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Rose Hill Cemetery offers a glimpse into Bloomington’s past

Even though Halloween isn’t for another two weeks, Bloomington is already experiencing some haunts. I traveled to Rose Hill Cemetery to see what all the skele-fuss was about.

Andrea Hadsell has always had an inclination for the supernatural and paranormal. When she joined the Monroe County History Center five years ago as their education manager, she had a vision. It started with an idea to partner with parks and recreation

“In October of 2018 we did our very first ghost tour where we dug through as many records as we could possibly get to find historical burials that are not mentioned in a regular walking tour that you can get of the cemetery,” Hadsell said.

Which culminated in the Dearly Departed Cemetery Tours. The tours, which took place this past weekend, highlight some of the more macabre deaths at Rose Hill Cemetery that people might not know about.

“Just because they physically are gone doesn’t mean that their story has to be gone,” Hadsell said.

Stories of the departed such as Charles Goode.

It was as if Romeo and Juliet went wrong, or more wrong than it did. Mrs. Goode was not living with Charles at the time, and he had a mindset of “If I can’t have her, no one can.” He wanted them both to drink the carbolic acid. Charles Goode went through with it, but Mrs. Goode did not.

“So that was a very interesting, very gruesome death,” Hadsell said.”

But all of the stories highlighted on the tour are just to set the spooky spirit of the season.

“Cemeteries aren’t scary places,” Hadsell said.

Rose Hill hosts several graves, many dating back to a couple of hundred years ago. Hadsell and her team have gone through to dig up the history of the deceased and figure out what actually happened.

“So you have to dig into that research, use historical context to actually understand the terminology that they’re using,” Hadsell said.

For example, many mothers had melancholia listed as their cause of death, which in the present day we would call post-partum depression. 

But Hadsell doesn’t want patrons to be spooked away. Going through the cemetery can be peaceful and enlightening, especially when taking a look at the gravestones.

“So there’s on this particular stone, it’s a lot of symbolism,” Hadsell said. “So they are actually beautiful to take a look at and try to peel away and dig a little deeper into the that family history what that story is.”

Hadsell invites people to visit Rose Hill and the History Center to learn a little bit about their own history as they make their own history. Guided tours and self-guided walk-throughs are offered through the Monroe County History Center. Rose Hill Cemetery is open to the public from dawn to dusk.