I heard this story recently, and wanted to know if it was true. My friend Lisa and I spent an afternoon wandering around the Cedar City Cemetery looking for this haunted headstone. We spent an hour looking at headstones when much to our surprise the cemetery had an information station (why didn't we go there first?). We found the name of the headstone and began searching once again. With great disappointment we couldn't find the headstone. However, I came back a few days later and went right to the headstone. (Don't think I'll be wandering around the cemetery on Halloween Night, because I'll be partying it up as a Rubix Cube.)
In 1855, two years after our family moved to the old Cedar City fort Jehiel McConnel had the following experience.
"My girlfriend, Mary Jane McCune and I gathered wild food together and planned what we would do after we grew up. Then Mary Jane got married. One night she was staying over with me while her new husband, James W. Farrer, made a freighting trip to Salt Lake. She couldn't stay alone because of Indians. Mary Jane and I heard a commotion in the adobe chicken coop, and when we opened the door we could see a coyote crouching in one corner, its eyes gleaming in the semidarkness. Mary Jane flung her hand out to frighten the animal away, but instead of retreating, it darted at her, sinking its fangs into her throat. I ran screaming to the house for Papa.
Taking in the desperate situation at a glance, Papa saw he could not pull the animal off without tearing Mary Jane's throat to pieces. He sank the fingers of one hand around the coyote's throat, slowly strangling it, at the same time prying its jaws open with the other hand to release the girl's throat as the animal relaxed in death. And then the full horror of the situation came on us, for the coyote, frothing at the mouth, had rabies. In its madness, it had burrowed under the adobe wall of the coop to get at the chickens.
For a few days all of Cedar City watched the situation, and we all breathed a little easier as Mary Jane's throat healed remarkably fast. Almost a month went by, then one day she began to develop unmistakable signs of rabies. She steadily became so vicious and violent that several strong men could not hold her, and it became necessary to bind her and peg her to the floor to keep her from attacking others. She would beg piteously for people to come near her so she could kiss them, but when anyone approached, she would snap at them like a mad dog. As the disease progressed to its horrible end, the stricken girl's suffering became so unbearable that her family finally smothered her to death between two feather beds to shorten her agony.
Papa, fearing that he might have been infected while prying loose the coyote's jaws, insisted that he be chained to the wall for two weeks to forestall any possible violence on his part. He was not contaminated by the encounter, and remained well. Mary Jane's husband of only several months returned to find his young wife and unborn baby tragically dead and buried.
Jehiel McConnell (the friend of Mary Jane McCune) was affected deeply by this experience. The frothing coyote came after her at night for a long time. She couldn't sleep, or would wake screaming."
It is said that on Halloween Night in the Cedar City Cemetery that a frothing coyote can be seen circling the headstone of Mary Jane McCune....