In Episode 218, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger explore Hull, Massachusetts, in search of multiple ghosts spotted around the turn of the twentieth century. After a ghostly horse and buggy was spotted by none other than local hero Captain Joshua James, a strange apparition stalked a local actor by the Hull Cemetery. We hear their accounts, and walk the grounds searching for the spooky specters.
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JEFF: Hull, Massachusetts, is such a pretty peninsula here in the southern part of Boston Harbor.
RAY: It is! There’s Nantasket Beach, all of the boats, the marina on the harbor side. This IS New England seacoast.
JEFF: Buuut… as we’ve learned over and over, no matter how quaint and pretty a town may look… there are often ghosts lurking in the shadows. Hull is no different.
RAY: Okay, I can see a large cemetery coming up on our right.
JEFF: Yup, that’s Hull Village Cemetery. Though a cemetery is the end of the story for so many… for us this is where we begin.
[CAR STOPS/DOOR CLOSES]
JEFF: We’re in Hull, Massachusetts, searching for a ghostly buggy and the spooky apparition of a woman who haunts these burial grounds.
JEFF: I’m Jeff Belanger.
RAY: And I’m Ray Auger, and welcome to Episode 218 of the New England Legends podcast. If you give us about 15 minutes, we’ll give you something strange to talk about today.
JEFF: Thank you for joining us on our mission to chronicle each and every legend in New England one story at a time. We’re a community of legend seekers who are always on the lookout for tales of ghosts, monsters, odd history, aliens, and anything that bumps in the night. Did you know most of our story leads come from you? This one did. Thanks to Christie Drolet who told us about this one in our Super Secret Facebook group.
RAY: October is a great time to look for ghosts, Jeff.
JEFF: Of course!
RAY: And I can’t wait for everyone to check out our Halloween special episode next week! This one is a little different than anything we’ve done before.
JEFF: It is. But I’m excited!
RAY: Now, before we going looking for these spooky specters in Hull, we want to take just a minute to tell you about our sponsor, Nuwati Herbals!
JEFF: But before we talk about Nuwati Herbals… Ray… did you see that darting shadow over there by that tree?
RAY: I’m not sure…
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RAY: Okay, Jeff, we’re in the Hull Village Cemetery looking for ghosts?
JEFF: We are.
RAY: This cemetery is pretty big considering there’s not much land available way out here at the tip of Hull.
JEFF: It is. It’s pretty. Wide-open space. Even though the cemetery covers a large area, we can see most of it from right here.
RAY: The point being if someone was walking through, we’d see them.
JEFF: Very true. But this boneyard was the location of only one of the sightings in town. Around the turn of the 20th century, the town of Hull was spooked. Let’s head back to the year 1900 and search for these ghosts.
JEFF: Hop in, Ray. We’re going for a late-night ride.
[HORSE AND BUGGY MOVING ALONG UNDER NEXT LINES]
JEFF: It’s the autumn of 1900, and the town of Hull is on edge. There’s talk of a ghostly horse and buggy moving throughout the streets. Especially around midnight.
RAY: It’s got to be close to midnight now. Are we going to ride around in this carriage until we spot it?
JEFF: That’s the idea. We’re riding near the Stony Beach section of Hull. We’re not too far from the cemetery.
[HORSE AND BUGGY RIDING]
RAY: Hey! Look up ahead, there’s a man walking near the side of the road.
JEFF: I don’t think that’s our ghost. He looks like a guy out for a walk.
RAY: Wait! Do you know who that is?
RAY: That’s Captain Joshua James! The guy is a local hero. Hey, stop the buggy!
JEFF: What did he do?
RAY: Back in 1837, when Joshua was ten years old, he watched a schooner carrying his mother and baby sister get knocked over by a sudden storm right off the coast of Hull. He looked on in horror as the boat sank. He made a vow to do everything he could do to save others from suffering the same fate. When he was 15 Joshua volunteered to jump into a boat manned by the Massachusetts Humane Society to rescue the crew of a nearby battered boat.
JEFF: Around 100 ships a day pass through this area going to and from Boston. It’s no surprise some of those ship encounter rough weather or other accidents.
RAY: Joshua James earned his first life-saving medal by the age of 24, and has been saving people at sea ever since. He earns his living as a boat captain and fisherman, but his passion is saving lives.
JEFF: Then I guess we shouldn’t be surprised he’s out here on the watch at this late hour. Let’s get out and watch with him.
RAY: Ahoy, Captain!
JEFF: I guess he’s a man of few words. We only got a nod.
RAY: I don’t want to distract him anyway. Hmmm… look over there… there’s another horse and buggy coming this way.
JEFF: Strange… that buggy has Captain James’s full attention too. Who else would be out so late?
RAY: Okay… this is REALLY strange. That horse and buggy is getting pretty close… but I don’t hear a sound…
JEFF: There goes Captain James chasing the buggy. Ray… let’s go!
RAY: The buggy didn’t make a right toward Nantasket… and it didn’t go left toward Battery Heights… it’s running straight across the road toward the water!
JEFF: If that were a solid horse and buggy, it would have flipped over… it’s still going!
RAY: It just ran right across the railroad tracks by the shore, then vanished by the seawall! It’s gone!
JEFF: And Captain James is scratching his head. The next morning Captain James tells some local friends what he witnessed the night before.
RAY: Captain James isn’t the first to have a sighting of the ghostly horse and buggy. There’s a small crowd gathered around him listening to his account. One of the men looks incredulous.
RAY: But the Captain shoots the man a look, and he’s silenced. There’s not a soul in Hull who would dare question the word of Captain Joshua James. If he says he say something… he did.
JEFF: Hull is on edge. There’s something haunting this town….
RAY: It’s early March, when another ghost sighting in town gets the town of Hull buzzing once again.
STILLMAN: Although the following statement may savor of superstition, something I positively do not believe in, it is nevertheless absolutely true in every respect, though others perhaps may think it of ghostly character. Stillman D. Mitchell.
RAY: Stillman Mitchel is a local Hull actor. He saw something he’ll never forget. He reports his encounter to the Boston Globe newspaper.
STILLMAN: I was notified to attend a rehearsal of the Hull dramatic club of which I am a member, at the residence of Miss Floretta Vining, last night at 8 o’clock. Meanwhile, however, without my knowledge, the rehearsal was postponed, but I was promptly on hand, where I found several other members of the club who had not received notice of the postponement.
A pleasant evening, however, was spent, with all except myself leaving at 10:30. I was engaged in an interesting conversation with a member of the household, and did not depart until 11:53, seven minutes before the street lights were put out.
The village cemetery lies less than a minute’s walk from Miss Vining’s. In order to get along as far as possible before the lights went out I walked quite rapidly. But I had scarcely reached the graveyard when a deep and sepulchral groan fell upon my ear. It startled me for an instant, but quickly recovering myself I kept on my way homeward.
Those awful and piteous moans continued, however, and just as I arrived opposite the new tomb, a white-shrouded figure rose as if from one of the graves and advanced toward me. At this moment, when some people, perhaps, would have been terrified, I felt as fearless as if it were broad daylight. This might have been because it instantly struck me that some of the members of the club who had left for home early in the evening were playing a trick on me.
I stopped and placed my hand on my hip as if to draw a revolver, at the time saying: What are you trying to do? You had better look out. It’s a dangerous thing to do, whoever you are, as some folks have been shot while playing such tricks.
The apparition which had started to descend the embankment drew back a step, but was silent. I was then convinced that had it been a member of the club or anyone that knew me he would have revealed his identity, but this thing in white, with one hand outstretched, stood like a statue with an electrical light right overhead streaming down upon it.
I walked along the plank walk a little father, when the lights went out. Then an idea suddenly struck me to hide and watch for anyone that might be playing a practical joke on me. Accordingly, I quickly got over the fence, on the embankment just below the summer residence of Lawrence McCarty, and hid under the walk, with my eyes sufficiently elevated to command a good view of the cemetery.
I quickly saw that if any of the boys were playing their pranks upon me they could not escape me even though the lights were out, as there was a bright starlight and their retreating forms would be clearly outlined against the sky behind the ridge. I then made up my mind to make a thorough investigation to go back to life saving station at Stony beach and borrow a revolver, and strange as it may seem, I entertained no fear, although there still stood the silent figure and white. It was clearly outlined against the dark embankment, and as I passed by on the sidewalk within 40 feet of it I again addressed it, but received no response.
I went on until I reached Miss Vining’s residence about half way to the life saving station, when it occurred to me that my story would not be credited. Therefore I turned about determined to find out what was under that glistening robe of white if it still remained. When I reached the tomb I found the statue in white was still occupying the same place I had last seen it. One hand was on the fence and the other stretched toward me. I boldly stepped off the sidewalk and approached it.
I had reached the middle of the street when it began to disappear. It did not move from the spot on which it stood, neither to the right nor left, but seemed to dissolve until it entirely vanished.
I do not pretend to say it was a ghost. I do not know what it was. But I have faithfully described my strange adventure at the cemetery in every detail.
RAY: And that brings us back to today.
JEFF: He doesn’t pretend to say it’s a ghost… but here we are standing in the Hull Village Cemetery. Just a few blocks from where Captain James had his ghostly buggy sighting and where Stillman D. Mitchell had his own strange encounter during a time when Hull was truly haunted.
RAY: The ghostly buggy thing bothers me a little?
JEFF: Why is that?
RAY: People becoming ghosts makes more sense to me. But how does a buggy stick around after it’s gone?
JEFF: Allow me to pose an even more skeptical question: How come ghosts aren’t naked?
RAY: Good point! I guess you could ask the same question about a person’s clothes that we could about this buggy.
JEFF: And yet, in almost every case of a ghost encounter, the ghost is wearing clothes. A white dress, a military uniform, or t-shirt and jeans…
RAY: Maybe ghosts are modest?
JEFF: This does get to the heart of it. Maybe a ghost is a message. A projection of what they want us to see. Or something like a movie that plays over and over and only for certain people and at certain times.
RAY: Most of what we know about this story comes from the March 5th 1902 Boston Globe article that details the two sightings. The article claims the mystery of the buggy was never solved.
JEFF: And at this point, it never will be. But the story persists, and we can’t help but look over our shoulder when passing through the old Hull boneyard. There have been ghosts here before, and that’s on the highest authority in town, none other than local hero Captain Joshua James. If they’ve been here before, maybe they’ll be here again… so for now, we’ll sit and wait…
RAY: It’s worth mentioning that the Hull Life Saving Museum is located right near where Captain Joshua James had his own ghostly encounter. The museum features an exhibit on the heroism of Captain James.
JEFF: We’d like to thank our patreon patrons for their on-going support of everything we go. They keep the lights on, and keep us going and growing. If you enjoy what we do each week, please consider joining our patreon patrons. For just $3 bucks per month you’ll get early access to new episodes, plus bonus episodes and content that no one else gets to hear. Just head over to Patreon.com/NewEnglandLegends to sign up.
RAY: We’d like to thank our sponsor, Nuwati Herbals, we’d like to thank Tim Ellis from the Creaking Door Podcast, for lending his voice acting talents this week, and of course our theme music is by John Judd.
VOICEMAIL: Hi, this is Raylee from Oxford, Connecticut. Until next time remember the bizarre is closer than you think.