Mystery behind Goldie Bell's flowers spans generations
Like many ghost stories, the tale of Salem's Goldie Bell Taylor began in tragedy: a two year old girl and a life cut far too short.
Like many ghost stories, the tale of Salem's Goldie Bell Taylor began in tragedy. A two-year-old girl and a life cut far too short.
"They were making elderberry juice in a kettle outside of their house. After Jacob went in with his wife Lizzie to can the juice, Goldie Bell sat outside cross-legged and licked all the juice out of the cast iron kettle. What they didn't know is every time she brought her fingers to her lips, she ingested little pieces of iron and she died a few days later of iron poisoning," said local author Karen Biery.
Her father Jacob was heartbroken. He and Lizzie divorced and Jacob sold his farm just to pay for the statue at her gravesite.
"You don't see it very often. This is very rare. Especially for a little town like this, $4,000 in 1886 was a lot of money," said paranormal historian Kimberly Mitchell.
He didn't stop there. Every day, Jacob would ride from his home in Sebring to Hope Cemetery in Salem to deliver fresh flowers to her grave. Ten years later, Jacob died. That is where the ghost story begins.
"When he died in 1896 and was buried here, the flowers continued to come," said Biery. "To this day, they still continue to come."
Sometimes fresh, sometimes artificial, but for more than 100 years Goldie Bell always has her flowers.
Over the years people have tried to crack the mystery. They've set up surveillance cameras, but even in the snow, the flowers have changed with no footprints to be seen.
"I've heard where people have slept under her statue after finding her flowers to be real under her arms. They'd sleep under the statue trying to catch whoever it is that is changing it. And when they got up the next day, different flowers. Never heard a person," said Mitchell.
"I have been in the cemetery and her flowers were one and 20 minutes after walking around the cemetery came back and they were different," said Biery.
A spooky element, but also a strong theme that a father's love never dies.
"Halloween has become this bloody, gory, Texas Chainsaw Massacre thing. This isn't that. This is a touching and wonderful ghostly tale of a father's love for his daughter," said Mitchell.
And a bond that will last forever.