ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

If you were to walk past the memorial above you would instantly attribute it to a loving family showing their devotion to the dearly departed. Alas, in reality, Octavia Hatcher's grave is so elaborate thanks to a gnawing guilt that haunted her husband until his death.

The terrible fact is Octavia Hatcher was buried alive, and there is plenty of chilling evidence to prove her unthinkably awful demise.

The Tragic History

The story begins in 1889 when a wealthy local business man named James Hatcher married a local girl by the name of Octavia Smith. Within two years the newlywed couple were blessed with their first and only child, Jacob Hatcher, but their son died shortly after birth.

A memorial to the infant Jacob
A memorial to the infant Jacob

The death of Octavia's first born caused the young woman to spiral into a deep postpartum depression and the grief stricken mother was confined to her bed with sorrow.

By the middle of April 1891 (just over three months after Jacob's death), Octavia had slipped into near unconsciousness and, after her condition progressively worsened, a doctor was summoned who pronounced her dead at the scene on May 2nd.

Embalming was rarely practiced at the time, so the newly bereaved James Hatcher arranged for his wife to be buried in the local cemetery a few days after her death.

Pikeville Cemetery, Octavia's final resting place
Pikeville Cemetery, Octavia's final resting place

The Strange Illness That Left People Unconscious...Only to Revive Later

Everything seemed fine until other residents of the town started to contract an unknown illness that caused them to fall into unconsciousness... The only difference was they all woke up afterwards.

James Hatcher was understandably plagued by the thought that his wife might have succumbed to the same sleeping illness (now thought to be caused by the tsetse fly) and he arranged to have her exhumed.

The sight that greeted him when his wife's coffin was hauled out of the ground was one that would haunt James until the end of his life.

The coffin lid had been clawed to shreds by Octavia's bloodied finger nails and her face was frozen in a contorted mask of horror. It was plain for all to see that she had been mistakenly buried alive, but this time around she really was dead.

Her Distraught Husband Erected a Memorial to His Wife Overlooking His Own Grave

James Hatcher was so shaken by what he had seen that he built a huge memorial to his wife on the plot where she was reburied along with making arrangements for his own passing.

James Hatcher's grave - overlooked by his wife
James Hatcher's grave - overlooked by his wife

In the lobby of his hotel the overlooked the graveyard, James Hatcher proudly displayed his own casket which he had specially designed years before his death. The coffin latched on the the inside and was sealed with a special tool that would allow the occupant a chance to escape.

A chance that, tragically, Octavia never had.


Are you afraid of being buried alive?

(Source: Appalacian History and Theresa's Haunted History)


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