On a chilly night, late October, 12 of us gathered in Mini Park on Main Street, Edgartown. There we were met by Karen Altieri and Gary Cook, two of the Island’s foremost ghost experts, for our Vineyard Ghost Walking Tour of Edgartown.
Town was quiet, since it was a Tuesday, and the sky was black, and clear with a bright moon. I had no idea what to expect from the ghost tour, but I was excited for the experience. I can’t believe that in the almost 10 years I have lived here, I have not done this yet.
The ghost tours have been going on for about 18 years. Holly Nadler, author of several books about the spirits who call Martha’s Vineyard their home, had started the concept and originally given the tours. Let’s just say Holly knows a lot about this topic.
About four years ago, Karen and Gary decided they wanted to do them. So, Holly taught them about all sorts of spooky and funny tales about the spirits of the Martha’s Vineyard.
Now Gary has grown up a believer in ghosts and the supernatural. He grew up with his grandmother always talking about ghosts and her experience with them. So, Gary is open to ghosts and has had lots of his own ghostly experiences which he enjoys telling people about.
Karen on the other hand was quite a skeptic, which I learned can be a lot of fun for ghosts, since it is those, who the ghosts like to have a little fun with. When Karen first considered doing the ghost tours, she was more than doubtful. However, she soon learned that spirits were quite real, and she would have her own stories to share.
So, the group of us made our way down the quiet, dark streets of the Island’s oldest town, to the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette newspaper building. Oh, but before we left the park, we had to relax ourselves and open our minds, so we could be open to the possibility of things to come.
Though the Gazette has been in that building since the 1800’s, it did have a previous life. In the 1700’s it was a poor house, meaning it was a place that housed several families. Legend has it that there were two men fighting about one of the mans’ wife. Both loved her, and there was a battle, but only one survivor.
One man fell from the roof during the fight, dying instantly. His spirit is clearly not ready to rest, since Gazette employees see this man sometimes at night in the building. Though he’s not angry or so it seems, but rather he wants something. Perhaps his story has been not been told correctly. I wonder.
The Gazette is not a one-ghost kind of place. Many of the employees have seen another male ghost in the downstairs space. This ghost seems to be smiling most of the time. Sometimes when his ghost disappears, the sound of a barking dog can be heard.
This is believed to be the ghost of the Gazette editor from the 1940’s, Henry Beetle Hough and his dog. There is actually a picture of Henry and his dog in the lobby of the building. Since Henry is smiling, I guess it would be safe to say that he’s happy with how the Gazette is doing.
Gary and Karen told us that most ghosts are mischievous. At the Gazette, they like to move coffee mugs, type little notes on the computer and mess with the technology, which is stuff that’s apparently pretty common for ghosts.
Though Gary is OK to work here at night alone, it’s a different story for Karen, who has had notes written on the desk that have said “Get Out.” I don’t think I’d want to be there alone either!
Learning A Thing Or Two About Ghosts
Also noteworthy about the area the Gazette building and other nearby ones are in, they sit upon a large Wampanoag burial site. When Edgartown became a popular place to live, that was the common practice sadly, just build right on top of the graves. Yikes, sounds like a less than smart decision to me whether you believe in ghosts or not.
Apparently, this practice can lead to a “negative vortex.” A vortex, according to Manchester Paranormal is a gateway to the world of the living, thought to be the energy of several spirits collectively grouped as one energy.
When captured in pictures, the vortex looks like a funnel of light. Sometimes this will be surrounded by paranormal lights, or what Gary and Karen referred to as Orbs (ghosts). These Orbs are usually what people will catch on film with a camera.
Why do ghosts like to stay in our world? Well, often it’s because of burial disturbances. People like to lay in rest. This is one of the most common reasons for ghosts.
Also, sometimes the spirit cannot rest because there is something it still needs to do — right a wrong, or help a loved one in some way. A ghost usually has a mission it seems. These are all things that I learned on the tour.
Also, I learned that ghosts live in a sensory world. So, it might not just be something you see or hear, but it could also be something you smell. Makes you think doesn’t it.
Vineyard Ghost Walking Tours
We went to a number of other places on the tour, but I am not going to tell you about them all. After all, I want you to take the tour yourself, and see what you experience.
I’ll give you a couple of hints about other locations though (the pictures help too). There was a great ghost story with Donna Karan, yes the fashion icon, and a creepy look at the graves of the Vineyard’s first Governor, Thomas Mayhew, where there are definitely spooky things happening.
The Vineyard, especially Edgartown, is so rich with history, and there is so much we probably don’t know about what happened over hundreds of years, it’s no doubt that this is indeed a haunted Island.
Walking through Edgartown at night in the silence and dark was an adventure. Add to it, all sorts of interesting historical facts and paranormal stories, I could not help but get caught up in it all. Every house we passed with dates like 1664 and the like, I wondered what was roaming the halls at that moment.
At the end of the tour, we finished up with our own mini seance to make sure we did not take any of the spirits home with us. This may sound funny, but I was glad we did it.
After all, many of us have had our own experiences with the paranormal, and I’d rather be safe than sorry. I really enjoyed doing the tour and recommend it for your Vineyard Bucket List.
Though no longer offered weekly, Vineyard Ghost Walking Tours are available. If you can get together a group of 6 or more people, Karen and Gary will do a private tour for you. After doing the Edgartown tour, I can’t wait to do the Oak Bluffs (think Campgrounds) and the Vineyard Haven tour. Just the sight of the old Marine Hospital makes me wonder.
Thanks for reading On Point. If you’d like more information or to schedule your own ghost tour, you can call 508-627-9445. Please don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, on follow us on Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest and YouTube