This story is considered completely authentic and can be traced back over a century and a half, as almost all these years the chest of drawers was kept by the descendants of one family.
The Museum of the Historical Society of Kentucky (USA) houses a seemingly unremarkable chest of drawers made of four Empire mahogany drawers. Photos of the chest of drawers can be seen here.
A cruel curse is associated with this dresser, the history of which dates back to the 1830s or 1840s.
In 2017, the story of the cursed dresser was published in The Conspirated Dresser: The Cursed Family of Old Kentucky by Beverly Maine Kinzl, who heard the story from her ancestors.
It all started with the fact that a certain rich man named Jeremiah Graham ordered his black slave Remus to create a chest of drawers in which things were to be stored for Graham’s first child, whose birth was expected in a few months.
For some reason, Graham was so unhappy with the outcome that he beat Remus to death in anger. Other slaves decided to avenge the death of a relative and performed a witchcraft ritual over the chest of drawers – they sprinkled it with owl’s blood and imposed a curse that killed any person whose clothes were put in the chest of drawers.
The first death (not counting Remus) associated with the chest of drawers was the very first-born Graham, who suddenly died shortly after birth. Whether Graham knew about the curse or not is not indicated, but it is known that after that Graham handed the chest of drawers to his family.
After that, those people whose clothes were kept in the chest of drawers began to die in the family. However, not all died, some “only” became very ill or were seriously injured under unspecified conditions.
Only after at least 16 people died, someone finally suspected that something was wrong with the chest of drawers. By that time, the chest of drawers was kept in the family of Virginia Hudson Cleveland, who inherited it from her grandmother Elsa Gregory.
Cleveland somehow found out about the curse and decided to remove it, contacting her maid Sally for this. Sally decided to use a ritual with a dead owl and according to the terms of this ritual, if the curse is lifted, then either Virginia or Sally must die. Sally passed away shortly after the ritual.
Since then, the old owl feathers still lie in one of the drawers of the dresser. However, it is unclear if the spell has been completely lifted, because since then, no one has stored their clothes in this dresser anymore.
In 1976, Virginia Hudson Cleveland’s daughter Virginia Carey Hudson Maine donated this chest of drawers to the Kentucky Historical Society, and in 2015 Maine’s daughter, Beverly Maine Kinzl, came to the TV show and told the story of her ancestors’ cursed chest of drawers. Two years later, she published a book about this, as indicated above.
Sixteen people are believed to have had misfortune due to a curse placed on this chest of drawers. In addition, both the chest-maker Remus and the curse-breaker Sallie died, making a total of 18 deaths or tragedies related to the chest.
1. Jeremiah Graham’s child, for whom the chest was made, died in infancy.
2. Jeremiah’s twin brother, Jonathan, had a son. This son’s clothes were placed in the chest, and he was stabbed by his body servant on his 21st birthday. Jeremiah and Jonathan’s sister-in-law, Amanda Winchell Graham, wife of Moses Graham, put the chest in the attic.
3. John Ryan, a recent immigrant from Ireland, eloped with Catherine Winchell (see victim #4). Amanda Winchell Graham arranged for them to live on land belonging to the Grahams and gave them the chest, which they both used. Farm life left them poor and made Catherine ill. John planned to go to New Orleans to find work and was killed in an accident.
4. Catherine Winchell Ryan died.
5. Louise Gregory, a child of Eliza Ryan and John David Gregory, died around the age of 10 years old.
6. Eliza and John David Gregory’s only son, Ernest Gregory, married Stella Stonecipher. Stella put her wedding clothes in the chest. The couple wed in 1895. Stella died within two years of their wedding.
7. Mabel Louis Whitehead, a relative to the Gregory family, came to live with Eliza and John David Gregory in 1884. Mabel married Wilbur Harlan in 1897. In 1901, Mabel and Wilbur had a baby named Chester, whose clothes went into the chest. Chester died at two weeks old.
8. Wilbur Harlan’s clothes were placed in the chest. Wilbur died in 1905.
9. John David Gregory’s nephew, Emmett, was the son of John David’s sister, Lucy B. Gregory. Lucy hid knitted gloves and a scarf in the chest for her son’s Christmas gift. Emmett worked for the railroad. One evening in December 1909, Emmett got off the train and fell 30 feet through a trestle.
10. Nellie Gregory, daughter of Eliza and John David Gregory, married Fred Fraize in August 1905. Nellie had placed her wedding clothes in the chest. Fred deserted Nellie.
11. When Eliza Gregory’s husband, John David, died in 1908, Eliza rearranged her house and moved the chest into her room. Eliza soon took her own life and died on April 4, 1915.
12. The chest then moved to Louisville with Eliza and John David Gregory’s granddaughter, Virginia Cary Hudson Cleveland and her husband, Kirtley Cleveland. Virginia put her first child’s baby clothes in the chest. The baby was born prematurely and died the same day on August 8, 1915.
13. Virginia and Kirtley Cleveland had two daughters, the second being Ann Cary Cleveland. Ann’s clothing was placed in the chest. Ann was struck with polio around 1929. Although she recovered, Ann endured related symptoms all her life.
14. Virginia and Kirtley Cleveland’s older daughter was Virginia Hudson Cleveland, whose wedding clothes had been placed in the chest. Wilbur Brister married Virginia Hudson Cleveland in 1943. In December 1944, Wilbur was rushed to a hospital for an appendectomy. He died December 9, 1944 from an overdose of ether.
15. Virginia’s and Kirtley’s neighbor, Herbert H. “Sonny” Moore Jr., put his hunting clothes in the chest. Moore was killed in a gun accident at the home of neighbors on April 5, 1946.
16. Richard, Virginia and Kirtley’s son, Richard, put his clothes in the chest. Less than a week later, he was stabbed through the hand at school.