The Man Who Would Rise–Tale from Old Cemetery in the Shenandoah Valley


On a recent fall foliage drive through the spectacular countryside, my hubby, Dennis, daughter Elise, and I stopped at the old Mt. Clinton Cemetery where the bizarre story I’m sharing took place.

Fall color in the graveyard

When Dennis was a little boy, he remembers riding to this cemetery with his father to gawk at the crowd gathered by the grave of valley resident,  the Reverend Paul Frye, who was expected to rise from the dead that day. Apparently, before his death, Reverend Frye spoke about rising again. His wife and son, Leon, (who fought in WWII and was deeply religious) assumed the devout Reverend Frye meant at the Christian Rapture. However, Leon was prone to visions and had a vivid one about his father rising sooner than that. Much sooner. His vision also included a cherry pie, his dad’s favorite. As his mother, Sadie, had discovered a crystallized piece of pie set aside for his father and forgotten in a kitchen cabinet, that imagery struck Leon as significant. In fact, it was a sign. Not a leap most would make, but Leon put a lot of stock in his visions. Especially this one.

The Fry gravestone at Mt. Clinton

Upon reflection, Leon concluded that his dad meant he’d rise from the grave a year after his death. We’re not certain how he arrived at that particular date. Details are sketchy. But we’ve spoken to valley residents who recall the event. Not only did Leon have this resurrection revelation, but his widowed mother also shared his zeal. Wishful thinking, maybe. With Sadie’s blessing, Leon made it known to the community that his father was going to rise on this day and word rapidly spread. As did morbid curiosity.

Armed with Sadie’s freshly baked cherry pie and a pair of shoes for the newly arisen, (no one’s buried with their shoes), Leon and his mom settled in with neighbors to await the big event. And wait. And wait. Maybe they brought picnic baskets. People swarmed that cemetery.

One valley man said Leon later admitted to him that by 4:00 in the afternoon, he decided he’d made an error and quietly slipped away, leaving the pie and the crowd behind. Not sure about his mom. Eventually, both the pie and people disappeared. Bear in mind that this event predates modern TV shows and movies about zombies and the Walking Dead, so that wasn’t what the family had expected would rise. If the Reverend Frye had actually battled his way from the grave, though, I expect there would have been a mad scramble to flee the cemetery. But he didn’t. Sadie and Leon are now also buried at that grave and their names etched on the tombstone.~

***Images by Elise Trissel. I pointed to which ones she should take, so my assistance was vital.

***If anyone reading this has added details, please share in the comment section.

6 responses to “The Man Who Would Rise–Tale from Old Cemetery in the Shenandoah Valley

  1. You know so many interesting stories, Beth. My dad remembered a man who did rise from his grave. He’d been in a deep coma, came to, and clawed his way out of the grave hours after being interred. Daddy thought he must have been wrapped in a quilt instead of in a coffin but didn’t know for certain. And the funeral home that handled my father-in-law’s burial demanded fresh underwear, socks, and shoes for the funeral as well as the shirt, tie, and suit we’d already furnished. I can’t believe being completely dressed mattered to my father-in-law.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love to hear your stories.
    Sue B

    Like

  3. I’m playing a wee bit of catch up, Beth 🙂 I LOVED this!!!!! thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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