|The Times [Richmond, VA] 3 Mar. 1901|
The text on the whole clipping is difficult to read, so below I posted smaller, more legible images if you want to read the article in its entirety.
Around 1826, a well-known Ashland, Virginia man named Mr. Langford was buried in a graveyard near a mill. An apple tree stood at the foot of his grave.
Sometime in the early 1880s a Mr. Robertson saw an odd formation growing near the base of that tree, removed it, and stripped it of its bark. The growth resembled the outline of a child’s hand and after carving nails and knuckles into it, Robertson created a nifty little cemetery curiosity that he sold to Mr. J.P. Luck.
According to the article, there was speculation among the more “superstitious” locals that the “freak of nature” was somehow related to a child who was also buried in the graveyard. The apple bush allegedly sprouted shortly after the child’s interment.
I wasn’t able to find anything else related to the mysterious wooden growth or identify the cemetery in which Mr. Langford was buried, which was slightly disappointing because from the headline I thought I’d stumbled upon something pretty creepy.