Ghostly News and a CT Ley Line – 10 Oct 2016

October is here, and so are articles that show a profound misunderstanding of what ghost hunters do.

I’m rather irked reading the insults in “Study links poor understanding of the physical world to religious and paranormal beliefs.”

Tarring all religions and paranormal beliefs with the same brush, the article –  based on a study by Marjaana Lindeman and Annika Svedholm-Häkkinen of the University of Helsinki – claims:

“The results showed that religious and paranormal (supernatural) beliefs correlated with all variables that were included: low systemizing, poor intuitive physics skills, poor mechanical ability, poor mental rotation, low school grades in mathematics and physics, poor common knowledge about physical and biological phenomena…”

That list continues, but I think you get the point.

And, I know quite a few highly educated priests and professors who’d disagree with that correlation.

Oh, I’m not disputing the study results, just the sampling they used or the methods, or both.

It’s typical of the bias we deal with as researchers.

But, for every annoying article like that one, I find several news stories that intrigue me.

I started with an article about a haunted site in Pennsylvania. Then, I found a news article about a Connecticut ghost investigation. After that, I started connecting the dots – literally. In the explanation that follows, you’ll see how I use news stories and maps to find even more interesting places to investigate.

ghostbat

theatre curtainFirst, there’s the Casino Theater in Vandergrift, PA (USA). It’s opening for an investigation. The site’s history sounds like it’s worth a visit.

I’m always interested in haunted theaters. An unusually high percentage of theaters have ghost stories, and very obliging ghosts.

I mention them in my article, What Makes a Great Haunted Research Site.

  • Theater ghosts often respond well to direction (just as actors do).
  • Backstage, almost every theatre has at least one haunted dressing room… with a juicy story.
  • And, almost every theater has a ghost that supposedly sits or stands in the dark, near the back of the theater. In some cases, a cigarette may be involved, as well as visible wisps of smoke, or a smoky aroma.

If you’re in the Vandergrift area, learn more at this article: Casino Theater paranormal investigation attracts believers, skeptics.

ghostbat

Then there’s the Dr. Ashbel Woodward House Museum in Franklin, Connecticut. It used to be the home of a medical practice. Today, it’s a historical site.

A news story describes a recent investigation at the site. I’m not sure it’s very haunted, but it has the features I look for in a historical site that’s likely to have ghosts of some kind.

If you’re near Connecticut, here’s the article: Ghost hunters look for paranormal activity at Franklin museum.

About 15 minutes away, a “My Ghost Story” episode was filmed at 3 Boswell Avenue in nearby Norwich (CT). Apparently, some ghosts still linger. (The segment was “The Grim Rapper” from “I Am Full of Madness” that aired 14 May 2011.)  You can read about it in TV show will explore ‘haunted’ home that drove man from Norwich.

If you want to see the Norwich site, remember it’s a private residence. Be discreet and respectful of their privacy.

ghostbat

Exploring ley lines

The proximity of those two haunted locations makes it easy to draw a line between the two sites. In fact, any time I see two paranormal sites – especially haunted sites – near each other, I draw a line that connects them.

Then, I extend that line in both directions, and see where it leads me.

After reading about those two Connecticut haunts, I was eager to get to work. I’ve never been to Norwich, so I wasn’t sure what I’d find, but my “gut feeling” told me I’d find some great haunted places, nearby.

First, using Google Maps, I constructed a line from 3 Boswell Avenue to the Dr. Ashbell Woodward House Museum.

Then, I checked a few local landmarks that were on or near that line.

Immediately, I was drawn to Norwich’s Colonial Cemetery. That cemetery is closed, but the information online looks fascinating.

With three interesting haunts along one line, I knew I’d find more. So, I kept researching odd places close to the line.

Almost instantly, I found Norwich State Psychiatric Hospital, aka, Norwich State Hospital for the Insane. Several ghost hunters reported it as a terrifying place to investigate… when they could visit it.

As of 2016, this dangerous site – with demolished buildings and collapsed tunnels – is strictly off-limits and unsafe.





In addition, Norwich State Hospital looks like it’s over a mile away from the line.

Many researchers limit their ley lines widths to 12 feet. Others talk about lines as wide as 15 miles.

A few researchers insist that extreme weather, emerging fault lines, and other natural issues suggest that ley lines may be expanding, too.

Personally, I vary the width of the line with the location. That’s part common sense and part “gut feeling.”

In New Orleans’ French Quarter, the lines can be just a few feet wide. In other areas, I’ll expand them a few miles at the very most. My goal is to keep my lines as narrow and focused as possible.

So, I’m iffy about including Norwich State Hospital. If I had more time, I’d look for more ghost reports on or near the line. I’d judge the line width based on how many sites are nearby.

I might try some line variations, using the hospital as a starting point. That site’s ghost stories are certainly lurid.

But, at the moment, I’m not sure. And, I’m working on my next book. So, I’ll leave this ley line for others to explore and refine.

Nevertheless, this shows you how I use news stories and maps – plus some online research – to find and evaluate other sites that could be haunted.

Salem Witch Hangings, Proctor’s Ledge, and Gallows Hill

The mystery may have been solved. According to recent research, Gallows Hill Park in Salem, Massachusetts, isn’t where the accused “witches” were hanged. It seems that the real location might have been nearby Proctor’s Ledge.

I’ve been waiting for this announcement since October 2008.  Despite my ley line map that seems to point to Gallows Hill Park, I’ve suspected that the real 17th century crimes took place a block or two away.

Of course, I’m chagrined that my ley line map is no longer as straightforward and tidy as it had been, before this discovery. However, I’d rather have the truth… and a genuine history to work with, for future Salem investigations.

Meanwhile, the media describe Proctor’s Ledge as “in back of a Walgreens.”

Technically, that’s true. However, the neighborhood is mostly residential, with a Walgreens store & pharmacy at the foot of the hill.

If you investigate around Proctor’s Ledge, remember that much of the surrounding area is private property.

In addition, I’m not sure you need to hike into the slightly wooded area to conduct ghost research. A quiet stroll around the neighborhood — not disturbing the residents — may provide the paranormal experience you’re looking for. (See my story, below.)

More news reports

My story

Since Halloween (Samhain) eve in 2008, I’ve been waiting for this announcement. That’s when psychic Gavin Cromwell — not related to me, as far as I know* — and I wandered around the neighborhood between Salem’s Essex Street, Boston Street, and Gallows Hill Park. [Map link]

Earlier that afternoon, we’d filmed a TV segment at Salem’s “Witch House.” Then, we’d left the film crew to pack up their gear and probably find their way to one of Salem’s many wonderful cafes, pubs, and restaurants.

Instead of relaxing over a hearty meal, Gavin and I wanted to be part of Salem’s annual Samhain celebration.The circle and ceremony at Gallows Hill Park is legendary. That evening, it was open to the public, and — as usual — attracted a very large crowd. (That year, it was hosted by the Temple of the Nine Wells.)

With nothing else to do before the gathering, Gavin and I went for a walk.

In other words — and for the benefit of skeptics — we had no audience. It was just the two of us. No audience. No cameras. Gavin had no reason to invent stories to impress anyone; I already knew he was psychic.

On that late afternoon in October 2008, Gavin and I hiked up and down the residential streets near Gallows Hill Park. Gavin felt drawn to that neighborhood, not the more famous landmark just a block (or so) away.

I’d love to claim that I was the one who first suggested that the Proctor’s Ledge area was the real gallows site.

I didn’t.

In fact, Gavin not only announced it first, he seemed absolutely confident it was where some of the accused “witches” had been hung.

After that, we walked back and forth around the area he focused on. As usual, we bounced our psychic impressions off one another, fine-tuning the history we sensed.

By the time we noticed others arriving at the nearby park, both of us were convinced that some (not necessarily all) of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials had been executed at that location.

And then we went to the Samhain celebration.

(Note: We agreed that something else — something not very nice — had happened at Gallows Hill Park, not just in the 17th century, but later, as well. So, that park is worth investigating if you’re in the area.)

Proctor’s Ledge video

The following video was filmed in 2012 and posted at YouTube by thedevilshopyard. It’s a good way to see what the ledge actually looks like, if you hike into the wooded area.

As you can see, the site is close to at least one busy street. So, especially if you’re hoping to investigate after dark, make sure you have permission. Neighbors and passing cars will notice flashlights, and call the police.

(And, if the site is open to the public and you explore that area, be prepared for poison ivy and very uneven ground.)


You may also like Ghosts of Salem, Massachusetts

Ghosts of Gilson Road Cemetery

Gilson Road Cemetery is in Nashua, New Hampshire. It’s one of America’s most haunted cemeteries. Once an isolated and rural location, it’s  features apparitions, cold spots, compass and EMF anomalies, EVP, and visual anomalies that show up in photos and videos.

Blue flowers at Gilson Road Cemetery, Nashua, NHGilson Road Cemetery is on Gilson Road, on the west side of Nashua, NH (USA).

Directions: From the south (Massachusetts), take Rte 3 (Daniel Webster Highway) to Exit 1 in NH (Spit Brook Road).

Turn left at the end of the exit ramp. Follow that road — despite how it weaves and how often the name changes — until you reach the T-style intersection at the end of it.

Then, turn right and look for the four corners intersection (convenience store and other retail) at Gilson Road.

Turn left onto Gilson Road and look for the gate and stone wall on the right, shielding the cemetery from view.

Ghost orb at Gilson Road Cemetery, Nashua, NHGilson Road Cemetery probably started as a family cemetery in colonial times. According to legend, the stone wall enclosed a farmhouse. Then, the house burned and some of the fire victims were buried in a small plot near the charred remains of the house.

Another house was built on the site, but it burned to the ground, as well. Like the previous fire, its victims were buried close to the home.

After that, people gave up on the location and turned it into a rural cemetery.

Early records suggest that the Gilson Road area was the site of at least two large Native American battles. Nations from the north (Penobscots, among others) and from the south (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and beyond) met near Gilson Road and engaged in bloody warfare. This was before many contemporary records existed, so the stories are largely from oral tradition. Details aren’t clear.

Click here for a brief selection of photos from haunted Gilson Road Cemetery.

Also, at this website, I’ve written extensively about this remarkable cemetery. See the Sitemap, or look for more articles in this category.

Gilson Road Cemetery Photos

These are a sample of the hundreds of photos I’ve taken during my 15+ years’ research at Gilson Road Cemetery, Nashua, NH (USA).

Hover your cursor over any photo to see a brief description. Click on it to see the photo larger, with additional information.

Tip: Move your cursor away from the enlarged photo so the additional information — not the navigation — is clearly visible.

=============TEMPORARY ILLUSTRATION==============

Until the photo gallery is restored at this site, this illustration shows thumbnails of the kinds of pictures that will be here.

Gilson Rd Cemetery photos

 

Ghosts of Salem, Massachusetts

Window at the Rebecca Nurse homestead, Danvers, MA (she was among the accused)Salem is haunted. Not just by the ghosts of the Salem Witch Trials, but by other troubled spirits as well.

I grew up not far from Salem, and I’m familiar with its ghosts… the ones people talk about, as well as they ones they don’t.

Preparing to write a book about Salem’s ghosts, I spent two years researching on-site, discovering a wealth of hidden ghost stories related to Salem and the city’s famous Witch Trials.

(Of course, it helps that I’m descended from two 17th-century Salem families. I like to think I have additional resonance with the spirits of Salem.)

Three very narrow and straight ley lines connect 90% of the hauntings around Salem. They predict where strange things will happen, usually within a few yards.

In the future, I hope to write a book about this fascinating topic.

In the meantime, I’m happy to share some of my research with you.

More information:

Salem’s “Judges’ Line” locations – Energy lines (ley lines) that connect many of Salem’s most haunted sites.

Gallows Hill – So far, no one knows where the real “gallows hill” was, where the witches were hung and their bodies discarded. However, the namesake location is worth visiting (if only to say you’ve been there) and may offer some research opportunities.

Witch Hill (aka Whipple Hill) – One of the most infamous locations connected with apparent “witch” activity in Salem Village. It’s also one of the loveliest and eeriest sites for ghost hunting.

You’ll also find Salem ghost hunting articles at Ghosts101.com/HauntedPlaces, including:

GhoStock 7 Report: Salem Inn – A brief summary of my 2009 investigation at one of Salem’s most charmingly haunted inns.

Book ETA: Unknown. Discussions have stalled with my publisher, and my contract prohibits me from writing this book for any other publishing house.

Gallows Hill – Salem, MA

Gallows Hill is among Salem’s most famous site related to the witch trials of 1692. However, no one is certain of its historic location.

Between colonial Salem (MA) homes.Today, a site called Gallows Hill rises above a children’s playground and sports field. It’s surrounded by single-family homes in a quiet residential neighborhood.

But, is it that the hill where “witches” were actually hung? Evidence is scant and unreliable.

Most researchers use Sydney Perley’s 1933 map of Salem, showing Gallows Hill near Pope and Proctor Streets, near an inlet from North River.

Upham’s 1866 map of Salem Village offers similar information, and was probably among Perley’s resources.

We can learn a lot from the land formations of 1692, and compare them with areas that have — and haven’t — been filled since then.

In addition, Welsh researcher Gavin Cromwell* and I conducted paranormal research at Halloween 2008. Our discoveries suggest at least one additional spiritually-charged location near the current Gallows Hill site.

The land beneath the hill seemed generally normal. Perhaps the regular Witch gatherings — especially the huge one at Samhain (Halloween) — have cleared the negative energy.

However, I’ve sensed something troubling in the shrubs and wooded areas between the hilltop and the land below. That may be from more recent incidents.

Graves at Salem's Old Burying Ground (MA)Researchers may never document the exact location of the hangings, or where most of the so-called witches’ bodies were buried. That includes the body of Giles Corey,** remembered for one of the Salem curses.

However, additional research may reveal locations where unmarked graves and landmarks connect us with Salem in 1692.

Since my own ancestors were in Salem during the Witch Trials, I’m especially interested in finding more about that era and the spirits that linger.

 …

*I’m confident that our experiences at Gallows Hill were genuine.

**Giles Corey’s first wife, Mary (1621 – 1684), is buried beneath a small stone at the Burying Point Cemetery, near the Witch Memorial. Her name appears as “Mary Corry” with a note that she was the wife of “Giles Corry.”

(Remember, spellings weren’t standardized until the 19th century. Many family names appear with various spellings on historic records and monuments.)

Salem’s Haunted ‘Judges’ Line’ – Map

The Judges’ Line of Salem, Massachusetts, by Fiona Broome

Seven Gables House- Salem, MAPatterns emerge when we study profoundly haunted areas. Consistent patterns may indicate energy paths. We can use those patterns to find and confirm haunted places.

In my 2007 book, The Ghosts of Austin, Texas, I talked about two major patterns connecting almost all hauntings in downtown Austin.

In Salem, Massachusetts, I’ve found different kinds of patterns.

One pattern follows intriguing lines. I’m not sure how other researchers overlooked these eerie connections that leave ghostly tracks across Salem and Boston’s North Shore. However, paranormal patterns are among my specialties, and Salem’s landscape confirms these connections between scenes of violence (and ghostly energy).

I’m calling one of these lines “The Judges’ Line.” It seems to be a ley line.

[Ley lines are lines or paths that connect sites with unusual energy. They could be major churches or temples, sites of violence and tragedy, or have some other unusual connection. Some speculate that energy flows along those paths, and the energy was there even before the church was built or the violence occurred. That energy may magnify the emotions or affect the thinking of people when they are on or near a ley line.]

Oddly, when I map the significant homes and businesses related to the judicial side of the Salem Witch Trials, they follow a line. Even stranger, that line also indicates where modern-day Salem judges have purchased homes.

The line extends directly to Gallows Hill Park, the most likely site of the 1692 hangings during the Salem Witch Trials.

Here’s what the line looks like, related to the entire Salem, Massachusetts area:

Judges' Line, Salem, MA

 

In most cases, this line is ruler-straight, and it’s feet wide, not miles.

Here is a peek at my preliminary, hand drawn map of the main locations:

Salem - Judges' Line map - ghosts and haunted places

 

Here are my notes. Numbers represent sites related to accusers. Letters are related to victims of the trials.

1. Chestnut Street (represented by a heavy black line) – Many modern-day judges and elected officials choose this street for their homes.

2. Judge Corwin’s home, also known as “Witch House” since he condemned so many witches during the Salem Witch Trials. The house’s original location was closer to the line. Later residents moved it.

3. Judge Hathorne’s home, also associated with the Salem Witch Trials. (Nathaniel Hawthorne changed the spelling of his own name to avoid any association with this ancestor.)

4. Sheriff George Corwin’s home – George Corwin was the son of the judge (#2) and benefited by seizing the property of convicted and admitted witches.

5. The home of Samuel Shattuck, whose testimony helped convict Bridget Bishop, one of the first Witch Trial victims.

6. The home of Massachusetts Bay Colony’s Governor Simon Bradstreet (1603 – 1697).

7. John Higginson Jr. lived here. He was the local magistrate. The Hawthorne Hotel was later built on this property.

8. Jacob Manning, a blacksmith, forged the shackles worn by many Witch Trial victims.

9. Thomas Beadle’s tavern, where Witch Trial inquests were held.

A. The home of Bridget Bishop, a Witch Trial victim who may be among the ghosts at the Lyceum Restaurant, now on that site.

B. Ann Pudeator, a Witch Trial victim whose specter was seen walking along Salem Common, even before her execution.

C. The home of John and Mary English, one of the wealthiest families in Colonial Salem. They were accused but escaped to New York.

D. Alice Parker’s home, owned by John and Mary English. Ms. Parker was accused of witchcraft and put to death.

The slightly triangular area near 7 and B represents Salem Common.

Gallows Hill Park is indicated on the far left side of the map. The “Judges Line” — generally indicated in yellow — points directly to it.

The small green areas near points 6, 7 and 8 represent sites with paranormal activity or they are scenes of violence in the 19th and 20th century… or both.

As I continue my research, I’m finding even more sites that will be represented with red dots. Most of them are along the Judges Line.

It’s a little chilling. I wonder why these people felt so drawn to this particular energy path.

Witch Hill – aka Whipple Hill

Photo taken at Whipple Hill, Danvers, MAWitch Hill in Danvers is an important part of the Salem Witch Trials. It’s where “spectral evidence” was observed in 1692, and used as evidence against people accused of witchcraft in Salem.

The correct name for the site is Whipple Hill, and it’s a hauntingly wild and lovely location for hiking. Marked trails lead you to the crest of the hill and a beautiful view.

Park your car at Endicott Park. It’s across a busy street from Witch (Whipple) Hill, and the small parking fee is worthwhile for convenience.

Cross the street and you’ll see the entrance to the trails that cross Witch Hill. The photo, above, was taken near that entrance.

The main trail includes rocks and uneven ground beneath a covering of leaves. You’ll want good hiking shoes and perhaps a walking stick, as well. However, active families (even those with small children) will enjoy this site for a weekend outing. (As usual, watch for poison ivy.)

This is one of two “witch hills” in the Salem area. Gallows Hill in Salem is sometimes called Witch Hill, too.

However, the location of the Danvers site is noted on several historical maps, and I think it’s an overlooked site.

My recent investigations suggest intense activity at Witch Hill, even during the day.  If you have any stories related to that hill, or if you’ve investigated it, please leave a comment or contact me.

[NH] Spalding Inn, Ley Lines (Whitefield, NH)

Update: The Spalding Inn has new owners, and — as far as I know — is not highlighting its haunted past.

Original article:

In April 2013, I visited the Spalding Inn for a ghost hunting event hosted by Jason Hawes. It had been about two years since I’d investigated the hotel, and things had changed.

nh-spalding-side1My April 2013 experiences:

  • The upper floor of the Spalding Inn’s carriage house seemed just as strange, but more had more focused energy.  That is, many of us (including me) didn’t encounter the usual off-the-wall weird energy there.  However, some investigators experienced profound encounters and confirmations.  Those seemed to be very quirky experiences, with a lot more personality than the generalized activity I’d experienced, especially in and near rooms 15 and 17.
  • The spirits (ghosts, energy, whatever) at the main level (ground floor) of the Spalding Inn’s carriage house were a lot more responsive to the various electronic devices in use.
  • Jason Hawes’ wife, Kris, shared many stories.  They were fascinating, because she was describing encounters that complemented mine. (I’d visited the hotel in 2008, after the Ghost Hunters International team investigated, but before the hotel was officially opened).  However, it’s like the ghosts are learning and their responses are more specific, more consistent, and involve more senses so this has become a more useful research location.
  • In the main building, the dining room felt like more of a “safe haven” from intrusive ghosts — for those who want to get away from them — but the perimeter was a little more odd.
  • The extended corridor (where the sleeping rooms are) is far more active than it had been.  Previously, I’d categorized most of the activity there as fae and perhaps Native American.  Now, several ghosts seem to have increased their presence there. (I’m not sure what words to use for that, because I’m not sure if those ghosts were there all along, but fairly silent… or if they’ve migrated to that part of the hotel, since they have a bigger audience.)

Update: Since I first wrote this article, the hotel has been sold. It’s no longer owned by Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson, and their families. I’d heard it had been bought by the Weathervane, but — on a map — their inn is closer to their theatre. So, I’m not sure who owns the hotel now.

NH ley lines mapFor the 2013 event, I’d created a special information sheet that featured some of the ley lines at and near the Spalding Inn, and northern New Hampshire in general.

The ghost figures indicate locations where ghosts have been reported. The star-in-circle marks indicate other paranormal reports (UFOs, etc.) and anomalies.

If you’re interested in ley lines, you can compare the NH info with a similar sheet I’ve updated from my Guest appearances at Dragon Con. (See “free downloads” at my FionaBroome.com site.)

[NH] Concord – More Unmarked Graves and Graves Outside Cemeteries – Quakers

Old North Cemetery, described at HollowHill.comIn my book about haunted cemeteries, I mentioned ghost hunting opportunities at unmarked graves and at graves just outside cemetery walls.  At the time, I described many of them as the graves of “sinners,” or people whose lives (or deaths) did not allow them to be buried in consecrated ground.

During a recent Saturday investigation in Concord (NH), I discovered another explanation for those graves.  The answer surprised me.  It’s Quakers (also known as “Friends.”)

Quakers and unmarked graves

Apparently, between 1717 and 1850, gravestones and memorials at cemeteries were considered “vain monuments” and — according to a decree by members of the Quaker faith — had to be removed from Quaker graves.

In other words, some (perhaps many) unmarked graves aren’t anonymous because the families were too poor to afford gravestones, or because the markers were stolen, but because the burial plots belonged to Quakers.

On the other side of the fence (literally, in this case), mainstream Christians objected to members of the Friends Church or Religious Society of Friends — generally known as “Quakers” — being buried in consecrated ground.  This was because Quakers aren’t baptized, or — in Quaker terms — “sprinkled.”

This adds up to a disturbing thought, though it may explain why some homes and fields seem haunted, with no obvious explanation:

Quakers have been buried in fields, and family plots — also unmarked — near their homes.  In other words, you may have walked over Quaker graves many times without realizing it.

Old North Cemetery, Concord, NH

I discovered this during some post-investigation research about the Old North Cemetery in Concord, New Hampshire.  I’d been there with Lesley Marden and Sean Paradis, and we spent about two and a half hours researching the site.

Sean and I had been there before, and I’ve investigated the cemetery on my own, during daytime hours.  (It’s on the edge of downtown Concord, in the middle of a busy residential area.)

Though the site may be haunted after dark, and we noticed many anomalies at the cemetery, I don’t consider Old North Cemetery profoundly haunted.  It is intriguing, nevertheless.

The cemetery is L-shaped and covers nearly six acres and — according to the National Historic Register application — it’s comprised of three areas: The main cemetery, the Minot Enclosure (sort of a cemetery-within-a-cemetery), and the Quaker Lot.  (That’s not quite true, as I’ll explain in a few minutes.)

The cemetery was in most frequent use between 1730 and 1958.

The Quaker Lot

Looking through the fence, past Minot Enclosure in Concord, NHThough I’d been to Old North Cemetery before, I hadn’t noticed the odd, open field in back of the Minot Enclosure.  That field has just a few markers, and one of them reminded us of a bunker marker.

It’s indicated by the arrow, and the Friends’ (Quaker) marker is in the oval.  That part of the cemetery is separated from the Minot Enclosure by a cast iron fence (with a break in it) and a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire.

To reach the Quaker burial lot, you’ll exit Minot and walk through the main Old North Cemetery, to where the Quaker Lot begins.  (It’s not fenced-off from the main cemetery.)

Once you’re standing in what looks like an open field, about 10,000 square feet, you’ll see just a few markers.  The main one is the slanted memorial listing many of the people buried in the Quaker Lot.  Apparently, the lot was purchased in 1811, according to the terms of the will of Benjamin Hannaford. He’s one of the people buried in the lot.

At left is the memorial marker.  (Due to the late-afternoon lighting, I had to increase the contrast in this photo, for the lettering to show at all.)

At the back of that memorial, you can see a metal marker for Levi Hutchins.  I think it’s a military marker, and it’s just sort of leaning there.  No one knows where Levi Hutchins was buried, so there’s no actual place for the marker.

On the other hand, Levi Hutchins’ wife, Phebe, does have a gravestone.  Apparently, Levi flew in the face of Quaker traditions and commissioned a headstone for his late wife.  That’s it in the photo at lower right.

Phebe Hutchins gravestone in Concord NHThe history of the Quakers in Concord is an interesting story.

The part that caught my attention was that the Friends (Quakers) built a meetinghouse in 1815, but in 1816 the state bought the land from them (it’s where the Concord State House is, now) . The city moved the meetinghouse to a location just east of the Quaker burial lot, fronting on North State Street.  (Sean, Lesley, and I had wondered about the odd landmarks on the property.)

In those days, that was the edge of the city.

In 1845, the meetinghouse was sold and moved again, to become a school building.  The land it was on was purchased by the city in 1911, for the sum of $300, because it was “in a very bad condition and a disgrace to our city.”

So, that’s an added reason why the Quaker Lot (and land near it) may be more active than other parts of the Old North Cemetery.

And, from the popular, gated entrance to the cemetery at Bradley Street, the Quaker Lot is — as you might expect — at the back left corner.

Quaker-related activity at Minot Enclosure?

We spent considerable time at the Minot Enclosure, an exclusive section of the Old North Cemetery, surrounded by an elaborate cast iron fence and containing 62 graves.  There, we noticed that random gravestones had been turned so they face slightly away from the Quaker Lot.

Those random and very slight turns weren’t consistent with vandalism.  That was one of many mysteries we wondered about as we walked around the cemetery.

Now that we know about the Quaker Lot, Sean Paradis has raised an interesting question:

The Quakers in the Quaker Lot are from a time when gravestones were considered “vain monuments.”  Just feet away, the Minot Enclosure is where the 14th U.S. president, Franklin Pierce, is buried. Might the activity within the Minot Enclosure be based in the mutual uneasiness of the Quakers and the upper social register in the Minot Enclosure?

That’s a stretch, but it’s fun to speculate.

However, as I was studying the cemetery records, I realized that Old North Cemetery isn’t just a combination of three cemeteries.  In fact, I discovered a fourth section of the cemetery, not often mentioned.

The Prison Lot

Original NH State Prison - 1860 photoAccording to the National Historic Register application, “The Prison Lot, comprised of a long 10′ x 75′ rectangular lot just west of lots #384 and #385 in the center of the cemetery, appears on all maps drawn after the 1844 western addition to Old North Cemetery.”

The report also states that the cemetery records note that there are at least a dozen graves there, but no records of the names of the deceased in those graves.

And, since the old State Prison — built in 1811 — was replaced in 1880, there’s probably no way to determine who might be in those graves. (The photo on the left shows that 1811 prison, on two acres near the Court House.  It was attached to a three-story Superintendents house.)

Unmarked graves + prisoners + no records of any kind to tell us who they were… That’s a formula for hauntings.  (If anyone’s giving “ghost tours” of downtown Concord, NH, take note.)

If you’re going to investigate those graves, be sure to check the chronological history of the NH State Prison.

And, in general, if you’re going to visit or investigate Old North Cemetery, I recommend reading the full National Historic Register application, linked below. (Note: I’ve tried downloading it three times, and it consistently crashes my Adobe PDF reader.  If that happens to you, notice which page you’re on when it crashes, and then use the “go to” page function when you reopen the PDF, to pick up where you left off.)

Both the main cemetery and the Minot Enclosure deserve separate articles, which I’ll write later.  Today, it’s important to share what I learned about Quaker burial practices.  Remember, as it says in one history of the Society of Friends, “By 1700 the Society gained considerable influence in most of the New England and middle-Atlantic colonies. Quaker migration to the southern colonies, especially North Carolina…”

In other words, unmarked Quaker graves — and even unmarked (and forgotten) Quaker burial lots — may exist throughout the eastern United States, as well as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Canada.

What you need to know about all Quaker graves and burial lots

  • Expect no grave markers for burials before the late 1840s.
  • Quaker graves could be in Quaker burial grounds, near the person’s home, at the far corner of a family farm or homestead, or in a rural location.  I found one reference that said Quakers “always regarded the physical remains of a person as spiritually insignificant.”
  • The burial was intended to be as inexpensive as possible, within the law.  One Quaker historian commented, “Well into the 20th century, it was not unusual for a country burial to have an unembalmed body.”
  • In some Quaker cemeteries, especially before 1850, coffins were placed in the first available slot in the cemetery, not in family groups.  Philadelphia’s Arch Street burial ground (between Third and Fourth Streets), in use until 1804, was organized so the coffins were four layers deep and none had markers of any kind.
  • Despite rumors and folklore, I found no evidence of any Friends (or Quakers) being buried upright.  There was no rule against that practice, but no provision for it, either.
  • In the 20th century and later, Quakers generally choose cremation.

Quaker beliefs about death

I’ll let William Penn have the final word about the Friends’ (Quakers) attitude towards death.  This is from a poem published in 1693:

And this is the Comfort of the Good,
that the grave cannot hold them,
and that they live as soon as they die.
For Death is no more
than a turning of us over from time to eternity.

References

Old North Cemetery, Concord, NH – National Historic Site application (PDF)

Fox’s Pulpit Quaker burial ground, Sedbergh, Cumbria

Quaker Burial Practices, at Quaker-Roots-L

Burial Practices of Quakers, at Genealogy.com

The Buried Past: An Archaeological History of Philadelphia, by John L. Cotter, Daniel G. Roberts, Michael Parrington, page 200

Quaker Funeral Arrangements, by Oxford Quakers

Quaker Funeral Customs

Society of Friends (Quakers) in the United States, at FamilySearch.org (LDS)