Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Madera's New Hope Cemetery

New Hope Cemetery - Madera County
Photo by Michael Banti


I first heard the stories of New Hope Cemetery, located in southern Madera County, while I was still in high school. I was with my best friend Tom when a friend of his, who knew of our love of all things paranormal, told us about this cemetery that was located out in the country. At one time it had a church on the grounds, but it had burned down to the ground (all that was left was the steps sometime in the mid 1980's. Rumor had it that a group of Satanist were responsible for the fire as well as performing dark rituals in the cemetery grounds itself. Ever since then the cemetery was reported to be haunted.

Needless to say we were interested. The three of us jumped in Tom's car and headed towards the cemetery. Unfortunately as we got there, we were to chicken to get out of the car (oh to be 17 again) and just drove away. But that wasn't the end of it. A week or so later, Tom and I headed to the cemetery this time armed with baseball bats, knives, sharpened screwdrivers, wooden stakes, and at least a gallon of holy water. We didn't know what to expect, but we were ready (or so we thought). We got there and as we parked next to the cemetery's fence we saw a red glow coming from the cemetery. Freaked out someone had left a candle burning as part of some dark ritual or something, Tom put the car into reverse and started to leave. As he did this I noticed the red glow disappear. I told him to stop and the glow came back. Turns out it was the reflection of his tail lights on a polished gravestone. That's how freaked out we were.

That night, nothing of much interest happened. But a few years later we drove there one night bored as we had nothing going on. We were walking around like we always do when we started to hear what sounded like drums in the distance. Listening to them, they reminded me of the Native American drums I heard when I attended a pow wow a few years previous. I knew the area very well as my family has vineyards a few miles away and couldn't think of where they were coming from. But what I heard next still is fresh in my mind well over a decade later. I heard what sounded like two little girls laughing, almost laughing like they knew something we didn't. I looked at Tom and could tell he heard the same thing. Needless to say we got the hell out of there.

We visited the cemetery over the years, something always strange happening. One night I was driving by it on my way home when I saw a pair of headlights driving literally in the almond orchard next to the cemetery. As I got closer it started to flash it's lights at me. First were high beams, then regular, then completely off, only to repeat the pattern again. As curious as I was, I didn't find out what the hell was going on and got out of there quickly.

Near the steps of the church. You can see the cemetery in the
background. Photo by Michael Banti

I hadn't been by the cemetery in several years when a friend of mine needed a creepy place to shoot some video in Madera. I suggested the cemetery and we headed out there. When we got there I saw the strangest thing. Some guy in a trailer had set up camp on the remains of the church's foundation. Obviously we didn't stop, but I did shoot some video. You can find it and more info on that day here.

I wish I knew if the stories on the cemetery were true or just more urban legends told by teenagers that are bored one night. The only thing I know for certain is the church did burn down as there are records of it. But I haven't been able to find out anything on to what or who caused it. As for the little girls, I went back at a later date and checked to see if there were any young girls buried there (the graves were as recent as the 1990's and went back nearly a century), but couldn't find anything. But I know what I heard and so did Tom. So that begs the question. What did we hear that night?

4 comments:

Tony Persons (@papaT433) said...

My father is a retired mortician. I grew up around cemeteries. I remember visiting cemeteries in almost every town we visited while on family vacations. It is a habit I have carried over to my own family. Luckily, I married a woman who doesn't think it as strange as most people do. I have yet to find a ghost who doesn't appreciate the visit. :-)

Anonymous said...

My grandparents take care of the property and I can tell you that those stories are just urban legends and not actually true (the church did burn down but there was not a satanical ritual involved). In fact, I have many family members that have been buried in that cemetery.

It's a place I want to check out, though!

Anonymous said...

I grew up and went to high school in Madera and heard the exact same stories about the rituals. My mom and grandparents went to New Hope Church back in the late 50's-mid 60's and so we go to the cemetery once a year or so to take a look around. The gentleman who keeps his trailer on the property also went to New Hope and is a friendly guy. He will tell you stories of the things he sees and hears. I have tapes of him talking about eerie things that happen near the large tree.

We visited the church often before it burned to the ground. It was completely gutted and DID have pentagrams drawn on the walls. Whether or not these were just drawings or something actually took place, I can't tell you, but the drawings were there.

There is a young girl who is buried there who was killed in an auto accident.

Because I go there with my grandparents so often, I have taken a voice recorder there. I have also picked up strange sounds. Moaning was caught near the grave of the preacher.

Karen Rousey said...

My great uncle was the pastor at the church he is the one who left the land for our belated loved ones he is buried there also it's my dad told me hippies lived in the church when it became abandoned and they were the cause of the fire that burnt it down.