Usually, when you visit a cemetery, you’re struck by the quiet and stillness of the place. That’s entirely appropriate, given that people come here to mourn, remember, and pay homage to loved ones and ancestors; however, there are some graveyards that are equally notorious for paranormal activity. If you’re intrigued by the ghosts of Boston’s past, read on to discover the creepiest cemeteries around our city.
1. Granary Burying Ground (Boston)
Although the Granary Burying Ground is best known for the Boston luminaries buried here, it’s also the final resting place for the victims of the Boston Massacre. Orbs are regularly captured in photos taken at this Tremont Street cemetery, where one spirit in particular is said to roam the grounds. This is the ghost of lawyer and tax collector James Otis Jr., who was killed in a lightning strike after wishing to die in precisely that manner. What are the odds?
2. Howard Street Cemetery (Salem)
There are haunted cemeteries and then there are haunted cemeteries in
Salem. Howard Street Cemetery has some seriously creepy stories associated with it, most of which center around Giles Corey, a victim of the Salem Witch Trials.
Initially, Corey believed that witches really were at work in Salem, even when his own wife Martha was one of the accused. He testified against her, but that didn’t save him from being accused-by-association as well. Corey protested against the trials by refusing to enter a plea in his case. He remained silent, thereby stopping the trial from proceeding.
In response, Sheriff Corwin took Corey to a vacant field on Howard Street and began placing increasingly heavy rocks on him, torturing him to death over the course of several days. Before dying, Corey supposedly cursed Corwin - and some believe he also cursed the town of Salem itself and its sheriffs. Corwin died of a heart attack at age 30, and subsequent sheriffs have suffered from serious health issues.
Corey’s spirit haunts the Howard Street Cemetery and his ghost is supposed to appear in advance of tragic events. It was seen 300 times before the Great Fire of 1914 obliterated the majority of Salem!
3. St. Mary’s Cemetery (Salem)
Visitors to this Salem cemetery just might have unanticipated company as they walk through the grounds. If you get a prickling feeling on your skin, glance to one side to see if you can catch sight of a figure in gray walking next to you. Other spooky happenings here involve people spotting mysterious lights and hearing the scrape of claws on the path. The cemetery is located at 226 North Street in Salem.
4. Old Burying Point Cemetery (Salem)
The second oldest known cemetery in the U.S., established in 1637, is a popular spot on ghost tours of Salem. Several notable figures are buried here - including a traveler on the Mayflower - but it is the ties to the Salem Witch Trials that causes some to find this spot spooky.
The Old Burying Point is the final resting place of John Hathorne, the chief examiner in the trials, who was extremely committed to his role and judgements. Unlike other trial participants, Hathorne never expressed regret for his actions. Notable author Nathaniel Hawthorne was so ashamed of his ancestor that he changed the spelling of his name, adding the "w."
Take some time at the adjacent Salem Witch Trials Memorial to reflect on the wrongs of the past.
5. Melrose Cemetery (Brockton)
If you enter Melrose Cemetery, listen carefully to your surroundings. Some visitors have reported hearing running footsteps when no one is around, along with disembodied laughter. The cemetery is located at 74 N. Pearl Street in Brockton.
6. Old Hill Burying Ground (Newburyport)
This graveyard, located opposite the old jail, is in a state or disrepair; animals have created burrows, sending bones back above the surface of the ground. And that's not even the most disturbing thing to occur in this cemetery.
Several members of the Pierce family are buried here in a hulking tomb; it is their spirits who are thought to haunt the place. Hardly surprising since they weren’t allowed to rest in peace. Teenage boys broke into the Pierce Tomb in 1925. They arranged the bodies into sitting positions, donned the corpses’ clothing, then marched around Frog Pond before being arrested.
In 1985, another gang of teenagers busted into the tomb and used it as a clubhouse for a few weeks. They disturbed the corpses again. According to local lore, they even went so far as to pour alcohol into the bodies, as a bizarre way of sharing a toast.
In 2005, a man performing community service at the cemetery was arrested after photographs emerged of him parading around with a skull on his shoulder. He’d broken into the Pierce Tomb and pulled a skull off one of the bodies, before mugging for photos.
If you decide to visit this cemetery (on Pond Street) definitely leave the Pierces alone. Go visit the lady whose headstone graphically describes how she choked to death on a pea, instead!
7. Pine Grove Cemetery (Lynn)
Come here to visit Sox-player Harry Agganis, known as "The Golden Greek," then stay to admire the pretty setting. While in the cemetery, stay alert for mysterious whispering. You may even catch a glimpse of the ghosts of little girls skipping. Orbs also sometimes show up in photos taken at this cemetery! Pine Grove is located at 145 Boston Street in Lynn.
8. Copp’s Hill (Boston)
As you walk through the Boston's second-oldest cemetery, don’t be surprised if you start to feel uneasy. Visitors have seen shadows cast when no one is around and ghostly women in period clothing. It is thought that more than 10,000 people were buried in this relatively small area, including Cotton Mather and his father, Increase Mather.
Unfortunately, those entombed here were repeatedly disturbed: gravediggers raided the coffins, vandals graffitied the stones, and British soldiers are rumored to have taken potshots at rebel Daniel Malcolm’s headstone. No wonder it’s supposed to be haunted… The cemetery is located at 21 Hull Street in Boston.
Have you been to any of these cemeteries? Did you have any spooky experiences while there? Let us know in the comments or on the
Only In Boston Facebook page.