Black Aggie

The Legend

When Felix Agnus put up the life-sized shrouded bronze statue of a grieving angel, seated on a pedestal, in the Agnus family plot in the Druid Ridge Cemetery, he had no idea what he had started. The statue was a rather eerie figure by day, frozen in a moment of grief and terrible pain. At night, the figure was almost unbelievably creepy; the shroud over its head obscuring the face until you were up close to it. There was a living air about the grieving angel, as if its arms could really reach out and grab you if you weren't careful.

It didn't take long for rumors to sweep through the town and surrounding countryside. They said that the statue - nicknamed Black Aggie - was haunted by the spirit of a mistreated wife who lay beneath her feet. The statue's eyes would glow red at the stroke of midnight, and any living person who returned the statues gaze would instantly be struck blind. Any pregnant woman who passed through her shadow would miscarry. If you sat on her lap at night, the statue would come to life and crush you to death in her dark embrace. If you spoke Black Aggie's name three times at midnight in front of a dark mirror, the evil angel would appear and pull you down to hell. They also said that spirits of the dead would rise from their graves on dark nights to gather around the statue at night.

People began visiting the cemetery just to see the statue, and it was then that the local fraternity decided to make the statue of Grief part of their initiation rites. "Black Aggie" sitting, where candidates for membership had to spend the night crouched beneath the statue with their backs to the grave of General Agnus, became popular.

One dark night, two fraternity members accompanied new hopeful to the cemetery and watched while he took his place underneath the creepy statue. The clouds had obscured the moon that night, and the whole area surrounding the dark statue was filled with a sense of anger and malice. It felt as if a storm were brewing in that part of the cemetery, and to their chagrin, the two fraternity members noticed that gray shadows seemed to be clustering around the body of the frightened fraternity candidate crouching in front of the statue.

What had been a funny initiation rite suddenly took on an air of danger. One of the fraternity brothers stepped forward in alarm to call out to the initiate. As he did, the statue above the boy stirred ominously. The two fraternity brothers froze in shock as the shrouded head turned toward the new candidate. They saw the gleam of glowing red eyes beneath the concealing hood as the statue's arms reached out toward the cowering boy.

With shouts of alarm, the fraternity brothers leapt forward to rescue the new initiate. But it was too late. The initiate gave one horrified yell, and then his body disappeared into the embrace of the dark angel. The fraternity brothers skidded to a halt as the statue thoughtfully rested its glowing eyes upon them. With gasps of terror, the boys fled from the cemetery before the statue could grab them too.

Hearing the screams, a night watchman hurried to the Agnus plot. To his chagrin, he discovered the body of a young man lying at the foot of the statue. The young man had apparently died of fright.

There is a legend about Druid Ridge Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. It is locally well-known for it being the former home of a statue known as Black Aggie.

In the early part of the century, there was a woman named Aggie, who was a nurse working at a hospital. She was congenial and well-liked, but it seemed that patients under her care always seemed to die. Suspicion grew, and she was put to death, which turned out to be a mistake when she was discovered to be innocent the very next day. A communal feeling of guilt spread, so a statue was put in Druid Ridge Cemetery in her honor. When the statue was unveiled, strange occurrences started happening. I’ve heard that if you stand before it at the stroke of midnight, you will be struck blind by the statue’s red glowing eyes. People have even been found dead in front of it, including a “pledge” from a local fraternity.

Another rumor is that pregnant women who walk in the figure’s shadow (where oddly, the grass never grew) would suffer miscarriages. People began to gather at the graveyard at night, which became a frequent problem. Then one morning, the cemetery employees walked into work to find the statue of Black Aggie with only one arm. The other had been sawed off. Upon investigation, the arm of the statue and a saw were found in the backseat of a worker’s car. The man was brought to trial, and he claimed Black Aggie cut off one of her arms and had given it to him in a fit of grief. Some people believed his story, but it wasn’t enough for the court. He was found guilty.

Eventually the statue was removed from Druid Ridge Cemetery, and was donated to a Baltimore museum. It was never displayed however, and resided in the basement. Occasionally, people still congregate at the cemetery, but it is no longer the location of fraternity stunts…..

There is a dispute over whether or not the "Grief" statue is the Black Aggie. Another statue in Druid Ridge Cemetery depicting Clotho, one of the Three Fates from Greek mythology, was purported to be the original statue named Black Aggie, however it never sat on the Agnus family plot so there is no reason for the diminutive "Aggie" to have been applied to it

One of the visitors who arrived to ponder the Adams Memorial might certainly have been Baltimore’s General Felix Agnus. What did he see in the statue that eventually made him want a duplicate of the Adams Memorial on his own tomb? More importantly, why would he want his memorial to be a copy of someone else’s when he, himself, was such a unique man?

Agnus was born in France in 1839. At the age of 13, he went on a four-year trip around the world, visiting many distant and exotic locales and rounding both the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. When he was 20, he fought in the army of Napoleon III against Austria and later fought with General Garibaldi’s forces in Italy. For reasons he never made clear, he emigrated to New York in 1860 to become a silver chaser and sculptor at Tiffany’s. When the American Civil War broke out, his military zeal was renewed. He enlisted as a private on the side of the Union and began a war record so incredible that he was promoted to brigadier general by the age of 26. He saw action in many battles and was wounded more than a dozen times by gunfire and even a saber. Agnus often said later that he was "shot 13 times -- and always in the front," and H.L. Mencken remarked that Agnus "had so much lead in him, he rattled when he walked."

After being more severely wounded than usual, then-Lieutenant Agnus was brought to Baltimore for treatment. There, he met Charles Carroll Fulton, publisher of The Baltimore American newspaper, and his daughter, Annie, who nursed him back to health. When the war was over, he returned to Baltimore and married his former nurse. He briefly served in the internal revenue office and was appointed as Consul to Londonderry, Ireland by the United States Senate. He declined this position, however, and eventually succeeded his father-in-law as publisher of The Baltimore American, a position he retained for the rest of his life.

When Annie died in 1922, Agnus began construction of a family monument in Druid Ridge Cemetery. It was at this point that he must have purchased the unauthorized copy of the Adams Memorial and had a pedestal and backdrop created to match the setting of the Rock Creek gravesite. Three years later, Agnus himself died of a lingering illness at the age of 86, and he, too, was laid to rest at the feet of Grief's younger sibling.

Soon thereafter, the legend of Black Aggie was born.

Oddly enough, the statue that started out in Baltimore and ended up in Washington was a copy of one already in Washington. The original can be found in Rock Creek Cemetery, where it marks the graves of Marian and Henry Adams. In 1866, depressed by the death of her father, Marian Adams swallowed potassium cyanide while her husband was paying an emergency Sunday visit to his dentist. Grief-stricken over her loss to the end of his life, Adams commissioned a special monument from the well-known sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The statue has come to be called "Grief," although it never was officially so named either by its creator or its patron. There is no writing to be found on it, so very few know it's actually the grave marker of both Henry and Marian (he joined her underneath there in 191 and not just a lovely bit of statuary.

It's ironic that the original statue (which is erected over the grave of a grief-stricken woman) never became a target either for fraternity initiation rites or for murdering ghost legends, whereas the Baltimore copy (erected over the grave of Civil War General who'd lived a full and rewarding life) did. Just goes to show that facts never get in the way of a good ghost story.

A number of communities have "killer statue" legends, and Black Agnes is only one of them. Adding to the confusion is the superimposing of one legend onto another