There is a town just thirty minutes south of Oklahoma City called Blanchard. A small community of roughly 8400 people epitomizes the slow retreat of what once was with what must now be. It is a rare place where the past and the future nestle comfortably together in its archaic seclusion as Old Glory proudly waves in the middle of the Main Street and Broadway intersection. Further to the east on the corner sits a Subway restaurant next to its neighbor, the barbershop, each sharing the same brick veneered front that harbors a dozen other stores.
It is just one and a half miles north of that point that you will find the notoriously haunted Blanchard Cemetery. This popular resting place for the dead was established in 1917 on a 20-acre lot right off of Highway 76 and can consistently be found on any of the many top ten lists of the most haunted places in Oklahoma to visit. What is it about this place that leads Amazon supplied ghost hunters to drive hundreds of miles to investigate this location? Well, as one of those hunters who were unafraid to purchase the two hundred dollar ghost kit, I am prepared to try and answer that question.
Let us first consider what constitutes making a place haunted; rumors mostly, which the cemetery has in dead man hand aces. As you enter under the rusted, lettered arch, you will first notice the leaning oaks scattered here and there. It is between them that a shadowy figure (it is said) can often be seen walking in a dark trench coat, giving an occasional wave to whatever horrified audience is there at the time.
To some, this friendly apparition has even appeared regaled in a nineteenth-century top hat, casually leaning against one of the larger oaks as a transparent knife switches from hand to hand. Some say it is a man who once took it upon himself to be the caretaker of the cemetery when it first opened, whose family, over the years, were placed in a section he had purchased, and that he still guards the resting place of his fallen kin.
And if you by chance hear the anguished cry of a small child, you are not alone; many people have reported seeing a little girl weaving in and out of the stone markers. It was during a spring tempest that she walked mysteriously out of her house and into the night, oblivious to the torrential beating of the rain as it slashed against her face. The Washita River raged as she continued her journey with its white-capped current racing, an obesity feeding on the many helpless washouts that breached the area.
Perhaps it was one of those incoming supplies that caught the little girl unaware, seizing her with a constrictor strength as it carried her to the river. It is unclear what happened that night, but it is clear that two days later, her lifeless body was found washed up on the bank two miles away. Now, swathed in her burial robe, this young girl can be seen traipsing through the yard, forever searching for something that she will never find.
A few hundred feet beyond the gate and to the left lies section 2. There, that mysterious blue light has been seen hovering over one of the older family plots. Perhaps a lost soul who missed their chance to go through the ethereal doorway or chose not to.
These claims have all been repeated by the many people who had decided to forgo an evening of Netflix binge-watching, only to summon up the courage to brave the unknown. Spiritual frontiersmen can turn a blind eye to what is known and plunder into the supernatural darkness. As a fellow wanderer, I, with the help of my two very amateur associates, ventured into this cemetery, our hopes orbiting somewhere past the moon with our senses fine-tuned and opened for anything.
As we pulled into the entrance, scattered trees sat lifeless as the early spring air had yet to spark them to life. Stepping out of my Suburban with one working headlight, I was instantly aware of a cool northern breeze as it whispered its way through the leafless branches. The cemetery sat cold and barren; the ageless tombstones decorated with wilting flowers seemed oblivious to our presence. Slowly we began to make our way on foot, the EMP detector alive and alert.
From Highway 76, the hum of motors continued by and then faded, automotive beams throwing running shadows across the headstones. After walking for a few minutes, we suddenly found ourselves confronted by the recorded stone of a man who had been born in 1843. A jewel of history planted and forgotten. Thoughts and imagination created an image of this man who would have been eighteen at the beginning of the Civil War. Possibly a voter, either for or against Lincoln. What a tale he must have had. Did he fight in the war? The headstone’s chipped inscription did not say.
A motion to my left brought me back to the present as a shadow streaked past. The moon’s low light was of little help; as I quickly turned to follow it, I accidentally defiled the man’s headstone with the tip of my big toe. A wail could suddenly be heard ringing over the eternal resting place as I fell to the ground. The shadow, obviously startled by the reflexive siren that had escaped from my mouth, scuttled off into the night but not before one of my associates was able to illuminate the hairless tail that it was dragging behind it with his flashlight.
Slowly, I rose to my feet. The throbbing felt like a hammer steadily beating on my toe. A large oak tree stood from further in, past where I had last seen the fleeing opossum. Long leafless branches forked their way skyward, shadows within a shadow. With my newly found limp, I made my way towards the wide trunk. With my two comrades offering their physical support, I soon found myself leaning against the old oak tree where the man in the coat could often be seen holding a spectral blade in hand.
Fortunately, the spirit had opted out this evening. Feint giggles blended with continuous whispered recounts of my earlier collision as I removed my tennis shoe and sock, revealing a cracked nail. From the highway, vehicles continued by, unaware of the nightmare that was happening. It occurred to me that if by chance, someone was to look into the cemetery at this moment, they might see a strange shape as it leaned on an old withered tree. Thus, the legend would continue.
At this point, a decision was made to conclude the investigation. At first, I was hesitant to ‘fold up camp’ so early, one reason being that we had accomplished so little and the other being the distance that I would now have to walk to get back to the Suburban. It was soon apparent that the votes were against me as our tiny three-person democracy had spoken. With great effort, I pushed myself off of the tree and lumbered my way towards the nearest path, perhaps creating a new legend about a zombie.
Some will read this article and might doubt the honesty of the events, but I assure you that these are the facts. The cemetery had not yielded the supernatural results that I had hoped for; that is true; however, let us not be too quick to discard this area as mere fiction or an old wives tale.
At the end, who’s to say what a true haunting is? And let us not forget that after only an hour into our investigation, I could be seen hobbled and on my way home. That, in itself, could be construed as proof. Perhaps a subtle warning to myself and to others that the dead are not relatively as harmless as we might assume and that if you are so inclined to visit the Blanchard Cemetery, it might not be such a bad idea to bring along with you a first aid kit.