Boston’s Haunted Trolley Ride: A Day to Remember

Jennifer Zuniga   Advertising Manager

On Sunday, Oct. 28, Eastern took a trip to Boston for a Haunted Trolley Tour. This creepy excursion is perfect for the living souls who want to go to most haunted sites that the city has to offer, especially during the spooky and dark Halloween season. We can’t deny that Boston has deep secrets due to its long history, in fact, the Trolley Tour is known as Boston’s only “flightseeing” ghost tour. Throughout the tour, we were able to visit the streets where the Boston Strangler once prowled; Copp’s Hill Burying Ground; King’s Chapel Cemetery, where the bones of the dead served as currency; hear about the horrible crimes that Jolly Jane committed; and learn about the events that happened at Omni Parker House.

At the beginning of the Haunted Trolley Tour, the students meet at the Welcome Center, which is located in Charles Street South at Boston Street and Park Plaza. As we made our way to the first stopping point, which was Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, our tour guide, a pyromaniac ringleader, told us the story of the Boston’s Strangler, an American serial killer who murdered at least 11 women in the Boston area between 1962 and 1964. The first victim was a 55-year-old woman, who was sexually assaulted and strangled in her ransacked apartment on June 14, 1962. Several other women were murdered in similar circumstances. This concerned the residents around the area, which caused the police to begin patrol. Additionally, the occupants placed glass bottles on the windowsill in case someone tried to break in, but the strangler was still able to get inside the victims’ homes with no trace that they were there. In 1965, Albert DeSalvo confessed to the murders. He, however, wasn’t charged with the killings even though he recalled every detail (how he “killed” them, the clothing the victims wore, how he broke in, etc.). Later, he ended up changing his story, stating that he didn’t commit the crimes, but he knows who did.

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, the second oldest cemetery in Boston, was founded in 1659 and has many merchants, artisans, and freed slaves buried there. Those buried include Increase Mather, Cotton Mather, Robert Newman (the patriot who placed the signal lanterns in the steeple of Old North Church for Paul Revere’s midnight ride to Lexington and Concord), and Prince Hall (the father of Black Freemasonry). This cemetery has gained a reputation for more than its significance to the city; many who’ve visited have claimed to experience inexplicable events— encounters that could only be attributed to the existence of paranormal beings. The many spirits that roam in Copp’s Hill are said to be the souls of those who are not able to rest peacefully. We also had the opportunity to hear the story of George Worthylake. He, his wife, Ann, daughter, Ruth, and three others, drowned while returning from Beacon island after attending church in Boston. The famous triple headstone for the Worthylakes still stands today at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. It has also been reported that George’s spirit still roams the lighthouse on Beacon Island.

We continued our tour by heading to King’s Chapel Cemetery, Boston’s west end, where the bones of the dead served as currency. John Webster, a professor at Harvard University Massachusetts Medical College in Boston, murdered a fellow named George Parkman, who owed his family money. One day, Parkman disappeared. A janitor at the Medical College who worked in the same building as Webster decided to investigate. His restroom was locked and the doctor was the only one who had a key. He was armed with a tool for chiseling and made his way down into the cellar where the restroom resided and began to dig. After hours of chiseling, he confronted a man’s leg and parts of a pelvis. Later, after a search of the furnace room, he discovered more bones and a set of fake teeth. These remains were later identified as Parkman’s.

After this, we got back on the trolley where our tour guide told us about the horrible crimes that Jolly Jane committed. She killed at least 31 people between 1880 and 1901, but she was also had a career and was known as a phenomenal nurse. She is known to be one of the most unusual serial killers in history. Growing up she had an unstable childhood. Her mother died of tuberculosis when she was one. Her father, Peter Kelley, sewed his eyelids shut. After this, she was adopted into a family and became an indentured servant to Mrs. Ann C. Toppan of Lowell, Massachusetts. Years later, she got a job at Massachusetts General Hospital, but she lost it because she recklessly gave out opiates. When her victims lay dying, she got a powerful erotic charge from holding and caressing them.

Additionally, we learned about the events that happened at the Omni Parker House, a hotel that is known to be the most haunted in Boston. The 10th floor is believed to be haunted by numerous ghosts, including Harvey D. Parker himself. A bearded man has reportedly been seen in colonial clothing on the 9th and 10th floors, and even once appeared at the end of a guest’s bed in room 1012. In room 303, a liquor salesman killed himself by mixing whiskey with barbiturates. He’s rumored to still haunt the room. Guests who have stayed in the room have smelled whiskey, heard the sound of raucous laughter, and have reported that the furniture moves every now and then. Another story told by the tour guide was about the haunted mirror that used to belong to Charles Dickens. He is said to have practiced his reading of the Christmas Carol in front of it for his sold-out American tour. Now, it is located in a hallway in the hotel, next to the press room, and is believed to be haunted by Dickens himself.

After experiencing all of this on the Haunted Trolley, I couldn’t neglect the fact that it was an experience that I will always remember. Through this, I learned that there are still many souls that are trapped in the city with no hopes of ever escaping. They haunt the living in hopes of leaving an everlasting mark in their lives. One thing is for certain, Boston is known for richness of its history, and people have died in tragic ways leaving behind secrets, pains, and hurt. After all, stick and stones may break your bones, but headstones will smash your head.

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