We all have fears. Things that, for one reason or another, wake us in the night covered in sweat. For some, it’s flying. For others, it’s snakes. I personally have a horrid fear of alligators (yes, crocidiles as well). One fear that crosses distance and language boundries is the fear of being buried alive. Today, we take a look at that fear head on in a story from Wilmington, North Carolina.
in the early 1800s Samuel Jocelyn lived in Wilmington. The son of a well respected lawyer, Samuel enjoyed a great amount of respect as well. Samuel was friends with a young man named Alexander Hostler. The two men were inseparable, sharing almost everything including interests.
While discussing metaphysics one day with a group of friends, the idea arose of returning from the grave and making your presence known. While the rest of the group laughed at the idea, Samuel and Alexander both defended the idea while not whole heartly subscribing to it. At the end of the conversation a deal was struck between Samuel and Alexander that the first one to die would come back and make his presence known to the other.
They would not have to wait long for their chance…
Samuel Jocelyn loved horses. One of his great pleasures in life was to take to the trails on his fine horse and almost forget the world existed. Hostler, on the other hand, did not have the passion for horses that his friend did. It was one of the few areas in which they disagreed. One afternoon as Samuel was out for a ride, tragedy struck. No one knows for sure what happened, but Samuel was found a few hours later unresponsive in the middle of the road, his horse was a few yards away grazing.
Samuel was taken back home a for a few days everything medical science had to offer was tried in an attempt to wake the boy from his coma. But it was no use. Two days later, Samuel Jocelyn was declared dead and was buried in St. James Church cemetery. The funeral for the fallen was a massive event.
Alexander Hostler was a wreck after his friends death. It was thought by some that he might die of grief. As Alexander lay in bed two nights after Samuels burial suddenly a ghostly vision appeared before him. It was his friend Samuel. “How could you let me be buried when I am not yet dead?” the ghost asked Alexander. Horrified both by what he saw and the prospect of burying his dearest friend alive, Alexander stuttered “Not dead?”. “No, I was not. Open the coffin and you will see that I am not in the same position you buried me in.” And with that, the ghost of Samuel Jocelyn was gone.
The next morning Alexander argued with himself wiether what he saw was real, or if it was just a figment of his imagination. As the day wore on, he decided it was nothing more than grief over his dead friend that had caused the ghost, nothing more. However, that night saw the ghost of Samuel Jocelyn come back and once again ask of his friend “How could you let me be buried when I am not yet dead?” This time the spirit was more urgent in its tone.
Alexander knew then that what he saw was real, yet to prevent people from thinking him insane, he decided to say nothing.. until the third night. The ghost of Samuel appeared yet again. This time the ghost pleaded with the living Alexander “How could you let me be buried when I am not yet dead?” Alexander agreed right then to investigate the claims of the spirit. Again, the ghost vanished.
The next day, Alexander found his friend Louis Toomer and told him everything. Toomer agreed to help Alexander, if only to save Alexanders fragile sanity. They went to the Jocelyn family and asked permission to investigate. Seeing how upset Alexander was, they consented, with the understanding this should be done in private. So late one night, Toomer and Alexander crept into the St. James cemetery with shovels and began to remove the fresh earth from the grave of Samuel Jocelyn. Before long, their shovels met with coffin. They opened the coffin and lowered the latern. There, in the coffin was Samuel. But as the ghost had said, he was not in the posistion they had placed him in. He was face down. Scratches were on the inside of the casket and the struggling young man had managed to loosen one side of the lid. Death came not from the accident on the road, but suffication from being buried alive.
It is said until the day he died, Alexander Hostler would sit in front of the grave of his friend all night muttering over and over “I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I’m sorry, I didn’t know”.