TAUNTON — Ready to scare yourself silly?
Halloween season is in full swing, which means one thing: ghosts.
Or does it?
It also means legends. And haunts. And creepy tales. Like a hitchhiker who mysteriously appears in the backseat of your car. Or lights that flicker for no reason. Or even objects that fly across a room.
Of course, not all ghosts are angry, if these stories are to be believed. Some sound like they’re just out to cause some mischief.
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Our little corner of New England has its fair share of history, which sometimes lends itself to those ghosts, legends and haunts. And as Oct. 31 approaches, we can all suspend our disbelief a little bit.
We rounded up some of the more popular stories.Check ’em out … if you dare!
FREETOWN STATE FOREST
At Profile Rock near the forest, ghost hunters encountered some unexpected EVPs: “You will serve Satan,” said one, and the names “Doreen” and “Carl Drew,” were also recorded. The EVPs may be related to Satanic cult murders that happened in Westport and Fall River in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Doreen Levesque was a murder victim and Carl Drew was found guilty of the murder of Karen Marsden, a Fall River prostitute connected with the cult. There have been reports of Native American ghosts as well as Pukwudgies, mysterious creatures in Wamapanoag lore who lure people to their deaths or cause other nasty trouble.
In June 1675, at the beginning of the King Philip War in 1675, Edward Bobet, who lived with his wife and nine kids in a section of Taunton that is now Berkley, decided to seek a safer haven in a secure section of Taunton along the village green. With his family safe in their new home, Bobet and his dog went back to his Berkley farm to retrieve some additional possessions. On his way back home, Bobet was besieged by Indians but managed to outrun them by climbing up a tree at nightfall. But his trusty dog, alarmed at his master’s escape up the tree, would not stop barking and the Indians, thanks to that barking, the Indians eventually found Bobet, shooting him down from the tree and killing him. Witnesses, even today, have reported hearing a frantic dog’s barking near the area of the Berkley/Dighton Bridge, a stone’s throw away from where the tree, where Bobet and his dog once stood.
In the language used by indigent Native Americans, Hockomock means “place of spirits,” a name perhaps stemming from the Indian burial grounds dotting the area. Reported unexplainable sightings include hovering ghostly lights, UFOs, poltergeists, Bigfoot, monstrous birds and oversize snakes, turtles, cats and dogs.
Adding to the swamp’s creepy aura are purported appearances of ghostly Native American warriors who, in 1675 and 1676, fought several bloody battles in the swamp against colonists during King Philip’s War.
The Bridgewater Triangle is the site of many reported bizarre sightings. The infamous triangle, covering about 200 square miles, is bounded by Abington, Freetown and Rehoboth. Within the three lines lie the towns of Taunton, Raynham, Norton, Easton, Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Brockton, Mansfield, Dighton, Berkley and Lakeville. The triangle is reportedly plagued by malevolent forces, which some say stem from curses that Native Americans placed on the area in retaliation for poor treatment from colonists. Hockomock Swamp sits at the core of the triangle. In the language used by indigent Native Americans, Hockomock means “place of spirits,” a name perhaps stemming from the Indian burial grounds dotting the area. Reported unexplainable sightings include hovering ghostly lights, UFOs, poltergeists, Bigfoot giant snakes and “thunderbirds.”
OLIVER ESTATE, MIDDLEBORO
Speak with any of the volunteers at the Oliver Estate — on Plymouth Street, just off Route 44 — and they’ll tell you stories about seeing apparitions or shadowy figures, hearing voices when all alone in the house or finding objects in the house mysteriously being moved, fallen to the floor or flying across a room. One volunteer conducting a tour said she came face-to-face with a full-body apparition in one of the second floor bedroom closets. She says it was a girl who stared at her for a few seconds before disappearing into the wall.
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MIDDLEBORO TOWN HALL
The Enfield Paranormal Society, of Enfield, Conn., the second paranormal group to investigate the building, claims it has found evidence of ghosts in the building, which was built in 1873. There was a full moon that night and a thunderstorm came through as they searched for ghosts. The team leader “saw his breath” while he was in the auditorium stage area, even though it was mid-July and hot. This indicated a “cold spot” or paranormal activity and he “saw a man in the balcony” and photographed it. They also sensed a woman on stage who “was seen in a repeated change of costume on or behind the stage,” the report stated.
HORNBINE SCHOOL, REHOBOTH
Neighbors claim to hear sounds of children playing and a schoolteacher ringing a bell near this 19th century schoolhouse. Some have claimed to look in the window and see students who peer back at them.
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ROUTE 44, REHOBOTH
The legend of the red-headed hitchhiker has become a staple of local ghost lore. Supposedly, the apparition is seen at night by lone drivers on Route 44, usually near the Rehoboth/Seekonk line. A red-haired man with a red beard wearing a red flannel shirt and work boots appears on the side of the road, where drivers either hit him or pick him up. After some sort of interaction, the empty-eyed ghost launches into a loud and terrifying yelling or laughing fit before disappearing.
HAUNTED CHAIR, TAUNTON
Legends have grown around the evocative grave monument at Mayflower Hill Cemetery, that of an empty chair. Some say the girl died after falling over backwards in a chair, some say she died in a fire while sitting in a chair she was told not to leave. The truth can be found in historical records. Pearl E. French was the daughter of Edwin French and Emma J. (Leonard) French, born on August 21, 1878. Tragically, she was only four years old when she died of meningitis on March 26, 1882. Though the family lived in Boston at the time due to Edwin French’s job as a newspaper type composer, he had lived Taunton previously. The choice of an empty chair as Pearl’s grave marker can be explained by a popular poem about the heartbreak of childhood mortality published in a magazine in 1850 by Richard Coe, Jr. entitled “The Vacant Chair.”
Legend behind the chair:What is the story of the haunted rocking chair in Mayflower Hill Cemetery in Taunton?
Pearl’s grave marker reads “Her Vacant Chair” and is topped by a beautiful marble sculpture of a small Empire-style rocking chair. This sculpture still evokes so much emotion that people place teddy bears and flowers at the grave of this child they never knew. The monument was cruelly smashed by vandals in the mid-1980s and restored by Rex Monument in Taunton as a gift to the City.
TAUNTON STATE HOSPITAL, TAUNTON
Rumors of malignant supernatural activity surround Taunton State Hospital, which began housing the insane and mentally ill in the mid-1850s. The Goss building, which is still in use, reportedly is home to, among various other spirits, the ghost of a man in white who appears on the third floor. At night, banging, screams and moans can supposedly be heard from the woods behind the hospital. Some believe the sounds are made by the ghosts of patients.
PAUL DEVER SCHOOL, TAUNTON
Parts of the Paul Dever State School campus are also said to be haunted. Supposedly, the ghost of a teenage boy has been seen walking the grounds, and screams of distress can be heard at times.
BRIDGEWATER STATE UNIVERSITY
Ghosts are said to inhabit a number of buildings at Bridgewater State College, including Shea-Durgin Hall, where stories say an 18-year-old girl was strangled by her boyfriend. The sounds of the struggle are said to still be heard today. At Tillinghast Hall, legend has it that a housemother, after climbing out on the roof to round up some wayward girls, slipped and fell to her death on the fence below. Some say the woman’s presence is still felt in the building. In Wood Hall, stories say, the ghost of a girl who years ago burned to death there now occasionally runs screaming “fire” through the halls of the building. A ghost named George is said to haunt the Campus Center, locking doors and playing instruments.
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HOLIDAY INN, TAUNTON
There have been reports of voices in the stairway saying “Leave here now.”
STONEHILL COLLEGE, EASTON
A small plane once crashed into the pond on campus. Each year, on the anniversary of the crash, a blue mist appears and some report seeing a pilot trying to get out of the ghostly wreckage.
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An old summertime campsite for Native Americans, complete with a burial ground, Camp Titicut is believed to be haunted by King Phillip, whose body reportedly was drawn and quartered here. The sound of leaves rustling, according to local tales, is his body parts trying to get back together. The area was a boys’ camp from the 1930s to 1950s, during which time a boy drowned in a pond. His ghost is said to be seen and heard in the nearby woods.
LINCOLN PARK, DARTMOUTH
Some report hearing carousel music and the smell of popcorn. When it was in operation, park-goers reported seeing the ghost of a worker who died in 1987 after falling from the highest hill of the Comet roller coaster. Supposedly they’d see the ghost climbing the coaster, doing his normal rounds, only to see him disappear once he reached the highest peak.
NEW BEDFORD ARMORY
Professional ghostbusters deployed with the paranormal investigation team in 2005 to debunk claims that the city Armory is haunted. The mission aired in November as Episode 107 of “Ghost Hunters,” a one-hour weekly TV series on the SCI-FI Channel. At the request of the National Guard, ghosthunters set up their command center in the empty Armory and began searching for reasonable explanations of the mysterious happenings there. They had been on the job for three hours when, nearing midnight, they entered the gymnasium of the castle-like fortress on Sycamore Street. The soundman was knocked to the ground, claiming he felt cold and something from the ground pulled him backward. He quit after filming that episode.
THE FORMER KIRBY’S FUNERAL HOME, ACUSHNET
Acushnet homeowner Kate Zahner told the Standard-Times in 2016 that she heard whispering on a baby monitor in her son’s room. She learned that her house had once been Kirby’s Funeral Home (since relocated to Tarkiln Hill Road in New Bedford. She’s also heard children’s voices and seen shadows, and psychics, mediums and paranormal investigators have visited and they’ve reported hearing and seeing spirits and ghosts, she said.
KINSALE INN, MATTAPOSETT
Guests have reported seeing a sea captain looking out to the sea in one of the bedrooms. As well, a ghost named Sarah reportedly wanders the halls looking for her father.
MATTAPOISETT TOWN HALL
Mattapoisett Town Hall also has a prankster poltergeist named Abner, employees claim. Abner Harlow was a town clerk from 1912-1917 and 1924-1946. Harlow was known for being very disorganized, and he apparently likes to play practical jokes on the staff.
A haunting tale:What this clerk has to say about the Mattapoisett Town Hall ghost
PALMER’S ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE
Located at the entrance to New Bedford Harbor, the island was named after William Palmer, an original settler of Old Dartmouth. The light was built after New Bedford sea captains petitioned for its construction. The island was used as an internment camp for Native Americans during King Phillip’s War (1675-1676) and as a garrison during the Revolutionary War, according to Destination New Bedford. There was even a hotel and amusement park, but all but the light were destroyed in the 1938 Hurricane. When the hurricane hit, lighthouse keeper Arthur Small left his wife in the oil house, which was the highest point on the island, while he went to light the lamps. She watched him get hit by a wave and tried to take a rowboat to save him. Instead, he watched in horror as a massive wave destroyed everything on the island and took her with it. Some say it’s been haunted ever since.
The old Lakeville Hospital on Route 105 is rumored to harbor ghosts of patients. Some say faces in the windows, strange lights and the sounds of people in distress can be seen and heard inside the abandoned building. One account tells of blood spatters appearing on a window.
QUITTACAS WATER TREATMENT FACILITY, FREETOWN
There are ghost stories about Adoniram Stone Negus, the original Chief Pumping Engineer, who some say continues to haunt the facility. Legend has it he died a day prior to retirement.
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FEARING TAVERN, WAREHAM
With parts of it dating back to 1690, Fearing, owned by Major Israel Fearing, has been used as a tavern, courthouse, town hall, post office and private residence. These days, it’s a museum refurbished back to its colonial style. Ghost hunters once heard an electronic voice phenomena saying “Hey Ashford … I killed Grandpa, Ash. I just knew you’d feel the pain. Then … you can consider it … a gift.”
FORT TABER, NEW BEDFORD
A ghost hunting group called Legend Trippers visited Fort Taber, for a special event to give attendees a chance to hunt for paranormal activity in Fort Rodman, as well as its numerous batteries, considered one of New England’s “most paranormally active ” locations.
MILLICENT LIBRARY, FAIRHAVEN
Apparently Millicent, the youngest daughter of Henry Huttleston Rogers, a financial backer of many of Fairhaven’s historical buildings, was buried in the foundation of the library that bears her name. This has led to alleged sightings of a woman walking in the hallways, surrounded by a blue light. People have also said that from outside of the library, they’ve seen a woman in the windows of the tower, a section completely closed from the public. There’s also rumors of paintings that move and another spectral presence of a janitor who tragically died in the building, but never left.
FORT PHOENIX, FAIRHAVEN
During the Revolutionary War, Major Israel Fearing led 100 men from Wareham to help drive British troops away from the fort. His spirit is associated with the fort, especially relating to sounds of cannon fire. As well, there have been reports of a ghost jogger who stops people and asks them for the time, only to disappear while they look down at their watch.
TABOR ACADEMY, MARION
GhostQuest.net claims Lillard Hall is haunted by the ghost of a former student who took his own life, though it acknowledges there are very few reports of this apparition being seen or heard.
WOLF ISLAND ROAD, MATTAPOISETT
Legend has it that colonial settlers killed some Wampanoag tribe members by hanging them from the nearby trees, and drivers report seeing the eyes of the dead men looking out from the trees, especially in mid-summer. Also, according to local legend, a young man died in a car crash along this road in the 1970s, and if you park near the crash site and flash your headlights three times, his ghost will appear. Could it be the most haunted street in Massachusetts?
OAK GROVE CEMETERY, FALL RIVER
This is where Lizzie Borden is buried. Some have reported seeing strange lights here.
Restoration project:Historic Oak Grove Cemetery entrance restored
ABRAM’S ROCK, SWANSEA
Right around the time of the King Philip’s War in 1675, a renegade or Christian Indian was taken captive by fellow Indians and brought to this enormous rock more than 100 yards behind what is now the Swansea Town Hall.
The Indians were reported to have told Abram that he would be released, but only after he survived three falls from the rock measuring more than 40 feet high. After surviving the first two falls, Abram died on the third fall, and local legend says his spirit haunts the woods around the rock.
LIZZIE BORDEN HOUSE, FALL RIVER
Lizzie’s home, the site of the brutal ax murder of her father and step-mother, is said to be haunted. Visitors have heard sounds of a woman weeping, seen lights flicker and even had a ghost in Victorian garb tuck them in (the home operates as a bed and breakfast).
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QUEQUECHAN CLUB, FALL RIVER
The club is said to be the site of several EVPs and audible “footsteps” as well as sightings of mysterious orbs. Others have seen a ghost woman in Victorian attire.
ICE HOUSE REMAINS, FALL RIVER
The old ice house on Interlachen island in the North Watuppa burned to the ground in 1933. Since then, some visitors report seeing large dogs (though no sign of any dogs has been found) and some claim to have been “chased away” by an unknown presence.
Fall River Wonders:The old ice house on the bank of North Watuppa Pond
BATTLESHIP MASSACHUSETTS, FALL RIVER
Some visitors have claimed to hear voices in the narrow hallways of this World War II era warship, and others have reported a general feeling of being watched.
ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY THEATER, BRISTOL
A ghost named Banquo is said to mess with the lights and soundboard, and there is even a seat reserved for him in the balcony.
COLT STATE PARK, BRISTOL
A stable hand reportedly died at this former farm and his ghost is said to “play pranks” with the lights and doors at the park office. He is not alone: He is joined by the ghosts of two young girls who drowned in the water off Colt State Park.
WHITE HORSE TAVERN, NEWPORT
Dubbed the oldest tavern in America, this restaurant was originally built as a private home. Guests report seeing a man dressed in Colonial attire standing by the fire. He sometimes shows up in the men’s room. And others have reported hearing a child crying near the restrooms.
HOTEL VIKING, NEWPORT
The hotel made historichotels.org’s list of 25 most haunted. Guests and have reported seeing a little boy cleaning the floors.
BELCOURT CASTLE, NEWPORT
Construction on the 60-room mansion began in 1891 and was completed three years later. It was built for Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, a wealthy banker, publisher and politician. In the 1950s, Newport socialites Louis and Elaine Lorillard bought Belcourt and hosted the Newport Jazz Festival there in 1955 and 1956. Ruth and Harold Tinney bought the mansion in November 1956, using it as a private residence and home for their exotic furnishings.
A former owner believes the antique furnishings of the house brought with them paranormal energies. She recalled one tour of the castle in which visitors were allowed to rest a hand on an early Gothic chair. One visitor’s touch yielded a flash of light and the smell of burning rubber. A suit of 15th-century armor once frightened a group of Girl Scouts; they claimed the suit had moved. And the former owner recalls one night when she awoke and saw a man standing by her bed. The man’s face was cloaked by a hood, and he left the room by walking through the wall, she said.