Between the city gates and the Visitor Information Center the Hugenot Cemetery was established in 1821 for the victims of a Yellow Fever epidemic. Many sightings take place at this cemetery. Footsteps, voices, shadows and fully formed apparitions can all be experienced here. One of the most vivid recurring stories involves a stone that sits just thirty feet away and slightly to the left of the front entrance gate. Standing almost five feet tall and shapes like a chess piece, it is unmistakable. At the bottom of the stone is the name “Stickney” in bold black letters. It refers to the honorable Judge John B. Stickney, formerly of Lynn, Massachusetts. He arrived in St. Augustine just after the Civil War and quickly became a leading citizen. Just after Halloween night of 1882, Judge Stickney, despite having contracted Dengue Fever, traveled to Washington, D.C. for a conference with his fellow judges. Within a week he was dead and his body was shipped back to Florida. An official delegation met his casket at the train station and he was laid to rest in the Hugenot Cemetery with great fanfare. The whole town gathered to mourn his passing. Under the shade of a Mighty oak the stone sat until 1903 when the children of Judge Stickney, requested his body be exhumed and shipped to Washington D.C., so they could be closer to their father.
It was during the excavation of the body that two men “under the influence” started a chain of events that would lead to strange consequences. After the coffin was removed from the ground and laid next to the hole, the two men walked up to the casket and stole Judge Stickney’s gold teeth! The men were never caught and the embarrassed gravedigger, sealed the coffin and sent the body north without any teeth. A few moths after the incident, reports began surfacing of a tall, dark figure in a top hat and coat lurking in the cemetery at night. This figure would wander around the stone that marked the empty grave of John B. Stickney. Hands behind his back, the specter would appear to look at the ground and walk slowly in circles until unexpectedly disappearing. Many believe that it was the essence of, the spirit, the ghost of the judge himself. Is the honorable John B. Stickney still looking for his teeth or just the men who stole them?
The big oak tree near his marker is gone now, but if you happen to wander by on a moonlit night in search of the judges grave and you see a tall, dark figure walking through the cemetery looking at the ground, don’t be startled, just help him find his teeth.