If you’re planning a trip to Baltimore, we’re here to tell you: you must go visit the grave of Elijah Bond. He’s the inventor of the Ouija board. Yes, that simple board game that allows you to communicate with ghosts—if you believe.
The Gravesite of Ouija Board Creator Elijah Bond
It’s a game that’s captured imaginations since it was created in 1891. The aesthetically pleasing, easy-to-use trinket marketed as a “wonderful talking board” and “magical device” is a centerpiece everywhere from teen sleepovers to scary movies.
Why visit the grave of the man who made it? Well, the surface reasons are obvious. First, it’s a pretty cool-looking grave, bearing the classic Ouija board design we’ve come to know so well. Beyond that, it’s a bit of spooky synchronicity: the board is all about communicating with ghosts beyond the grave. What better place to honor it than at the grave of the man behind the idea? It’s nostalgic and creepy all in one.
Who Was Elijah Bond?
Though his most lasting legacy is everyone’s favorite mysterious Ouiji Board, Elijah Bond, who died in Baltimore in 1921, was much more than just the inventor of the Ouija Board. He was also a veteran and a lawyer, as well as a member of the famous Freemasonry organization, the oldest fraternity in the world, known for its secretive reputation and rituals.
In addition to the Ouija board, Elijah Bond’s name is on the patents for many other inventions, including a continuous flow type fluid heater, a crochet and knitting needle, and a bicycle frame. As varied as these items are, it does seem like Bond had a particular interest in the supernatural; he also invented another talking board similar to the more famous Ouija.
The Ouija Board’s Unloved Step-Sibling
This one was called the Nirvana board and bore a swastika symbol along with the word “nirvana.” It should be noted that this was in 1907, well before the Nazi party adopted the swastika as its symbol. Prior to 1920, when Adolph Hitler became associated with the symbol, the swastika had a rich history of thousands of years in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism. It represented “good fortune” and “well-being.” Nirvana, meanwhile, like svastika, is a Sanskrit word that represents the Buddhist concept of salvation and freedom from suffering.
That all goes to say that Bond’s swastika-bearing Nirvana board had nothing to do with Nazism or the 1990s grunge band fronted by Kurt Cobain. Instead, many believe it meant to symbolize something more eternal and positive. At any rate, the Nirvana board was not a runaway success like the Ouija Board, and manufacturing for it was eventually stopped. That means it’s a rare collector’s item, so if you ever see a Nirvana board at a garage sale or antique shop, snatch it up.
Pay Your Respects – Ouija Board
Elijah Bond, Ouiji Board creator, died in 1921, but he’s still doing his part to bring joy—and fright—to countless people in Baltimore and around the world, both skeptics and believers alike. If you’re interested in visiting the grave of the man with a talking-board plan, stop by Green Mount Cemetery at 1501 Greenmount Ave. in Baltimore.
While there, you might want to pay your respects to some of the other historical figures who rest near Bond’s gravesite. Green Mount Cemetery is the final resting place for the famous assassin John Wilkes Booth (plus two of his conspirators in Lincoln’s assassination), former CIA director and Dulles International Airport namesake Allen Dulles, plus former senators, governors and several Civil War generals.
See the full list here to learn why a visit is practically a must. And while you’re in Baltimore, might as well stop by poet Edgar Allan Poe‘s gravesite just two miles north at the Westminster Hall & Burial Ground.
Our final piece of advice: you may want to pay your respects before the sun goes down.