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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?


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.

Unknown 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.

Karl Hancock said...

My great grandfather was the founding preacher at the church. He created the cemetery so that any members of the church could would be entitled to a Christain burial whether they could pay for it or not. Why the church burned down I do not know, it was abandoned at the time. The basement remained intact as was the staircase leading down into the basement. As a member of the local Sheriff's Office, I investigated the church for satanic activity (mid 1980's). I concluded there was activity in that basement, Pentagrams on the wall, an alter, black candles and small animal bone littered the basement floor. However that alone is not against the law. Years later the basement was filled in with the remaining debris in and around the church. The cemetery, long ago, also served as a "potters grave" for those that were deemed indigent by the county or their families to poor to afford a burial. Those folks are buried through out the cemetery with no headstones, etc. Also, about a 1/2 mile west of the cemetery, now agriculture land, was a barracks that housed German POW's during WWII. Dailey they would march up and down the road in front of the church. The German's would work the fields, etc. They were surprised at the well treatment they received. If one is "sensitive" enough I think they can "feel" the spirits of the POWS and the dead who did not have a proper christian burial.

Anonymous said...

my dad and brother are buried there one time my mother and i and my kids went to visit there graves to clean them up and of coarse say hi !!it was a hot July day just as we got there and got out and got to graves it started pouring down rain i mean pouring and we started running back to the car and my daughter fell in to a grave hole that looked like maybe something had been digging we didn't really see it when was walking out there but it was there when we running out so we were saying lets get the hell out of there my daughter had mud and what ever else from the hole but just we got a little bit down the rd it was hot sunny day totally WEIRD and couple other times we went we couldn't find it like it disappeared we went to madera town and it was like something like off of twilight zone the town was deserted we even went to the police sation no body there thats really to weird we didnt even want to know why and no we wasnt stoned im sure we wouldnt of went to the police station if we was

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone!
I've heard many stories but the one I trust most comes from someone who was actually there during the fire. My Dad. Apparently a close friend of his had a sister who went to the church with a friend. She didn't know what to expect but said there was a bunch of Satan worshippers and when she told her brother what had happened (idk the details but it was crazy) Her brother and his friends, my Dad included, went and burned the church down. I've been to the site and had no idea where the church was located. My Mom was letting me and my brother drive (15 woohoo!) And I drive right on top of where the church was. My brother started screaming "Get off! GET OFF!" Really freaked me out. After that he wouldn't even get out of the car but I had fun roaming the cemetary!
Now that I am older I find stories like this interesting!

Unknown said...

I lived on ave12 & rd23 for over 14 years. There S alot of families i grew up wit. I found that cemetery a very interesting place to visit. The man who lives on the property was there the last time my friends and i went out there. At first we didn't know what to think of him but he came up to us slowly while we were walking around inside the cemetery. Couldn't go the way we came in cause that's where he was coming from. My friends were getting scared cause he was getting closer, but i told them well we'll just talk to him, starting wit hello! He was very nice,and it seem like we were on a field trip, he was like are tour guide. He shared interesting stories. Another interesting thing was that he went to school wit 1 of my cousins and knew him well. The wind carries many different sounds if u listen carefully but it was peaceful.I took pics of it and i did get a spirit of a young girl smiling from far away that came out in 1 of my pics. If your energy is strong and open they will feel it. Hope to go back 1 day.

Unknown said...

I just went to that cemetery tonight and really had no clue it existed.

Never would I have thought there would be a cemetery there, like just nowhere.

Its strange and looks more like land but when you get closer you actually see all the tombstones

I turn my video recorder off my phone on and i recorded a few times. No flash no noise.

I actually got a voice
Very interesting and creepy haha

cowboys' angel said...

I live less than a half mile from new hope. It is true the man living in the camper trailer is really nice and will tell many true stories about creepy stuff that happens there. He is the caretaker and has been for years. While I am not afraid of cemeteries like some folks, It is what is living among and in the giant trees and fields around these parts that scare me. I have CCTV video of something landing on a friends RV looking straight at the camera then pulling back out of view- clear as day and that happened less than a half mile from where I live as well. In the other about creepy shit. I have studied that CCTV footage many times and can't identify that thing but it is defiantly not of this world!!