St. Augustine, Florida, is the oldest continuously occupied European-settled city in the United States. And some spirits have been occupying it considerably longer than others. So if there was any place I was likely to experience an encounter with a ghost, this was it. Better yet, I was going to be there for three whole days on a conference set up by the Tampa Bay Ghost Watchers. So even if I didn’t find a ghost, I was going to learn a lot about them. Because, I’ve been on ghost hunts before, and I just don’t find ghosts. And since Dad worked in electronics, I know a little too much about what can really set off that EMF detector. But that’s a different story. This one is about the ghost.
Because in St. Augustine, I didn’t make it past the first night without bumping into a ghost. We were out in small groups being given tours of various haunted locations in town by local experts, and since these weren’t the standard guided tours, we had more time to stop and explore various locations. I took some pictures and nothing much happened. Until Huguenot Cemetery. Huguenot Cementery. Now every ghost tour in town will take you to the cemetery and tell you about the various hauntings. What they may not tell you is that the grassy area outside the cemetery remains undeveloped because it is believed to have been used as an unmarked burial ground during one of the cities yellow fever plagues.
Now, I wasn’t sure why we were all poking our cameras through the closed gates of the cemetery (it was late at night) when we were apparently walking around on top of other graves. So I wandered away to stand quietly in a spot between a palm tree and an oak tree. As I stood there, I felt something just brush my arm. Now is Florida, this is more likely to be a bug than a ghost, but it didn’t feel bug-like. Then I noticed the cold spot. From about waist height down, the air around me was chillier than it should have been for a muggy Florida night. As I stood there, moving my arm up and down and deciding that, yep, there seemed to be something unusual going on, my friend Elizabeth join me. She was able to feel the same distinct cold spot.
In this case, the haunting didn’t feel spooky or scary. Instead I picked up more a sense of loneliness. People, adults and children, died and were buried in haste, then forgotten. We left our ghostly friend where we found him. But if you ever visit St. Augustine, stop outside Huguenot cemetery and take a moment to remember the people the guides don’t tell the ghost stories about because time forgot them.