Haunted Happenings: Visiting with the Boston Common spirits

By Jasmine Ferrell, Staff Writer
@JasmineInBoston

Last week, I said I would do a personal investigation, and indeed I did. Boston Common was the obvious choice for a first timer, as numerous sources informed me. When I emailed the Paranormal Research Association of Boston, they sent back a personal email telling me this was the place to start, and considering their background I decided to trust them.

A little background to get us off the ground: Boston Common is haunted. That’s it. Well, unless you actually look up the history. Boston Common was started as a public park where families could enjoy a picturesque stroll in the afternoon sun… or witness a brutal public hanging. Many people were hung on the historic elm tree until it was replaced by the gallows, and it is rumored even a dog was subjected to this death penalty. Why a dog was hung? No one will ever know. Oh, and don’t forget about the Central Burying Ground, a huge grave of about 900 bodies. I guess this is why I was told to go there for my first experience.

The claimed hauntings have some consistent characters that are frequently seen by park visitors. First, there are the two assumed 1830s sisters who are often seen chatting or walking together until someone approaches them, causing them to disappear. A creepier story is that of a small female ghost who lacks a face, but she’s reportedly a fresh ghost on the scene and a wee bit shy.

Part of the inspiration for this piece was indeed the conversation my group had at the end of The Boston Night Tour last weekend. Our guide led us to the plaque marking the sight of the old elm tree where so many people died. The guide then took out a small flashlight and twisted the top so it was just barely off. He spent about a solid five minutes doing this to eliminate the possibility of it just randomly turning on and off, as that would also be how the ghost would communicate. It’s a classic technique where a ghost will answer yes or no questions by illuminating the flashlight with all of its energy. From our interaction with the “ghost” (there is no way to be certain it was legitimate), we learned that it was a male who had been in the army. When we asked if he knew Paul Revere, the flashlight enthusiastically lit up the brightest and longest we had seen that night.

What about my personal investigation? Unfortunately, I’ve been strategically waiting to save this bit for the end because it was, quite simply, a letdown. I went there after I finished at my job around 9 p.m., and it seemed the perfect night to talk to some ghosts. I sat in the park for about an hour or so, trying to talk to the ghosts, taking pictures with my digital camera, and basically looking like a crazy person to anyone who happened to pass by. Perhaps I needed better equipment, or maybe the ghosts just don’t like me, but I didn’t have any luck. But hey, there’s still plenty of time until Halloween for you to give it a try yourself. Maybe you’ll hit the jackpot. Just don’t tell me, I’d be really jealous.

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