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Murray Journal

Is Murray Cemetery haunted?

Sep 17, 2018 02:18PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Mahonri Moriancumer Cahoon’s grave is well-visited in Murray Cemetery. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

By Shaun Delliskave | s.delliskave@mycityjournals.com

Did somebody or something touch your shoulder as you walked among the headstones? Or did you just hear a disembodied voice beckoning to you? After 144 years of being the final resting place for many of Murray’s noteworthy residents, Murray City Cemetery is bound to provide visitors with interesting experiences, or at least some interesting history.

Near the cemetery office, there is an unusually shaped headstone that looks like a bed. Lane Page, the sexton for the cemetery, explained, “The story behind it is that a woman had a staircase built next to her husband’s grave so she could go down to visit his grave. After she passed away the staircase was filled in and the bed was installed over their graves.”

If you look at the walls of the cemetery office building, you will notice a peculiar site: a tombstone embedded in the brickwork. Meet John Benbow, the cemetery’s first resident, who gave some of his land for the cemetery. No, they didn’t park the office over his burial site; instead, they moved the headstone there for posterity. Benbow’s stone, like those of many early pioneers, was cut from nearby sandstone. Over time, the weather or sprinklers wear away the surface of these stones. An updated tombstone at Benbow’s gravesite explains his interesting pioneer past. Though Mr. Benbow seems to have moved on, other residents purportedly have not.

One ghostly apparition in 1904 caused such a stir that the Salt Lake Tribune reported it. A man who was courting a young lady in Murray crossed through the cemetery to reach her house. The Tribune reported, “He had reached the middle of the cemetery when his apprehensive glance encountered a sight that made his blood run cold. A few yards away a snow-white figure slowly emerged from the ground and hung suspended over a grave. The watcher could distinguish the outlines of a little child apparently three to four years old.”

The authorities were called to the young lady’s house to interview the panic-stricken young lover, and soon all of Murray turned out to catch sight of a real ghost. The Tribune reported that tales of the ghost were quickly embellished, morphing the child-like figure into a poltergeist “…the size of a telegraph pole and multiplied into a corps of corpses.”

More recently, several ghost hunting organizations have investigated the burial ground. The International Ghost Hunters Society has posted images taken at Murray Cemetery of what they claim are actual photos of a ghost. The photos appear to show what looks like smoke or condensation, unlike that of a child witnessed years earlier.

Another investigation by the International Ghost Hunters Society claims to have recorded a ghost’s voice, or Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). According to the investigators, they were recording when a police car drove by; right at that moment a voice said “busted.” The ghost could be speaking the truth, since Murray police regularly patrol the cemetery and can cite anyone who happens to be on the grounds after sundown. Some dismiss EVPs as noise interference, like what happens when tuning into an AM radio station near power or telephone lines.

A heartbreaking headstone in the cemetery simply reads, “Unknown Boy Infant, Aug 2, 1933. We Love You.” Authorities found the child’s remains in a garbage dump; his tragic story and identity forever unknown.

Some ghost believers feel that if the departed had a traumatic life, they spend the afterlife haunting. According to Page, “I can’t think of any ghost stories here, but we do have a popular person buried here.

“Mahonri Moriancumer Cahoon. Many people come to visit his grave. His story is interesting to people because of how he got his unusual name. The story is that when he was born, his parents asked Joseph Smith to bless him and give him a name. The parents were surprised that he was given such an unusual name and asked why that name. Joseph Smith told them it was the name of someone mentioned in the Book of Mormon, but his name was never revealed in print (he is referred to as “the Brother of Jared”).”

If there are ghosts in the cemetery, all reports indicate they are good-natured and mischievous rather than angry like the authorities who catch cemetery roamers late in the night.