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The City Journals

Spooky (and painful) Halloween stories are everywhere

Oct 12, 2020 11:52AM ● By Josh Wood

By Joshua Wood | [email protected]

Halloween stories can be found anywhere. You just have to want to find them. From haunted houses to creepy graveyards, there is always a location that sends a chill through the veins. There are several great Halloween stories and locations in Utah’s folklore, many stemming from strange events of the past.

Close to home, the Cottonwood Heights Journal wrote just last year of the peculiar history of the Old Mill.

But spooky tales can also be found beyond the boundaries of Cottonwood Heights. In the Salt Lake City Cemetery, one can view the strange gravestone of Lilly E. Gray. Below her birth and death dates (she died in 1958), the epitaph reads, “Victim of the Beast 666”. Her actual history seems more mundane, but the grave marker still tingles the spine, or at least raises an eyebrow.

"The Salt Lake City cemetery is the final resting place for over 100,000 people, each with a unique life story," said Linda Hilton, who gives tours of the cemetery. "Among those are history makers, saints and villains, true stories, tall tales, and a few unsolved mysteries!"

Cottonwood Heights Historic Committee Chairman Jim Kichas shared several stories that he has found in his research. He cited the infamous Purple Lady, who is said to haunt the Rio Grande Depot. Legend has it she was hit by a train trying to recover her engagement ring that had fallen on the tracks. “I have worked down here for over 15 years and haven’t caught sight of her,” Kichas said. “That said, it does get unusually eerie on the Rio campus after dark.”

The state has a long list of stories of mysterious or haunted places. Places like the Old Mill or theatres are said to be haunted by the spirits of people who lost their lives in fires on the premises. There are other oddities at the Salt Lake City Cemetery to be explored for those looking for a good Halloween-related scare. Tour operators can even show you around.

An interesting Cottonwood Heights Halloween story? Kichas shared research done by Historic Committee member Gayle Conger, who wrote about one incident a while back. The year of the episode was 1936. At the time, Conger related, kids didn’t enjoy the same type of Halloween that kids know today. Instead of getting treats at the local trunk-or-treat, kids tended to spend more time on Halloween playing pranks. Knocking over mailboxes and other acts of vandalism still happen in modern-day Halloweens, but Conger’s article indicates these high jinks were more common back then.

On Halloween night, 1936, one Butlerville resident, W.R. Jones, had no time for three teenage boys running amok on his property. “Mr. Jones, hearing the commotion in front of his house, allegedly took his .22 rifle and fired at the boys, hitting one of them in the shoulder, causing a flesh wound,” Conger reported. “He plead guilty to simple assault.”

Be safe,  this Halloween.

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