On the north side of Iowa City, Iowa next to Hickory Hill park there is a cemetery that at first glance is like any other. Its nearly 40 acres has served the community since the 1840s, acting primarily as a protestant cemetery.
As with any cemetery of this age, it’s filled with beautiful monuments to those buried there. Celebrating both their life and deaths. There is one monument however that stands above the rest: the Dark Angel of Oakland Cemetery.
The dark Angel of Death statue stands at 8.5 feet (2.6 meters) not including its stone base near the center of the cemetery. As imposing as it is, it’s no wonder it has garnered such an ominous reputation. There’s been some genuine tragedy in the history of this statue, so let’s look at the history and see whether it lives up to its reputation.
The story of the statue starts with a woman named Teresa Dolezal, a midwife by trade, she was a capable woman. In the late 1800s she suddenly became a widow and moved to Iowa City with her son Eddie for work purposes.
Unfortunately tragedy would follow Teresa when her son fell tragically ill with meningitis and died. Eddie was buried at Oakland cemetery using a monument carved in the shape of a tree stump. This monument is still there to this day, next to the dark angel.
After the death of her son Teresa returned to Oregon where she eventually met and married Nicholas Feldevert. Sadly for Teresa, Nicholas would die a few short years later in 1911.
One could only imagine the grief that Teresa felt at this point but what we do know for certain is that she decided to move back to Iowa city. Once there she contacted and commissioned the imposing bronze statue from Chicago artist Mario Korbel.
When it was erected in 1913, the statue was a bright and beautiful gold. Nicholas Feldevert’s ashes were placed inside the base and Eddie’s monument was placed besides the great angel. At her death in 1924, her ashes are placed besides her husbands in the base of the angel.
This is the point where we go from facts to not so factual. One of the wilder rumours is that on the night of Teresa’s death there was a brutal thunder storm. Witnesses say they see the Angel hit by a number of lightning strikes, turning it black in the process.
Still, other stories say that the statue took several years to turn black, starting with the eyes on Teresa’s death and eventually making its way throughout the rest of the statue over time.
Stranger still were the rumours of the statues deadly capabilities. Over the years stories of the statues supposed curse have become plentiful, almost too much to be ignored.
The locals will often tell the story of the young woman who visited the statue and kissed it’s feet during a full moon. She was dead within 6 months. Then there’s the man who visited the statue with friends, skeptical he bragged that he could touch the statue and nothing would happen. He did and dropped of a heart attack right then and there.
As you can imagine, the history of the stories make the statue a favourite place for enthusiasts and professionals alike. Professionals have come away with strange readings of the statue itself, high thermal readings and strange sounds.
Whether you believe the supernatural stories or not it’s clear that the statue has an incredible history and scientific analysis shows something is there. Any way you swing it, it’s a remarkable story that feels like there’s more to come.