One night, a renowned carpenter named Carl Pruitt came home from work and found his wife in bed with another man. After her lover escaped by jumping out of a window, Pruitt strangled his wife with a small piece of hand strewn rope vine. Immediately after, perhaps having just realized the depth of his madness, he committed suicide. Pruitt and his wife were buried together in the local cemetery with a statue of a tree for a headstone.
A few weeks after they were buried, visitors to the cemetery began to notice the pattern of a vine that was slowly forming on the Pruitt’s gravestone. The "vine" was caused by an unusual discoloration in the stone and it slowly, gained length until it completely encircled the headstone. At that point, it stopped growing. A number of local residents suggested that perhaps the supernaturally marked tombstone should be removed from the graveyard and destroyed, but officials scoffed and nothing was done about it.
A month or so after the vine stopped growing a group of boys were riding their bicycles past the cemetery one afternoon. One of them, a boy named James Collins, decided to throw a few stones at the Pruitt’s "cursed" gravestone, probably just to prove that he wasn’t afraid and had little use for spooky stories. Whatever the reason for his actions, the hurled rocks managed to chip several spots from the stone. As the young men started home, Collins’ bicycle suddenly began to pick up speed, to the point that he could no longer control it. It veered off the road and collided with a tree. Vines hanging from the tree mysteriously managed to wrap themselves about the boy’s neck, strangling him. Rumors quickly spread about this remarkable occurrence; especially after an examination of the Pruitt tombstone revealed that no marks or chips marred the surface of it. The other boys knew what they had seen, however, and their breathless accounts only fueled speculation about a vengeful ghost.
James Collins’ mother was especially heartbroken over her son’s death. Less than a month after his accident, she went out to the cemetery and destroyed the Pruitt gravestone with a small hand axe. She pounded and hacked at the stone until it lay in dozens of pieces. The following day, as she was hanging the family wash on the line, she somehow slipped and fell. Her neck became entangled in the line. Ironically, the clothesline was made from fine woven vine to form a rope. Somehow, she slipped and fell, her neck becoming entangled in the line. She twisted and tried to get free, but it was no use. She strangled to death. Legend says that after she died, the Pruitt tombstone showed no signs of destruction.
Needless to say, news of the most recent incident spread. A short time later, a local farmer and three members of his family were driving a wagon past the cemetery. For some reason, the farmer announced that he had no fear of ghosts and fired several shots at the Pruitt stone with his revolver. Chunks flew from the marker and the horses pulling the wagon began to run. Their hooves pounded faster and faster, until the wagon was out of control. The family members all jumped to safety, but the farmer hung on. He frantically pulled on the reins, but to no avail. Just as the wagon veered around a curve in the road, the farmer was thrown from his seat and he tumbled forward. His neck snagged on one of the ropes hanging from the wagon and the motion of the horses snapped his neck. Once again, Pruitt’s stone showed no signs of the damage that had been done to it.
The local residents were now convinced that the grave marker was cursed and began to avoid the cemetery altogether. Only one man, Arthur Lewis, dared to go there. He was determined to prove that the stories of a "cursed" tombstone were nothing but superstitious nonsense. One evening, after telling his wife what he intended to do, he went to the graveyard with a hammer and chisel and began to methodically destroy the grave marker. The sounds of hammering and the shattering of stone, as well as a bloodcurdling scream, could be heard by all who lived near the cemetery. Several men grabbed lanterns and went down to investigate. When they arrived, they found Lewis dead. The rope woven from thick vine that closed the cemetery gates was wrapped around his neck. Apparently, something had frightened him and he ran, forgetting about the rope that barred the entrance gate. Oddly, even though people had heard the sound of the man breaking the Pruitt’s gravestone, there were no marks of destruction on it.
People in town gradually moved away and the small burial plot was forgotten. Since Pruitt had no family left to care for his grave, the site became overgrown and tangled with weeds. The five strange deaths, all linked by ropes or vines, were never explained.
North Hardin High School