Ask any new ghost hunting group where the best place to look for ghosts is and most likely the answer will be a cemetery. Why is that? I've asked this question over the years and the response I have usually received was that there were dead people there and that should mean there are ghosts there as well. But there isn't any fact behind this, it's just an assumption.
Cemeteries, like this one on Belmont, are thought to be haunted
even when there is no history of activity. (photo by Michael Banti)
It's assumed that since people are buried in cemeteries, that the spirits are still there and therefore can haunt the cemetery. Most hauntings occur where someone has either died or had some sort of personal connection to the place or perhaps a person there. Cemeteries usually don't have this (there are exceptions as I will explain later). Paranormal groups will wander the cemetery late at night (hopefully with permission) armed with the usual equipment (cameras, voice recorders, etc) and hope they get a photo or an EVP when there was never any evidence that the cemetery had any activity to begin with.
Now I'm not saying that I wasn't guilty of this as well. When I first started investigating in the summer of 2000, one of the first places my group investigated a cemetery. We figured there had to be ghosts there since it was a cemetery. We wandered around for a few hours, taking pictures. Of course all we got were dust orbs, but as I had mentioned in a previous post we didn't know any better. So since we saw "orbs" we felt we were right into assuming the cemetery was haunted. One has to wonder if this could be one of the causes of the assumption that cemeteries are haunted? That someone took photos (for whatever reason) and a dust orb showed up and they assumed it was a ghost. They then tell all their friends they captured a picture of a ghost at said cemetery and then it spreads from there.
There are some cemeteries that are actually haunted, but they have one or two specific ghosts to them. There is a small cemetery outside the town of Paso Robles called Adeliade Cemetery and the story goes that a woman named Charlotte lost her two young children to a dyptheria epidemic in the late 1800's. Distraut over her children's death, she commited suicide. The story continues that every Friday night between the hours of midnight Charlotte would appear and leave flowers on her children's graves. I had the chance to invesigate this cemetery a few years ago and it still remains one of the strangest expierences I've ever had. Unfortunately it's not the norm regarding cemeteries.
The purpose of this article isn't to discourage people from investigating cemeteries, just make sure they have had some sort of activity in the past and that it's from a reputable witness. Don't go into one assuming since people are buried there that there are ghosts there. If I was a ghost, I wouldn't want to stick around where my body was at. I'd rather be at some place interesting. In closing just make sure there's actually something there before you go. And please get permission from whomever owns the property. Even though it is a public place, it does have operating hours and you will be charged with trepassing if you go after closing and without permission. Don't ruin it for everyone else just because you were looking for a thrill.