The grave of Archibald John Sheldon Yates in Key West Cemetery, adorned with a statue of a nude woman with her hands bound behind her back, is a long-standing Key West mystery.
The Bound Woman in Key West Cemetery
Beneath the blue skies and palm trees of Key West, Florida, the historic Key West Cemetery is the final resting place of numerous tragedies, including slave burials, brutal murders, Civil War soldiers, sailors who died when the USS Maine was blown up in 1898, even the bizarre story of Carl Von Cosel’s demented love affair with a corpse.
Established in 1847, the cemetery was built on the highest point in Key West after a hurricane wiped out the old graveyard and scattered bodies the previous year. Among the monuments and above-ground vaults are legendary locals like barkeep “Sloppy” Joe Russell, and humorous epitaphs like “I’m just resting my eyes,” “A devoted fan of singer Julio Iglesias,” and hypochondriac B.P. “Pearl” Roberts’ “I told you I was sick.”
But perhaps the strangest thing you will find while wandering around the Old Town cemetery is the grave of Archibald John Sheldon Yates, adorned with a statue known as The Bound Woman.
The figure, said to represent Yates’ wife Magdalena, sits nude above his head, her hands tied behind her back.
In the book The Florida Keys: A History & Guide, Joy Williams writes:
She’s no angel certainly and her posture seems to suggest something other than grief, but Archibald John Sheldon Yates really, really wanted her on his grave and there she is.
The Bound Woman has been mystifying visitors of Key West Cemetery for years. Why Yates insisted on having this statue placed on his grave, or what he meant it to represent, is an enduring local mystery.
Images via cruisingat60