped us on the entrance road and we talked to him for a few minutes. He asked if we knew about the caves and the stories. The cemetery was in good shape then, I think people need to realize the people reading articles from afar or more interested in just visiting and photographing while they visit. It is you local kids and teens that cause damage in your cemeteriesand are close to have the drinking parties.
    Vandalism happens everywhere and there is not much anyone can do but try to knowledge children at a young age. Parents should be taking part in traveling to cemeteries with their children to explain they are not a place to be frightened and death is not to be feared. Decorating family stones for the holidays and having them as teens help volunteer in restoration projects will teach them to respect the cemetery. Praising them in the paper and local news shows other kids that good acts and hard work pays off.
    I think the writer above concerns are important but I think by blaming one person for another persons act is not right. Not everyone believes in spirits or the folklore but it has been around longer then any of us and it always will. Just ask the locals there, seems like they enjoy telling the stories to visitors.


  3. Ramsey Cemetery, just like every other purported haunted public place is no secret. All you need to do is “Google” it and you will find several links.
    I’ve visited hundreds of cemeteries. Cemeteries that have no connection to hauntings and they have been vandalized.
    The bottom line is, old “Lore” plays a major factor.
    Just because you “write” about it, dosen’t make you responsible for others actions.


  4. I get accused of that same thing from time to time as well. I believe that our readers are far less likely to do something destructive as long as we (you and I, Michael) do our jobs, we end up filling our readers with appreciation towards the locations.



  1. […] if ghost hunters and paranormal investigators haven’t gotten enough bad press for allegedly causing vandalism to cemeteries, now they are being blamed for theft as well? More than likely, this was an attempt by a quick […]


  2. […] 2012, we received this message from a lady in Effingham, […]


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