The Haunted “Black Agnes” Statue in Vermont

Whatever you do, don’t sit down!

Black Agnes statue in Montpelier Cemetery in Vermont. Courtesy Bryan Alexander via Flickr.
Black Agnes statue in Montpelier Cemetery in Vermont. Courtesy Bryan Alexander via Flickr.

As one of the older states in the union, Vermont has a long, proud history of patriots, statesmen, and public benefactors. To honor its finest citizens, the Green Mountain State has enjoyed a wide range of statuary over the years, from the soaring Ethan Allen monument to the grave of renowned gourmand (and one-time President) Chester A. Arthur. But there’s one grave you should probably avoid: the haunted statue known as Black Agnes, which sits atop the grave of John Hubbard.

According to legend, anyone who lays in her stony arms at midnight under a full moon will die within seven days, taking seven friends with them.

The Greed ofJohn Hubbard

According to author Thea Lewis, the grave of John Hubbard contains far more than meets the eye. In her book Wicked Vermont, she describes how Hubbard, a young man who preferred easy money to honest money, pulled a fast one with his aunt’s inheritance, swindling the rightful recipients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the late 1800s.

Fanny Hubbard Kellogg, who had died both childless and a widow, had originally planned to leave her $300,000 estate to the city of Montpelier. But sniffing out an opportunity, the ne’er-do-well Hubbard decided that such an amount rightfully belonged to whoever wanted it most—namely, himself. After staging an invalid reading of probate documents using his own duped relatives, he claimed the inheritance as his own, enraging the Montpelier city leaders and setting off a battle in court.

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Before a ruling could be handed down, however, the city decided to strike a compromise, allowing Hubbard to keep the lion’s share of the cash if he would pay for the new Montpelier town library. The swindler agreed, paying around $30,000 and arrogantly ensuring that his own name appeared above its doors as the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. As Lewis describes, that he died a few years thereafter of liver cancer felt like divine retribution for his sins, but the story didn’t end there.

The Kellogg-Hubbard Library, via Library of Congress

Black Agnes: Death, Personified

Hubbard’s funeral monument at Green Mount Cemetery took the form of one of Greek mythology’s most famous figures: Thanatos, or death personified, here depicted as a lady wearing a black shroud. Black Agnes, or ‘Black Aggie’, designed by the sculptor Karl Bitter, has become a popular destination for visitors in the area, but it’s possible that she—like the man she commemorates—may exact a price. Lewis:

“There’s a decades-old story of three teenagers who sat on Black Agnes during a full moon, trying to show one another how brave they were. When nothing happened, they laughed about it on the way home, sure that they’d put one over on old Aggie. One week later, one boy fell and shattered his leg. Another died in a tragic car crash. The third drowned.”

If that wasn’t enough, similar statues of Thanatos or Black Agnes can be found across the country, from Chicago to Maryland to West Virginia—each with their own legends and tales, and every last one of them dire. So—we here at Crime Capsule encourage you to travel responsibly, and avoid upsetting any local ghosts. Next time you’re in Montpelier, maybe go visit the grave of our twenty-first president? At least he came by his own death from liver failure honestly!

For more on Black Agnes—and on Chester Arthur’s incredible daily diet, featuring Rhode Island eels—check out Wicked Vermont, available now.

“Most of us can appreciate just how beautiful Vermont is with its rolling hills, Mountains, farms and covered bridges. But, There is a dark side to the Green Mountains too, and Thea Lewis highlights the more sinister side of the state in her new book, Wicked Vermont.” –  WCAX

Wicked Vermont

About the Book: Vermont is a picturesque landscape, but the idyllic setting hides a sometimes dark and desperate past. H.H. Holmes, America’s first serial killer, may have been the University of Vermont’s deadliest student. A Burlington resident made an empire partly by carrying contraband goods to and from Canada. The first United States president subject to a birther movement wasn’t 44, but a much lower number. A Burlington schoolboy ran away with the circus and became an international sensation under the big top. Author Thea Lewis takes a revealing ride through the unique and colorful history of the Green Mountain State.