Pikesville's Ghostly Statue

     During the early part of the century, craftsmen were allowed to express themselves in cemetery art and create sculptures that included seductive angels, surrogate mourners and even the deceased themselves.

     One of Baltimore's sculptures gained a reputation for being something other than just the ordinary artwork of a cemetery.... something that had a life of it's own !

    When Union General Felix Angus, the publisher of the Baltimore American, died in 1925, he was buried in Pikesville's Druid Ridge Cemetery, a few miles outside of the Baltimore City limits. A rather unusual statue was placed on his grave. It was a small black angel that appeared to be perching on top of the grave stone.

The Original Grief SculptureEdward L. A. Pauch, the sculptor had named the angel Grief, the same name used by artist Augustus St. Gaudens for the Adams Memorial. The Baltimore Grief was completed between 1906-1907 and is not black, but is actually made out of bronze on a granite base.

     During the safety of daylight , many people regarded the angel as a beautiful addition to the graveyard art of the cemetery. The sculptor was one of the premier turn-of-the-century artisans in Maryland and the statue was highly regarded for the detail and artistic beauty..... until darkness fell and the strange events near the grave of General Angus began.

    For some who encountered the angel in the darkness, she was known as "Black Aggie". People who met the angel in darkness regarded her as a symbol of terror. As Black Aggie's legend grew, stories began to appear in Baltimore say nothing of the conversations of those who had an interest and believed in the dark side of life. There was a significant amount of interest in Black the stories abounded that her eyes glowed red at the stroke of midnight.

     One story was that Aggie was a nurse in Baltimore in the early part of the century. She was well liked, but then strange things happened and she was accused of a horrible crime. The town lynched Aggie only to discover her innocence the next day. Out of communal guilt, the people responsible for her wrongful death commissioned a statue for her.

     The legend grew.... and it was said that the spirits of the dead rose from their graves to gather around her on certain nights and that living persons who returned her gaze were struck blind. Pregnant women who passed through her shadow (where strangely, grass never grew) would suffer miscarriages. Other Black Aggie stories say that any virgin placed in the outstretched arms of Black Aggie will lose her virginity in 24 hours; If you say Black Aggie's name in a mirror three times at midnight in the dark, she will either appear behind you, stab you, make you lose your mind, or transport you to hell ... or possibly all three depending on to whom you talk.

    A local college fraternity decided to include Black Aggie in their initiation rites. Not really believing the stories, the candidates for membership were ordered to spend the night sitting beneath the form of Black Aggie, their backs to the grave of General Felix Angus.

     One night, at the stroke of midnight, the cemetery watchman heard a scream in the darkness. When he reached the Angus grave, he found a young man lying dead at the foot of the statue.... he had died of fright.

     Just another legend that grew over the years into a ghost story? Maybe, and then, maybe not.

    One morning in 1962, a watchman discovered that one of the angel's arms had been cut off during the night. The missing arm was later found in the trunk of a sheet metal worker's car, along with a saw. He told the judge that Black Aggie had cut off her own arm in a fit of grief and had given it to him. Apparently, the judge didn't believe him and the man went to jail.

     However, a number of people did believe the man's strange story and almost every night, huge groups of people gathered in Druid Ridge Cemetery. This continued to happen nearly every night and finally, by 1967, it had gotten so bad that the descendants of Felix Angus had the statue removed from his grave site. They donated her to the Smithsonian Institution.

     Today, Black Aggie sits somewhere, probably covered in cobwebs, but no one knows where she really is. In 1987 the Smithsonian deaccessioned Aggie, who was now known asThe Agnus memorial . Another Aggie mystery is that the Smithsonian had no information about the legends surrounding the ghostly sculpture. The Agnus memorial was given to the General Service Administration in 1987. One of the GSA roles is to dispose of "excess' governmental property. Although GSA owned Aggie in 1987, she was reported being at the Smithsonian as late as 1992. No further information about the location of Black Aggie is available from either GSA or the Smithsonian. The Baltimore Ghost seems to have disappeared.

     A Baltimore Sun Reporter, who wrote about Black Aggie in 1992, is under the impression that while the Smithsonian did not have Aggie as part of their regular collection, that she was still on the grounds tucked away in an alley. Black Aggie isn't being exhibitied, and officially lost. "Maybe, just maybe," wrote a columnist for the Baltimore Sun, "they're not taking any chances."

     The grave of General Angus can still be seen in the cemetery, although Black Aggie has been gone for more than 30 years.

The Strange Odyssey of the Pirated Copy of the Adams Memorial by Saint Gaudens

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