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 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.

[MA] Methuen – Tenney Gatehouse

tenney-reportfrom-125Tenney Gatehouse and the Greycourt Castle ruins are among Methuen’s historical treasures… and among that city’s most haunted locations.

 

Other articles in this series:

Investigation Notes

Many investigation teams have visited Tenney Gatehouse and documented its ghosts.  The following are my notes from my second investigation at the house, and my results were similar to my previous visit.

Basement

The basement is an odd location.  I don’t sense a lot of history there, though other investigators have reported significant energy.

Mostly, the atmosphere seems to get heavier (or denser) the longer you stay there, as if something is crowding you out. If you’re prone to headaches, especially migraines, stay away from the basement.

Some very hostile energy lingers in one corner of the room where the furnace is.  That’s odd, since I’m fairly sure it’s a recently excavated area. [See the Methuen Historical Society’s page that describes the basement work.]

I also sensed a distraught young woman in a maroon dress.  She’s from the second half of the 19th century.  She has very high, elaborate braids and curls, characteristic of the 1860s and later.  (It reminds me of a Swedish woven loaf of bread, but upright.)

Her skirt is fairly narrow, also suggesting a time from the late 19th century.  She’s pacing and very unhappy, but also seems to enjoy the drama of it, as well as the attention she gets.

There’s also the energy of a little boy, but my “gut feeling” is: this is phantom energy.  I’m not sure that there was actually a tragedy at the staircase where he seems to linger, and I wonder if he’s the created energy of several imaginative researchers.

Whether he’s a real ghost or not, the energy remains there.

Between the amount of running electrical equipment, fuse boxes, and pipes, the basement is unreliable for EMF studies.

Ground floor

In the parlor, the doll and the sofa she was on have been replaced by a lovely organ from Greycourt Castle.  The wooden organ belonged to the Tenneys and not only survived its years when the mansion was a drug rehab center, but it’s also one of the few items to survive the fire as well.

We found a “cold spot” on top of the organ, and a couple of variable cold spots on either side of it.

Because of the organ’s surprising energy, it’s an item to research in more detail, especially in light of the Searles family’s connection with organ making.

Several items in the museum area seem to hold residual energy, in addition to fascinating history.  In light of the history I’ve learned since this investigation, many of the museum’s objects are worth closer study.

emfx2-orbIn the far room in the museum area, several people saw dramatic dowsing rod activity in one corner.  We also saw baffling EMF meter readings.

At one point, it was as if the EMF meters were dueling; one would beep and flash three times, and then the other would, and so on.

I took a picture while this was going on, and there’s a very faint orb over the EMF meter on the right. As you can see from the light, that EMF meter was signaling when I took the photo.

(I wish I’d taken more photos, showing how the orb bounced back and forth between the meters as they beeped.)

Immediately beneath that floor, a large electrical box emits high levels of EMF.  Though that would explain continuous, high EMF levels, it doesn’t explain the intermittent surges.  (In fact, at one point the EMF meter closest to the floor showed no unusual readings, while another meter — about four feet above it — was surging off the scale.)

Several people felt very strong energy in that area as well, and some thought they were being gently pushed or otherwise in physical contact with a ghost, perhaps a ghostly dog.

However, when researching in areas of high EMF, normal disorientation is possible.  So, we looked in other, low-EMF areas for additional and supporting information about the house’s ghosts.

In another room, a 19th-century dresser holds the residual energy of a grandmother who often laced her corset too tightly, and collected small figurines.  I also detected the energy of two priests around that dresser, but not the priests (or monks) who lived at Tenney Gatehouse.

Upper floor

The upper floor continues to be my favorite.  In one room, both mirrors — but one in particular — seems to have anomalous energy.  It’s worth far more study than I’ve had time for.

That’s the same room where we previously used a K-II meter to communicate with a spirit that wanted the lights turned out.

I did not investigate the room next to it, where refreshments were served to event attendees.

The largest room on that floor had seating for about 30 people, and it was used for “Shack Hack” sessions presented by Chris G., another invited psychic and paranormal researcher.  The Shack Hack indicated several spirits in the room, including two or three men and perhaps one young woman and a little boy.

Turret

The turret room may be the most famous haunted area in Tenney Gatehouse, and it’s also the part of the house that will be restored with the help of the funds raised at this event.

According to legend, but no historical evidence that I know of, a monk hung himself in that room.  The stories say that he continues to haunt that room.

Whether that’s a true tale or not, the energy in the turret area is powerful and almost disorienting.  I look forward to researching it further when it’s more fully restored and I can rule out normal EMF (from electrical wiring) as a factor.

Summary

Tenney Gatehouse (or Gate House) is a light, easy haunting for first-time investigators.

However, due to the large amount of traffic through the house, nothing truly scary is likely to happen during a casual investigation or event.

This site is ideal for in-depth investigations by small teams who’ll focus on specific areas and objects that may reveal far more than they do during a brief walk-through.

Next, see my notes and photos: Investigation – Ghosts at Greycourt Castle ruins

To return to Tenney Gate House for your own investigation — formal or informal — or to participate in another ghost-related event at the site, see the website of the Methuen Historical Society.

[MA] Ghosts at Greycourt Castle Ruins

tenney-reportfrom-125Greycourt Castle (or Grey Court Castle) was the estate home of Charles H. Tenney, his wife Fanny, and their son Daniel G. Tenney.

The castle-style mansion was built in the 1880s and used as a summer home by the Tenney family.

In the 1950s, it was sold and used as a drug rehabilitation facility in the mid-20th century, and largely destroyed by fires from 1974 through 1978.  The 1978 fire was the result of arson.

As I explain in my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries, we’re always looking for any of four characteristics of most hauntings:

  • Money
  • Power
  • Drama
  • Tragedy (sudden or extended)

If I see more than one of these elements, it’s a red flag that suggests the site is worth investigating.

In my earlier article, History of Tenney Gatehouse, I described Greycourt Castle’s intriguing and tragic past.

From the land’s connections to a Colonial blockhouse, to the fire that destroyed Greycourt in the 1970s, the site’s history contains all four elements — money, power, drama and tragedy — that make it a prime location for paranormal investigations.

My “gut feeling” is that we’ve barely scratched the surface on the energy and ghosts around the Greycourt Castle ruins.

I’m also certain that the park-like areas of the Tenney grounds hold additional reasons for ghostly activity.

The nearby Searles site is certainly worth investigating, as well.

My October 2009 investigation

I did not spend time at the area where the monks’ graves were rumored to have been. (The graves were moved when the site stopped being used by the order.)

Earlier in the evening, I’d heard that some people had formed a circle to summon the energy or spirits from any remaining graves and… Unless you really know what you’re doing, that can open doors best left closed, and create unhealthy dynamics with the spirits.

So, I didn’t pause there.

tenneyorb1Walking up the path from the gatehouse to Greycourt, I immediately took a photo where I feel intense energy from… well, I think it’s the Gorrill brothers.

(For their story, see my article, Tenney ghosts – Gorrill brothers.)

Though my photo shows only a vivid orb (sorry, no landmarks with it), that confirms it as a location for additional on-site research.

The orb may be something entirely normal… but it might not.  Either way, I’m interested in this part of the Tenney property.

As I continued to Greycourt Castle, I felt the familiar sense of entering an area with very different energy, as if it’s a portal to another time.

The castle feels like something incomplete… in our world.  However, I often feel that the stairs leading down from it actually show more than just a great view of Methuen (albeit blocked by trees).  I feel that it may offer something else, if you have patience, suspend disbelief, and use all of your senses to perceive what’s really there.

horiz-lights1aThis is the second time I’ve smelled the vanilla-like aroma of tobacco around the stairway, too.  (I describe it as a little like Swisher Sweet cigars.  Others have made reference to pipe tobacco.)

During this October 2009 investigation, several other people have commented on that aroma as well, not knowing that I was already aware of it.

My photos from nearby showed some great lights, blurred as the camera moved, but nothing paranormal.

tenney-treemistHowever, one of my next pictures caught an odd, colorful mist.  Someone else commented on her mist photo, around the same time.  We both tried to replicate the mist by breathing near the cameras lenses as we took additional photos, but couldn’t duplicate the effect.

Though this still may be mist (it’s not cigarette smoke), it’s more likely an anomaly.

In the photo at right, that’s a tree on the right, surrounded by the mist.  At the lower left, you can see the promontory where the stairs lead, and where I feel that the energy is different from “normal.”

Though city lights interfere with night photos, and there’s nothing obvious there to see… I still feel that’s a location for in-depth investigation.  But, because that could be something frightening, I’d only recommend it for very experienced ghost hunters.

(By “frightening,” I don’t mean that it’s necessarily dangerous. I think that it might be something very different from what we usually encounter at haunted sites like this.  Perhaps “startling” might be a better word, but when something radically different happens at haunted places, beginners can interpret it as scary, frightening or dangerous.)

Next, I walked along the corridor.  None of my photos showed anything unusual.  castle-shadowareaHowever, I kept noticing moving shadows on the columns as I stood and took pictures.  The shadows were very crisp and well defined.  It was as if someone was immediately behind me.

Every time I turned to look — at least four or five times — no one was there.  Since there were only about four of us at that part of the ruins at the time, I don’t have any explanation for it.

I wasn’t afraid of the shadows, and I don’t think they indicate anything malicious… just odd.

castle-ftn-orbNearby, the area around the fountain seems very active, but with happier energy.  Generally, I connect this with the “flower child” energy that may have resonated with earlier, Spiritualist activities at the site.

Or, it may relate to the ritual energy in a nearby wooded area.

Though the woods feel somber and even creepy to me, the energy around the fountain seems joyous.  I wasn’t at all surprised to see an orb in the photo at right.  In fact, I was amazed that I didn’t have more anomalies in the pictures I took there.

searles-orbOn the walk back from the ruins, I was — as usual — intrigued by the Searles’ property and stone buildings.  That location also contains very powerful, paranormal energy.  That’s the only way I can describe it; it doesn’t feel like anything that’s from this world.

However, my “gut feeling” is that it’s not just the ghost of Mr. Searles.  I’d fully expect cryptozoology reports there, because — in addition to something vaguely ghostly — there’s… well, something else.

Nearby, a second photo included some lines that I’m still studying.  The wavy lines aren’t uniform (though they look it in this small version of the picture) so this isn’t one insect (the top, white shape) and a series of lens flares or repetitions.

oddlinesAlso, everything else — full depth of field — is in focus.  If the camera moved enough to create those lines, other objects should be blurry.

So, this may be something, but it might not.  I’m not going to read anything into it, but share it with readers for your input.

I’m about 99% certain that this is an insect or a falling leaf, plus repeated reflected/refracted images, but 99% isn’t 100%.

Of course, it helps that the area by that stone wall feels unsettling.  It’s the kind of site where we often see apparitions.

Yes, this is probably a perfectly normal photo, and the earlier orb picture may be an insect as well.  I’m displaying them because they’re interesting, not necessarily paranormal.

When we look at odd things in photos from haunted places, we’re not just asking if an orb or blurry shape is an actual ghost. (We’re not sure what anomalies actually are.)

Instead, we’re asking, “Why does this photograph show insects, dust, or lights in this photo… but they’re not in other photos taken at the same time or place?”

However, I recommend spend time at this part of the property when you’re at Tenney Gatehouse and Greycourt Castle ruins.

Summary

For a first-time or casual ghost hunter, Tenney Gatehouse is the ideal place for an investigation.

For an experienced investigator, I think the rest of the Tenney property offers more intriguing energy and anomalies that haven’t been reported yet.

Tenney Gatehouse is maintained by the Methuen Historical Society, 37 Pleasant Street, Methuen, MA.  The gatehouse and grounds are open to the public.  Please check with the Methuen Historical Society for hours and additional information.

Related report: Tenney Gatehouse ghosts (October 2009)

[MA] History of Tenney Gatehouse’s Ghosts

tenney-reportfrom-125Tenney Gatehouse (37 Pleasant Street, Methuen, Massachusetts) and the nearby Greycourt Castle ruins are great, gently-haunted sites.  They’re ideal for first-time ghost hunters.

I compiled the following history from a variety of sources.  I’ve done my best to be accurate, but I only briefly surveyed the history.  There may be errors in this report.

The Methuen Historical Society is a far better resource for your research, and their information will be more accurate than mine.

In this summary, I’ve included story elements and additional notes that could relate to the hauntings at Tenney Gatehouse and Greycourt Castle.

(Note to ghost hunters: This is the kind of research that adds depth to any investigation. It reveals the most likely “hot spots” for on-site research, and can support existing ghost stories.)

History of Tenney Gatehouse and Greycourt Castle

The bedrock beneath Methuen includes Merrimac quartzite.   That could be important.  Sites built on quartz tend to report far more hauntings than those that aren’t.

The land around Tenney Gatehouse was originally part of the Pawtucket Plantation. Its boundaries were established in 1640, and the land transferred by Indian deed in 1642.

The Pawtuckets were also called Penacooks and Pentuckets.  50 – 85% of the Methuen Pawtuckets died during the 1617 – 1619 epidemics, and the Indian wars that followed.

Though no known Indian battles were fought in Methuen, events related to the  “Battle of Bloody Brook” in September 1615 (not the 1675 event) may have involved local members of the Agawam nation, fighting off the Tarrantine raiders.

Methuen was first settled in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

The town was named for Paul Methuen, 1st Baron Methuen (21 June 1779 – 14 September 1849) of Corsham Court, Wiltshire, England.   Methuen was a Privy Court friend of Massachusetts’ Royal Governor William Dummer.

The first buildings

A blockhouse was the first reported use of the property later owned by the Tenney family. A blockhouse was a heavy, plank-style house where settlers could gather for protection from fierce weather, roving bands of wild animals, or reported Indian attacks.  The building wasn’t quite as formal as a stockade, but served a similar purpose.

Around 1726, Methuen’s community meetinghouse and parsonage were established near where the Tenney Gatehouse and Greycourt Castle ruins are today.  The site was called Meetinghouse (or Meeting House) Hill.*  The meetinghouse was about 40 feet by 30 feet, with 20-foot posts.

Soon, a burial ground (1728 – 1786) — where all the gravestones point west — and a schoolhouse completed the development.  Much of that land — later part of the Tenney property — was the original center of the village.

There’s reference to a devastating meetinghouse fire in 1796, and a second meetinghouse being dedicated for public service.  That story is worth researching, to see if it parallels the later fires at Greycourt Castle.

The hill was also nicknamed Daddy Frye’s Hill. That name referred to  Frye Tavern owned by Jeremiah and Elizabeth Hall Frye and their six children.  (The Frye family had been in the Methuen area since the mid-1600s, after emigrating from Basingstoke, Hampshire, England.)

Interestingly, a 1916 book, A Handbook of New England, mentions Frye’s Tavern and the Searles estate, with no reference to Tenney Gatehouse or Greycourt Castle.

Frye’s Tavern was probably at the northwest corner of East and Brook Streets.

Also, another Frye Tavern, “provender for man and beast,” was located in Lowell and owned by Ira Frye.

The origins of Tenney Gatehouse

Between August and November 1830, a stone house — later renovated and expanded as the Tenney Gatehouse — was built as a farmhouse by the Richard Whittier family, and it soon became a popular stagecoach stop.

In the 1840 census, Richard Whittier’s household was large, including 2 males ages 10 – 15, one between 20 and 30 years old, and one between 40 and 50.  Females included one between ages 5 and 10, two between 20 and 30, and one between 40 and 50.  (Richard has been noted as the brother of Ebenezer Whittier, part of an extensive family that is famous throughout the area.)

The Whittiers’ neighbors included Major Nathaniel Gorrell (or Gorrill) and his wife, Jane Armour Gorrell.  Two of their descendants, Mark S. Gorrill and Nathaniel W. Gorrill, became part of a later, ghost-related story. (See Tenney ghosts – Gorrill brothers.)

The Tenney Gatehouse purchase and development

In April 1882, Charles H. Tenney bought the Whittier’s house as a gatehouse and then added the adjoining acreage, then called Jones Hill.

Charles H. Tenney was the youngest son of Methuen grocer John Ferguson Tenney and his wife, Hannah Woodbury, who’d previously lived in Salem, New Hampshire.

Charles H. Tenney had started a manufacturing business in Methuen in 1869, and expanded it to a much larger hatmaking factory in 1872.  At its peak, the business employed about 150 people.

Starting in 1882, Charles H. Tenneys had the gatehouse remodeled and used it as a residence.

In 1883, Charles H. Tenney sold his interest in the Methuen hatmaking business to his brother and business partner, J. Milton Tenney.

(The hat business faltered, and — after selling the factory building to neighbor and friendly rival Edward F. Searles — the Tenney Hat Factory was torn down in 1906.  The site was used for the Selden Worsted Mill. Today, 225 Broadway has been restored as the Espaillat Mills building.  It’s probably worth investigating for ghosts.)

Also in 1883, Charles H. Tenney moved to New York and became a wholesale commission agent, representing most of the U.S. hatmaking business.  His new Methuen estate became the family’s summer home.

In 1884, a stock stable was added to the property, and an 1885 newspaper article describes a “tally-ho” drive to the front entrance.  That stable was remodeled in 1966 at 30 East Street.

In 1887, Tenney renamed his Methuen property Fair View Park, and in 1890, began building Greycourt (or Grey Court) Castle.  The project took three years, and no expense was spared in creating the spectacular estate home.

Later years

By around 1950, the Tenney family had stopped using Greycourt Castle as their home.  In 1951, the estate of Daniel G. Tenney donated 26 acres to Methuen for Tenney High School.  That school, at 75 Pleasant Street, is now Tenney Middle School.

The Tenney estate sold the remaining land, castle ruins and Tenney Gatehouse to the Basilican Salvatorian Order of the Melkite Rite.

For several years, monks lived in the gatehouse, and the Tenney’s former mansion was used as a drug rehabilitation center.  But, by the 1970s, the mansion needed repairs and it was further damaged by a series of fires starting around 1974.  A 1978 fire, set by an arsonist, left the castle in ruins.

In 1985, most of the Greycourt Castle ruins were removed as a safety hazard.  However, the foundation and some of the walls are still part of the site, which are open to the public.

The land owned by Charles H. Tenney, and several locations near it, offer a considerable (and sometimes confusing) history to suggest a wealth of reasons for hauntings.

Today, Tenney Gatehouse is the home of the Methuen Historical Society… and several ghosts.

References

Ancestry.com

Early Methuen Histories (was at http://methuen.essexcountyma.net/Early_Methuen_Histories.html )

A Handbook of New England, by Porter Sargent

Historic Sites 225 Broadway – Brown

History of Lowell, by Charles Cowley (2nd revised edition, 1868)

Methuen 2007 Town Report

Methuen History Historical Photos (images not working)

Naming of Methuen (was at http://methuen.essexcountyma.net/Naming_of_Methuen.html )

Tenney Family Association

Treasure of Tenney’s Grey Court Castle

Wikipedia: Paul Methuen, 1st Baron Methuen

*A second Meeting House Hill caused some confusion during my research.  It was located on Forest Street and had some similar buildings to the main Meeting House Hill.  Most notably, the Forest Street site had a cemetery that was vandalized and has since vanished.

[MA] Tenney Ghosts – Gorrill Brothers

tenney-reportfrom-125Two ghosts on the Charles H. Tenney property (Tenney Gate House and Greycourt Castle) may be the Gorrill brothers, or their residual energy.

In my opinion, this part of the site’s history has been badly overlooked.  The legends give ghost hunters some very good reasons to more thoroughly investigate the Greycourt Castle area.

Here’s the short version of the story:

Nathaniel and Mark Gorrill (also spelled Gorrell) were brothers.  In the mid-to-late 1800s, they lived in their parents’ home near the site where Greycourt Castle was later built.

According to local legend, the brothers fell in love with the same young woman.  She rejected both of them, but both blamed the snub on the other one.

The brothers never married, never left home… and never spoke to each other again.

Though they shared a home, they claimed not to be related to each other.  (In the census records, they reported “something other than direct relationship.”)  They also claimed exactly equal interest in the house and their farm income.

Additional stories suggest that, under the cover of darkness, the brothers used to sneak out of the house.  Each one buried his half of the money somewhere at the hill near their home.

Neither wanted the other one to have access to the money, even if one of them died first.

In the early 20th century, someone in Methuen had a dream about buried treasure at Greycourt Castle.  According to the story, he dug in the basement of the Castle and found the brothers’ treasure: $20,000 in bonds.

There are several problems with that story.  The biggest one is that Castle was probably built after the brothers had died.  (There’s no census record for them after 1880.)   Also, the Tenney family still maintained the house (no neighbor would have access to the basement) at the time of the story.

But, there is one report to support the tale of discovered bonds: In 1909, the estate of Mark S. Gorrill reported that his bonds were missing, and asked for replacements.

The story of missing treasure surfaced again in 2005, when some workmen claimed to have found money that matched the Gorrill legends.  However, their tale didn’t make sense.  Police charged the men with stealing antique money that was found on a nearby 200-acre farm, not at the Tenney site.

That said, if one or both of the Gorrill brothers really buried their money (in gold or silver coins) at the hill, it’s probably still there.   Most websites that specialize in buried (and missing) treasure continue to list the Gorrill brothers’ fortune as missing, and still buried in Methuen.

In addition, with a lifetime grudge like the brothers’, they’re probably haunting the treasure regularly, making sure the other brother doesn’t steal it.

My “gut feeling” is that the brothers haunt the Greycourt Castle area.

Here’s the full history:

Nathaniel (1784 – ) and Lavinia Smith Gorrell of Salem, New Hampshire had two sons.  One was Mark S. , born about 1816, and the other was Nathaniel W., born about 1821.

The family moved to Methuen, Massachusetts, in the mid-19th century.  Nathaniel Senior’s father — the late Major Nathaniel Gorrell (1734 – 1821) — had owned land there.

The Gorrell family — who later spelled it Gorrill — established their homestead “on Daddy Frye’s Hill near the Castle,” according to a 1937 book.

The “Castle” refers to Greycourt Castle, the Charles H. Tenney estate.

The Gorrill family was prosperous.  In the 1850 census, their property was worth $3600, considerably more than their neighbors’ land.  (That’s about $90,000 in 2009 dollars, though that parcel of land would sell for considerably more than that now.)

gorrill-census-1850

The sons, Mark (age 34) and Nathaniel (age 29), were both single in 1850.  Both lived at home with their parents.

In the 1860 census, the story takes an interesting turn.  Instead of being 44, Mark reported his age as 40.  Following his brother’s lead, Nathaniel claimed to be 36 instead of 39.  Both remained single.  Both still lived at home.

gorrill-census-1860

In the 1860 Methuen city directory, all three men in the family were listed with an East Street address.

gorrill-citydir-1860

By 1870, the brothers had recovered their maturity — or at least reported their ages correctly — and had acquired a housekeeper, Kate Robertson from Maine.  Perhaps she was the woman they fought over?

gorrill-census-1870

Alas, by 1880 they were on their own again, and left the “relationship to head of household” line conspicuously empty.

gorrill-census-1880

In 1900, their names weren’t in the census index.  According to the stories, they died within a couple of years of each other.

In 1909, the question of bonds resurfaced.  The estate of Mark S. Gorrill said that his bonds were missing.

gorrill-bonds-1909

Despite several later claims regarding the missing treasure, no one has firmly established what happened to both Nathaniel and Mark Gorrill’s fortunes.

References

Ancestry.com

Legendary Massachusetts Lost Treasure Stories and State History (at Wayback Machine)

Massachusetts: a guide to its places and people (1937)

Police call Methuen treasure story a tall tale (2005)

United States Statutes at Large Volume 35 Part 2.djvu/278 (1909)

Trivia: Charles H. Tenney is not the only Tenney associated with a tale of hidden treasure.

According to an 1888 story, John L. Tenney (b. 1855 in California) — then living in Catron County, New Mexico — was visited by a cattle driver named John Brewer.  Brewer was one of the few survivors of the “Lost Adams Diggings Curse,” and told his story to John Tenney.  (That legend was the basis of the Gregory Peck movie, “Mackenna’s Gold.”)  For more information on that buried treasure, see Wikipedia.

[MA] Haverhill Hilldale Cemetery – Ghosts Report (2009)

This was a May 2009 charity ghost hunting event to help fund cemetery maintenance in the Haverhill area. Turnout was large, especially thanks to community support for haunted (and neglected) Hilldale Cemetery.

Though this article is a summary of what we did, that night, I hope it will give you insights about the cemetery and its potential for serious paranormal research.

The Essex County Ghost Project opened the evening with a short discussion about Hilldale Cemetery in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and its importance to the community.  After that, I presented a brief workshop about ghost hunting. (I was filling in for psychic entertainer Gavin Cromwell, who’d had to cancel at the last minute.)

Then, we dashed to Hilldale Cemetery, hoping to complete our investigations before the rain began.  After that, we split into groups for our investigations.

What made this event especially memorable were the many gifted psychics and sensitives among those who attended it.  Just a few feet from our cars, many people were already sensing energy in what looked like a field.  Then, a local historian explained that our insights were correct; we were standing in the middle of the paupers’ graves, generally unmarked.

Throughout the night, the exchange of information was fascinating.  Each psychic brought his or her unique views to the investigation, and the cooperation was tremendous.  We shared our thoughts about the energy we detected, and the result was a very cohesive picture of each “hot spot” in the Haverhill’s Hilldale Cemetery.

Light rain finally interrupted our explorations (and especially our photography), but the evening had nearly concluded anyway.

As we walked back towards our cars, we were rewarded with a unique sight:  An ice cream truck had arrived.   That was one of the best moments, ever, in my many years of ghost hunting.  (More large summer events should schedule an ice cream truck. It was very welcomed.)

We returned to our meeting place, the Sons of Italy Hall in Haverhill, and swapped questions, answers and stories.

It was one of the best investigations I’ve ever been on, and the participants made all the difference.

As of 2009, Haverhill’s Hilldale Cemetery had not been “over-investigated,” the ghostly energy was still fresh, and it was a superb (and large) location for investigations.