Plymouth: America’s Haunted Hometown
A Tidbit of History
Plymouth, Massachusetts. Historically known as Pilmouth, the town holds immense prominence in American folklore, culture, and history. Known lovingly as ‘America’s Hometown,’ Plymouth was the site of the first colony founded by the Mayflower pilgrims in 1620 when they had broken away from the church of England in search of freer land. Before the arrival of the pilgrims, Plymouth’s location was a thriving village of the Wampanoag tribe called Patuxet. It’s the oldest municipality in all of New England and one of the oldest in the United States as a whole.
Located just 40 miles from Boston, the town thrived as a center for fishing, rope-making, and shipping. Today it continues to act as an active seaport, but its primary industry is tourism due to its plethora of history. The settlement faced many challenges in its early years that claimed both pilgrim and Native American lives, including harsh winters, disease, and famine.
Plymouth’s Paranormal Pilgrims
With this much history, stories of eerie museums, cursed cemeteries, and haunted state parks are commonplace. Keep in mind that Plymouth itself was built over a historic Native American settlement that was wiped out due to the plague. Not all places in Plymouth are haunted, of course, but one could imagine a few spirits around places like Burial Hill! The city now plays host to some of America’s oldest paranormal locations. Read on to learn about some of the most active!
Burial Hill is one of the oldest burial sites in the United States, with sailors buried in mass graves and devilish imp-like creatures roaming the grounds. On The National Register of Historic Places, Burial Hill has been in use since the 1620s when the first pilgrims started to lay their dead to rest on the grounds. Many Mayflower passengers are buried here, including Governor William Bradford and William & Mary Brewster. The last burial took place as recently as 1957. The earliest grave markers were made of wood, and many did not stand the test of time, leaving plenty of gravesites unmarked. Known as one of the most haunted places on the South Shore, Burial Hill is the final resting place of over 2,500 people.
One such tragic instance filled the grounds here with bodies of the dead. Let us lay the scene for you. It’s the day after Christmas in 1778, frigid weather is settling down into Massachusetts, and the crew of the ship General Arnold decides to seek refuge from the icy waves in Plymouth Harbor. Their efforts are in vain when the ship runs up onto a sandbar just northwest of the breakwater and begins to leak. More than 100 sailors, then soldiers of the Revolutionary War, are forced onto the deck where the frozen waves pummel them. Captain James Magee tells the crew to put rum into their shoes to prevent frostbite, but many sailors accept their fate and drink the rum instead, frostbite and hypothermia kicking in almost instantaneously.
Locals of Plymouth were unable to assist the now-freezing crew, as the waters around the boat were turning to solid ice. When the townspeople were finally able to come aboard almost two whole days later, they found over 70 sailors dead and frozen; some were clutching the brigantine ship’s ropes, others were embracing each other.
Their bodies were brought upon the shore and buried in a 60-foot wide mass grave located right at Burial Hill. Fast forward 240 and some odd years, Burial Hill today is still frequented by the spirits of these forlorn sailors. Visitors and paranormal investigators describe Burial Hill as heavy and hostile. Reports rush out of the graveyard of full-body apparitions, disappearing silhouettes, and screams from beyond. One woman told of a white silhouette lunging at her face and screaming for her to go away. Another visitor reported seeing a giant figure in deerskin clothing walking up the hill, ignoring the visitor’s calls. Eventually, the figure acknowledged him and turned around to face him, only to peer at him with no eyes!
There are also stories of a creature who roams the ground of Burial Hill. Many consider it to be a Native American curse, and others aren’t so certain. Pukwudgies are original to Wampanoag lore and are small, imp-like creatures who have hairy human features and can appear as well as vanish at will. Known for teasing humans, the Pukwudgies have been spotted by visitors out of the corners of their eyes, appearing as a white figure darting past. What do you believe? Perhaps a visit to Burial Hill will answer any questions you’ve concocted!
Mayflower Society House
Another historical gem and a spirited spot in Plymouth is the Mayflower Society House. The great-grandson of one of Plymouth’s original pilgrims, Edward Wilson, built the home in 1754. Since he was a loyalist who sided with the Tories during the Revolutionary War, he was eventually run out of town. The story tells that he fled to Canada and soon left his spirit behind to haunt the home he loved so much. Now open to the public as a museum, the home echoes sounds of the past when visitors report hearing a large organ playing in the library.
Once operating as a historical museum, filled to the brim with exquisite Victorian furnishings, the Trask House has been called the ‘Beating Heart of Plymouth’ by locals. Now maintained by the current generation of Trasks, the house remains very paranormally active. Visitors are frequently startled by disembodied moans and groans, footsteps, and even museum doors slamming shut with such force that the walls shake. Supernatural occurrences are happening here on a daily basis, according to the curator Jan Williams. When asked why Plymouth is such a hotspot for paranormal energies, she said, “People died very young, very suddenly, and a lot of them have unfinished business. They return to their places of comfort, and night after night, they are out there.”
Another historic home in Plymouth, the Spooner House, is named after the family that occupied it for over 200 years. Built in 1749, the house became a museum when the family’s final occupant moved out. Visitors are welcome to tour the home filled with five generations of family heirlooms and antique furnishings. The museum is also home to the spirit of a young girl who passed away here from an abscessed tooth back before penicillin was discovered. Locals report that she’ll invite you into the home or peer curiously out of a window when you knock on the front door.
Coles Hill Crypt
Last but certainly not least on our list of haunted locations in Plymouth, Coles Hill is the site of mass burying during a time called the ‘starving time,’ which occurred in Plymouth in the winter of 1620 to 1621. One written account describes a storm in 1735 that washed skulls and bones out of the hill and into the harbor, with bones still being discovered until the 19th century. In 1921, the remains were finally laid to rest when they were interred in a granite crypt on the hill, named ‘The Sarcophagus.’
There’s an inscription on the stone of the crypt that says, “The Monument marks the First Burying Ground in Plymouth of the passengers of the Mayflower. Hereunder cover of darkness, the fast dwindling company laid their dead, leveling the earth above them lest the Indians should know how many were the graves.” If you’re curious enough to check out the crypt, don’t be surprised when you hear sounds of talking from inside the cold stone walls!
Plymouth, A Paranormal Paradise
A quick drive from Boston, Plymouth promises to satisfy any of your ghostly cravings. Plymouth is genuinely a not-so-hidden gem of history and hauntings with a bit of something for anyone, from the history buff to the full-on paranormal enthusiast. If you’d like to cruise on over to some more paranormal locations in Massachusetts, we’ve put together an entire haunted road trip!