Alta Vista Cemetery in Gainesville may seem like a peaceful spot to remember the dead, but Melanie Baez finds it alight with activity.
Baez, who lives in Flowery Branch, said she started the Paranormal Society of Northeast Georgia nearly two years ago in hopes of gathering like-minded people to share in her passion for the paranormal. She regularly comes out to the cemetery to listen and look for ghosts.
The property has been in operation for over 140 years and includes graves and memorials for many notable people, including veterans of the Revolutionary and Civil wars such as Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, as well as former governors, mayors, sheriffs and police chiefs.
When walking over the grave-stone covered grounds, Baez keeps an eye out for the activity of two ghosts she claims to observe — the bride and groom.
Baez said she has seen the figures — one dressed in a black suit and the other in a white dress with a veil — with both her eyes and through photos she’s taken in their preferred “hang out spot” next to the cemetery’s mausoleum.
“They come up from somewhere up there,” she said pointing to the hill overlooking the mausoleum. “They’re always together. I think they just keep to themselves.”
Since she first spotted the couple two years ago, Baez has conducted research to figure out their identities. She said her mother believes the groom figure is Longstreet. However, Baez said she can’t be sure.
A week ago, she took her 3-month old German shepherd puppy, Laveau — who is named after the famous Voodoo priestess of New Orleans, Marie Laveau — out for a walk in the cemetery. She said he strayed away from her on his leash and begun performing basic commands while looking into the open air.
Baez suspects that he might have encountered a military veteran ghost familiar with dog training.
“He sat, he laid, he jumped on two feet, and nobody was there,” Baez recounted. “He could see somebody that I couldn’t see.”