My report from March 2009:
Last night, we had a wonderful time exploring three Haverhill (MA) cemeteries. Thanks so much to the Essex County Ghost Project for organizing this event and inviting me to it!
Here are a few of my notes:
Walnut Cemetery, Kenoza Street, Haverhill, MA
A large cemetery with some very harsh energy, especially around the Victorian-era graves. I was immediately drawn to the large, crypt-style embankment, where bodies were once stored during the winter, until the ground was soft enough in the spring to dig their graves.
From there, psychic Gavin Cromwell was drawn to an area with a large tree… and an odd marker of cement and stone, left resting against the tree. In that area, the psychic perceived the spirit of a woman in black, pointing towards the area where the flagpole is; she’s connected with something maritime, perhaps a sea captain.
Then, I was drawn to a hilly area with some of the oldest graves in the cemetery. One investigator’s photo of a nearby tree was dramatic, and certainly one of the best of the evening.
A local historian and paranormal researcher accompanied us in this cemetery. He directed us to another set of graves, bearing the surname Ela.
We attempted to record EVP, but felt that male energy (either living or ghostly) was suppressing efforts by some spirits to communicate. Two of us came up with the word “sin” in connection with this.
Several investigators — including me — saw the little angel figure move, and both Gavin Cromwell and I felt that at least one child (perhaps disabled, who died young) is not with his or her mother, Effie Ela.
In general, that cemetery is too large to visit after dark without a preliminary visit to see where the “hot spots” are. Also, the energy is generally muted. You’ll need patience — and at least an hour — to get the most from your investigation.
Pentucket Burial Ground, off Groveland St., Haverhill
A memorial to victims of a Native raid, and the grave of a Salem “Witch Trials” judge are among the high points of this chilling cemetery.
When we stood in a circle, holding hands, and asked Judge Saltonstall to make his presence known, the blast of icy air was astonishing.
One psychic felt certain that the judge won’t “cross over” because he’s sure that his destination will be Hell. However, the judge was asking us to save Mary or help Mary… perhaps his wife or daughter. (We didn’t think that Mary was still there.)
Nearby, a few graves set apart from the others — often indicating that they died “in sin” — are worth further research.
Before leaving, we searched for the grave of Polly Winters.
Psychic investigator Gavin Cromwell had felt the presence of Polly Winters during a Haverhill investigation in 2008, and — even before we saw the grave — he was certain that she was in this cemetery.
When Gavin said it, his voice was different. He didn’t have his usual introspective manner; it was like he was reporting the name on cue, not sensing it.
It’s still something that troubles me. In general, I’ve never questioned Gavin’s psychic abilities. I’ve worked with him in settings where he had no reason to try to impress me or anyone else. His accuracy was very good.
But, in retrospect, the Polly Winters “psychic connection” didn’t seem authentic.
Hilldale Cemetery, Hilldale Ave., Haverhill
This cemetery is a gem for research, with apparitions and very clear spectral energy. (That may sound dramatic, but the site is definitely unusual.)
However, until the cemetery is cleaned up and some holes filled in, it’s not wise to go there… especially after dark when it is closed and patrolled. (You will be arrested if you go there at night. We were there with permission.)
In a circle there, I felt the presence of a spirit saying, “Sheridan, James.” I wasn’t sure if it was actually James Sheridan, saying his name as if reporting for duty. Later, an Essex County Ghost Project historian told me that someone named James Sheridan is buried in that cemetery.
(Note: I rarely perceive names, and certainly not given and surnames in combination. So, this had to be very intense energy for me to discern the full name with such certainty.)
Also, researcher Chris G. and I both saw an odd, squat figure — too large to be an animal — that vanished, as well as an apparition of a man, crawling along the far edge of the hill.
It was a great evening out, with plenty to double-check and debunk before we return for a more focused investigation.
I’m sure some — perhaps most — of what we encountered will remain a paranormal mystery. These sites are definitely eerie, and likely to be haunted.
Related news stories
Big-name ghost hunters descend on Merrimack Valley (Eagle Tribune, 26 Mar 2009)
“Well-known paranormal investigator Fiona Broome will join the tour of Haverhill graveyards that date back centuries, as well as the walk of the Tenney property in Methuen…”
Haunted in Haverhill (Haverhill Life, October 2017) – Includes details of a Hilldale Cemetery investigation, and a list of other, nearby haunts.