If you’ve read William Faukner’s short story Sepulture South: Gaslight, you may recall an allusion to a haunting procession of statues. This oddity is, in fact, real. They are the Woolridge Monuments, tucked away in Maplewood Cemetery, in south Graves County, Kentucky.
For those planning a road trip to southwest Kentucky or anyone just wanting to check odd roadside attractions off their bucket list, this guide tells you everything you need to know about this landmark within Maplewood Cemetery.
Show Table of Contents
- What are the Wooldridge Monuments in Maplewood Cemetery?
- Who Does the Wooldridge Monuments Memorialize?
- South Graves County Wooldridge Monuments Today
- Who was Colonel Henry Wooldridge?
- Why Did Wooldridge Build the Monuments?
- Where is Wooldridge’s Father?
- Is there Anyone Else Interesting Buried in the Maplewood Cemetery?
- Are There Any Events in Mayfield?
- Where are the Wooldridge Monuments Located?
- What hotels are around Mayfield?
- What is Mayfield, Kentucky, known for?
What are the Wooldridge Monuments in Maplewood Cemetery?
The collection is a set of eighteen monuments made of marble and granite in the Maplewood Cemetery in the town of Mayfield. Located in southwest Kentucky, all the monuments were commissioned by Colonel Henry Wooldridge himself in 1892 and carried on for seven years until Henry Wooldridge died on May 30, 1899.
All of these erie monuments face east, staring eerily into the cemetery.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Lexington, Kentucky
Who Does the Wooldridge Monuments Memorialize?
As a lifelong bachelor, the statue honored Henry Wooldridge himself, and his immediate family members. All the monuments commemorate family members, including three female statues of his sisters, mother, and even his beloved hunting dogs.
The largest of the 18 depicts his horse, “Fop.” Wooldridge was a well-known animal lover and even included monuments to a deer and fox.
One of the statues, a small girl, has gained the reputation of being his childhood sweetheart, Minnie, who died in a carriage crash. Although other lore and family records suggest, it may be a depiction of his niece.
South Graves County Wooldridge Monuments Today
Address: 408 N 6th St, Mayfield, KY 42066
The Maplewood Cemetery monuments have gotten the name “The Strange Procession Which Never Moves.”
In 2009, a heavy ice storm caused a large tree to fall, destroying nearly all the monuments, including Wooldridge’s head. The storm was so intense that only the statues of Wooldridge’s three sisters and dog remained standing.
Thanks to Federal Emergency Management Aid, Mayfield was awarded $131,000 to make repairs due to ice storm damage. The Monument Conservation Collaborative (an international historic monument restoration firm) restored the monuments, and they were rededicated in October 2010.
Another strong storm struck Mayfield in 2021 – a December tornado outbreak that all but leveled downtown. Luckily, the monuments were not damaged.
Today, it’s part of Kentucky’s National Register of Historic Places. For those unable to make the trip to Maplewood Cemetery, viewers can find the Wooldridge Monuments on a 1984 episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Who was Colonel Henry Wooldridge?
Wooldridge has become an American folk legend. The famous fox hunter, animal lover, and veteran spent his post-Civil War days breeding horses and relaxing.
Unfortunately, not much is known about Wooldridge’s time in the Civil War. But his deep devotion and love for his family and animals is what made him a legend. Additionally, he was an active member of the Mayfield Masonic Lodge.
Wooldridge gained himself a reputation for being a bit “over-the-top.” That reputation seemed to follow him into death. Legend has it that the metallic casket Wooldridge chose for himself was too large to fit inside the vault.
As a result, the stone masons in charge of the monument had to quickly expand the vault to fit Wooldridge’s casket inside the day of the funeral. Although, this story cannot be confirmed.
Why Did Wooldridge Build the Monuments?
The eccentric bachelor wished to commemorate family members. Legend says his heart ached for his loved ones who passed too early, and building the Wooldridge Monuments was his way of coping.
However, despite the numerous depictions of his loved ones, he is the only person buried at the monuments. Adding to his larger-than-life personality is that he had his own image depicted by craftsmen overseas in Italy.
At the time, the monument seemed like an endless money pit he poured into. Wooldridge allegedly spent $6,000 on constructing the monuments–just over $200,000 in modern buying power. However, today it is considered a great piece of American art and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Where is Wooldridge’s Father?
You may notice no memorial to his father. This may be because his father left his mother when he was a child. Another theory suggests he only wished to memorialize family members who had died. Little else is known about Wooldridge’s father.
Is there Anyone Else Interesting Buried in the Maplewood Cemetery?
The Strange Procession is the main attraction. However, another grave has gained a bit of attention from tourists.
In 1890 a memorial to Henry Bascom Hicks was constructed by the Graves County Confederate Veterans Association. Union General E.A. Paine killed Hicks for allegedly being a spy. When blindfolded before his execution, Hicks is said to have refused to have his eyes covered and say, “I can look you in the eye.”
Additionally, a marker was erected for the Confederate Camp Beauregard within the cemetery.
Are There Any Events in Mayfield?
Mayfield hosts a spooktacular month-long “Haunted Graves.” celebration every October. Visitors can pair their visit to the Wooldridge Monuments with Halloween-themed events. like a haunted parade, trunk or treat, and horse show.
Whether it is a lasting legacy or just a tribute to a loved family, you will find a tale that is as old as time: the need to take something with you when death arrives at your door.
See Related: Kentucky Travel Guide
Where are the Wooldridge Monuments Located?
Enter through the Confederate Memorial Gates in Maplewood Cemetery at 408 N 6th St, Mayfield, KY.
What hotels are around Mayfield?
Mayfield is a tiny town. We suggest staying near Paducah for more comfortable accommodations like the Fairfield Inn. You’ll still be close enough to visit the Wooldridge Monuments and explore nearby historic places.
What is Mayfield, Kentucky, known for?
Mayfield is known for “The Strange Procession Which Never Moves” – the Wooldridge Monuments. The community is steeped in Civil War history, including a marker for the Confederate Camp Beauregard.
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a seasoned traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers find their next adventure, whether it’s exploring new places or revisiting old favorites.
He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wonderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). He loves listening to people’s stories from around the world as well as sharing his own experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.