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"What are you doing, Mr. Fish?" (A Tombstone Tuesday Ghost Story)

"Nothing at all," he would reply.

Wm. Fish Family Vault prior to
2008 restoration.1
What makes this simple Q & A a little odd though, is Mr. Fish is dead, and the conversation is taking place on both sides of the walls of his burial vault. The (ghost) story goes, after his wife and child died of typhus and were entombed in the crypt, Mr. Fish went inside with his rocking chair and bricked himself in. Legend has it that children would knock on the door, and the short and sweet conversation would commence.

Unfortunately (or 'fortunately,' depending on one's perspective), there is no truth to this story. The biggest reason being Mr. William Fish died two years before his youngest son, and a dozen or so years before his wife:
Southern Recorder (Milledgeville, GA)
10 January 1843
Departed this life at his residence in Washington county, on Sunday evening the 1st inst., Mr. WILLIAM FISH, in the 43d year of his age. Mr. Fish was a highly worthy and enterprizing citizen, an affectionate husband, a kind father, and a sincere and devoted friend. In this truly melancholly dispensation, his afflicted family, as well as the community at large, have indeed experienced a severe loss.2

Federal Union (Milledgeville, GA)
30 December 1845
DIED -- At Midway, on Friday evening, the 21st November, after a short illness, HORACE VIRGIL, youngest son of Mrs. Sarah Fish, aged about 5 years.3

Federal Union (Milledgeville, GA)
16 September 1856
At Gordon Springs on the 6th inst., Mrs. Sarah Fish, relict of the late Wm. Fish, in the fifty-second year of her age.4
The Wm. Fish Family Vault is located in Memory Hill Cemetery at Milledgeville, Baldwin County, GA. The Friends of Baldwin County Cemeteries restored it in 2008. A blurb from the 5 November 2008 Union-Recorder (Milledgeville, GA): "...The Fish Family was recently re-interred after vault restoration by the Friends of Baldwin County Cemeteries. William Fish died Jan. 1, 1843, in his 43rd year, and Sarah Harvard Fish died Sept. 6, 1856, in her 52nd year. Four other family members were also re-interred."5

I've been to Memory Hill a few times, and absolutely love the cemetery. Last year was the first time I specifically visited the Fish Family Vault. For whatever it's worth, I had an uneasy feeling while at the vault, took one photo, and moved on.

© 2011 S. Lincecum

1. Image likely taken by Hugh T. Harrington for Friends of Baldwin County Cemeteries, Inc.
2. "Died," Southern Recorder (Milledgeville, Georgia), 10 January 1843, pg. 3, col. 6; digital image, Digital Library of Georgia ( : accessed 21 February 2012), Milledgeville Historic Newspapers Archive.
3. "Obituary," Federal Union (Milledgeville, Georgia), 30 December 1845, pg. 3, col. 4; digital image, Digital Library of Georgia ( : accessed 21 February 2012), Milledgeville Historic Newspapers Archive.
4. "Died," Federal Union (Milledgeville, Georgia), 16 September 1856, pg. 3; digital image, Digital Library of Georgia ( : accessed 21 February 2012), Milledgeville Historic Newspapers Archive.
5. The Union-Recorder, 5 November 2008, Web edition ( : accessed 21 February 2012).


Marian said…
Fun story and fun the way you busted it and proved the truth. Loved it!
Taphophile said…
Great story! It's good to see vaults in old cemeteries being restored.

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