The glowing skeleton and friends—Pensacola, Florida

St. Michael’s Cemetery
6 North Alcaniz Street
Pensacola, Florida

St. Michael’s Cemetery in the heart of the most historic area in Pensacola, was first used as a burying ground as far back as the early 18th century. It is considered one of the two oldest extant cemeteries in the state with the other being St. Augustine’s haunted Tolomato Cemetery. The oldest graves date to the late 18th century and the cemetery was officially designated as a burial ground by the King of Spain in 1807. When space this eight-acre cemetery was exhausted in 1876, St. John’s Cemetery was established nearby. With so many burials, this cemetery can be considered an open-air museum of the city’s history.

St. Michael's Cemetery Pensacola Florida
The entrance to St. Michael’s Cemetery in 2007. From the Pensapedia.

Its age has perhaps led to the many rumors, some unfounded, regarding the cemetery being haunted. For years, some believed the strange greenish glow seen around some of the graves here was paranormal, though it was found to be caused by the neon sign on the nearby San Carlos Hotel. A local grocer bereaved by the death of his wife and two children, gave rise to another ghost story in the late 19th century when he would sometimes spend the night sleeping on their graves. Passersby seeing him rise from the graves assumed he was a spirit. Sometime later, after reports of a white apparition flitting through this ancient cemetery, the local police department investigated only to discover an albino fox had taken up residence here.

According to Mark Muncy, author of Creepy Florida, during World War II, several sailors on leave had a truly frightening experience as they passed the cemetery one evening. The group witnessed a glowing skeleton arise from a grave within the cemetery and begin to charge them. The entity touched one of the young men leaving behind blistered skin. The group fled. Upon return to their ship they were showing symptoms of yellow fever, despite having been inoculated against the viral disease. Interestingly, many of the early burials here were victims of the dreaded yellow fever outbreaks.

In recent years, visitors to the cemetery have reported hearing disembodied voices. Are these just the product of over-active minds or paranormal?

Sources

  • Brown, Alan. Haunted Pensacola. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010.
  • Johnson, Sandra & Leora Sutton. Ghosts, Legends and Folklore of Old Pensacola. Pensacola, FL: Pensacola Historical Society, 1994.
  • Moon, Troy. “Pensacola’s spooky past haunts the present.” Pensacola News-Journal. 15 October 2016.
  • Muncy, Mark and Kari Schultz. Creepy Florida: Phantom Pirates, the Hog Island Witch, the Demented Doctor at the Don Vicente & More. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2019.
  • St. Michael’s Cemetery, Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida. Find-A-Grave. Accessed 20 February 2023.
  • St. Michael’s Cemetery. Pensepedia. Accessed 30 January 2023.
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