Memory Hill Cemetery
Bill Miner was one of the most famous train robbers of all time, known for escaping jail cells and even death. He even coined the phrase “hands up.” Born in Kentucky, he was only 13 years old when he left home and headed west. Over the course of 30 years, he spent time in and out of prison in California for stagecoach robbing. When stagecoaches lost their thrill, he moved on to robbing trains. In 1904, he robbed a train in Canada, netting him $7,000 in gold dust, $900 in cash, and a $50,000 bond. He was eventually arrested but managed to escape again. In February of 1911, Miner finally made it to Georgia and pulled off a train robbery in Hall County but was arrested and put on trial. He was sentenced to 20 years at the Georgia State Penitentiary in Milledgeville. Naturally, he attempted to escape a few times, but failed. In 1914, he escaped on his third attempt, hiding in a local swamp. He drank brackish water while in the swamp and ended up with gastritis. This sickness eventually caused his death at the prison farm. Locals in Milledgeville gathered money to pay for his headstone and to have him interred at Memory Hill. One question remains: has he tried to escape from the grave?
Dixie Haygood, also known as “Little Miss Georgia Magnet” or “The Georgia Wonder”, was born in Milledgeville in 1861. She travelled the world doing performances as a magician under the stage name of Annie Abbot. Some of her acts included moving pianos with psychic powers and lifting men from billiard cues. The billiard cue act was made possible by holding a billiard cue in one hand while a group of men tried to force the billiard cue to the ground, but they were unable to do so. Weighing in at only 100 pounds, Dixie was unable to be picked up by the strongest of men, resisting their strength. What’s even crazier is that she was able to lift as many as 4 to 6 men at the same time. These mysterious acts earned her the nickname of “The Little Georgia Magnet.” Rumors began to spread that she was a witch and that her abilities came from witchcraft. She passed away in Macon on November 21st, 1915. She was brought back home to Milledgeville to be interred at Memory Hill.
It’s said that Dixie’s eccentric spirit is still at work in the old cemetery. Every year, around Christmas, a sinkhole appears in the ground in the Yates plot, right next to Dixie’s resting place. Her neighbor in death, John Yates, is said to have been cursed by Dixie. City workers have tried to fill the hole various times with cement, but the hole continues to return each year.
Mr. Fish’s Mausoleum
William Fish’s wife, Sarah, and their daughter died suddenly of typhoid. Brokenhearted, Fish had a brick mausoleum built to protect their remains. When construction was almost at a close, he was still as grief-stricken as he was when they first passed away. Legend has it that he took his favorite rocking chair inside the tomb, shut the door behind him, and took his own life by putting a bullet through his head.
The local story is that if you approach the mausoleum, knock three times, and call out “What are you doing in there Mr. Fish?”, he may just answer you. But the weirdness doesn’t end with this tale. In 2008, the Friends of Baldwin County Cemeteries raised enough money to repair both the inside and outside of the Fish’s resting place. Part of the tomb is subterranean and believed to hold the remains of the three Fish family members, and the remains of 3 unknown individuals. Three stone benches along the walls of the tomb hold the caskets of the Fish family. When the workers entered the tomb to begin repairs, the caskets had deteriorated to the point that all there was left were piles of bones. The remains were sent to the lab at Georgia Southern University to determine their identities. Three of the remains were identified as William Fish, Sarah Harvard Fish, and Horace Virgil Fish. Two of the other remains are said to also be members of the Fish family, but the remains of a middle-aged male are still a mystery to this day. After repairs were finished, the remains were put into new caskets and returned to the tomb, the door bricked shut once again.
The Devil’s Gate
A strange sight surrounds a burial plot at Memory Hill Cemetery. An old wrought iron gate that contains the faces of hundreds of grinning devils. The reason behind this is because the man buried here wanted to be surrounded by them for protection from evil spirits in the afterlife. Who but him knows how much protection they actually provide? Local legend has it that on All Hallow’s Eve the imps make so much noise that screech owls (alleged messengers of death) fill the trees surrounding the burial plot.