Copp’s Hill Burying Ground (Haunted Hike Part One)

This is part one of a two-part series about another haunted hike I took part in a couple of years ago! The first stop is the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground…

History

The Copp’s Hill Burying Ground in Boston, Massachusetts was founded on February 20, 1659 and is the second oldest cemetery in Boston! It was named after the shoemaker William Copp, and is the final resting place for many local merchants, artisans, and freed enslaved people. There are approximately 1200 marked graves here, but there might be as many as 10,000 burials in total. Some notable names that can be found among them include:

  • Prince Hall, a prominent leader in the free black community and founder of Black Freemasonry.
  • Increase Mather, a Puritan minister who helped to fuel the flames of the Salem Witch Trials. (Boo!)
  • Cotton Mather, the son of Increase Mather, who’s writings and work also helped sparked the hysteria leading to the Salem Witch Trials. Increase, Cotton, and other members of the Mather family are all located in the Mather Tomb.
Photo of the Mather Tomb, from https://salemwitchmuseum.com/
  • Robert Newman is also buried here, who helped to light lanterns that alerted Paul Revere, the famous American revolutionist who’s “midnight ride” through Boston alerted the colonial militia to the approaching British forces.

Another interesting fact is that the controversial (and by controversial, I mean extremely anti-Semitic and racist) cosmic horror writer H.P. Lovecraft used this burying ground as the setting for one of his short stories, Pickman’s Model.

Photo of Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, taken by Ivy in 2019.

Haunted History

With such a long history, and with ties to the Salem Witch Trials, it is no surprise that this burying ground is surrounded with rumored paranormal happenings. Some locals report seeing strange lights in the burying ground, especially at night. Those that live in the adjacent apartment buildings also report hearing muffled cries and painful groans…

The spirit of Increase Mather is said to torment some visitors, which seems very on brand for the type of person that he was during his life. It is also said that the spirit of his son, Cotton Mather, is harassed and tormented by the spirits of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials, and some of the muffled cries heard by locals and visitors come from him. (I mean, he kind of deserves it…)

It is also said that some British troops used headstones in this burying ground for target practice after invading the area, and the bullet holes can be seen in some of them to this day. This leads many people to believe that the spirits of these defaced graves are restless and upset over this act of violence and carelessness shown towards their final resting place. On this note, some graves were also exhumed and relocated during the construction of the nearby Snowhill Street, causing more potential unrest with the spirits that might wonder here.

One of the headstones with bullet holes belongs to Daniel Malcom, who enjoyed smuggling goods like wine and tea into New England without paying taxes to the British. His headstone, which might have been targeted on purpose, reads:

“A true son of Liberty

A friend of the Publick

An enemy to oppression

And one of the foremostin opposing the Revenue Acts on America”

Image result for copps hill burying ground bullet holes
Photo of Daniel Malcom’s headstone with bullet holes, likely from British troops. From http://newenglandfolklore.blogspot.com/

My Findings and Final Thoughts

While there, myself and my sisters that I traveled with unfortunately had no paranormal encounters of any kind, nor did I pick up on anything spiritually. (I really was quite sad to not hear the crying spirit of Cotton Mathers…) Even in the countless photos I took, not a single anomaly or apparition appeared that day. Of course it was sunny, so camera glares can rule out some balls of light seen in photos on sunny days, and with so many living people walking around, there is the off chance that a distant and blurry pedestrian gets mistaken for a ghostly apparition.

Photo of an infant headstone in the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, taken by Ivy in 2019.

As with all cemeteries I cover here on the Ghouls Trip blog, I do still enjoy my time in them regardless if I have paranormal encounters or not. (I know my fellow taphophiles understand.)

Photo of a headstone in Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, taken by Ivy in 2019. The skull art on this headstone is particularly adorable!

My Tips for Visiting

Can it be investigated? Yes, but it is very public, so good luck. I paid nothing to enter, as it costs nothing to walk inside, but you can purchase guided tours online through various travel websites. Check their website for current tour options and business hours.

Outside of the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground is a marker on the ground for the Freedom Trail (the path that Paul Revere took) which will take you to many historical locations in Boston if you follow it. This makes it very easy to get from one location to another, and we were able to follow it from Copp’s Hill Burying Ground to the next spooky location.

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The mark outside of the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground for the Freedom Trail. Photo taken by Ivy in 2019.

Check out part two, where I walked to the King’s Chapel Burying Ground next!

Frighteningly yours,

Ivy!

Works cited:

https://www.ghostsandgravestones.com/boston/copps-hill-burying-ground

https://ghostcitytours.com/boston/haunted-places/copps-hill-burying-grounds/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copp%27s_Hill_Burying_Ground

http://newenglandfolklore.blogspot.com/2013/06/daniel-malcolms-grave.html

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