Dakota County Historical Society- 402-698-2288
Homer is located in Dakota County along Highway 77 in Northeastern Nebraska.
Locate just southwest of the intersection of S. Bluff Road and Ireton. Take Front Street out of town until it turns into S. Bluff Road. Continue on S. Bluff Road until you reach Ireton. Turn southwest onto Ireton. Continue on Ireton until you reach Taylor Cemetery. Lottie’s Grave is located on the adjacent lot.
We have stumbled across several different accounts of what happened to Lottie.
In one story, Lottie was married but fell in love with another man. Lottie’s husband discovered her affair and killed her by throwing her over the side of the bluff into the river below. As far as we could see, in and near Homer, there were no steep sides to the bluff that extends for many miles across and through the vicinity of Homer. Also, the Missouri River is five miles away from Homer.
In another story, Lottie’s husband died and Lottie was bereaved. In her mourning, she became destitute and lost her mind. She was regarded by some as a witch.
And finally, one last story is that Lottie and her daughter lived as recluses in a cabin outside of town and the only person who ever visited their home was a delivery man. This man, one day, heard a blood curdling scream coming from inside the cabin. He returned with help from the people in the community whereupon they found Lottie and her daughter dead. The murderer is unknown in this story and the motive for killing is not mentioned.
Paranormal events include apparitions of vehicles on the road. These vehicles have very bright headlights and then mysteriously disappear later. Some have reported seeing a horse drawn wagon on the road that passes near Lottie’s Grave. One very common report is that people have observed strange balls of light arising from the grave or in the trees near the grave. Some have described white lights while others have described red lights. Phenomena are supposed to be more pronounced on the second Friday of every month, or, more likely, on Friday the 13th. Other strange paranormal phenomena include shadow people racing across the graves into the trees, and a cat hanging in mid-air. Disembodied voices, such as the sound of a woman crying have also been frequently reported. Supposedly, if you call on Lottie, she will appear in the trees as an apparition, looking for her daughter.
Homer was named for the Greek poet who is given credit for The Iliad and The Odyssey. It has a population of approximately 600 residents (ePodunk, 2007).
The first Americans to reach the Nebraska territory were Lewis and Clark, who began their expedition in 1804. According to Moulton, “Spanish records show a smallpox epidemic swept through the region in 1800-1801.” Lewis and Clark made note of a large burnt Omaha village of approximately 300 earth lodges which was once located near Mackay’s trading post at Homer, Nebraska. It was estimated that 400 men, women, and children died in this area of smallpox during the epidemic (Moulton, 1997).
There is not a specific cemetery name for Lottie’s grave given in many of the paranormal stories that we’ve received online and in person. St. Cornelius Cemetery is located closest to the community of Homer on the north side of the city (ePodunk, 2007). Whether or not this is the cemetery where Lottie’s grave is supposed to be located is another question. There is a woman buried in the St. Cornelius Cemetery who is named Charlotte. She was 57 years old when she died in 1898, which, for that time period, was a fairly old age for a woman. There are 20 cemeteries in Dakota County. Hoyt Cemetery sounds like the most probable location where this story is supposed to take place according to some of the descriptions of the story’s setting, as this cemetery is situated on a hill overlooking a beautiful valley. Apparently, it is a steep climb to the top of the hill at Hoyt Cemetery, which, (if this is indeed the setting for this story) would explain some of the muddling that has happened with this tale and that of The Legend of Blackbird Hill (Dakota County Historical Society, 2008).
It has been noted that residents in the community of Homer do not necessarily know the exact location of Lottie’s Grave and they may or may not give visitors the exact address and/or permission to visit the grave. Indeed, on our visit, we encountered someone who knew the location of the grave, but this person would not give us the name or telephone number of the fellow with land rights where the grave is located. I think this withholding of information fosters irresponsible behavior by amateur ghost hunters and increases the likelihood that teens will set out exploring on their own without permission. Being overly secretive and forbidding access to something as well known as Lottie’s Grave just increases the interest that young people might have in the story. But, in all fairness, private property is private property.
The story of Lottie’s Grave is interesting because of it’s apparent connection to several other stories in this text. The story of Lottie’s Grave is supposed to take place in Homer, Nebraska, which is just north of Decatur, where the Legend of Blackbird Hill is set. In the Shadowlands Index of Haunted Places, the story of Lottie’s Grave is confused with the Legend of Blackbird Hill wherein Blackbird “Hill” is referred to as Blackbird “Bend” (certainly in reference to the path up Blackbird Hill, which is an important feature in the Blackbird Hill story) and the story is changed slightly and includes a decapitation of the female character. Decapitations are rarely referenced in the Nebraskan reports of haunted locations and interestingly, one of the only other reports that involves a location with a specific address (the other decapitation story has a muddled description of the city where the story is purportedly set) is in the Plainview/Pierce public school system. This Plainview/Pierce story makes note of a junior high building that is haunted by a girl who was decapitated. Of special interest is the proximity of the Plainview/Pierce communities to both Homer and Decatur. All three of these cities are located in the very rural area of Northeastern Nebraska. The communities of Plainview and Pierce are within 84 miles of Homer and within 115 miles of Decatur. In this rural area, where the population is so sparse, this is a relatively short distance between communities, as people are used to driving quite a few miles to obtain the resources they need for daily life.
Dakota County Historical Society (2008). Dakota County Historical Society: Cemeteries. Retrieved March 24, 2008 from http://www.dakotacountyhistoricalsociety.com/cemetary.htm
ePodunk (2007). Homer. Retrieved March 23, 2008 from http://www.epodunk.com/cgi-bin/genInfo.php?locIndex=27428
Moulton, C. (1997). Roadside History of Nebraska. Mountain Press Publishing Company: Missoula, Montana.
No Author (1998). Shadowlands Haunted Places Index. Retrieved February 24, 2008 from http://theshadowlands.net/places/nebraska.htm