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Della Barnes
Oak Grove Cemetery
Paducah, Kentucky

CASE Closed

Della Barnes stories can be considered to be just stories.  Why so many stories have surrounded her can be only guessed.

Della Barnes
Della Barnes as she appeared in the 1970s

Case Study

Della Barnes


Case History

Della Barnes was born in 1874 to Mr. & Mrs. George F. Barnes. Mr. Barnes was a city councilman of Paducah. On the night of Dellas’ death she had a houseguest who was sharing her room. The houseguest was a female whose name has been lost, claimed that Della had been taking calomel tablets for some time. However she was having troubles swallowing them so she started crushing them and taking it in powder form instead. She said, Della had taken one dose then drank a glass of sweet milk then another dose. Then Della went to bed around 9pm. By 11pm she was unconscious and unresponsive. At 5 in the morning she died.

The Paducah Daily Sun on Monday, June 28, 1897 told of her death. The paper read:


Carries off Miss Della Barnes of

West Jefferson

She took Morphine Believing It

Was Calomel--Funeral

This Afternoon

A sad death occurred yesterday morning at 5 o’clock. Miss Della Barnes, youngest daughter of Councilman George F. Barnes, died at the family residence on West Jefferson Street of morphine poisoning. The young lady was found in a lethargy about 11 o’clock, from which it was impossible to arouse her. Doctors Murrell and Elliott were called and did everything possible to save her life but to no avail, and she died at 5 o’clock. According to the statement of a young lady who is visiting her, and was her room mate, Miss Barnes took a glass of water, poured some powder into it and said she intended to take five grains of calomel. She also drank a glass of sweetmilk and became ill. She then prepared another glass with more powder and swallowed that. Her companion was awakened about two hours later by groans and upon attempting to awaken Miss Barnes she found that she was unconscious. The deceased had often taken calomel in capsules, but stated several days before that they choked her, and she was going to take it in pulverized form. Her death is a sad blow to her parents and sisters, as well as her friends. She was about 21 years of age and a pretty and attractive young lady. The funeral took place at 3 o’clock this afternoon from the residence. Burial at Oak Grove.


There are several versions to this legend. Most play along the same lines and carry little to no truth.

One version has Della murdered by her fiancÚ who cuts her fingers of to retrieve the engagement ring (other tells it as her husband.) When she was buried the family placed a statue in her likeness as a marker. But soon the fingers began to fall off for no reason. Workers would reattach the fingers but each time they would only fall off again. (Some versions tell that blood will actually come from the statues' fingers).

Another version tells that Della hide a knife in a bouquet of flowers and when her fiancÚ embraced her it forced the knife into herself killing her. The reasons of this were left up to speculation.

In recent years a new version has been created. In this version her doctor poisons her with the morphine accidentally. This version came up after I wrote one web site and told them that she died of an overdose of morphine. I presume that they speculated that there was a doctor involved while in reality at that time morphine was easily obtainable from anywhere.



January 4, 2005

I made a visit to Oak Grove during the day. It was rainy and there was also workers setting up for two funerals nearby the site. So I will make plans to go back when conditions are more favorable for pictures and emf.

January 2005

I was able to return to Oak Grove on a day when there was no activity. I took some pictures of Della’s grave and used the EMF meter. Neither the emf nor photographs show anything. However one of the pictures did show an interesting outline on the large mausoleum behind her. This discoloration can be seen with the naked eye. The above picture of Della Barnes is from 1977. Today only the waist down remains.February 2005

With the information that I have at this point I am going to consider this case closed.

June 2005

I have been able to obtain some more info on Della Barnes and have decided to reopen the case and make an attempt to locate her residence. According to the 1894-95 .

ref. are avail. upon request.