Cemeteries have always been a source of anxiety and fear in the societal public norm, worried about curses, hauntings, and the creeping feeling of mortality. Visiting a cemetery is seen as a solemn occasion, but being around the graves of the long dead can cause fear and projection of the idea of cursed objects that might lurk in the rows of neat headstones. One headstone sculpture in the Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City, Iowa is reported to be not just haunted, but cursed.
A simple statue of an angel was erected in the cemetery in 1912, designed by Theresa Dolezal Feldwert, a Czech-Bohemian immigrant to the United States. Therefore, her artistic references from eastern europe seeped into the design of the Black Angel Statue. The angel sits on a 4ft platform, looking down and looking more like a demonic presence than an angelic one. The color of the statue adds to this mystery and fear by those who visit the Oakland Cemetery.
The angel was created for the grave of a young man who passed far too early, the son of the statue’s designer and creator who passed due to meningitis at the age of 18. The statue depicts the angel looking down, directly at the grave of Eddie Dolezal. At first, the monument was a classic Victorian tree stump with an ax sticking out of the wood, signifying a life cut too short. The angel was erected by Mrs. Feldwert as a monument for her family. She was supposedly unhappy with the final result, but installed the angel in a plot where her husband would also be interred after his untimely death.
Black Angels are not typically seen in angelic art, but this was a natural occurrence that was always going to happen to the statue. It was cast in bronze, thus open to the elements and susceptible to oxidation, turning the bronze to a shiny black sheen. The black angel stands at 8 ½ feet tall, giving it an imposing height above the low headstones in the cemetery. The legends surrounding the supposed cursed statue involve seeing the statue move out of the corner of your eye, or the most popular saying that alleges if you kiss the angel, you will die shortly afterward.
While there are no documented cases of anyone dying from giving the statue a smooch, there are tales of fear and dread coming over a viewer of the statue, a sick nauseous feeling could come over anyone who stares too long at the angel. Some are convinced that the creator of the statue might have been evil in some way, explaining the black color of the bronze as it oxidized. All accounts of Mrs. Feldwert say she was a kind woman, however. The visage of the angel seems to cause fear in those who view it.
Whether it means death or not, visitors to the cemetery are reluctant to test the theory. This dark and imposing statue is said to be the most evil sculpture in Oakland Cemetery. A visit might end in despair of the appreciation of the hard work and grief that went into its construction.
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.