Friday, November 9, 2012
When Felix Agnus put up the life-sized shrouded bronze statue of a grieving angel, seated on a pedestal, in the Agnus family plot in the Druid Ridge Cemetery, he had no idea what he had started. The statue was a rather eerie figure by day, frozen in a moment of grief and terrible pain. At night, the figure was almost unbelievably creepy; the shroud over its head obscuring the face until you were up close to it. There was a living air about the grieving angel, as if its arms could really reach out and grab you if you weren't careful.
It didn't take long for rumors to sweep through the town and surrounding countryside. They said that the statue - nicknamed Black Aggie - was haunted by the spirit of a mistreated wife who lay beneath her feet. The statue's eyes would glow red at the stroke of midnight, and any living person who returned the statues gaze would instantly be struck blind. Any pregnant woman who passed through her shadow would miscarry. If you sat on her lap at night, the statue would come to life and crush you to death in her dark embrace. If you spoke Black Aggie's name three times at midnight in front of a dark mirror, the evil angel would appear and pull you down to hell. They also said that spirits of the dead would rise from their graves on dark nights to gather around the statue at night.
People began visiting the cemetery just to see the statue, and it was then that the local fraternity decided to make the statue of Grief part of their initiation rites. "Black Aggie" sitting, where candidates for membership had to spend the night crouched beneath the statue with their backs to the grave of General Agnus, became popular.
One dark night, two fraternity members accompanied new hopeful to the cemetery and watched while he took his place underneath the creepy statue. The clouds had obscured the moon that night, and the whole area surrounding the dark statue was filled with a sense of anger and malice. It felt as if a storm were brewing in that part of the cemetery, and to their chagrin, the two fraternity members noticed that gray shadows seemed to be clustering around the body of the frightened fraternity candidate crouching in front of the statue.
What had been a funny initiation rite suddenly took on an air of danger. One of the fraternity brothers stepped forward in alarm to call out to the initiate. As he did, the statue above the boy stirred ominously. The two fraternity brothers froze in shock as the shrouded head turned toward the new candidate. They saw the gleam of glowing red eyes beneath the concealing hood as the statue's arms reached out toward the cowering boy.
With shouts of alarm, the fraternity brothers leapt forward to rescue the new initiate. But it was too late. The initiate gave one horrified yell, and then his body disappeared into the embrace of the dark angel. The fraternity brothers skidded to a halt as the statue thoughtfully rested its glowing eyes upon them. With gasps of terror, the boys fled from the cemetery before the statue could grab them too.
Hearing the screams, a night watchman hurried to the Agnus plot. To his chagrin, he discovered the body of a young man lying at the foot of the statue. The young man had apparently died of fright.
The disruption caused by the statue grew so acute that the Agnus family finally donated it to the Smithsonian museum in Washington D.C. The grieving angel sat for many years in storage there, never again to plague the citizens visiting the Druid Hill Park Cemetery.
For many years, this donation would prove to be quite an enigma for researchers who attempted to track down the whereabouts of Black Aggie. According to the Smithsonian, they didn’t have her. Despite some people recalling that Aggie was displayed in the National Gallery for a brief period, officials at the Smithsonian claimed they had never displayed her at all. Conspiracy theorists “smelled a rat” and believed that perhaps she was simply placed in storage, rather than put on display...because of her cursed past. "Maybe, just maybe," wrote a columnist for the Baltimore Sun, "they're not taking any chances."
The real answer would not be as strange. Somewhere along the line, the staff at the Smithsonian gave Aggie away, which explains why she does not appear in their records. They had no interest in displaying her and instead, gave her to the National Museum of American Art, where she was then put into storage and never displayed. For years, she would remain in a dusty storeroom, shrouded in cobwebs, until the early 1990's when Black Aggie would “rise from the dead”!
In 1996, a young Baltimore area writer named Shara Terjung did a story on Black Aggie for a small newspaper. After having been long fascinated with the legends, she became determined to track down the present location of the statue. Finally, shortly after Halloween, she got a call from a contact at the General Service Administration who was able to discover where the elusive Aggie had ended up. The statue can still be seen today at the Federal Courts building in Washington, in the rear courtyard of the Dolly Madison house.
The mysterious statue had finally been found!
Black Aggie may be gone from Druid Ridge Cemetery, but she’s certainly not forgotten. “We still have people coming to Druid Ridge, asking for Black Aggie all the time,” said one of the cemetery spokesmen in an interview. “I don’t think there’s a week that goes by when we don’t get a call about it.”
The Angus grave site is well cared for today...the only lingering evidence of Black Aggie is a chipped area on the granite pedestal and a faint shadow where she once rested. At least that’s the only lingering presence that can be seen...some say there is more. Who knows? Whether the Angus grave site was ever haunted or not, Black Aggie has left an indelible mark on not only Druid Ridge Cemetery...but the annals of the supernatural in America as well.
HAUNTED HOUSES [GHOSTS, VISITORS FROM THE DEAD, DEMONIC CURSES, TERRORS FROM THE