Some say that the Bowman family home and tomb are haunted
If you’re driving along Route 103 in Cuttingsville, Vermont, you might very well be momentarily startled. The eerie site of a ghostly white figure standing outside the door of the Bowman Mausoleum with a wreath and key in one hand, and a top hat in the other, is unusual to say the least.
It’s hard to miss, as it is located at the front of the Laurel Glen Cemetery. However, it is merely a statue of John P. Bowman, who along with his family, is interred within the walls of the huge stone vault.
Driving through the middle of Vermont and seeing a ghostly, marble figure entering a mausoleum can be a bit alarming
In 1849, Bowman married Jennie E. Gates of Warren, NY, a dignified and well-mannered woman who was a devoted wife and mother and kind neighbor. The couple moved to Stony Creek, NY to establish Bowman’s tannery business. A few years later, in 1854, a daughter was born and named Addie. Sadly, she died after just four months. A second daughter, Ella, became part of the family in 1860. She was to become a fine and respected young woman among the community.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck the family in 1879, when Ella became ill and passed away. Less than a year later, Mrs. Bowman also died, leaving her husband the lone survivor of his beloved family. In July 1880, the heartbroken John Bowman decided to construct a grand memorial for his family in his native Vermont. He found a piece of land near a burial ground in Cuttingsville, VT and hired a New York architect and designer to oversee his plans to construct a magnificent shrine to his deceased family. Over the course of a full year, more than 100 skilled sculptors, stone cutters, masons and laborers worked to build his Grecian style mausoleum. The cost at the time was $75,000 which was a fortune in those early years.
Update 11/28/20: Check out this great new video about the Laurel Hall & Mausoleum.
The final touch to completing the mausoleum was to add a life size statue of John P. Bowman himself, standing outside, holding a key to the family tomb. The eternal look of grief upon his marble face along with a mourning cloak, gloves and a funeral wreath, as he walks up the steps of the tomb are both sad and haunting.
Strange and eerie occurrences have been reported around the mausoleum at night.
In the year 1881, Bowman arranged to have three caskets containing the remains of his family placed within the tomb. He also arranged to have a greenhouse built upon the grounds, which would provide plants to decorate the cemetery. In fact, it was such a remarkable site that people would come to visit from miles away to picnic on the grounds. Inside the crypt is a life-size statue of his oldest daughter who passed away when she was only an infant. There are also busts of his wife and other daughter, who tragically died within just a few months of each other.
About a year later, Bowman hired a designer to construct a Victorian style mansion which he called “Laurel Hall”, to serve as a summer residence, in the grandest of style. A spectacular fountain graced the lawn and a carriage house was built nearby. For ten years, Bowman entertained family and friends at his opulent home until he passed away in 1891 at age 75. He was buried within the mausoleum across the road, finally joining his family.
Bowman believed in reincarnation and left behind an unusual request in his will. A sum of $50,000 would finance the ongoing maintenance of both the mansion and the mausoleum. It was required that the house be kept in “waiting readiness” for him and his family to return. The custodian of the property diligently carried out his instructions keeping the clocks wound, a fire in the fireplace, and lights in the windows at night, along with a hot meal at dusk. The fund was depleted in 1953, at which time much of the furniture inside the mansion was sold at auction.
The Bowman mansion seems to be the focal point for hauntings. Those who rented the mansion after 1953 claimed that it was haunted. It was left empty for a period of time, which generated rumors that the home was haunted. Tales of weird noises and strange lights have been reported to manifest themselves within the mansion. One tale told is the sounds of a phantom baby crying. The odd footnote to this is no children had ever lived inside the house, making this odd occurrence a mystery. As one might expect, strange and eerie experiences have been reported around the Bowman mausoleum at night as well.
Whether any of the above is true or not, the Bowman property, family story and especially the mausoleum are certainly unique.
For a period of time, a couple ran an antiquarian “Haunted Book Shop” at the mansion but it is now closed. As of this writing in 2016, the mansion is not inhabited and maintained by the Laurel Glen Cemetery Association.
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