Laconia, NH’s Ghostly Places

New Hampshire (USA) is a gold mine of haunted locations. I discovered several in 2011, around Tilton and Laconia. (My previous article and podcast – about Tilton and Franklin, NH – are at Ghosts of Tilton’s Mystery Tunnels and Webster Place.

Tilton, NH

Ghost Hunting in Tilton, NHScouting 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.

(Several of my stories were included in Rue Cote’s book, Ghost Hunting in Tilton, New Hampshire.)

Here are the locations I found in Laconia and vicinity.

[Want to listen to this article, instead of reading it? Here’s my (slightly rambling) 27-minute podcast from Halloween 2011. It includes details of how I found these locations and what was there. You’ll also learn tips that can apply to finding “hidden” haunts in your area.]

Laconia, NH’s Ghostly Places

Laconia, New Hampshire is a gold mine of haunted locations.  This is Part 2 (of 2) about haunted places around Tilton, Franklin, and Laconia, New Hampshire. In the previous podcast, Fiona Broome discussed these locations: 1. Hall Memorial Library, Northfield-Tilton, NH. 2. Tilton Mystery Tunnel, Tilton, NH. 3.

 

Ghosts in Laconia, NH

Laconia turned out to be a gold mine of weird stories and possibly haunted places.

My Laconia adventures started when people learned that I was scouting locations.

Almost immediately, I was invited to tour a private residence and hear its history.

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 basementFrom the start, I 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.  (You can learn more about the basement, at my 2018 article, Photos from the Haunted Laconia House.)

We checked every possible explanation for the figure, and found none. And, while I watched, he walked away… and vanished.

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. (Maybe it was. I’m not sure the real explanation was arson.)
  • 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.

Ghosts of Tilton’s Mystery Tunnels and Webster Place (NH)

Scouting haunted New Hampshire locations* for a TV series, I discovered a wealth of eerie sites to investigate.

Here’s the podcast I recorded in 2011, shortly after the TV series was cancelled, and I was free to talk about the haunts I found.  (This was recorded in the car, so the sound quality is a little tinny.)

Note: this isn’t a “ghost story” podcast.  It will be most interesting to people who are looking for investigation sites in or around New Hampshire’s Lakes Region.

Tilton (NH) Mystery Tunnel and Webster Place Ghosts

In this 17 1/2 minute podcast, Fiona Broome talks about several haunted and eerie locations around Tilton and Franklin, NH. For more complete background info – and photos – see Fiona’s article at Hollow Hill: Podcast: Tilton Mystery Tunnel & Webster Place. Music for this podcast is Zombie by Devin Anderson.

Here’s more of the area’s history and some of my photos (a few are large) related to the strange and haunted sites.

Tilton Mystery Tunnels

Entrance to one of the Tilton Mystery TunnelsThe Tilton “mystery tunnel” actually starts in Northfield, NH, not far from Exit 19 on Route 93 in New Hampshire.  The entry — currently blocked with a boulder and an iron door — is off the paved path between Tilton Memorial Arch and downtown Tilton.  (Walk towards town and, on the right, you may see an area where foot traffic has left a mark.  The entrance to the tunnel is about 10 feet from the paved path.)

According to local residents, the tunnel’s stairs were filled in and the entry has been blocked by the police — who patrol the area — because kids were using the tunnel for drinking.

I’ve heard a wide range of ghost stories connected with the tunnel entrance, the Tilton Arch, the cemetery at the Northfield side of the hill, and Tilton School.  Around downtown Tilton, you may hear even more stories.

The tunnel-related stories usually involve a misty form or apparition.  I’ve heard about orbs — visible and in photos — but, except for a slightly creepy feeling at the tunnel itself, I didn’t experience anything odd around the Tilton Arch or the tunnel entrance.

I talked with someone who’d been in the entrance to the Tilton tunnel.  He said that the interior is very nicely finished, and it’s clear that something — at least one tunnel — had been sealed.

Inside the Tilton tunnel entry. Elegant brickwork in the foyer and the first room.The photo on the right shows what’s immediately in back of the iron door.  My camera was in the initial entry room, and — beyond it — you can see a second, large room (and sealed — or filled-in — arched passage entries) with beer cans on the dirt floor.

The workmanship is extraordinary.  That’s the baffling part.  This wasn’t just a root cellar or cold storage built by a neighbor for personal use.  However, I’ve found nothing in any records  — online or offline — to indicate a purpose related to the arch or the park.

Who built the Tilton Mystery Tunnel… and why?

No one seems to be certain why the Tilton tunnel was built, or where it leads.  There are two anecdotal explanations, both tied to ghost stories, and both loosely linked with the idea that it was an Underground Railroad stop between the northeast and Canada.

(There are lots of strange, hidden rooms in houses around Tilton and Laconia, NH.  Most are linked to Underground Railroad activity in the 19th century.  Others may date back to Indian attacks in Colonial times.)

One description of the Tilton Mystery Tunnel claims that it leads from Arch Hill to a site (or sites) under the Tilton School.  I’ve talked with people who have first-person stories about seeing the tunnels beneath the Tilton School.  Most insist that at least one Tilton School tunnel leads to the Tilton Arch.

The connection with the Tilton Arch site is unlikely, since the tunnel would have to lead under the river and back up a steep hill.  However, Charles E. Tilton — who built the arch — lived in a house atop the opposite hill, next to what is now Tilton School.  (The school buildings originally housed a Methodist college.)

According to some Tilton historians and lots of local residents, the Tilton School — including its library — has several ghosts.  However, I didn’t have time to verify those tales.  (Update: The library is supposed to be the most haunted building on campus.  It’s the former home of Charles Elliott Tilton… the Arch builder.)

The second version of the Tilton Mystery Tunnel story says that at least one tunnel leads to Hall Memorial Library.   That makes a little more sense, since the library isn’t far from the tunnel entrance near the arch, and it’d be a fairly straight path underground.

Update: December 2013

My recent research suggests that the brick room was built to support the gas production that fueled the lights around the park.

The metal tube leading from that room towards the surface confirms that as a likely explanation… but only for that room.

The adjoining tunnels are still a mystery.

Hall Memorial Library, Northfield-Tilton, NH

In April 2011, Lesley Marden and I spoke at the haunted Hall Memorial Library, and — together with Sean Paradis, we investigated the library’s basement.  A memorial plaque in the Children’s Room caught our attention, as it seems to have unusual energy.  We found a slight, repeating EMF spike there (could be normal) and a minor (but notable) cold spot, as well.

In a locked storage area in the library’s basement, we detected residual energy.  At the time, I said it was from a female entity who was hiding there, fearful.  Abuse was in the story, but it seemed vague… perhaps even imagined.  Something didn’t make sense.  The imagery was faint, even for a residual energy haunting.

Later, I learned that a former head librarian had severe agoraphobia — so bad she sometimes locked the library doors and hid inside — and had died tragically, nearby.
More importantly, I saw some odd brickwork in the library’s basement.  It could indicate a tunnel entrance — or part of one — now sealed.  Frankly, the brickwork seemed more like an oven or some kind of vents, but it’s difficult to tell.  This anomaly only partially supports the idea that the Tilton Mystery Tunnel led to the library.  I’m not convinced that it did, though I have no doubt that the library has ghostly energy.

More local ghost stories

Webster family grave, Webster Place, Franklin, NHIf you’re in or near Tilton and Northfield, New Hampshire, be sure to drive an extra half hour to Franklin (NH) where Webster Place has some great haunted locations.  In general, you’ll visit that street during the daytime.

In October 2010, I reported on the ghosts of the Franklin Historical Society, and the violent history of its surroundings.

I returned to that street — Webster Place, in Franklin, NH — when I was scouting locations for a TV show.*  The show had been interested in the historical society, the Webster family cemetery (shown at left) and the rehab center next to the historical society.

The Webster family cemetery is at the end of the road, on private property.  Check the permission sign before driving down the dirt road to the cemetery.  The cemetery seems normal enough, but it’s one of those locations that’s just a little too quiet.  I should have heard squirrels, birds, and the sound of cars from the busy road at the other end of Webster Place.  Instead, it was eerily silent.  On the other hand, maybe it was just an odd time of day when I visited.

Photos of the orphan wagons from past Franklin, NH parades.Next door to the Franklin Historical Society (see my earlier article), a private rehab center now occupies what used to be a convent and orphanage.  For the privacy of its staff & residents, that building is not open to the public.  However, from several people who’ve stayed there, I heard the following ghost story:

Many nights (or early morning) at about 3 a.m., people hear the whoosh-whoosh sound of the nun’s robes and footsteps on the floor.  They’re not going to the chapel (which is a wonderful retro design, like stepping back to the mid-20th century)… they’re going to the dining hall.

According to the stories, the dining hall has cabinets and drawers.  On many of the drawers, there are little labels, one for each nun.  That indicates where each nun kept her own silverware and dishes for mealtime.

There are other ghost stories at that location, related to the orphans who used to live there.  The photos on the walls are charming, nostalgic and — for me, anyway — a little sad & creepy.  I’ve posted a couple of them next to the dining & lodging section, below.

While you’re in Franklin, if you don’t mind more driving, follow the signs to the Daniel Webster birthplace.  I didn’t have time to investigate it, but it looks very creepy to me.  Something about that house and other buildings on the property… they’re odd… good odd, for paranormal research.

(As I’m editing this article, six months later, even the photo gives me a chill… and it’s 81 degrees out.)

As the stories were told to me, most of the ghost stories are connected with the small Colonial building next to the birthplace house.

That may be true, but my first choice would be to investigate the big white house in the photo below.

Where to stay

If you’re visiting Tilton, NH and want to stay in a haunted hotel, I recommend the 1875 Inn.

The 1875 Inn was featured on Ghost Hunters.  It’s charming, convenient to the Tilton Arch, and receives great reviews from guests and paranormal investigators.

Nearby, I love the cabins at the Lord Hampshire inn, on the shores of Lake Winnisquam.

If you’re willing to drive, check out The Spalding Inn, Whitefield, NH.  It’s over an hour away from Tilton, but for a memorable stay in NH, I’d choose the Spalding.  For several years, it was owned by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson (and their families) from the Ghost Hunters TV show.

I’ve spent the night there (and slept soundly) and investigated at the hotel and its carriage house, several times. In my opinion, it’s very haunted, and may have some crypto-type activity, as well.  I highly recommend the Spalding Inn… if it’s open and you don’t mind the extra drive.

Where to eat

If you’re looking for a good meal in Tilton, the 1875 Inn features a restaurant that seems very popular with visitors and locals.

Locals and tourists always stop at the nearby Tilt’n Diner.

During the summer months, the Dipsy Doodle in Northfield — just a few blocks south of the Tilton Arch — is legendary for their seafood, burgers, ice cream and more.  I’ve also heard good things about Tilton Pizza, on Main Street, not far from the Hall Memorial Library.

For healthy snacks, locally made crafts, and great conversations, visit Gemini Health Emporium on Main Street.  The hardware store next door is also worth seeing; it’s like stepping back in time.  (There’s a cafe across the street — I can’t think of the name of it, but it’s the only one nearby — and it seemed to be enormously popular for breakfast and lunch.)

And, if you’re in town anyway, practically everyone stops at the outlet mall in Tilton, just north of downtown on Route 3.

This is the first of two articles (and podcasts) about ghosts of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, based on my research shortly before October 2011. The second article – and longer podcast – is with my article Laconia, NH’s Ghostly, Haunted Places.

Tilton Arch information and links

Vintage postcard showing the Tilton Memorial Arch, Northfield, NH

*This is the first in a series of podcasts based on locations I scouted during 2011 for a ghost-related TV series.  I was not under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).  So, I’m able to share my research here.

Wilton, NH – Vale End is Dangerous

Recently, a large number of individual New Hampshire students have advised me that they’re planning to visit Vale End Cemetery (Wilton, NH) at night because they’re working on a ghost-related school project or term paper.

I’m sad and angry that so many students are that stupid.

(Yes, I changed that sentence. Someone objected to me saying it about NH students, so I made it generic.  The fact is, anyone who not only visits a dangerous site but also breaks the law by trespassing… that’s probably well past the scope of “stupid.”  And it applies to students and adults alike. But, to keep the peace with people who are looking for me to say something offensive… well, there it is.)

Anyway… anyone who reads my articles about Vale End and still intends to go there — using the excuse of a school paper or project — is stupid, immature, and dangerously naive.

How much more clearly can I say this?

Vale End is dangerous.

This is not a game.  This is serious. I’m not someone who jumps at shadows.  I’ve been working in this field for over 30 years, and I don’t scare easily.

  • I think Gilson Road Cemetery (Nashua, NH) is an excellent research site, though that haunted site terrifies many people.
  • I thought The Myrtles Plantation was one of the most fascinating places I’ve investigated, though many people are so frightened — even before midnight — they leave by 10 pm.
  • I even look forward to returning to a Plague-related site I previously investigated, the Falstaffs Experience (UK).  Terrifying?  Maybe.  Dangerous?  Probably not.

There is only one location I will never go back to again, and that’s Vale End.  I’ve written four in-depth articles about the site, explaining its history and why it’s dangerous.

In 1999, one of my researchers went to Vale End at night, and encountered something that alarmed her. Within a week she died suddenly and without a credible explanation.  To many of us, it seemed directly connected with her Vale End experience.

She was one of my best friends, and the mother of a high school girl.  That mom died the day her daughter was going to a prom.

How much more tragic does this story need to be, to impress people with how serious this is?

If you go to Vale End after reading my warnings and others’, you are stupider than I can deal with.

Going to Vale End is not real ghost research.

Visiting Vale End after dark is:

  • Illegal.  The cemetery closes at dusk.  Full stop. Police patrol it, and I hope they arrest you and call your parents.  If death doesn’t scare you, maybe a permanent criminal record will.
  • Putting lives at risk for what? For a school paper or project?  For a thrill, or bragging rights?

If you have no idea why I’m so angry, here’s my full list of articles about Vale End Cemetery in Wilton, NH:

Vale End’s Blue Lady Ghost – The legend of the “Blue Lady” and the facts behind the stories.

Vale End – More Ghosts – Additional ghost stories in and near Vale End.

Vale End – Possible Demons – The beginning of my team members’ encounters with something dangerous (and non-human) at Vale End.

Vale End Cemetery Frights – The rest of my story about encountering something malicious and dangerous — something that had never been human — at Vale End.

I wrote and posted those articles, years ago.  People — including some ridiculous TV shows — seemed to rush to Vale End because… Umm… What, they didn’t believe me…?

So, I removed those articles from the Internet for several years.  The result…? Vale End — and my story — became even bigger, practically an urban legend.

Finally, I put the articles back online because people need access to the facts.

This site is about real ghost research.  My work is not fiction.  Though I often write with my readers’ interests and viewpoints in mind, I don’t need to make things up.

I created my original ghost-related website, HollowHill.com, in the 1990s. I hoped to educate new paranormal investigators.  I want to see more competent people in this field, contributing data so we can figure out what ghosts and haunted places really are.

That’s the one and only reason my ghost-related websites have remained online and continued to expand.  Vale End is dangerous.  If you want to do dangerous things, stop pretending that you’re ghost hunting.  Those of us who are serious about paranormal research… we don’t want to be confused with idiots like you.

All that I plan to say about Vale End is already at this website.

I hope that made my point, and conveyed the irritation you’ll encounter if you ask me about this in the future.

Franklin NH – Historical Society’s Ghosts

Franklin Historical Society at Webster Place, Franklin, NHThe Franklin Historical Society is located at Webster Place in Franklin, New Hampshire.  The building is a Colonial-era home — once the residence of Daniel Webster — with a large Victorian addition.

After its years as an early American residence (owned by the Haddock and Webster families, among others), the home was used as an orphanage from 1871 through 1958.

Then, from 1960 through 2005, the site was the property of the Sisters of the Holy Cross.

More recently, the building was acquired for the historical society.

In the photo at left, taken on 7 October 2010, you can see just part of the older side of the building. Most of the picture shows the 1860 Victorian addition.  (Yes, that is a large orb near one window on the middle floor.  Some photos of the front of the building included orbs; most didn’t.)

I was attending a talk by EPNE.  They described their experiences during a preliminary ghost investigation at the site, and shared some stories plus video and EVP recordings.

It was a relaxing evening, and a chance to see what’s going on in the field, in general.

After EPNE’s demonstration and a break for refreshments, I explored the building with friends (and fellow researchers) Sean Paradis and Lesley Marden.

Ground Floor: Warm Spot

Daniel WebsterFirst, we focused on a ground floor room with school desks stored in it.  (From the front entrance, the room is immediately on your left.)

This is part of the Victorian addition to the Haddock-Webster mansion.  The two-story addition was constructed in 1860 by Rufus L. Tay, who’d purchased the house and property from Daniel Webster’s son and heir.

(Daguerreotype at left shows Daniel Webster in 1847.)

One rocking chair seemed to have an odd warm spot while the chair next to it was as chilly as we expected, in that unheated room.

However, we hadn’t planned to investigate anything, so we didn’t have a thermometer to verify the effects.

Note: Some researchers believe that a cold spot indicates ghostly energy, but a warm spot suggests more dangerous energy.  I haven’t explored either from a good/bad viewpoint.

Nearby, all three of us felt that one spot in the room had unusual energy, but those were merely odd sensations. Those are difficult to document.  We detected no unusual EMF with a K-II meter or a hiking compass, at any part of that room.

Lesley and Sean checked the floor immediately upstairs, but the door to the room overhead — and all doors along that side of the house — were locked.  They appeared to be used as offices.

The Mezuzah Room

When we explored the rooms that were open upstairs, one room was odd. We’re fairly certain it’s the room where EPNE thought a flashlight had responded to yes/no questions.

What seemed especially strange in Franklin, NH — particularly since it was a home for nuns for 40 years — was the mezuzah at the doorway.

According to Wikipedia:

A mezuzah is affixed to the doorframe in Jewish homes to fulfill the mitzvah (Biblical commandment) to inscribe the words of the Shema “on the doorposts of your house” (Deuteronomy 6:9).

Some interpret Jewish law to require a mezuzah on every doorway in the home apart from bathrooms, and closets too small to qualify as rooms; others view it as necessary only to place one in the front doorway.

I’ve seen many homes that feature a mezuzah at the front door.  Others have additional mezuzahs throughout the home.

However, until last night, I’d never seen a home with a mezuzah placed at just one, interior doorway… and none anywhere else. There were no marks where other mezuzahs might have been, either.

So, why would a mezuzah mark the one, apparently most-haunted room in the building?  Was it an attempt to keep something out… or something in?

It’s possible that, when the building was divided into apartments or rooms, that room was the residence of someone Jewish, or someone who respected related traditions.

Further investigation might clarify whether or not that room is actually haunted, and why a mezuzah is at that doorframe and no other.

Nevertheless, in a town like Franklin — and particularly in a building where nuns lived — it’s odd.

After getting our general bearings at a site that we’re investigating, the first thing we look for is what’s odd.

The Attic

Among other, lesser architectural anomalies, the attic level stood out as a floor with dark and foreboding energy.

The glow-in-the-dark crucifix on one wall was charming.  The row of clothing hooks — at a height used by toddlers or small children — was a little disturbing.  I’m not sure what small children would be doing in the attic, particularly with the steep, semi-finished stairway leading to it.

A storage feature in the attic also seemed unusually repellent.  A further investigation of the site’s history might reveal more.

All in all, we concluded that the Franklin Historical Society has some odd features worth exploring.

However, it didn’t seem as if the society welcomed additional investigations; EPNE was allowed in as preparation for the historical society’s October presentation.

So, I can’t recommend the Franklin Historical Society’s building as a general research location.

The Window at the Front

After the event concluded, Sean, Lesley and I chatted outside the building.  We were startled because we thought we saw a curtain open for a moment at an attic window.

Then, when I was taking pictures, the flash highlighted the actual scene.  We realized that it was one of the windows that doesn’t have a curtain; it’s shuttered or otherwise blocked from the inside.

We’re not sure what we thought we saw, but each of us saw it, independently.

That’s the kind of anecdotal evidence that makes ghost hunting interesting, but, as scientific evidence, it has no merit.

The Window at the Back – Who Closed the Curtain?

Sean had parked his car at the back of the building, and Lesley and I felt that we should escort him to it.  I’m still not sure why.  At the time, it seemed kind of funny, both in an odd and in a ha-ha way.

As we studied the mixed architecture at the back of the building, all of us commented on another attic window.

Franklin Historical Society - back windowIt’s indicated by the red arrow in my photo at the right.  That side of the attic has curtains, and one was open.

As we chatted, I took a few photos.

Most of my pictures, like the one at the right, aren’t noteworthy.  It’s a typical New England house from the Victorian era.

However, as I studied the photos when I returned home, I kept looking at the window that troubled us.

Most of the pictures look like the following two.

(All of the following photos were adjusted to increase contrast and detail.)

I’ve included two of them, almost identical, so you can clearly see that the curtain is open.

(This is typical when I take photos.  I try to take two pictures in a row, without moving.  That way, if something is just a reflection or something normal, it’ll be in both photos.  If it’s an anomaly, it’s more likely to show up in just one of them.)

Then, I looked at one of the next pictures.  I’d walked a few feet to the right of where I stood for the previous photos.  This one was taken with a slower shutter setting.  It’s a little blurred, but the details remain fairly clear.  (I’m testing the idea that the additional image content might give the spirits something extra to work with.)

 

As you can see, the curtain is closed.

There would be nothing unusual about that, except that the building was empty. Everyone had left and locked up, at least 15 or 20 minutes earlier… before I started taking pictures.

In addition, the window had appeared open. If I’d analyzed my photos on the spot, we might have been able to verify that.  (Yes, we can see the vertical line.  That may be from a window, but it could be a screen support or something else.)

Could it be a very odd reflection?  It’s possible, but unlikely.  As you can see from the contrast in the previous photos — even the first one that wasn’t adjusted for clarity — the opening at the window looked very black.  I’m not certain that a reflection could completely offset that darkness.

Though I can’t recommend this exact location for investigations, it’s an interesting site in a town with many reminders of the past.

The Franklin Historical Society is at 21 Holy Cross Rd.  That street is off Route 3, about 3 miles south of the intersection of Routes 3 South/3A North/11 and Route 127.  Signs near the entrance indicate Webster Place Center and Webster Place Cemetery.

The cemetery is at the end of the road.  It’s on private land, but the owners give permission to visit the cemetery, under certain terms.  Please read the sign and follow their rules.

The road to the cemetery is a deeply rutted dirt road.  I recommend parking at the side of the paved road, to hike in to the cemetery.  It’s not a long distance, but cars with low clearance could sustain damage or get stuck, unless you drive very carefully on the dirt road.

Additional History

Webster Place Cemetery was previously known as Salisbury Cemetery, from an era before the town of Salisbury (NH) was incorporated as part of Franklin.

According to Wikipedia: While still part of Massachusetts, the town was granted as Baker’s Town after Captain Thomas Baker in 1736. After New Hampshire became a separate colony, the town was re-granted with the name Stevenstown. Additionally known as Gerrishtown and New Salisbury, the name Salisbury was taken when the town incorporated in 1768.

In 1746, this site was part of the northernmost fort of the Merrimack River, when Salisbury was called Stevenstown. The fort was built after the 1745 attack on the Call family, near the current location of the Franklin Historical Society.

The following excerpt is from The History of Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. It describes an attack by “savages in the interests of the French,” a band of about 30 Abenaki.

On the 15th day of August [1745], they made a successful attack on our frontier, on the house of Mr. Phillip Call, in Stevenstown. This town was subsequently known as Salisbury and the attack was made in that part of Salisbury, west of, and upon the Merrimack, now included in the town of, Franklin.

Mrs. Call [Sarah Trussell Call], her daughter-in-law, wife of Phillip Call, Jr. and an infant of the latter, were alone in the house, while the Calls, father and son, and Timothy Cook their hired man, were at work in the field.

Upon the approach of the Indians, Mrs. Call the elder, met them at the door, and was immediately killed with a blow from a tomahawk, her body falling near the door, and her blood drenching her own threashold! [sic]

The younger Mrs. Call, with her infant in her arms, crawled into a hole behind the chimney, where she succeeded in keeping her child quiet, and thus escaped from sure destruction.

The Calls, father and son, and Cook, saw the Indians, and attempted to get into the house before them, but could not succeed. They were so near the house, as to hear the blow with which Mrs. Call was killed.

Seeing however the number of the Indians, they fled to the woods and the Calls escaped.

Cook ran to the river and plunged in, but was pursued, shot in the water, and his scalp taken.

The Indians, some thirty in number, rifled the house, took Mrs. Call’s scalp, and then retreated up the river.

The Calls soon notified the garrison at Contoocook of the attack, and a party of eight men followed in pursuit.

The Indians waited in ambush for them, but showed themselves too soon, and the English party taking to the woods escaped, with the exception of Enos Bishop, who after firing upon the Indians several times was at length taken and carried to Canada as a captive. “

According to the Rich History of Webster Place, “…Many of his [Webster’s] family, together with members of the pioneering Call family, are buried in the cemetery east of the house.”

If you’re researching the Call family and their graves, note that the Call surname was sometimes spelled Cole.

As you can see, a colorful history makes this general area worth investigating.

Recommended

Ghost Hunting in Tilton, NHIf you’re researching haunts in this part of New Hampshire, stay at the 1875 Inn in Tilton, New Hampshire.  It was featured on the Ghost Hunters TV show, Season Six, Episode 13 (aired 8 Sep 2010).  It’s about 20 minutes from the Franklin Historical Society, on Route 3 in downtown Tilton.

Also, you may enjoy reading Ghost Hunting in Tilton, New Hampshire by Rue Cote. Lesley and I contributed stories to that book, and Rue’s research covers many other local haunts, as well.

References

The Rich History of Webster Place

Franklin Historical Society, Franklin, NH

Daniel Webster’s farm, SeacoastNH.com

The History of Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire

The History of Salisbury, New Hampshire

Koasek Traditional Abenaki Band – Timeline (from the Wayback Machine)

Phillip Call of Franklin, NH (genealogy notes)

Wikipedia: Salisbury, New Hampshire

The old families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts

Methuen, MA, Gorrill Ghosts – Real People, Real History

History of Methuen's Gorrill family and its ghostsTenney Gatehouse and Greycourt Castle – today, the Methuen Museum of History – is known for its many ghosts.

Two of them seem to haunt the property behind the main building.

They’re the feuding Gorrill brothers, and they may still be searching for a disputed buried treasure.

Here are the facts.

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 Gorrells, the Gorrills, Daddy Frye, and the Tenneys

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.

And Then the Lies Began

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.

Questions Linger After Death

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.

If the Gorrill brothers haunt Tenney Gatehouse – at least the hill behind the Methuen Museum of History – they could be looking for the lost treasure… and still feuding.

My Methuen investigations suggest layers of hauntings, representing many power struggles at the Tenney site. I believe the Gorrill brothers are just two of the ghosts that linger there.


YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY:


humorous ghost divider

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)

humorous ghost divider

Trivia: Charles H. Tenney is not the only Tenney linked to 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.


Photo credit, 19th century photo of Greycourt: EraserGirl [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

 

History of Tenney Gatehouse’s Ghosts, MA

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.

The Methuen Historical Society – and the Tenney site, now the Methuen Museum of History – are good resources for additional research.

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 (also spelled Tenney Gate House) 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 (Methuen Museum of History)… and several ghosts.


NEXT READ: An Investigation at Tenney Gate House


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 can cause confusion.  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.