[NH] Nashua – Gilson Road Cemetery, Nov 1999 – Page 1

This was my first, formal investigation report about Gilson Road Cemetery in Nashua, New Hampshire. It was the first time a ghost-related website mentioned Gilson Road Cemetery as a haunted location.

In 2016, over 15 years later, Gilson is still one of the richest, most reliable sites for ghost hunting.

Gilson Road Cemetery is one of New Hampshire’s most haunted locations. As one ghost researcher wrote to us late in 2007, “I am a Psychic and Medium and I have NEVER experienced so much paranormal activity.”

From the moment we first heard local legends about Gilson Road Cemetery, we were intrigued. That’s when it was still an isolated cemetery, far from streetlights and surrounded by dense trees on both sides of the road. The nearest house was at least 1/4 mile away.

Despite its isolation — and partly because of it — Gilson Road Cemetery became the focus of our research, and an ideal place to test new equipment and train new investigators.

In the years that followed, the road was lowered, a subdivision moved in across the street, and the surroundings were landscaped. Due to our online reports, Gilson Road Cemetery became a popular spot for visitors looking for a “good scare.”

Mist at Gilson

This page and those that follow describe what Gilson Road Cemetery was like during our early, formal investigations.

For privacy, I have changed the names of most of the people who visited the cemetery with me on 5 November 1999:

Alan, then a second-degree Black Belt karate instructor with a casual interest in ghosts. Ordinarily he has nerves of steel and a quick sense of humor. He’s the one who knew the most about this cemetery.

Jane, friend of Alan. At the time, she was a sophomore in college, and a skeptic who wanted to know more about the paranormal.

Nancy, professional photographer, 46-year-old mother of Alice. She was interested in the paranormal and intrigued by my “ghost photos,” but definitely not psychic. Or so she said, anyway.

Alice, a high school student who reminded us of a delighted “Alice in Wonderland.” She’s psychically gifted.

James, then a high school student. (He’s my son, and he’s relieved that I use a pen name.)  Mostly a skeptic, he notices “odd” things and seeks rational explanations for them.  Sometimes, that really irks me, but I’m sure he’d say that I annoy him even more often.  I love him more than words can say.

wall and headstone at Gilson Road cemetery

THE STORY

When Alan first told me about haunted Gilson Road Cemetery, it sounded intriguing. He’d been there one eerie Halloween night several years ago. Since then he’d heard stories about the haunted history of the site. Almost everyone loves a good “ghost story,” and this sounded like a great place to explore.

On the afternoon of November 5th, Alan drove Jane and me to the cemetery, about fifteen minutes from my house. The cemetery was small, a little too quiet, and–in 1999–it was in a very rural location. The oddest thing was, the stone wall surrounding the graveyard was far too large for the sparse number of stones in it.

Several gravestones at Gilson Rd Cemetery

I later learned that most of the graves in the cemetery aren’t marked.

Alan had heard that a home had been there in Colonial times, and murders had taken place in the home or at least nearby. Then the house had burned to the ground, and the local residents decided it was wisest to use the land as a cemetery rather than try building on it again.

The afternoon we visited the Gilson Road Cemetery, the sun was shining. It was an unusually warm afternoon for so late in the year, and we should have had a fun time wandering among the fallen leaves and ancient headstones. It was a lovely setting.

Jane seemed to have the most fun. She joked and laughed happily, reading the very Gothic notes on the headstones. However, her humor became sarcastic and a little too loud as we continued to explore the 18th- and 19th-century headstone. Was she nervous, or just caught up in the moment?

At first, Alan and I went along with Jane’s high spirits. Soon, I felt uncomfortable, and then edgy. Something was very, very wrong about that cemetery, and I could practically grasp the antagonism I began to feel, eminating from the air around me as Jane continued to joke.

I took a few photographs, and we left. I felt very uneasy about the experience, but made excuses to myself. After all, it was a very old cemetery. The odd hole in one headstone seemed kind of creepy; perhaps that had unnerved me more than it should have. Well, that’s what I told myself.

Later that night, six of us returned to the cemetery, to try some night photography. I had shaken off my earlier uneasiness, and when our group gathered to drive to the cemetery, we were in the mood for a fun evening hike.

It turned out very differently.

Next, Alan encounters something unusual, and Jane learns not to joke in cemeteries

[NH] Hollis – Blood Cemetery & Abel Blood

The mysterious tale of Abel Blood’s ghost

Abel Blood's headstone
Abel Blood’s headstone (middle).

Abel Blood was buried at Pine Hill Road Cemetery in Hollis, New Hampshire, in 1867. His wife Betsy is with him. I’ve researched his personal history and found no obvious reason for him to haunt the cemetery. In the history books, there are no references that suggest the occult connections mentioned in local legends.

Abel Blood’s genealogy and the town’s history suggest that he was a very Christian man and lived a good, law-abiding life.

It’s possible that he haunts the cemetery… but, in my experience and from my research, it’s unlikely.

However, according to local legends, Mr. Blood’s headstone changes after dark. The finger on the stone that points heavenward during the daylight hours, moves. When the ghosts walk at night, the finger on the stone points towards the ground.

In fact, one of our Hollow Hill investigators led us to this cemetery, to see it in the daylight. He had been there once before, late one Halloween night, and he’d seen the famous headstone.

His response in the daylight was amazement, because he’d believed that Abel’s finger always pointed downward.

bloodfinger1 bloodfinger2

The photos, above, are a simulation of what happens at Abel Blood’s headstone. (Illustration only. NOT a real photo.)

Note: The finger on the headstone was actually chipped off years ago. If you visit the cemetery, the outline of where the finger was–and part of the base–remains. However, this is old vandalism. You can tell by the lichen on the chipped-off area.

I visited the cemetery twice on 11 Oct 1999, taking a few photos for this website, not to capture anomalies.  I took 20 photos during the day and later at dusk, with a Kodak Advantix AF camera, using Fuji Advanced film, 200 ASA.

The photo below was taken at dusk. It has an orb towards the upper left corner of the photo.  The orb is faint, but it’s there.  (Click on the photo to see a larger version.)

I wasn’t using a flash with the camera, so that’s not a reflection from dust or moisture.  (It was a dry evening, anyway.)

Blood cemetery graves, Hollis, NH

Here’s my report from 11 Oct 1999:

The photo was taken at 6:30 pm. It was dusk and the sun had just set, behind me, but it was still light enough not to need a flash camera.

The cemetery is surrounded by farmland, currently an almost fully-harvested field of pumpkins. There was nothing in the area to reflect the scant remaining light of the day, or to create a reflection or lens flare.

This photo shows the oldest gravestones in the cemetery, mostly from the late 18th century and early 19th. I saw no orbs in real life, and only took the photos as an afterthought when something “felt odd” among those gravestones.

[MD] Burkittsville – Real ‘Blair Witch’ Ghosts – Pt. 2

This continues the stories
about the real ghosts and spirits
that haunt the site of The Blair Witch Project.
Be sure to read The real ‘Blair Witch’ ghosts – part one.)

Hauntings are almost guaranteed at any site that’s witnessed battles, suffering… and graves where the dead were not allowed to rest.

Burkittsville and vicinity have all of these from Civil War times.

By 1862, wounded and dying Civil War soldiers in this area were placed in as many as 17 makeshift hospitals. Some of those “hospitals” were actually Burkittsville homes and businesses,  including the town’s tannery.

The soldiers’ ghostly voices are still heard throughout the town, but the tannery is particularly significant.

The tannery was torn down, but the site is still haunted. Anyone who parks his car there overnight may find the vehicle marked with footprints from soldiers’ boots, where the car was kicked or even trampled by the ghosts of marching men.

But there are other ghosts in the area, too.

Stories–loudly proclaimed as “fiction” by some Burkittsville historians–explain why the area may be haunted.

In one account, the retreating Confederate Army paid a man named Wise to bury approximately 50 bodies. Mr. Wise accepted the money, but then tossed the bodies in an abandoned well.

Shortly thereafter, he began seeing the ghost of Sergeant Jim Tabbs of Virginia, who complained to Mr. Wise about being uncomfortable. Mr. Wise returned to the mass grave and discovered that the body on top was that of Sergeant Tabbs, and the corpse was face down. Mr. Wise turned the body so it was facing upwards.

He thought that would be the last of it.

He was very wrong.

Perhaps the spirits of these men revealed the truth to the local officials. Whatever the cause, the authorities confronted Mr. Wise. They forced him to dig up–and properly bury–the fifty bodies that had been left in his care.

Stories say the ghosts never bothered him again, but did they truly rest in peace?

Many other fallen Southern soldiers were left behind as a necessity of war. The good people of Burkittsville recognized that something must be done for the dead, so they buried them in shallow graves. The local residents expected that, once the fighting stopped, the troops would return to bury the men properly.

When the fighting stopped, no one returned for these comrades’ bodies. Finally most — and perhaps all — of the bodies temporarily buried in the older section of Burkittsville’s Union Cemetery, were exhumed in 1868 and re-interred in Washington Confederate Cemetery.

Was this sufficient to put their souls at rest? According to Troy Taylor in his book, Spirits of the Civil War, there have been odd and ghostly occurrences in the vicinity of those shallow graves. Many nights since then, eerie lights from long-extinguished campfires appear in the nearby open fields, and dot the mountainside.

However, the mountainside is also the source of a ghostly energy that visitors to Burkittsville can experience even now. Its history is one of the great stories of the Civil War.

At sunrise on Sunday, September 14, 1862, both the Union and Confederate soldiers expected to surprise each other with an attack. It was later known as the Battle for Crampton’s Gap, but the location is now called “Spook Hill.”

On that fateful morning, the Union soldiers carried only rifles into battle. They were able to travel faster than their Confederate counterparts, who were still pushing cannons uphill when the fighting began. The Union Army’s First Division, Sixth Corps, were overwhelmingly successful in battle.

Many Confederate soldiers died struggling with the heavy cannons. Their lingering spirits are the “spooks” of Spook Hill.

The site of this battle can be found at the edge of Burkittsville, near the Civil War Correspondents’ Memorial Arch, in Gathland Park. If you stop your car at Spook Hill and set it in neutral, you will feel the car being pushed by the spectral hands of the Confederate troops.

They are still struggling to push their cannons to the top of the hill, and achieve victory in the battle which they lost over 130 years ago.

In public, Burkittsville residents claim that this is merely an optical illusion. However, a local resident, Stephen, quietly assures me that the road has been tested using construction levels and transits. Cars do indeed roll uphill, though not as readily as they did before the road was recently repaved.

trees-haunted-pennymathewsOthers insist that the hill is magnetic, and that force is what pulls the cars towards the top. No one has successfully tested that theory yet.

If Spook Hill contains massive amounts of a magnetic ore, this would explain why Heather’s compass did not work properly in the movie, The Blair Witch Project.

Nevertheless, with ghostly campfires, bodies in dry wells and shallow graves, footprints at the former tannery/hospital, and the events at Spook Hill, the tale of what happened to three college students in The Blair Witch Project seems almost pale by comparison to real life.

For more information about haunted Burkittsville and vicinity, ask your local library for these books and videos:

Websites about Burkittsville, and Civil War ghosts:

    • Burkittsville, Maryland’s website
    • Cathe’s Ghost Encounters of the Civil War Kind
    • Author Troy Taylor’s website, Ghosts of the Prairie
    • Ghostly photos, including some from Gettysburg, appear at the Ghost Web site (IGHS)

This two-part article originally appeared at Suite 101, in November 1999.

Photo credits:
Foggy sunrise, by Steven Soenens
Stone Angel, by Brenda Mihalko
Campfire, by Niels Timmer
Skull, by Benjamin Earwicker of Garrison Photography
Trees, by Penny Mathews

[NH] Hollis – Blood cemetery’s other eerie events

Other eerie events at Blood Cemetery in Hollis, NH, reported by readers:

misty photo at Blood Cemetery

Trees moving when there is no breeze. Several have noticed this. It’s easy to compare the trees’ movement at Blood Cemetery with nearby wooded areas. In each story, the trees were still (not moving) elsewhere, but the trees were swaying and/or the leaves fluttering vigorously only within the immediate vicinity of Blood Cemetery.

Fog” that slowly seems to engulf this cemetery and nowhere nearby, yet the cemetery is near the top of a hill. We have several independent reports of this, including one from a former policeman.

A Nashua nurse was in her car with friends, and they were listening to the radio. As they approached the cemetery, static interrupted the music, followed by dirge-like organ music. Shortly after they passed the cemetery, the static returned and then their previous music was restored.

There are natural explanations for this, but it is such a common story in the vicinity of haunted cemeteries in the northeast, and the nurse is otherwise very level-headed, so this tale is worth noting.

Several readers have reported sensing something angry in the cemetery. A few others have seen a lone figure standing in the cemetery after dark.

However, the Hollis police are rumored to play pranks on people near Blood Cemetery at night, to discourage visitors and vandals.

According to one police officer, they cover themselves with ghostly sheets, and hide behind the headstones.  When someone enters the cemetery, the police leap up, shouting, and chase the trespassers out.  This seems to be effective at keeping pre-teens out of the cemetery when the site is closed to visitors.

Nevertheless, we doubt that anyone’s out there with a fog machine, a wind machine, or broadcasting dirges on the radio.

“Blood Cemetery,” aka Pine Hill Cemetery in Hollis, New Hampshire, is one of New England’s most interesting haunted cemeteries.

[MD] Burkittsville – Real ‘Blair Witch’ Ghosts – Pt. 1

By now, most people know what’s fact and fiction in the movie, The Blair Witch Project.

Cannon at battleground near Burkittsville - Blair Witch countryHowever, few know the actual haunted history of Burkittsville, Maryland, where the movie was set.

The town began as “Dawson’s Purchase” in 1741. In the 1790’s, Joshua Harley and Henry Burkitt arrived in the area. From the start, they competed to control and eventually name the town.

Although Burkitt owned three-quarters of the land by 1810, the competition seemed concluded in 1824 when Harley secured the official Post Office as “Harley’s Post Office.”

However, Joshua Harley’s death in 1828 left Burkitt with the last word. He named the town Burkittsville before he, too, died in 1836.

The participants in this 40+ year rivalry may haunt the town, but there are far better explanations for Burkittsville’s ghostly spirits.

In fact, paranormal events and tragedy cover more than 100 years of Burkittsville’s history.

gargoyle-nidaros-sculptureAs early as 1735, nearby Middletown was settled by German immigrants.

According to legends repeated in the Middletown Valley Register in the early 20th century, the community was terrorized by a monster called a Schnellegeister.

The word means “fast spirit or ghost” in German, but neighbors nicknamed it the “Snallygaster.”

Whatever its name, its colonial reputation mixed the half-bird features of the Siren with the nightmarish features of demons and ghouls.

The Snallygaster was described as half-reptile with octopus limbs, and half-bird with a metallic beak lined with razor-sharp teeth. It can fly. It can pick up its victims and carry them off. The earliest stories claim that this monster sucked the blood of its victims.

It is disturbingly similar to the movie’s descriptions of the Blair Witch.

No one knows whether the Snallygaster caused the hasty sale of most of “Dawson’s Purchase” (later Burkittsville) in 1786, and the remainder in 1803. However, George Wine, who bought the final acreage, did not live to confirm the purchase.

The name “Snallygaster” has been a joke to some in the 20th century, but more sober minds recall that it has been documented in the Burkittsville area as recently as 1973.

Another 18th century German settlement, Zittlestown, a mere seven miles north of Burkittsville, was also plagued with supernatural events. Like Middletown, residents feared a large and vicious animal-spirit which was rarely seen.

An 1880’s book by Madaleine Dahlgren (widow of Admiral John A. Dahlgren), documented the troubles of that community.

However, most of Burkittsville’s ghosts are men who lost their lives in the Civil War.

Their stories, from an unscrupulous Civil War gravedigger to spectres of the dead who push cars uphill today, are in The Real ‘Blair Witch’ Ghosts – Part Two.

Photo credits:
Gettysburg at dawn, by Fiona Broome
Church sculpture, by Roar Petersen