In my opinion, this part of the site’s history has been badly overlooked. Ghost hunters may strike paranormal gold around Tenney Castle Gatehouse in Methuen, Massachusetts (USA).
I’ve investigated the Tenney Gatehouse property several times. Each visit was more startling. It’s a great site for ghost hunting.
The Gorrill brothers are just part of the story. The main site – often called Tenney Gatehouse (or Tenney Castle Gatehouse) – includes the former Tenney family residence, and what’s left of a modern-day castle, Greycourt.
When the house was on the verge of collapse, it was rescued by the Methuen Historical Society. Today, the Tenney/Greycourt site has been renamed the Methuen Museum of History.
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.
Are Greycourt’s Ghosts Really the Gorrill Brothers?
There are several problems with the buried treasure 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.
The Hidden Treasure – Lost and Found?
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.
Maybe the Treasure Is Still There.. Along with the Gorrill Ghosts
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.
When the site is open for ghost tours, it’s definitely worth investigating. Be sure to walk along the path in back of the main building, and climb to the top of the hill. Several points are especially active.
And, if you’re like me, you may feel that chilling sensation of being watched by something unseen… and ghostly.
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.