During High School on occasion my friends and I would go to areas that were supposed to be hot spots for paranormal activity. We didn’t have a ghost box, an EMF detector or any other tools of the trade, but we would go late at night with flashlights to look around for anything that confirmed the stories we had heard…often while some people in the group stayed back in the car. The area we lived in, West Tennessee, has a long memory, and we were familiar with multiple spots within driving distance of our hometown, Huntingdon, TN.
Within that driving distance we could visit the Springville Ghost, Gravity Hill (which, as odd as it is, truly has a scientific explanation), the Hollow Rock (which a town is named for), and what was easily the most memorable to me, the Doll House, located at Hope Hill Cemetery, in Medina, TN. The Doll House cemetery was shrouded in local legends, and the story I always heard was almost always followed something like this: A young girl was playing outside in her dollhouse when a drunk driver ran over her. Her family placed the dollhouse over her grave. It was the first place I ever went in search of paranormal activity.
Importantly, it has always been very memorable because of the grave’s mere appearance. After high school, I buried memories of it, along with the other paranormal experiences that we’d shared. At some point during college, I somehow blocked out some of my memories. Multiple factors were probably at work. It could have been because I was being taught the sciences, and my minor was in Philosophy. I was taught to dismiss anything that didn’t withstand the rigors of the scientific method. Philosophy taught me to dismiss anything that could not be logically explained. If I am honest with myself, I avoided anything that would have prompted my profesors to question my competence, even if it stood in the way of my experiences.Subsequently, in Law School my professors attempted to beat any non-legal thinking out of me.
Within the past year, I regained the desire to explore the unknown. My first paranormal investigation was at the Memorial Building in Columbia, Tennessee, with equipment, and I was hooked. The more I became interested in paranormal investigating, the more I remembered things I had seen when I was a teenager. I began doing research on the Doll House at Hope Hill Cemetery, and I have learned some things about it, but many of the details I’ve read I find even stranger than accounts I have heard of apparitions of the little girl that make up most of the local legend surrounding Dorothy.
The girl, Dorothy Marie Harvey, died at the age of five, in 1931. She was buried with a doll house over her grave, which was not altogether uncommon, but was a practice that was still on the way out by 1931. Apparently, there are still three other doll houses still standing. see http://www.cultofweird.com/death/dollhouse-graves/. Some of the information reported here will be from this website entry, because it shares much of the folklore that is often repeated and that can be found on other websites.
According to the story most often told, Dorothy was on her way “up north” with her family, just passing through rural West Tennessee. Dorothy got the measles and died. Local townspeople felt badly for the family, and paid for a dollhouse to cover Dorothy’s grave. Apparently, the family moved on and the cemetery has maintained the grave since her death.
This story on its face appears believable. There were significant migrations of Southerners to the more industrial Midwest and Northeast. However, a few things about this story are a little hard for me to believe. It was at the height of the Depression in a very poor part of the country, and it seems odd that people living in poverty would have spent so much money on her burial given that she was an outsider.
Regardless of how Dorothy died, I never saw her when I looked inside the window. Legend has it that if you look in the window, you can see Dorothy playing. While I did experience unusual occurrences in the cemetery, I never saw what other people claimed to. Two friends of mine swore that she played peek-a-boo with them. Two other people who didn’t know each other and went with me on separate occasions both said they were more afraid of what is behind the cemetery. (The cemetery is on a back road and at one time was extremely isolated.)
Now the cemetery is closed after dark, and the cemetery caretaker lives just in front of the cemetery. However, the trip is well worth it if you are anywhere near Medina, Tennessee. The cemetery is closed after dark, but is still open to the public during daylight hours.