Martin Sheets

Martin Sheets was a successful businessman in Terre Haute back in the early 1900's. Martin had a phobia of being buried alive. Medicine wasn't as advanced then as it is now. It is estimated that as many as 2 percent of the people laid to rest back in those days were still living. His fear was well founded. Rumor has it he often would awaken from nightmares of being trapped alive in his coffin. The invention of the telephone gave Martin the unique idea of having a phone with an active line placed with his mausoleum once he passed away. He also ordered that his tomb be constructed so that he could open it from inside. He made allowances in his will to pay for the telephone line to his grave for many years after his death...just in case.

In 1910, Martin Sheets passed away. A direct phone line to the cemetery was rigged so that it would activate simply by lifting the receiver in the tomb. It was even set so that a light would come on in the Highland Lawn cemetery office when the phone was lifted, even if no words were spoken. Martin wanted to be sure. The light never came on. Over time, the direct line to the cemetery office was removed but the actual phone line remained live as long as the money from his will paid the bill.

Years later, a chilling thing happened. Sheets' widow was found dead one day. She was laying on her bed and had a telephone receiver clutched in her hand and a look of terror frozen on her face. It took some effort to remove the phone from her grasp. Doctors claimed she had passed away from a stroke and everyone assumed that she was trying to call for help when she had died. After her memorial service, she was to be placed in the mausoleum next to her husband. When the workers entered the tomb, everything was as it should have been. Nothing inside the locked tomb had been disturbed except for one small item... Martin's phone was off the hook.

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