This Place in History: ‘Black Agnes’ Statue

Vermont Historical Society

MONTPELIER, Vt.

At ‘This Place in History’ we’re in Montpelier, Vt. at the Green Mount Cemetery with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.

“We’re talking about some of these ghost stories of the Green Mountains and this memorial, or grave site as it were, is one of those. The scary story is that if you come and sit on the lap of ‘Black Agnes’ at midnight all sorts of nasty things will befall you in life. It’s almost like a dare,” began Perkins.

“Let’s go all the way back and talk about the guy who’s buried here, John E. Hubbard. For those of you who live in central Vermont, you may know the name Hubbard from Hubbard Park and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. It’s all related to this guy.”

“When he died in 1899, he was the wealthiest guy in Montpelier, by a lot. But, he was probably one of the most disliked guys in Montpelier. His aunt, Fanny Kellogg married into the Kellogg family. She was extremely wealthy and had no heirs. When she died, she left her whole fortune to the City of Montpelier. At the time it was $350,000, which today is [approximately] $9 million. She wanted them to use the money to build a chapel and gatehouse to this cemetery and a beautiful public library,” said Perkins.

“[John E. Hubbard] contested the will. Ultimately, he prevailed and the money went to him instead of to Montpelier. He died young. He was only 53-years-old and in his will, he left a lot of the money to the City of Montpelier. But, talk about ego. It’s now his gift as opposed to her gift. And he spent a lot of the money, so it wasn’t as much. But, that’s the backstory of how he came to be buried here in the Hubbard name,” added Perkins.

“After he died, the executors of his will, one of which was the governor of Vermont, commissioned Karl Bitter to create the central sculpture. It was supposed to be the idea of thoughts on death.”

“Saint-Gaudens created [the statue] Grief and it’s the Rock Creek Park Cemetery down in Washington, D.C. The statue became really, really famous. This was inspired by it.”

“So in 1925, there was this amateur sculptor Felix Agnus and he really liked the Saint-Gaudens statue. He had an unauthorized copy of it made to put on his grave in Druid Hill Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. That statue started to get the name ‘Black Aggie’ from Agnus. And all of these tales grew up from this statue in Baltimore where teenagers would go out at night, sit on the lap of the statue and have all of these bad things happen to them.”

“The thought is that somehow that tale of ‘Black Aggie’ made its way up here and became applied to this statue, which is not a woman and there’s no one named Aggie, Agnes or Agnus.” concluded Perkins.

For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.

To view a map of Vermont’s roadside historic site markers, click here.

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