It's Only a Gravestone, Isn't It?: The Ouija Board Grave

October 6, 2012 — If you invented something as inherently posthumous as the Ouija board, you should definitely get some kind of posthumous recognition for it. At least, that was the thought process of Robert Murch, a paranormal aficionado who in 1997 arranged to have a Ouija-board-inspired gravestone placed above the unmarked Baltimore grave of the inventor of that trademarked spirit board.

Trying to use my smartphone as a planchette.
Seems like a dumb idea now.
You know Oujia. It’s a board with letters, numbers, and simple responses printed on it that’s supposed to help you communicate with the dead but in general just facilitates awkwardness, accusations, and sleeping with the lights on. Here’s where I tried to use one last Halloween season while sitting in the middle of a pentagram in my basement.

Divination in various forms has been around as long as mankind has been scared of the dark. In 1890, a businessman by the name of Elijah Bond made it easier for everybody to use when he paired a planchette, a heart-shaped wooden device used for receiving messages from spirits, with the wooden board already described. He called it the Nirvana board, but after the patent was sold a few times and the concept was refined, we ended up with the Ouija board, produced by the Kennard Novelty Company in Baltimore.

There are a few explanations whey it got the nonsense name “Ouija,” but the generally bandied about one is that it is a combination of the French and German words for “yes” (oui and ja). And I guess that theory wins out over others because the word yes is right on the board, although so is the word no. Also, because those other explanations include stuff like the name coming straight from the board itself during a spirit session.

Since that time, the Ouija board has been alternately considered as innocent diversion, demonic tool, and legitimate means of accessing the dead. All I know is Hasbro currently holds the patent, and you can buy it at your local Toys R Us.

For his invaluable contribution to the plotting of horror movies. Elijah Bond was buried in an unmarked and forgotten grave in Baltimore’s historic Green Mount Cemetery, a 175-year-old graveyard at 1501 Greenmount Avenue in the middle of Baltimore. It’s a pretty cool cemetery with a surprising diversity of funerary art for an urban body repository. Most notably, it holds the bones of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, philanthropist John Hopkins, and a dozen and a half Civil War generals.

Bond’s Ouija board gravestone can be found just off of a paved walking path adjacent to Section M and across the road from Section P. If those directions sound too vague, it’s because I’m not sure where I put the graveyard map and am just going by what I can see in the pictures we took. Your best bet at finding it just based on this article is to look at the picture that shows the grave respective to the mausoleum.

Bond’s marker is a basic, rectangular gravestone, easy to miss both for its shape and if you only see it from the plain side, which bears in simple font the usual death details found on gravestones. However, on the other side is inscribed a replica Ouija board that looks brand new, having, of course, only been facing the elements for some 15 years or so.

Unfortunately, it's vertical, so you can’t really use it as an actual Ouija board. But since you're at a graveyard, a shovel is probably a more guaranteed way to reach the dead at that point.

Elijah Bond says "Hi".


  1. I wish more people would suspend their fear of death and spend more time (respectfully) visiting cemeteries. One can gain a great lesson in local history from the older graveyards and an experience with some amazing artwork in the crafted grave markers.

    Great article! These are always a pleasure to read.

  2. Hey! New reader here and I love the site and the sights (see what I did there? Eh?, okay). Baltimore us my home town. It's an intriguing mix of history, blight, and oddities. Is black aggie in this graveyard? Did you sit in her lap and die of fright? You wrote this post so I guess not, but great stuff!!