At one time, Ridgely, Mo., population 64, was known as “Hell Town.”
“It used to be called the Hell Town because it was wild,” ghost hunter Tammy Lanier said. “The railroad went through; now it’s about four houses.”
Lanier, of nearby Edgerton (a comparative metropolis with a population of 533), is fascinated with one aspect of Ridgely – the cemetery.
A stone arch stands next to Route B in Platte County at the mouth of the property. Newer graves in the still-used cemetery line the front of the property. Older ones sit in the back that ends in a tree line bordering the property of Lonnie Williams.
“A lot of this land was owned by a guy named Christiansen,” said Williams, who has lived next to the cemetery all his life. “(He) donated it to people in the Civil War era who couldn’t afford to be buried.”
A wide strip of grass separates the old and new sections and will probably always be covered with grass.
“They won’t allow anyone to be buried back here,” Williams said. “I guess there were so many people buried with a wooden cross that rotted away, they don’t know how many are out there.”
Cemeteries don’t bother Edgerton resident and Williams’ cousin Beverly Slocombe; she grew up next to nearby Platte City Cemetery. But she said there’s something different about the one in Ridgely.
“I was never afraid of graveyards until the last time we went out there,” she said. “I don’t think my husband will let me take one of our vehicles out there. It broke a window.”
In October 2007, about 10 p.m., Slocombe, Lanier and a few fellow ghost hunters sat in Slocombe’s car smoking. They usually stood around Slocombe’s vehicle on ghost hunts, smoking cigarettes and watching the cemetery. But that night was different.
“I was too scared to get out of the car,” Slocombe said. “Something was telling us not to get out of the car.”
And she wasn’t the only one to feel it. One of the ghost hunters, armed with a camera, was frozen in place.
“She didn’t want to roll down the windows to take pictures,” Lanier said.
Then they saw the most visible densin of the Ridgely cemetery, the White Lady – a fog-like phenomenon that moves … sometimes with intelligence.
“It was like looking through Saran Wrap,” Slocombe said. “It was blurry and it moved.”
They sat in the car, the one with the camera trying – and failing – to get a picture of the apparition through the closed window.
“Then the back window of my vehicle went ‘reeennnttt,’” Slocombe said, describing the sound of a car window being forced down. But the car’s engine was off, so the electric window couldn’t have worked.
One of the ghost hunters “almost leaped into the front with us,” Lanier said.
Slocombe started the car and shoved it into drive – but it wouldn’t move. She could hear the engine running, but as she hammered the gas peddle, the engine didn’t fluctuate.
“I could hear it running and it just didn’t move. It didn’t even rev,” she said. “I took my foot off the gas, hit it again and it took off.”
Undeterred, Slocombe and Lanier have been back to the Ridgely cemetery, and have seen the White Lady on a few other rare occasions.
One night at about 11 p.m., Slocombe and other ghost hunters were standing around their vehicle smoking cigarettes when Slocombe saw the White Lady.
“I kept seeing something out by the tree line,” she said. “It was a white figure. Human shaped.”
Slocombe tried to focus on the figure, but it was difficult.
“It would disappear and show up again,” she said. “I only saw it three times. Each time it came back it was closer. At that point I told them, ‘let’s go. I want to get out of here.’”
And the ghost hunters trumbled into the vehicle.
“When I go to shut my door a bright white light shoots past,” Slocombe said. “I saw it, but didn’t say anything. Tammy leans up and said, ‘did you see that?’ She’d seen the same thing.”
For many nights afterward, Slocombe saw the White Lady of the Ridgely cemetery again – in her dreams.
“After that I’d have dreams about her,” she said. “And in my dreams I saw it in slow motion. It was a white lady and she was screaming as she went by.”
Copyright 2008 by Jason Offutt
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