A Boston Ghost Tour is best taken under a dark sky with the the light of a full moon filtering through high clouds, punctuated with the occasional rumble of thunder and spark of lightening.
That’s what we discovered after our relaxing Boston Duck Boat tour, satisfying dinner at Dirty Water Pizza, and delightful Uber black ride with Luigi, who played opera and enchanted us with his Italian accent. He dropped us off at the Massachusetts State Building on Beacon Hill, whose dome is gilded over a sheet of copper installed by Paul Revere’s Revereware company.
We took the Death and Dying Ghost Tour from Ghost City Tours because the starting time worked best for us. To stay true to the tour name, our guide Zach didn’t skimp on the gruesome details. We started in front of a statue of Mary Dyer, a Puritan-turned-Quaker who, to make his long story short, was hanged for being a Quaker in Puritan-land. We moved to the Boston Common where we heard the risks you took as a nanny in 17th century Boston, as Goody Glover learned. She was hanged as a witch, the last witch hanging in Boston, after her tiny charges ganged up on her. One day she must not have given them the cookies they asked for, because they got so mad at her they starting walking backwards and speaking gibberish, accusing Goody of casting a spell on them.
Then things really got good. We stood in front of the private Boston Athenaeum where Nathanial Hawthorne chatted with the ghost of his recently deceased friend. And there we learned about the “Narrative of the Life of James Allen, alias Jonas Pierce, alias James H. York, alias Burley Grove, the Highwayman, Being His Death-bed Confession to the Warden of the Massachusetts State Prison.” At the prisoner’s request, after his execution, the memoir was printed and bound HIC LIBER WALTONIS CUTE COMPACTUS EST. Umm, look that one up.
My favorite part was standing just outside the King’s Chapel Burying Ground, the oldest cemetery in Boston. Zach told us about how, in those days, bodies were only buried a few feet deep. So when it rained, it wasn’t uncommon for said bodies to float away down the streets. People believed those floating bodies were vampires (I would have suspected zombies, myself) and did things like grind their bones to make tea. I couldn’t find any corroboration, which doesn’t mean it’s not true, but Zach could just have a good imagination.
At this point, we were done. As in done – done, exhausted. We ditched the last bit of the tour and caught another Uber to the hotel with the knowledge that Boston is so chock-full full of ghosts and hauntings that you don’t even have to know where to look.
It was a great tour. Labeled as adults-only, and even then not at all suitable for the living sensitive and squeamish souls among us. If you’re not going to Boston and would like to know more, you may be interested in “Ghosts of Boston: Haunts of the Hub.” Being Boston, you’ll get as much history of Colonial America as you will ghost stories. (I may earn a small commission from your purchase.)