12 October 2021

A 1904 Ghost story at Murray City Cemetery

An (obvious) photoshopped image of
Murray City Cemetery and baby ghost Calvin.
Ghost stories are plentiful at Murray City Cemetery and one of the earliest is from 1904.

According to a story in the Salt Lake Tribune, a young man took a shortcut through the Murray City Cemetery to visit a young lady he fancied.

On this Wednesday night (April 27, 1904) the young man reached the middle of the cemetery and encountered a white figure that slowly emerged from the ground and hung suspended over a grave. He distinguished the outline of a small child. As he continued to gaze in fright the figure slowly disappeared sinking back into the earth.

He walked a few more paces and the ghostly figure again rose and hovered above the surface of the ground. Again, the young man stopped and again the ghost vanished. This repeated a third time at which point he turned back and fled without another look!

The Tribune’s report continues stating that Cemetery Sexton Robert Wright spoiled the ghost story. Sexton Wright said that he was digging a grave that Wednesday night that needed to be ready the next morning, April 28th. The grave was half dug when he heard a noise, so he raised his head and looked around. It was so dark he could not see anything, so he went back to digging. This happened 2 more times and then he saw a man running down the path as hard as he could go.

A few days later the Deseret News took issue with the Tribune’s reporting stating that Sexton Wright was not digging a grave that night and that there were no rumors of ghosts in the cemetery. If the Deseret News reporting is accurate and Sexton Wright was not present, perhaps the young man really did see a ghost.

In attempting to fact-check this story I found a close match to the young man’s ghost story: Two-year-old Calvin Wilson died of diphtheria on April 26, 1904 and was buried in Murray City Cemetery the following day, April 27.

The burial is one day off from the young man’s story but perhaps he misremembered the exact day. Regardless, it is a good ghost story.

Murray City Cemetery at sunset, 2021.
Family photo of baby Calvin Wilson and grandmother
Lillie Archer Wilson, from FamilySearch
Gravesite of baby Calvin Wilson, 2014 from FindAGrave

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