The Legend of Black Aggie

October 26, 2018

Fran Lane

The legend of Black Aggie is a bizarre tale with many strange twists and turns. To some who grew up in the Baltimore area hearing the stories, Black Aggie conjured up an otherworldly vision of terror shrouded in dark mystery…

The tale begins in 1925 when Union General Felix Angus, the publisher of the Baltimore American died and was laid to rest at Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, just a few miles outside the Baltimore City limits. Mounting guard over his grave was an unusual statue of a large, black mourning angel like figure. Sculptor Edward L.A. Pausch, creator of the mourning figure christened it Grief. It was an unauthorized copy of the “Grief” memorial statue at the grave of Marion Adams designed by artist Augustus St. Gaudens in 1907.

In the daylight, the angel figure was looked on as a beautiful addition to the graveyard art of the cemetery. The sculptor was a premier artisan in Maryland and the statue was highly regarded for its artistic beauty and detail. It was after nightfall in the thick darkness, when those few who braved a trip into the graveyard and encountered the statue dubbed her “Black Aggie.” In the darkness, “she” was a symbol of terror and otherworldly events near the grave of General Angus began. Stories cropped up that at the stroke of midnight Black Aggie’s eyes glowed a hellish red. Her legend grew and stories about her began to appear in Baltimore papers. Black Aggie became the subject for those with an interest in the dark side. What other statues eyes glowed red at the stroke of midnight?

It was said that the spirits of the dead rose from their graves and gathered around her on certain nights and that living persons who returned her gaze were struck blind. It was intimated that pregnant women who passed through her shadow would suffer miscarriages. No grass grew in the shadow of Black Aggie. Other 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 all three, depending on who is telling the story.

Black Aggie was included in the initiation rites of a local college fraternity. Candidates for membership were ordered to spend the night sitting beneath the form of Black Aggie with their backs to the grave of General Felix Angus. Other candidates for membership had to sit on Aggie’s lap for the night and one tale says she once came to life and crushed a hapless freshman in her powerful grasp.

One night at the stroke of midnight, the cemetery watchman heard a scream in the darkness. Reaching the Angus grave he discovered a young man lying dead at the foot of the statue. He apparently died of fright. Just another legend…..hmmm?

One morning in 1962, a watchman discovered that one of Aggie’s arms had been cut off during the night. Strangely, the missing arm was later discovered in the trunk of a sheet metal worker’s car, along with a saw. Brought before a judge, the man claimed that Black Aggie had cut off her own arm in a fit of grief and had given it to him. The judge didn’t buy his story and he went to jail.

Some did believe the man’s bizarre tale and almost every night groups of people gathered in Druid Ridge Cemetery. This happened nearly every night and in 1967, it got so bad that the descendants of Felix Angus had the statue removed and placed in the care of the Smithsonian Institute.

Today, Black Aggie resides on the grounds of The Dolly Madison House in Washington D.C. (see photo above).

Black Aggie may be gone from Druid Ridge Cemetery, but she’s certainly not forgotten. “We still have people coming to Druid Ridge, asking for Black Aggie all the time,” said one of the cemetery spokesmen in an interview. “I don’t think there’s a week that goes by that we don’t get a call about it.”

Scary stories of Black Aggie were the highlight of slumber parties when I was a kid. I remember my big sister, May, would bring me along to her girlfriends’ sleepovers, and eventually someone would tell a tale of Black Aggie. The stories always scared me. Just knowing that Black Aggie was somewhere in the city, kept me from falling asleep.

I remember driving in the car with my father and every time we passed a cemetery, I would ask him if that was where Black Aggie was. She may be gone from Baltimore, but her legend lives on.