How Well Do You Know the Legend of Battle Creek’s Crying Mary?
Located just outside of downtown Battle Creek sits Oak Hill Cemetery. Known as the final resting place of the Kellogg family, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, musician Junior Walker, and Seventh-Day Adventist founders Ellen and James White, the cemetery is also famous for one more thing:
The infamous Crying Mary statue.
As if this cemetery isn't already freaky enough just add a haunted crying statue to the mix! If you aren't already familiar with one of Southwest Michigan's most notorious urban legends the story goes as follows--
There was once a young woman in Battle Creek named Johannes Decker who died sometime in the early 1910s. Johannes allegedly murdered her six children after which the guilt of committing such a heinous act was too much for her to bear and she committed suicide. Now all these years later Johannes' spirit is at unease and this is the reason the haunted Virgin Mary statue appears to cry.
When Does She Cry?
There are only three times when the statue appears to cry: every Sunday, full moon, and Halloween, but she only ever cries at night.
But is there any truth to this Southwest Michigan urban legend?
The Real Johannes
In reality this legend couldn't be further from the truth! For one, the real Johannes Decker was a man. Decker was a local dry goods salesman who resided in Battle Creek with his wife Ruth. Unfortunately, that's not to say that Johannes' life wasn't filled with sadness.
Johannes and Ruth had two children who both passed away all too young. Their first child died at age 3 from scarlet fever and their second child was born prematurely and was stillborn.
What About the Statue?
Keeping watch above Johannes' grave is not the Virgin Mary, but is actually a Greek goddess. Which goddess exactly is unknown. The statue was reportedly commissioned by Johannes' widow to perhaps represent her own sorrows in life and represent the fact that she missed her dear husband.
Over the years a patina formed on the bronze statue which, after several rainfalls, made it appear as though the statue had been crying. This is probably how the urban legend got its start in the 1940s. So although it's a good story, it's wildly inaccurate. Learn more about Johannes' statue below: