King was elected Vice President of the United States on the Democratic ticket with Franklin Pierce in 1852 and took the oath of office March 24, 1853, in CUBA, where he had gone because of his health. Alabama's highest ranking elected official was also gay. The privilege of taking oath on foreign soil was extended by a special act of Congress for his long and distinguished service of the government of the United States. Even though he took the oath 20 days after the inauguration day he was still Vice President during those three weeks. Shortly after returning to his plantation across from Cahaba, AL he died. Originally buried in a vault on his plantation he was moved to Selma 29 years later where he was re-interred in Live Oak Cemetary.
Old cemetaries in remote areas have stimulated the imagination of young peolple in the South for decades. VIsiting Pilot's Knobb Cemetary in Marion, Kentucky, in the dead of the nighthas become a rite of passage for teenagers eager to catch a glimpse of the ghost of the witch's daughter as she paces back and forth inside the picket fense enclosing her grave. Teenage boys living in Knoxville, Tennessee, take thier girlfriends to Old Gray Cemetary in the hope that a ghost known as "Black Aggie" will frighten thier girlfriends into thier waiting arms. In Jefferson County Alabama, teenagers prowl around Bass Cememtary in search of supernatural thrills.
Bass Cemetary is located on County Road 147 approximately one and a half miles east of First Avenue North in Birmingham. THe cememtary is bordered by dense woods on it east and west perimeters and by the Northfolk Southern Railroad to the north, The oldest tombstone bears the date March 22, 1860. Approximately 321 people are buried there, including 5 veterans of the Civil War, 1 veteran of the Spanish-American War, 3 veterans of World War I, 8 veterans of World War II and 1 veteran of the Korean War. Engraved on the tombstones are fairly conventional eptitaphs from the nineteenth century, such as "Gone but not forgotten" "He was beloved by God and man" "A tender mother and faithful friend" and "Our loved ones are together in glory." In many ways, Bass Cemetary is a fiarly typical southern cemetary ravaged by vandalism and the passing of time. According to the young people who venture into the old cemetary late at night to prove thier courage, however, Bass Cemetary is anything but "normal".
Stories of ghostly encounters in Bass Cemetary have been circulating around Birmingham for generations. Some people claim to have caught "snapshot" glimpses of shadowy figures that vanish seconds after they first appear. Others walking through the cemetary at midnight report report feelingas if someone is following them. When they turn around, however, no one is there. Screams coming from the general area of the cemetary pierce the night air. It is said that when one turns off the ignition and cuts off the headlights of a car, the windows fog up. After the driver opens the door and walks around the car, he or she notices handprints on the side panels and the roof. People have also found the mutilated corpses of small animals in Bass Cemetary, leading some to speculate that Satanist might be holding black masses there. On November 20, 2006, a ghost hunting group posted a video on YouTube of a Coke can placed on a tombstone near a mausoleum. While one of the ghist hunters asks the spirits to move the can, a pair of disembodied legs walks in front of the camera.
Even though Bass Cemetary is set off from the huslte and buslte of the city, vandels have damaged or destroyed many of the tombstones. In fact, approximately 25 percent of the tombstones have been sp badly damaged that the names are impossible to read. Some tombstones have been dislodged from thier foundation, while others have been removed completely from the graveyard. One of the crypts appears to have been looted. Even the coffin is gone. One wonders if the disrespectful treatment of the dar departed- a serious crime in the folk traditions of most cultures- might have stirred some of these resentful spirits.