St. Anne’s Parish

St. Anne's Parish Annapolis, MarylandThere are two traffic circles in Annapolis. The larger circle, State Circle, surrounds the state house. The other smaller circle, Church Circle, is where the St. Anne’s Episcopal Church sits. This historical church is over 150 years old and has an interesting history with a very memorable undertaker.

The church that is there today is actually the third St. Anne’s Church. The original church was built in the early 1700s but was demolished in 1772 to be replaced by a larger church. This improved church lasted over 80 years until a fire claimed most of it February 14, 1858.  By 1859 the church that stands in Annapolis today was finished. The bell tower, which survived the fire, was kept from the 2nd church and built into the new church. Other renovations were done in the small cemetery surrounding the building. The graves contained families buried together and labeled with one headstone. Some graves contained up to 10 bodies.  After the fire, some of the graves were moved to the new St. Anne’s Cemetery on College Creek due to road expansions. It is also believed that some of the graves have been covered over with the current roadways extending to the government house and the post office.

Joseph Simmons dug graves in the churchyard from 1750 to 1835, before the fire claimed the second church. Joe was remembered as a dirty and rude man who would often threaten anyone who he heard call him Joe Morgue with threats of being the one to bury them one day.  People also claimed that if he didn’t have any graves to dig he would dig up old ones just to bury them again.  The most popular story of Joe Morgue is when a man named Jeffrey, who would often slip into comas was being buried and he woke and banged on the coffin to be let out but Joe tried to bury him faster. People attending Jeffrey’s funeral had to grab Joe and pull him away from the grave to get poor Jeffrey out. When Jeffrey did die, Joe refused to dig his grave and bury him. Joe died in 1837 at the age of 100. He was buried in St. Anne’s Cemetery on College Creek.

Joe’s death seemed to trigger a bunch of ghost stories and urban legends. At first people would claim to see him at the church and in the graveyard. They say he looked to be digging graves like he did in life. People were also claiming to see him sitting in the last row of pews inside the church and would vanish if anyone tried to talk to him. Police would get reports of someone digging up the graveyard at night, only to find no one there. Teenagers started to tell stories of Joe jumping out at them if they walked by the church at night and chase them around Church circle. Locals say seeing Joe is bad luck. If you make eye contact you will die within 3 days. If you just see him you will have some kind of lesser bad fortune come to you.

Strange stories about the church still circulate today. A lot of the ghost tours in Annapolis tend to report strange happenings during the tours at night. Ghost tours are often reporting of their lights going out, including glow sticks burning out, when entering the churchyard. Electronics stop working in the yard, and start working again once the visitor leaves. A woman in white has also been photographed in the church and many mysterious videos, pictures and evps have been captured on the property.

Resources

Behrend, J. (2001) Ghosts of America’s East Coast. Crane Hill Publishers. Canada

Carter, M. & Dray, J. (2012) Haunted Annapolis: Ghosts of the Capital City. Haunted America. Charleston, SC.

Okonowicz, E. (2010). The Big Book of Maryland Ghost Stories. Stackpole Books. Mechanicsburg, PA.

Rasmussen, F. (2007). The Creepier Side of the State’s Capital. The Baltimore Sun [Electronic Version] retrieved from http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2007-07-21/news/0707210016_1_annapolis-dome-simmons