Sunday, May 11, 2014

Drawdy-Rouse Cemetery

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I have my finger on the pulse of the perineum of the Universe. At least sometimes. Like, the other day in Orlando. Having just dashed off some meanderings here about Miami's Ervin Rouse (author of the classic proto-bluegrass fiddle tune "Orange Blossom Special" and swamp-dwelling eccentric) I was driving aimlessly and came upon a cemetery.

That its name was Drawdy-Rouse Cemetery and that it was on Rouse Road lightly tinkled some wind chimes of synchronicity in my head. But when I saw a tombstone for a man named Ervin Rouse, it turned into deafeningly loud bells. Holy moley, I thought, I just found his grave without even trying.

Well, long story short: I didn't. It's a different guy, same name. But the coincidence is still blowing my mind.

I have to wonder if there's not some connection between these Rouses and the Rouses of our man with the violin. I found some geneological records that don't bear out any relation between them, but I'm still on the case. But as Freud sort-of said, sometimes a Rouse is just a Rouse.

Meanwhile, it so happens that this graveyard has something of a reputation for being severely haunted. Unfortunately, much of the hubbub about it sounds like old baloney that's been laying out in the rain. Here's an example:

"The Rouse Road Cemetery is where you will encounter the ghost of a man who passed away during the 1840s. When spotted, he appears as a shadowy figure, dressed in period clothing. Witnesses claim to have seen him in the cemetery, in the fields across the street, as well as in the nearby woods. The ghost is referred to as Benjamin Miles, who used to be a settler in the area. When he died, he was buried in an unmarked grave, which must have upset him in the afterlife because he now haunts the area with a vengeance. He is known as a spirit filled with danger and anger. Miles makes his presence known with a chill in the air and is also accompanied with the call of the owl, which serves as a warning. During the fall or winter seasons, Miles makes himself seen when night falls."

Hmmmm. And it gets even worse from there, if that's conceivable. The internet is loaded down with junk data about the cemetery, with all the unverifiable rumors you can eat, plus loads of talk of "orbs" and "EVP" - which is a real red flag for me, having no love for the geeks-with-gaussmeters ghostbusting crowd.

Where did this "Benjamin Miles" legend begin? I haven't really sorted that out yet, and I'm not certain it's even worth the effort. Apparently, the concept really got rolling after Amanda Branham's book Orlando Ghosts spotlighted it. As Branham tells it, she went to the cemetery at night, called out Benjamin's name, and actually heard a whispered response. She fled, and when she got home realized her face had been somehow lacerated.

Even without all of this low-signal-to-noise storytelling, it's still a very nice creepy old rural cemetery and I enjoy it for its own sake.

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