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.

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

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


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 last investigated the hotel.

Things had changed… really changed.

nh-spalding-side1My April 2013 experiences:

The upper floor of the Spalding Inn’s carriage house seemed just as strange, but more had focused energy.  That is, many of us (including me) didn’t encounter the usual off-the-wall weird energy there.

It was as if whatever’s there had a purpose for being there.

However, some investigators experienced profound encounters and confirmations.  Those seemed to be very quirky experiences.

The “hottest” areas were in and near rooms 15 and 17.

Also, 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.

During that 2013 visit, Jason Hawes’ wife, Kris, shared many stories.  They were fascinating, because she was describing encounters that complemented mine.

I’d visited the hotel late in 2008. That was after the Ghost Hunters International team investigated, but before the hotel was officially opened.

At the time, I preferred to keep a low profile. Another guest at the hotel was eager to claim the spotlight, and I was happy to let him do so. In general, I’m fairly shy, especially in a predominantly male setting.

Also, unless asked for details, I usually keep many of my observations to myself. I like to think about them for a few days. That gives me time to evaluate my experiences, away from the turbulence of the hauntings.

So, I didn’t talk much about what I’d seen and felt at the hotel. It included an apparition in the coach house, an astonishing collection of dead flies in another room in that building, and a voice — heard aloud — that mimicked me.

Then there was the figure dragging itself along the floor in the main building, the haunted mirror on the first floor, and — back in the coach house — the completely unplugged old-school phone with the “call waiting” light blinking.

So, yes, what I’d witnessed in 2008 was very weird. I just didn’t say much about it at the time.

Five years later — in 2013 — when Kris confirmed many of my experiences, without knowing about them ahead of time, I was delighted.

As of 2013, it seemed like the ghosts were learning from visitors. The ghosts’ responses were more specific, more consistent, and involve more senses so the Spalding Inn had become a more useful research location.

In 2013, in the main building, the dining room felt like more of a “safe haven” from intrusive ghosts. We could get away from them. But, the perimeter was odd. It was like walking through spiritual jello, if that makes sense.

The extended corridor (where the sleeping rooms are) was 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’d migrated to that part of the hotel, where they had a bigger audience.)

At the time, Kris confided that Jason and Grant were thinking of selling the hotel. I told her that was a good idea.

(I did not tell her that the energy at the hotel seemed angry. It was a somewhat nasty, drain-everything-from-you kind of energy. Not just a spiritual attack, but I had no doubt the malicious energy wanted to destroy the hotel’s business, crush morale, and generally tear things up. I was happy not to be spending the night there.)

I’m glad they sold the hotel. I wish the new owners very good luck with it.

My Northern NH Ley Line Map

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

The illustration is at right. If you draw these lines on a larger map, you can see where they extend into other states. All locations along the lines are worth exploring.

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 researching in NH, check sites on either line.

Choose the northern one if you’re interested in ghosts. Choose the southern one if you’re eager to find Bigfoot (yes, there are reports along that line) or see UFOs.

[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)

Laconia, NH’s Ghostly Places

New Hampshire (USA) is a gold mine of haunted locations. Here are a few I discovered in 2011, around Tilton and Laconia:

Tilton, NH

Scouting locations for a TV show, I found — and investigated — a series of great haunts in or near Tilton, New Hampshire. (Tilton may be best known for its outlet mall, the Tilt’n Diner, and the haunted Tilton Inn where Ghost Hunters filmed an episode.)

Among the most interesting haunts:

  • Hall Memorial Library, Northfield-Tilton, NH.
  • Tilton Mystery Tunnel, Tilton, NH.
  • Two buildings and a cemetery at Webster Place, Franklin, NH
  • Daniel Webster’s birthplace, Franklin, NH.

Laconia, NH

When people found out I was scouting locations, I was invited to a private residence.

It was startling. If I were to list all the things I look for in a haunted house, this home ticked most of them.

shadow figure in Laconia basementI saw evidence of the home’s Colonial history. In the kitchen, I climbed down to a room that had been part of the Underground Railroad.

In the basement, I saw — and photographed — a shadow figure.  We checked every possible explanation for it, and found none. And, while I watched, it walked away.

Then, climbing stairs to an attic, I saw hash marks walls and the inside of the door, indicating that someone had been locked in, up there. (That’s a photo of it, below. From the number of hash marks, someone had been up there a very long time.)

Laconia-atticdoor1As if that weren’t enough, the owners told me about the petrified bodies that used to be in their backyard. (The bodies had been dug up and moved to downtown Laconia.)

The wife explained that “something” seemed to be in the backyard, at night, so she sometimes went outside with a shotgun… just in case.

However, the owners of the home assured me that they had no ghosts. Absolutely none.

I still don’t know what to think of that. From what I saw and heard, there’s no way that house isn’t haunted.

The next day, I returned to that area and found several other sites worth investigating:

  • Tavern 27 at the Mystic Meadows, 2075 Parade Road, Laconia, NH, and the gift shop behind it.
  • The former site of the Anti-Pedo Baptist Church of Meredith, NH, which was burned to the ground on behalf of a neighbor, Mrs. Morgan.
  • Mead Cemetery (433427N / 0712936W) and Round Bay Cemetery, Laconia, NH.

If you’re looking for the petrified bodies, they’re in the Folsom graves at Laconia’s Union Cemetery (between Garfield and Academy Streets).

If I’d had more time, I’d have scheduled nighttime investigations at some of those locations. However, my schedule was already overloaded.

My point is: you may have a large number of haunts in your area, but don’t realize it. It’s easy to assume that nothing familiar to you is haunted.

Take a second look.

Even if you don’t live in New Hampshire, here’s how to find similar haunted locations:

1. Ask people if they know any local, haunted places.

2. Follow your instincts.  Drive around, look at maps, and — psychic or not — pay attention to your “gut feelings.”

3. Research history! Look for patterns — geographical or historical — that connect locations that seem odd to you.

4. Ask more questions.  Collect more stories. Research anything (and everything) that holds your interest.

No matter where you live, you’re probably within a few miles of a great, haunted location.