Fact or Fiction: Is This Gravestone in Battle Creek Cemetery Actually Crying?
Locals say they've seen her tears. Others claim they've felt her tears. Legend has it this eerie statue sheds tears every Sunday, full moon, and Halloween-- but only at night. But is there any truth to this southwest Michigan urban legend?
Oak Hill Cemetery
Located just outside of downtown Battle Creek sits the Oak Hill Cemetery. The cemetery is known as the resting place of such well-known locals as the Kellogg family, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, musician Junior Walker, Seventh-Day Adventist founders Ellen and James White, and Johannes Decker.
The Legend of Johannes Decker
According to sources, the story follows as such: Johannes Decker was a Battle Creek woman who died in the early 1910s. Johannes allegedly murdered her six children and after committing suicide over the guilt of such a heinous crime, her spirit is in unrest all these years later. That's why the Mary statue cries every Sunday night over the regret of the crime she committed.
The Real Johannes Decker
As eerie as it sounds, this story is in fact false. To start, Johannes Decker was a man. The real Johannes Decker was a local dry goods salesman who resided in Battle Creek with his wife Ruth. However, that's not to say that Johannes' life wasn't filled with sadness.
Johannes and Ruth had two children, who both passed away all too young. Their first child died at age 3 from Scarlet Fever and their second child was born prematurely and was stillborn.
What About the Statue?
Keeping watch above Johannes' grave is not the Virgin Mary, but is actually some Greek goddess. The statue was reportedly commissioned by Johannes' widow to perhaps represent her own sorrows in life and represent the fact that she missed her dear husband.
Over the years a patina formed on the bronze statue which, after several rainfalls, made it appear as though the statue had been crying. This is probably how the urban legend got its start in the 1940s. Though it's a good story, it's wildly inaccurate.
That settles it once and for all! The story is: fiction.