June 5, 2013

Misty Watson: Hanging out with wire hangers

I’m a skeptic who likes to prove people wrong.

So when my co-worker Wes Chance showed me an article about using wire clothes hangers to determine where a grave is with an additional bonus of finding out if a grave contains a female or a male, I had to prove it wrong.

He fashioned the hangers into straight lines with 90-degree hooks on the end to use as handles and we walked from the newspaper office to West Hill Cemetery to test this out.

I’ve done a lot of strange things in cemeteries — rubbings of tombstones, helping look for unmarked graves (which you can see because of indentations in the ground), looking for names and dates for research, taking photos of the way cemeteries look today so when a tombstone gets eroded over there will be a record of where it once stood. But I have never walked around with two hangers in my hands parallel to each other watching for them to cross and uncross.

Wes told me I was the “honest spiritual type” which things like this worked on.

I had my doubts that dowsing would work in a cemetery on graves. It took a couple of times to hold the hangers loose enough, but sure enough, as I walked from the foot of the grave to the head of the grave, the hangers crossed.

The pull was stronger from the one in my right hand. I went into the experiment fairly blindly. I knew how to hold them, but had no idea what was going to happen otherwise. I just knew there was no way whatever was happening was going to tell us whether a male or female was buried there.

I was wrong.

The pull from the right hand to cross left meant a female should be buried there, Wes told me. We glanced at the marker and, sure enough, there was.


I did another. And another. And another. He covered up markers and told me to tell him what the hangers revealed. And each time, the hangers crossed as soon as I walked over the grave, and the pull was stronger toward my left when a female was buried there and stronger toward the right when a male was buried there. One time, in the oldest part of the cemetery, the hangers didn’t cross at all over a grave. And one time the pull was stronger to the right, but the tombstone indicated a female instead of a male.

I couldn’t explain the feel of the pull as I walked over the grave.

“OK. Why does this work? Does it say?” I asked, referencing the article by Bernie Deliniski of the TimesDaily in Florence, Ala., that Wes held in his hand.

“No one is certain why the hangers cross ... ,” he responded, reading a line from the article.

“But there has to be a reason it works,” I said, unhappy I didn’t know why this was happening.

I came back to the office and immediately began Googling grave dowsing. I came up with several sites, mostly genealogy related, that told about the process. None said why this worked.

I found several sites trying to disclaim the process. One article suggested that at least on a subconscious level, the person holding the sticks did cross them as the person stepped onto the grave or suspected grave.

Well, that article was wrong.

I didn’t look at my feet. I looked straight ahead with my head up. I had no way of knowing at what point I was stepping over the actual grave.

Once as I walked from foot to head, I thought they weren’t going to cross, but just a foot or so before the marker they crossed. When we looked, an infant was buried there.

I also walked about 75 yards in a straight line along an older part of the cemetery where there are no marked graves but there just has to be people buried there. I looked straight ahead walking north to south (most of the graves are laid out east to west). Wes watched where my feet were as I announced the sticks crossing and uncrossing. Every time they crossed, I was either lined up with a grave up or down the hill from where I walked or you could see an indentation in the ground indicating an unmarked grave.

We tested this process so much in that hilly cemetery I decided that counted as my workout for the day and I didn’t need to run that evening. (I ran anyway.)

I’m not an easy person to convince, but I’m a believer.

My husband, whom I told this story to, still isn’t.

“I’ll have to experience it for myself,” he said.

I’m sure you will, too. And I promise not to give you any of the funny looks Wes and I received walking around the cemetery with wire hangers in our hands.

Murray County native Misty Watson is a photographer and staff writer for The Daily Citizen. Yes, she is morbid and enjoys walking through cemeteries. Tell her your own experience in cemeteries by emailing her at mistywatson@daltoncitizen.com; friending her on Facebook, facebook.com/MistyWatsonDCN; or following her on Twitter, @mistydwatson

Text Only
  • Citizens of the Week: Joel Hughes, Deanna Mathis and ‘Be a Game-Changer’ campaign team

    This past Wednesday, Shaw Industries associates decided to “change up their game” for the United Way Kick-Off, an annual leadership level meeting that starts off Shaw’s giving campaign for the year.

    August 1, 2014

  • Tax holiday weekend is perfect time to shop

    August means children across the state are headed back to school, and for parents that means it’s time to buy new shoes and clothes for children who have outgrown their old ones. It means it’s time to buy new school supplies, and it may even mean it’s time to get a child a new computer to do their school work.

    July 30, 2014

  • "We’ve had a great ride"

    For 60 years, the Green Spot has been a part of Dalton. It survived long after most other locally owned grocery stores in the area had folded to competition from big chain grocery stores and to big box super stores.

    July 29, 2014

  • Charles Oliver: Traveler from a district in Columbia?

    Jim Gray was traveling out of Orlando International Airport when a Transportation Security Administration officer tried to stop him from boarding his plane.

    July 29, 2014

  • Letter: Children are not the enemy

    We recently read somewhere that our country is at war, not with another nation but with one another.

    July 29, 2014

  • Ensuring the joy of reading

    They’re little, they’re libraries, and best of all, they’re free.

    July 28, 2014

  • Move carefully, but soon

    No one intended for it to happen. No one had any bad motives.
    But during a period of 40 years or more, quite a few people didn’t do enough planning, didn’t have enough foresight to see what all of the development in Dalton would do.

    July 27, 2014

  • Local school systems must bear costs of federal immigration failure

    No word. No warning. Little help.
    That’s what Dalton Public Schools officials received from the federal government when it dropped 30 Central American students into local classrooms last school year.

    July 26, 2014

  • Sacrifices worth honoring

    Members of the Dalton City Council were recently approached by representatives of the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart with a request to declare Dalton a Purple Heart City. Council members indicated they will approve the request.

    July 24, 2014

  • We must do better

    The numbers tell a sad tale.
    Registered voters: 36,843.
    Cards cast: 5,307.
    That means the turnout for Tuesday’s runoffs in Whitfield County was a measly 14.4 percent, according to unofficial results from the Whitfield County elections office.

    July 23, 2014