A Spirit-Filled Tour of Tampa Bay

The grave of William Ashley (who gave his name to Ashley Drive) at Oaklawn Cemetery. Ashley was buried with his companion, who also happened to be his slave, and they are said to walk the grounds at night
TAMPA (2011-10-31) -

Today is Halloween, when according to pagan lore the doorway opens between this world and the next. The Tampa Bay area is supposedly rife with spirits, but are they something we should fear? Deborah Frethem of Ghost Tours of Tampa recently took a group from the Tampa Downtown Partnership to Oaklawn Cemetery.

Fretham shows the group the final resting place of scores of remains that were transferred when some of the new glittery downtown skyscrapers were built over the site of Fort Brooke, the original settlement in what is now Tampa. The bodies were dug up when the foundation for what is now the Old Fort Brooke Parking Garage was built in the 1980s. But Frethem says apparently some of them didn't want to leave.

She says the ghost of Vincete Martinez Ybor - who gave his name to Ybor City - roams Oaklawn Cemetery. Why? Because he wanted to be buried in Cuba, instead.

Also, Frethem says the spirits of Henry Plant and Teddy Roosevelt can be seen sometimes wandering the old Plant Hotel, now the University of Tampa. That's where Roosevelt planned the invasion of Cuba with the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War.

Other sightings, she says, include F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald haunting the Don Cesar on St. Pete Beach.

Frethem says we have nothing to fear from ghosts - they can't physically harm you. But they can make you do something to hurt yourself.

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