Legend of Onionhead
Posted 29 November 2004 - 01:38 AM
St Tammany Times Picayune
Oct 30, 1993
by Sara Shipley, St Tammany Bureau
Somewhere amid the twisted, moss covered oaks of Haaswood lies something deeper and darker than soft marsh grasses and swampy pools that catch the moon.
In the heart of the sleepy community northeast of Slidell, a legend creeps larger than life.
Ask anyone who has ventured down a gravel road at night to a secluded civil war cemetery, and they will tell you more than memories haunt these parts.
The legend of Onionhead is alive.
Onionhead, locals say, is a man whose tragic life has chained him to this cemetery.
The story varies – some say he cared for children who died at his own hands. Others say he witnessed the deaths in a fire. His name is said to come from a disease that distorted his head.
He is now the perpetual caretaker of this cemetery, legends says, and he waits to capture those who wander into it.
The cemetery, which has no clear owner since it was donated by the Edmundson family decades ago as a public burial site, has become a favorite haunt in recent years for teen-agers seeking the ghoul.
No one reports ever seeing him, but that doesn’t stop teens from looking around Haaswood and other secluded locations where he has been reported to lurk.
Slidell High School sophomore Teresa Fotar, who said the cemetery is a popular gathering place on Halloween, said she’s been looking for Onionhead. “I as with a bunch of people. I didn’t see anything,” she said. “But still, it was spooky. I was scared,” she said.
Christy Brown, a Slidell sophomore, said she was frightened by her experience there last year. “The people I was with drove off and left me,” she said. “I started running down the road. I was so scared.”
Jarrod Lajaunie, a Slidell High junior, said he’s never ventured out, but he’s heard enough to curdle his blood. “The man killed (his kids), and wrote a sign in blood, ‘If you come here, I’ll kill you too,’” he said. “I think a lot of people take Ouija boards out there.”
One Salmen High graduate said he’d been looking for Onionhead for years ago, but added, “I don’t believe in that scary stuff now.”
Northshore High senior Rachel Wilhelm dismissed the legend. “It’s for a thrill, it’s for a high. You go there to get scared,” she said.
The tale has been popular for teens for at least 10 to 15 years, but Haaswood hasn’t always been Onionhead’s alleged stomping ground, Other places include the old Camp Salmen, Our Lady of Lourdes cemetery, and Greenwood cemetery.
Julius Hale, who has been maintaining the Haaswood cemetery since vandals broke into a tomb last year, said Onionhead has never been associated with Haaswood. “Last year and years back it would have been a good cemetery to get scared in because it was all shaggy, but now it’s kept up,“ he said.
Hale said he and another man plan to keep post at the locked cemetery on Halloween night to make sure no one disturbs it.
A spokeswoman for the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office said deputies will patrol near cemeteries that night as well.
Junior Crowe of Pearl River, who has relatives buried in Haaswood, said he never heard of Onionhead, but that the cemetery has been the setting for many a ghost story.
“I think it’s an excuse for these young boys to take these girls out there,” he said.
Posted 29 November 2004 - 08:13 AM
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