Wednesday, February 15, 2017

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 317: Visit the Coy Cemetery in Wilcox County

Sgt. James Clyde Harvey marker outside Coy Cemetery.
Is the Coy Cemetery really haunted?

This is a question that I asked myself this past Friday afternoon as I explored this large, country cemetery southwest of Camden.

Friday was the first time that I’d ever been to this old cemetery, but I’d heard stories about it for years. Located at the dead end of Coy Cemetery Road, a narrow strip of pavement that runs off of County Road 13, this cemetery is known by several names. Most folks call it the Coy Cemetery while others call it the Carstarphen Cemetery, and others call it the New Providence Cemetery.

Regardless of what you call it, this cemetery is not the type of place that you’ll encounter on the way to somewhere else. You have to have a reason to be there.

My reasons on Friday were simple. I wanted to see this cemetery for myself and to check out the unusual claims of supernatural activity that have been told about this cemetery for years.

Many sources say that visitors to this cemetery have reported seeing an eerie, unexplained light over the graves and have heard disembodied voices from unknown sources. Some witnesses have even reported hearing their names called out by unseen spirits.

I went there alone of Friday, and as soon as I got out of my truck, I was struck with the overwhelming feeling that I shouldn’t have come by myself. I walked up to the main gate and stood there for what seemed like a long time, listening and watching. The place was eerily quiet except for the sound of the wind blowing through the treetops.

Outside the chain link fence that surrounds the cemetery and not far from the main gate, my eyes met a white stone marker that bore the words “Coy Cemetery, In Memory of Sgt. James Clyde Harvey.” Later research told me that Harvey was born on Aug. 13, 1922 and passed away at the age of 64 on April 7, 1987. While there are several members of the Harvey family buried within the Coy Cemetery, I was unable to find a grave for Sgt. James Clyde Harvey, which leads me to believe there is more to his story.

The metal gate screeched closed behind me as I entered the cemetery and began to look around. At first glance, it was obvious that this cemetery had been in use for a long, long time and was still being used by the community. There was a strong mix of old-fashioned and modern grave markers, and I noted that the cemetery is far from full.

In all, I’d say that there are well over 200 graves in this large cemetery, and the oldest one that I could find belongs to Winfield R. Primm, a 51-year-old Virginia native who died on June 26, 1835. I think it’s possible that there are many other older graves in this cemetery because I saw more than a few unmarked and illegible graves.

Eventually, I set back off toward my truck, and all was quiet and still as I made sure the gate was shut tight behind me. It was then, in that moment, that I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard what sounded like a man’s voice. Had someone called my name? I looked around, unsure, expecting to see someone on the adjacent property, but no one was there.

Initially, I chalked up what I heard to an overactive imagination while alone in a spooky place, but as I drove home, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d actually heard the disembodied voice that so many other cemetery visitors have reported over the years. In the end, there’s no way to know for sure, but one thing’s for certain: The next time I visit the Coy Cemetery, I won’t go alone.

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