Chesterville Witch's Grave
Like all good urban legends, there are several versions of the story, and the legend of the Chesterville Witch is no exception. The basic premise is that a lady for some reason was accused of witchcraft, and subsequently murdered/executed due to the fear generated by the accusation.
In one of the first versions of the story that I heard, around the year 1900 an elderly woman in front of her Amish community, openly professed of being a witch and communing with the devil. A week later she was found murdered in a nearby farm field. The community was so relieved of her death that no one ever bothered to investigate her murder.
In yet another version of the legend, sometime in the mid-1800’s a woman openly disputed the teachings of her Amish faith. Overly zealous members of her Amish community were offended by her objections and accused of her being a witch. Members of her community started shunning her, and eventually, enough people believed the accusations of witchcraft, that they tried, convicted, and sentenced her to hang.
In a third version of the legend, there was a lady in the mid-1800’s that was a well-known healer. Not only was she a gifted healer, but she had an uncanny knowledge of local flora. She would often make remedies for her patients from plants and items she gathered from the forest. After a prominent member of the community had died a mysterious and unusual death. The healer was accused of murder and of being a witch. Her accusers claimed she killed the man by either making casting an evil spell or by brewing a deadly concoction. She was soon tried for witchcraft, summarily found guilty, and put to death for supposed her crimes.
According to the rest of the legend, the accused witch was buried in the Chesterville Cemetery, and a tree was planted on top her grave. It is believed that by planting a tree on top of a person’s grave, its roots will trap their soul. As long as the tree is alive, she will be bound to her grave.
The name of the accused witch and the date of her death are unknown because her headstone is missing. The questions I have about the urban legend is why is there a wrought iron fence surrounding her grave? Obviously, someone thought enough about her to decorate her grave. If she was truly a witch, why is she buried in consecrated ground? To be a witch, one must deny Christ by communing with the Devil, thus damning her soul for all eternity. Also if the members of the community feared her of being a witch, why would they bury her in the town cemetery with the rest of the community? Why would they mark her grave with a headstone? If they feared her to be a witch and bind her soul with the planting of a tree, wouldn’t make sense to have buried her in an unmarked grave in an unknown location? I would think that if they feared her of being a witch, they would want the memory of her too quickly fade away; not bury her where she can be remembered and memorialized.
People still believe in the legend of the Chesterville Witch, because saw marks are noticeable in the tree’s bark. The only reason why someone would attempt to cut down the tree on top of her grave would be to release her soul from captivity. Also, trees are living things, and their existence is finite. So eventually the tree will die, and the witch’s vengeful soul will escape. Sometime in the future, the Chesterville Witch will escape and get and to take her revenge on the community that murdered her and imprisoned her soul.
The exact location is not shown on the map. Go east on County Road 400, the cemetery is across the bridge and around the bend. The cemetery is next to the road.