Known by two names, King County Hospital Cemetery or Duwamish Poor Farm Cemetery, depending on your search engine, Seattle once had a Potter’s Field. When the cemetery was exhumed in 1912, there were 3,280 people buried here. A little less than 800 of those lost souls had known names.
One of the most remarkable graves at the cemetery was for Ingo Singh, a member of the Sikh religion. His grave was dated 1908, a decade before anyone else of the Sikh religion was known to settle in Seattle. Historians wish they knew his story. So do I. From Wing Luke Museum’s website:
“What brought him to Seattle? How long had he been here? On September 4, 1907, Bellingham witnessed the “Anti-Hindu Riots” with a mob of approximately 500 men attacking Sikhs and forcibly removing them from town. Could Ingo Singh have fled Bellingham and headed south, staying in Seattle rather than continuing on to California, like many others? Or maybe he was heading north from California when the Anti-Hindu Riots took place and decided to stay in Seattle instead?”
The Duwamish Poor Farm Cemetery held over 3,000 souls, that’s 3,000 stories we will never hear. What we do know is that many died without any family to claim their bones. They mostly died destitute, and King County put them to rest. Or did they?
On a recent visit to Mission Santa Barbara, I came upon the grave of Sister Vincentia Bermudes. She died on Christmas in 1863 at the age of twenty. The base of her grave was covered with coins and dollars, as was a nearby tree stump. Why?
I was curious.
After a day of hard research, I was left with more questions than answers. Why did people leave coins? Were they hoping she would put in a good word with God on their behalf? Was there some urban legend associated with her grave? I still don’t know. In fact, I might never know.
Though, I did find a few interesting facts about burial customs as I did research on Sister Vincentia Bermudes’ grave.
First, Mission Santa Barbara is haunted. I knew this from my own visits. From cold spots to weird EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon) to feelings of unease, my daughters and I are convinced. If you want to watch someone’s ghost hunting journey here, I have a link for you.
I also learned that coins are typically left on the graves of soldiers. Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters, the coins signify a fellow soldier’s connection to their dead friend. A quarter is the most significant offering; it means they were with the soldier when they died. This tradition dates back centuries, possibly to fallen Roman soldiers. Fellow soldiers left coins to pay for their voyage over River Styx.
I wish I could tell you the story of Sister Vincentia Bermudes; how she lived and died, but I came up empty. I hope the sentiment etched into her gravestone has come to fruition; “May she rest in Peace(sic).”
Nothing draws me to a cemetery like dark rumors and two of them persist about graves at Bayview Cemetery in Bellingham, Washington. On my recent cemetery walk, I found the two rumor-riddled resting places I was seeking and much more.
The statue of ‘Angel Eyes’ is simple to find. The locals allege that she cries real tears. I visited her mid-day and found the carving to be beautiful and found it curious that black tracks seemed to start at her tear ducts and run down her face. They were mostly likely due to our nasty Pacific Northwest weather.
Then, though it took me longer to find, I discovered the ‘Deathbed’ grave. Set within a carpet of fall leaves, it seemed to lovely a spot to cause the death of anyone. Here’s the story. According to locals, if you lie above the grave and say the name on the grave three times, you will die in three days. I didn’t lie on the grave. That felt disrespectful. But, I did get goosebumps when I came close.
I continued to walk the cemetery and near the top of the hill I found the most beautiful sculpture. The weeping woman sits in the center of the children’s cemetery and embodies everything we feel at the loss of a child. A visual poem, she is beautiful and heartbreaking.
Please get out there and visit a cemetery soon and let me know what you discover.
As always, I love you and hope you have a wonderful week. J