The folklore of The Weeping Arch of New Bern
By Kathy Snow
The history of Cedar Grove Cemetery in New Bern, NC goes back to the early years of the 1800’s. During the yellow fever epidemic that ravaged this small town, the cemetery for The Christ Church could no longer hold all the bodies of the deceased, so a new cemetery was built on Queen Street. Then, in 1854 an arch was erected along with a wall encircling the graveyard. That’s when the creepy stuff is said to have begun.
What makes the arch unique is that it’s made from a locally quarried stone called ‘shell stone’ which is made up of sea shells and the fossilized remains of sea creatures kind of like a fossil if you may. What makes it different is that it is said that weeps on people in blood droplets or some would have it it bleeds. The blood tinged liquid ranges from a icky clear water tainted with a rust color to a deep red sticky substance.
The folklore goes that during a funeral procession into Cedar Grove cemetery, if one of the pallbearers is hit with a drop of liquid from this arch, they will be the next of the group to die and be carried in. What is really strange is the old timers who can give examples of this occurring including all the names and dates.
It seems that the arch doesn’t just bleed on people during funerals. At almost anytime, whether it has rained recently or not, the drips can be seen hitting the ground, or felt when the hit the body. What ever the color, it it said that the liquid never stains clothes and washes right out.
One of the origins of the weeping comes from the history of New Bern, where a governor named Spaight was killed in a duel with a man named Stanly. While killed according to the rules of the duel, it is said that the arch drips to the rhythm of “Avenge Spaight’s blood” dripping three drops and then a pause before dripping three more drops. Of course we know this is just legend…but is it? Why do the old timers have records of the happenings there and the deceased in which this occurred. It gives on something to think upon … Doesn’t it?