Urban Legend “Black Aggie”
The interesting thing about urban legends is that no one knows how they get started. Yet, somehow they are born and bring fascinating history with them. I watched this television show, Mysteries Unknown, for the first time today; they featured a relatively unknown urban legend, “The Black Aggie.”
If you ever decide to visit Washington, D.C., you can see Black Aggie on display in the courtyard of the National Courts Building. She sits serenely on her concrete bench, with her face covered by a hood. That is, if you visit her doing the day, at night you might see something different.
In 1885, a well-known socialite and hostess, Marian Adams, ended her life. She was one of the first female portrait photographers during that era. Despondent over her father’s death, she drank chemicals used to develop her pictures.
Her husband, grief-stricken, hired Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who was the world’s most celebrated artist at the time. He created the memorial for Marian’s grave located at Rock Creek Cemetary. The statue was originally titled “Grief,” “The Adams Memorial.”
How could a permanent symbol of a man’s love for his wife be haunted? The hauntingly beautiful statue attracted tons of visitors, much to her husband’s chagrin. These intruders inundated him with requests to have copies made, but he refused everybody. Driven to desperation, he planted trees and shrubs around the statue to hide it.
Unbeknownst to Marian’s widow, a sculptor named Eduard L.A. Pausch stole the statue’s image. Then dared to sell it to Felix Angus, who built a pedestal for it in Baltimore. Marian’s widow found out about it and wasn’t too happy about it. He told Angus that Pausch scammed him, but Angus didn’t care. The statue stayed in Druid Ridge Cemetery. It was after Angus died that Black Aggie got her eerie reputation.
If you visit Aggie and look her in the eyes? They will glow red with flames behind the pupils, and you will go blind. If you are pregnant and her shadow hits you? You will go into labor early, or you will lose your child. The spookiest rumor is if you sit in Aggie’s lap after midnight? You will die within two weeks.
Rumor has It that Aggie doesn’t like strangers sitting on her lap. Her arms will close around you and squeeze you to death. Another rumor has it if you sit in her lap, you would die within two weeks. There is no evidence to support these rumors. Not a nice way to die. These rumors started one day and grew like a snowball, not having stopped. Who started them? No one knows.
Local colleges were using Black Aggie for hazing. To get accepted into their sorority, aspiring candidates had to sit in Aggie’s lap at midnight. The story goes that in the 1950s, one candidate sat in her lap, and she squeezed him to death. His screams attracted the cemetery keeper, and he ran to the poor man and found his broken boy lying at Aggie’s feet.
Another story is that Druid Park Cemetery spirits would come out at night and hang out with Aggie. No grass would grow wherever Aggie’s shadow touched. These legends made people curious, and unwelcome visitors were always trying to break into the cemetery to see if these rumors were true.
Ghost-hunting is one thing, but some of these night visitors vandalized her pedestal. In one incident, a young man stole a part of Aggie. It was a finger or part of her arm, but the eerie part of the story was the claims Aggie told him to do it.
In 1967, the Angus family had enough, and they donated the statue to the Smithsonian Art Museum. The Smithsonian thought she was the original built in the late 1800s. When they discovered she wasn’t, they decided to put her into storage and promptly forgot about her. There were no stories of any unusual behavior at the Smithsonian. Maybe Aggie enjoyed the rest from curious eyes.
Aggie transferred to Dolly Madison’s house in 1996 in Washington, DC., now the National Courts Building. She sits in the garden, hidden from view except for the curious who seek her out and test the rumors.
How these stories got started is still a mystery, but after hearing her spooky history, will you sit in Aggie’s lap at midnight?