Halloween is a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s a time to get creative in choosing or making an eye-catching, head-turning, frightening or funny costume. It’s a time for parents to indulge their children and let them collect bucketfuls of candy. It’s a time to scare or to be scared. For some, it’s a time to ponder whether ghosts exist.
Trick or treat or both, The Hippo is covering the bases this year. Southern New Hampshire has plenty to offer, including kids’ events, haunted houses, spooky film, Halloween art and theater, as well as events for foodies. Hippo writers also looked into ghosts and ghost hunters in New Hampshire. Pick your trick or your treat inside.
Spooky fun for the kids
Trick-or-treating is the focus of Halloween, but the candy and the costumed fun aren’t limited to that one event. These family- and kid-friendly events let everyone keep the spirit going and enjoy just a little spookiness, all week long.
• Put on your costume and head to downtown Concord for the Halloween Howl. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, downtown businesses will be open for trick-or-treaters. Take a wagon ride and join a costume parade down Main Street. E-mail email@example.com or visit www.intownconcord.org/events/halloween-howl
• Go trick-or-treating, hear Halloween stories and make a Halloween craft all in the same place. The Little Goblins Fair at Rodgers Memorial Library (194 Derry Road, Hudson), Friday, Oct. 26, from 2 to 4 p.m., will provide Halloween festivities right in the library. There is no registration required and additional drop-in Halloween games and movies are scheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27. Call 886-6030 or visit www.rodgerslibrary.org
• It’s going to be Spooktacular. Pipescreams! Spooktacular! will take place on Friday, Oct. 26, at the South Congregational Church (27 Pleasant St., Concord) at 7 p.m. The family-friendly event features New Hampshire organists playing spooky music for the pipe organ, along with singing, dancing and perhaps some howling.
• The Children’s Trick or Treat at Charmingfare Farm (774 High St., Candia), will feature six events for kids. Go on a Barnyard Village Stroll to meet costumed characters, or an Eerie Horse-Drawn Ride to see Halloween decorations and friendly characters. Visit Grandpa’s “Spooky” Hay Barn and find your way through the Crazy Scare Crow Corn Maze. Hop on board a pony and ride along forest trails. The farm is open Saturday, Oct. 27, and Sunday, Oct. 28, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Guests are asked to arrive by 1:30 p.m. Admission costs $17. Call 483-5623 or visit www.visitthefarm.com
• Go exploring the cemetery. On Saturday, Oct. 27, visit the Winchell Room at the Manchester City Library (405 Pine St., Manchester), at 11 a.m. From the library, walk to the Valley Street Cemetery for a scavenger hunt. Search for the oldest gravestone, find where the tallest monument is and see if you can find a stone showing the same birthday as yours. Recommended for children in grades 1-5 and their parents. Registration is recommended. Call 624-6550 ext. 335.
• Halloween can be scary, but the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (6 Washington St., Dover), is providing a fun holiday event just for kids. The Not-So-Spooky Spectacular is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 27, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Go trick-or-treating for non-food items, visit the museum’s “bat cave” and take on science experiments with the Wacky Scientist. Museum admission costs $9. Call 742-2002 or visit www.childrens-museum.org
• Hear some Halloween tunes at the Manchester Community Music School (2291 Elm St., Manchester) on Sunday, Oct. 28, at 3 p.m. The Halloween concert will feature the costumed Symphony NH and the New Hampshire Youth Symphony Orchestra. Come in costume. Admission is free, but a donation of $5 per person or $20 per family is suggested. Music selections this year include “The Addams Family,” theme music from Star Wars, “Night on Bald Mountain” and more. Call 644-4548 or visit www.mcmusicschool.org
• Bounce around in costume on Sunday, Oct. 28, at Cowabunga’s (1328 Hooksett Road, Hooksett). From 2 to 7 p.m., kids can visit the inflatable indoor playground for a costume parade and visits with Halloween characters. Admission is $10 for kids, free for parents and children younger than 2. Call 625-8008 or visit www.mycowabungas.com
• Visit the Nashua Public Library (2 Court St., Nashua), on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 4 p.m., for an evening of Halloween craft making. Come in costume and enjoy stories and treats. Regis ter online at www.tinyurl/nplkid
• Drum along to Halloween songs and learn some Halloween-themed yoga. The Manchester Yoga Mill (250 Commercial St., Suite 3005E, Manchester) will host a Drum Circle and Yoga Halloween Bash on Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. A 30-minute drumming class will be followed by Halloween yoga. Costumes are encouraged. Admission costs $20 for one adult with one child. Additional children cost $3. Call 933-0878 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
• A Halloween event for older kids and teenagers, the Masque of the Red Death Halloween Party at Wadleigh Memorial Library (49 Nashua St., Milford) will feature costumes, candy and a showing of The Masque of the Red Death. Visit the library on Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. for this Edgar Allen Poe-themed Big Read event for grades 6 through 12. Call 673-2408, e-mail email@example.com
or visit www.wadleighlibrary.org
On the hunt
Paranormal private eyes seek out spirits
Unexplained sounds have shown up on their voice recorders, their handheld swinging pendulums have stopped on a dime, and strange orbs have appeared in their photos. They say after people die, their energy remains. Paranormal investigators and ghost hunters are canvassing southern New Hampshire in search of that energy.
They all have different styles, techniques and beliefs, but all have a similar goal. While they don’t necessarily want to force anyone into believing in ghosts, they all want to teach people about the theories behind what they do and help explain mysterious happenings.
Susan Allen of Nashua, director of the Souhegan Paranormal Investigators, said when her group hosts events for the public, the goal is to provide a forum in which to learn about the topic.
“We will have speakers that speak on the subject of the paranormal and show our evidence we have collected,” Allen said. “We try to educate the public and do not attempt to sway anyone on whether or not to believe in the paranormal.”
In most cases of reported paranormal activity, Allen said there is a perfectly logical explanation behind any strange occurrences. But when the group comes across what it feels is truly unexplainable, that is when they think a connection with the spirit world can be made.
Though the group explores throughout New Hampshire and the Northeast, Allen said it has returned on multiple occasions to The Governor’s Mansion in Hampton Falls. The structures on the property date to 1880, and Allen said it is where the group has picked up some of its best electronic voice phenomena.
Referred to by ghost hunters as EVP, this is one of the most commonly tools said to show evidence of the paranormal. Armed with a voice recorder, paranormal investigators will record sounds at locations they suspect could be haunted. When playing back the recordings, ghost hunters listen for sounds they say could be voices of the dead.
Eric Perry, founder of the Manchester-based Central New Hampshire Paranormal Society, said the best results are picked up on a digital recorder. Allen explained it as the ghost or spirit leaving an “imprint” on the recorder.
Perry said he has picked up knocking sounds and voices on his recorders. But one of the best recordings his group has received came from one member performing an EVP session in a home where a loved one had passed away. On the playback, Perry said they could hear a voice saying “I love you,” “I miss you,” and even asking, “I’m dead?”
“We talk to [ghosts] in a normal voice and will let them know we don’t want to hurt them,” Perry said. “We just want to see if they’re still around.”
People who are really serious about seeking the paranormal can take years of training under the guidance of an experienced ghost hunter.
Perry said one of his mentors is CC Carole, a ghost hunter, author and Internet personality from Merrimack. Carole’s online series CC The Huntress, which shows her performing solo explorations in New England and beyond, is consistently among the top-viewed online paranormal programs. The episodes are available at www.ccthehuntress.com
For the show, Carole has climbed mountains and explored the depths of a well. Her goal, in addition to coming into contact with spirits, is to teach her audience about the history of the locations she visits and ways they can make their own paranormal connections.
“I want to teach people how to use their equipment,” Carole said. “I leave them with tools that they can carry with them and use.”
In addition to a keen intuition, Carole uses EVP, electromagnetic field meters, pendulums, dowsing rods and mineral sprays when she goes on ghost hunts.
Electromagnetic field meters detect electrical energy. The meters can be used when there is no interference from other electronic devices; Carole says the meters may be able to detect residual energy left over from the dead. Carole said she also uses a pendulum to interact with the spirit world. An amethyst stone hangs at the bottom of a silver chain and Carole said she will hold it out and ask spirits to move the stone. Once the amethyst is swinging, Carole will ask the spirits to stop the pendulum. On occasion, she said, the stone will halt immediately, frozen and pointing toward the ground.
Dowsing rods have been used by people looking for the paranormal for centuries, Carole said; the idea is that the handheld metal rods, bent at a 90-degree angle, can start vibrating or heating up when in the presence of a spirit.
“People get highly emotional when they work,” Carole said. “It’s amazing when people feed into the energy that remains.”
While Carole does not have any public ghost hunts scheduled in New Hampshire at the moment, she frequently invites groups to explore with her. Some of her targeted locations have included former apothecaries and Nashua’s Holman Stadium.
For those who want to give ghost hunting a try, the East Coast Transcommunication Organization, orTeam ECTO, a group based in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, will lead a ghost hunt through America’s Stonehenge (105 Haverhill Road, Salem) on Saturday, Oct. 27, from 6 to 10 p.m. Ron Pinkham, founder of Team ECTO, said before the group heads out to explore, the team will provide a lecture and instruction on ghost hunting techniques. Pinkham said this will be the group’s fourth time exploring the site.
While the paranormal is not always easily found, Pinkham said it is important to consider the possibility.
“This stuff goes on every day and people don’t stop and think about why,” he said.
Ghosts are people, too
Historical records help identify who’s boo
By Jeff Mucciarone
Joshua Card was the lighthouse keeper at Boon Island Light from 1867 to 1874, the highest-paid lighthouse keeper in the country, making $860 per year on an island miles out at sea. In 1874, Card took a significant pay cut to take the lighthouse keeper post at Portsmouth Harbor Light. And he may never have left.
On a few occasions, people have seen a man on the lighthouse grounds fitting Card’s description. Card died in 1911 in Newburyport, Mass.
Card spent most of his life at or near the sea. He settled in for 35 years at Portsmouth harbor. His wife died a few years into his time there, and he lived by himself on the island until he was 86.
“He loved to show around the lighthouse,” said Jeremy D’Entremont, a lighthouse historian and Seacoast tour guide. “Summer residents would come to visit and he knew all the history.”
Fiona Broome, a ghost hunter and author (fionabroome.com), said it’s rare that ghosts can actually be identified.
“In most cases, we’re just guessing anyway. We’re just putting a label on a phenomenon,” Broome said. “Although I actually believe in ghosts and an afterlife, from the work I’ve done, I’m not convinced all the things people think are ghosts are actually spirits of the dead who are lingering here.”
Two women separated by a couple years who didn’t know each other told similar stories regarding a figure on the lighthouse grounds in Portsmouth. One saw a white-bearded man standing on the walkway to the lighthouse; she noticed the man’s uniform and figured tour guides must be dressing up in uniforms. As the woman got closer, the man was no longer there. A couple years later, another woman described a man with a white beard wearing a uniform and had the same thought: guides must be giving tours in costume. But tour guides do not dress in costume. In a different instance, a third woman insisted she saw a man with a white beard in overalls standing in the base of the lighthouse, D’Entremont said.
Card wore a service uniform with a navy peacoat, with a K on the lapels. The K stood for keeper, but Card told people it stood for captain. D’Entremont said people typically called lighthouse keepers “captain” as a sign of respect.
For ghost hunters, the historical component of ghost stories is important.
“You have to have something to document ... what’s going on and how it’s connected with a ghost,” Broome said.
D’Entremont said it doesn’t matter that Card didn’t die on the lighthouse grounds.
“We don’t fully know the rules,” D’Entremont laughed. “Lighthouse keepers were so tied to their particular lights. To me, it’s not a huge stretch that even after his death he was still tied to that place.”
D’Entremont thinks of himself as an open-minded skeptic, but two stories and his own experience give him pause. D’Entremont always says, “Hi captain,” when he’s giving tours of the lighthouse. D’Entremont was once giving a tour to a couple when he heard a gravelly “Hello,” come from the top of the stairs. “I felt like if I could lean forward over the top, I’d see someone,” D’Entremont said.
Sometimes when people spot what they believe is a ghost, they attach the phenomenon to a known historical figure.
Thomas D’Agostino and his wife, Arlene Nicholson, have conducted more than 1,000 investigations for their organization, the Paranormal United Research Society (www.nepurs.com). “We’re looking for the history of a place as far back as we can trace it, along with any legends or stories associated with it,” said D’Agostino, who has spent 30 years investigating ghost reports.
“We want to romanticize ghosts and old buildings, battlefields and old houses, but I don’t think we always think through all the implications that go with that,” Broome said. D’Agostino agreed.
Broome begins any investigation by looking at census records. “If you don’t have a reason for a particular ghost to haunt a location ... the credibility goes down,” Broome said.
Broome asks people to describe the clothing a ghost is wearing. If a ghostly lady is wearing bright yellow shoes, for example, she probably represents a time before 1910 or so.
Broome’s favorite ghost is Judith Thompson Tyng, a minister’s daughter from colonial Tyngsboro, Mass. Tyng is one of a few ghosts in the country who are said to have moved from one location to another, in this case to torment her husband who allegedly murdered her. Tyng apparently followed her husband, John Alford Tyng, who moved from Tyngsboro to Nashua. At one point, a respected soldier wrote in his journal that he saw Tyng when he visited her husband — but Tyng had already died. “It makes for one of New Hampshire’s best ghost stories, in my opinion,” Broome said.
Portsmouth seems to be a hub of ghostly activity. D’Agostino looks to the city’s port history. It used to be the biggest port in the region. “There was a lot of hustle and bustle,’ D’Agostino said. There were ships traveling in and out of port. There were a lot of rich people who didn’t want to leave their belongings behind. Families dealt with losing members at sea, leaving children orphaned, D’Agostino said .
“There are a lot of mixtures of energy,” D’Agostino said. “Things tend to stick around and keep showing up.”
Wicked theater and art
Ghost stories, monster stories and vampire stories have, throughout history, inspired artists of all stripes. Experience the thrill of the Halloween season on stage, screen and canvas this weekend in southern New Hampshire.
• For a truly scary evening, see Woman in Black at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre (125 Bow St., Portsmouth) through Sunday, Oct. 28. Tickets cost $24 to $52. Showtimes are Thursday, Oct. 25, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 27, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m. Visit seacoastrep.org or call 433-4793.
• Interference, a show about ghost hunters and investigations, is a late-night scare-fest written by Jacquelyn Benson and Heather Bourbeau. It shows at the Players’ Ring (105 Marcy St., Portsmouth, 436-8123) on Thursday, Oct. 25, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 26, at 11 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 27, at 11 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 28, at 10 p.m. A post-parade Halloween performance shows on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12. Call or visit playersring.org
• Visit the Mariposa Museum (26 Main St., Peterborough, 924-4555) for a haunting evening of shadow puppetry with storyteller and puppeteer Evan Michael Bush on Friday, Oct. 26, at 6:30 p.m. The show is called A Woggle of Witches. Admission costs $7 ($5 for kids).
• Get some scares while you eat at Mystery Dinner Theatre: Macabaret, produced by Castle in the Clouds and Get-A-Clue Productions at The Carriage House, 586 Ossipee Park Road, Moultonborough, on Friday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 27, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Call 476-5900. Tickets cost $50.
• The Creature Creeps plays at the Peterborough Armory on Elm Street on Friday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 27, at 2 p.m. What to expect: a mad scientist, his loyal assistant, a secret laboratory, some shrieks from the depths of the cellar and terrified villagers. Tickets cost $12. Call 924-3876. Visit actorcircletheatre.org
• Enjoy a Halloween Dinner Theatre at the Bow Lake Grange Hall (569 Province Road, Strafford) on Friday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 28, at 3 p.m., where you’ll see Murder at the Monster Bash. Tickets cost $20 and include an entree of seafood casserole, chicken picatta or spinach lasagna roll-up. Proceeds benefit the Bow Lake Community Club. Call 664-5557.
• See a suspense thriller this Halloween season: Wait Until Dark by Frederick Knott at the Players’ Ring, 105 Marcy St., Portsmouth. It shows Friday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 27, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 2, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 4, at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $15. Call 436-8123.
• Viewers in separate venues have reportedly passed out during screenings of the new film V/H/S (R, 2012), which takes the “found footage” approach to horror films to another level. The film will screen at the Keene State College Putnam Theatre (229 Main St., Keene, 358-2160, www.keene.edu/putnam
) from Friday, Oct. 26, through Wednesday, Oct. 31: Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9:15 p.m.; Sunday through Wednesday at 7 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.
• The Rocky Horror Show: LIVE! returns to the Seacoast Repertory Theatre stage (125 Bow St., Portsmouth, 433-4793) on Friday, Oct. 26, Saturday, Oct. 27, Friday, Nov. 2, and Saturday, Nov. 2, with all showings at midnight. Tickets are $20 per person.
• See a Haunted Living Art Installation at 1 Washington St. in Dover, featuring the show Into the Grim on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 10:30 a.m., and 1, 5 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 28, at 10:30 a.m., and 5 and 8 p.m.; and Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 8 p.m. Admission costs $12. Visit theatreunmasked.com
or call 358-9887. There will be snacks, a silent auction, photos and trick-or-treating before and after shows.
• Take in and take part in the interactive experience that is The Rocky Horror Picture Show (R, 1975). The film is screening at a number of locations this Halloween season, including Red River Theatres (11 S. Main St., Concord, 224-4600, www.redrivertheatres.org) on Friday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 27, at 9 p.m. Southern New Hampshire University (2500 River Road, Hooksett, www.snhu.edu
) will host a screening of the film on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. The Flying Monkey (39 S. Main St., Plymouth, 536-2551, flyingmonkeynh.com
) will host a screening on Friday, Oct. 26, at midnight.
• See magic-themed art at The Gallery, 225 Water St., Exeter, through Friday, Oct. 26. Call 778-8856 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The Gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
• The Magic of the Night: Haunted Family Magic with Stephen Knight will take place Friday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. at the Dana Center (100 Saint Anselm Drive, Manchester, 641-7700). It’s billed as a family-friendly interactive show with plenty of illusion and entertainment. Adult reserved seating costs $28.50.
• Face mortality at a screening of Tales from the Crypt, a 1972 British horror film, at the Colonial Theatre (95 Main St., Keene, 352-2033) on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10; order at thecolonial.org
• There’s a free Halloween Art event on Monday, Oct. 29, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., featuring dark art, Halloween and fall themes at Moonlight Meadery (23 Londonderry Road, Londonderry), with music by Boo Boo Groove Band and art by Susan Hannah and Tony Hersey. Call 421-4469 or visit moonlightmeadery.
• See Johnny Depp as vampire Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows (PG-13, 2012) on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. at Nashua Public Library (2 Court St., Nashua, 589-4600, www.nashualibrary.org
• Viewers will squirm and shriek as they follow The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), a silent horror film, at Manchester Public Library (405 Pine St., Manchester, 624-6550, www.manchester.lib.nh.us
) on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 6 p.m. Jeff Rapsis will provide live musical accompaniment.
• Join the hunt for One-Eyed Willie’s treasure, at a community screening of The Goonies (1985) at Manchester City Library (405 Pine St., Manchester, 624-6550, www.manchester.lib.nh.us
) on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 1 p.m.
• Look out for Leatherface in the original version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (R, 1974) on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 9 p.m. in the Music Hall Loft (131 Congress St., Portsmouth, 436-2400, www.themusichall.org
Willa Cather slept here
Cemeteries, spooky and not, are full of life
By Luke Steere
J.W. Ocker said four things attracted him to cemeteries: “famous interments, unique funerary art, a sense of atmosphere and a natural setting.” He’s visited many, but he was close to his last trip after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2010.
Ocker, a Nashua native, is a man experienced with the macabre, having published two books on the subject, including The New England Grimpendium: A Guide to Macabre and Ghostly Sites.
“Even cemeteries without any of those four things are fun to meander through. They’re never crowded, always quiet and plenty of things to see,” he said.
Even amidst chemo treatments, Ocker remained true to his documentation of the dead and strange, describing the remains of Padihershef, an Egyptian mummy on display at Mass General Hospital, and the technical history of the ether being used to sedate him. Among the sites covered in the Grimpendium are several cemeteries, places he said are rich with mortality, memory and history.
On his blog, O.T.I.S., short for Odd Things I’ve Seen, he describes exploits from his part-time devotion to the subject, a devotion whose source he can’t identify. Ocker is just fascinated with everything from Bela Lugosi’s grave to carnivorous plants to the commentary track on The Nightmare Before Christmas.
“It’s definitely a sincere interest, even when I’m being flippant about it. Basically, I love a good gravestone, but at the same time I see how silly it can be to love a good gravestone,” Ocker said.
Locally, he said he’s seen his fair share of final resting places. Blood Cemetery, a name given to Pine Hill Cemetery in Hollis, is “supposed to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in New England,” according to O.T.I.S. In the post, Ocker continued: “I hate saying stuff like that.”
“It’s just such an easy and suspicious moniker to throw at a cemetery,” Ocker said. “Even if you believe in ghosts, who’s in charge of determining whether it’s officially haunted or not? There’s no National Register of Haunted Places. Look around online just for a few minutes, and it seems as if every single graveyard in the entire world is ‘haunted.’”
“Even worse than ‘haunted,’ though, is ‘one of the most haunted,’ as if it were quantifiable and measurable. Now, if somebody wants to talk in terms of ‘spooky,’ I’m there. Though a lot of cemeteries are inherently spooky, some are more spooky than others,” Ocker said.
“My experience at pretty much every cemetery I’ve ever been to is the same,” Ocker said. “It’s always a pleasant time, especially with these old historic cemeteries like Pine Hill and Gilson [Road cemetery in Nashua]. That’s during the daytime. At night ... they’re spooky. I’ve never run out of a cemetery in fright, but I’ve been unnerved.”
This also includes the Little Red School House in Epsom, which is rumored to be entirely haunted but has a small graveyard on the grounds, and Vale End in Wilton, a hilltop spook site. Ocker said he has never seen a ghost, but he’s been all the places where he was supposed to see one. Nashua Cemetery Superintendent Jeff Snow said he gets calls for paranormal investigations, but he’s never witnessed anything himself.
“Unfortunately, or perhaps not unfortunately, I’ve been around these cemeteries all my life and never seen anything close to what some have reported,” Snow said. “Usually I just have a brief conversation with [the investigators] about being respectful and let them go on their way.”
Cemetery and the city
Snow said people using cemeteries for walks and sightseeing is a “good, cheap security measure;” having an extra set of eyes looking out for vandalism in the town’s six burial properties is beneficial. The sites are peaceful, he said, good places for taking a walk or enjoying the foliage in a quiet setting and also experiencing history.
“At first when I visited, I really was scared to walk in that cemetery, but you can certainly visit by yourself — it’s a place for people to reflect on life,” said Jane Beaulieu, chairwoman of the board of directors for the Friends of the Valley Cemetery in Manchester, a nonprofit formed in 2002.
By recruiting local historians and members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Beaulieu and her group have secured more than $300,000 in grant money to fix gates, fences and headstones within the 23-acre area. Donated by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. in 1840, Valley Cemetery is a garden cemetery, a grand park with walkways and bridges.
“This [city] is my home, where I was born and raised,” Beaulieu said. “Looking at pictures, you see this was once a beautiful place to go and picnic, a gathering place, and recently, there have been a lot of fences in need of repair and downed stones ... part of our mission was to fix this blight. It’s a way of encouraging surrounding property owners to look after their own property. ... If you see a broken window, you may find another one the following day, but being proud of the cemetery is an opportunity to reduce blight.”
The group is working on restoring the chapel near the Pine Street gate, possibly to hold functions or serve as a base for regular tours, Beaulieu said. As an ongoing project, the board is documenting the Valley Cemetery’s residents, including several Revolutionary War veterans, Amoskeag employees and many famous local residents, like the Elliots and the Curriers, whose names are still about town today.
New Hampshire cemeteries boast many historical and literary figures.
Willa Cather wrote in O Pioneers!, “We are all alike; we have no ties, we know nobody, we own nothing. When one of us dies, they scarcely know where to bury him.” Years later, when she died, given her own ties to Jaffrey, her family knew just where to bury her.
Jaffrey became an autumn retreat for Cather nearly five years after she wrote O Pioneers!, and it remained special to her. A woman once bound to the Great Plains of Nebraska and an apartment in New York City chose to lie in the Old Burying Ground, near where she and friend Edith Lewis would read books together at the base of Mount Monadnock.
In Concord, 14th president Franklin Pierce, a Hillsborough native born to a father who served in the Revolutionary War, is buried in the Old North Cemetery. An hour and a half’s drive north lies punk rocker Kevin Michael “G.G.” Allin, whose extreme antics got him attention in the 1980s. Pierce’s burial site is marked by a three-piece headstone with a column atop; Allin’s has been removed, as it was drawing fans who would visit and emulate some of his unsavory activities, as documented in 1994’s Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies.
Ocker’s “all-time favorite” is Claude Rains, who starred in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Invisible Man (Ocker’s pick) and is buried in Moultonborough’s Red Hill Cemetery.
Christa McAuliffe and Alan Shepard are buried in Blossom Hill Cemetery in Concord and Forest Hill Cemetery in East Derry, respectively.
Declaration of Independence signer Josiah Bartlett is buried in Plains Cemetery in Kingston. Not far from him is Betty Hill, who succumbed to lung cancer in 2004, having gained notoriety 41 years earlier when she and her husband, Barney, claimed they were abducted by aliens.
Jack Kerouac’s daughter, Jan Kerouac, a writer herself, lies in Saint Louis De Gonzague Cemetery in Nashua. And on the seacoast, in North Hampton’s East Cemetery, lies poet Ogden Nash.
These and other notables are documented on Findagrave.com, a catalog of people and their burial locations in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere. Ocker recommended the site as a good starting point for any grave-spotting adventure. On the other hand, readers can follow his month-and-a-half-long Halloween blog-a-thon for spooky destinations.
“Just search online ... plot them out using Google maps, and then choose the back roads setting on your GPS,” Ocker said. “That’ll be a great fall road trip every time.”
The ghosts of Exeter
Revolutionary soldiers inhabit local lore
By Cory Francer
Twenty-three graves, adorned with American flags, represent the final resting spot for the Revolutionary War heroes of Exeter. The town’s Winter Street Cemetery, a triangular piece of land bordered by Front Street, Railroad Ave. and Winter Street, closed in the mid-1800s but will be brought to life on Saturday, Oct. 27.
To provide an interactive history lesson about the town’s connection to the American Revolution, the American Independence Museum (1 Governors Lane, Exeter) developed “Ghosts of the Winter Street Cemetery,” a tour of the town’s historic site complete with live portrayals of some of the former Exeter residents with strong ties to the Revolutionary War.
Soldiers, their wives and a runaway slave who joined the militia and earned his freedom will all be on hand to tell their stories and answer questions about the time they spent in Exeter. Gail Colglazier, executive director of the American Independence Museum, said that despite the surprise snowstorm, last year’s inaugural event was well received and made for an original way to take history out of the books.
“It is a very positive way to tell the story of these people,” Colglazier said. “We are trying to honor them.”
One of the figures being honored for a second consecutive year is Jude Hall. As a slave in Kensington, Hall escaped captivity and joined the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment. After joining the militia, Hall fought in some of the most recognizable battles of the Revolution, including Bunker Hill, Valley Forge and Fort Ticonderoga.
Kevin Wade Mitchell, a Portsmouth-based actor, is returning to play Hall. Mitchell said that prior to last year’s event, he was not familiar with Hall, but said after substantial research on his life, became excited to teach residents of the area about him.
“It was a big surprise to one degree because they never knew such a person existed,” Mitchell said. “They didn’t know he was part of their history — a former slave that fought in all these battles.”
All the other figures who will be brought to life are members of either the Gilman or Folsom family, two central families in town at that time. Colglazier said that all the figures have important ties to Exeter, and some even have ties to the museum.
Sarah Vedrani, a junior at Regis College in Weston, Mass., said she has been volunteering with the museum since 2008. After portraying Deborah Folsom Gilman, the wife of Gov. John Taylor Gilman, in last year’s event, she said she was excited to return again for 2012.
Because historical records from the time period don’t focus on women, Vedrani said she had to do research into her character a little bit differently.
“A lot of the information available is on her husband,” Vedrani said. “So, I had to take that information and twist it around to fit her life.”
Elizabeth Folsom, who will be portrayed by Emily Belanger, ran the Folsom Tavern in Exeter with her husband, Samuel. After Samuel’s death, she maintained the business, in one of the buildings the museum is now housed in. The Ladd-Gilman house, another of the museum’s locations, was the home of Nicholas Gilman, a colonel in the war and father of John Taylor Gilman and Nicholas Gilman Jr., who signed the U.S. Constitution.
“Our curator, Wendy Bergeron, had done research on all these people,” Colglazier said. “Some are buried in the cemetery, and she went exploring. It’s really great that all the stones are here.”
Mitchell said he has played other historical figures in the past.
“I try to get into that character’s head to see what made him tick, and especially at that time,” Mitchell said.
In learning about Hall, Mitchell said the former slave had such a strong desire to live as a free man that he took a massive risk in running away and made a huge sacrifice in joining the militia. His thought was that in standing up for his country, his country would stand up for him. When he returned from the war, Hall took up residence in Exeter, bordering Kensington, where he had lived as a slave.
Once in Exeter, Mitchell said, Hall married and had 12 children at his home on Drinkwater Road.
“It’s a good learning experience for everyone,” Mitchell said. “People are amazed this person lived in their town and accomplished so much in that time period. He is such a hidden piece of history.”
The program is not recommended for young children and will last for approximately 90 minutes. Participants can begin their tour of the cemetery at either 3 or 4:30 p.m. In addition to the program at the cemetery, the American Independence Museum will also be open for its final day of the season from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Colglazier said the event has been a perfect match for the Halloween season, providing an educational and entertaining activity in the cemetery.
“History is people’s stories, and that’s what makes it so much fun,” she said. “It’s a different, unusual way to share people’s stories and get a little atmosphere.”
For something more savory and substantial than Kit-Kats and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups around Halloween, check these local eateries and markets that are honoring the season in their own foodie ways.
• Enjoy a Halloween Dinner Theatre at the Bow Lake Grange Hall (569 Province Road, Strafford) on Friday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 28, at 3 p.m., where you’ll see Murder at the Monster Bash. Tickets cost $20 and include an entree of seafood casserole, chicken picatta or spinach lasagna roll-up. Proceeds benefit the Bow Lake Community Club. Call 664-5557 for reservations.
• Energize for All Hallows Eve: Kids are invited to Riverworks Restaurant and Tavern (164 Main St., Newmarket, 659-6119) for trick-or-treating, a good first stop to get treats or dinner before going off on a sugar-filled adventure, on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 30.
• Day of the Dead dinner: Chocolate wunderkind Richard Tango-Lowy of Dancing Lion Chocolate (917 Elm St., Manchester 625-4043, www.dancinglion.us) holds his third annual Dia de Los Muertos event at Consuelo’s Tacqueria (36 Amherst St., Manchester, 622-1134) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1. Fare includes a traditional Mayan drinking chocolate, cacao-roasted chicken wrapped and served in a banana leaf, and a unique Dancing Lion Chocolate bonbon. It’s $20 per person; 40 seats, reservations required.
• Muenster burgers: The 28 Roadhouse (4 Sanborn Road, Londonderry, 425-7553) is offering a variety of themed burgers through October, including the Frankenburger, topped with muenster cheese, bacon and horseradish sauce; the Howling Muenster Burger, also with muenster and pepperoni and Roadhouse 28 sauce; Satan’s Devilish Cheeseburger, infused with a fiery blend of spices, jalapeno peppers and jalapeno cheese and the Octoberfest Burger, a classic topped with Black Forest ham, Swiss and grilled caramelized onions.
• Spooky Saffron: Visit the Saffron Bistro (80 Main St., Nashua) on Wednesday, Oct. 31, for some treats without the tricks. Halloween-inspired drink specials including the Jack-O-Lantern and Salted Karamel Apple.
• Free meals for kids: For all trick-or-treaters 12 and younger, check out T-Bones Great American Eatery (25 S. River Road, Bedford, 641-6100) and Cactus Jack’s (782 S. Willow St., Manchester, 627-8600) for a free dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 31, all day. Every adult with the party will be eligible for three free kids meals at every location.
• Election season: InTown Manchester is holding a Halloween Menu Item Contest and anyone can vote for the best creepy crawly menu items about town. Visit participating Manchester locations, try the items and vote on InTown Manchester’s Facebook page by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31. Check out The Farm (1181 Elm St.) for the Wicked exCIDERED cocktail of Stoli gala apple, Captain Morgan, Simple Syrup, a pinch of cinnamon and raw cane sugar; Thousand Crane (1000 Elm St.) for a Halloween Maki pumpkin, shrimp and seaweed salad and sushi with pumpkin sauce; Ignite (100 Hanover St.) for Roasted Butternut Chicken Alfredo, with green noodles and “Pumpkin Pie” — a Shipyard Pumpkinhead with a shot of vanilla vodka; Piccola Italia (815 Elm St.) for a butternut squash ravioli and chicken and pancetta in a frangelico cream sauce, sprinkled with cinnamon; JDs Tavern’s (700 Elm St.) for a “Blood Bath” cocktail with Black Vodka layered atop Bloody Mary mix, and Hooked (110 Hanover St.) for fried oysters in a carrot and ginger bisque and three fried oyster shooters to accompany the Pumpkin Slide Martini.