Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Haunted Wampanoag Sites in Plymouth, Massachusetts: Thanksgiving Redefined

In all of our United States history books we have been taught that the first Thanksgiving which took place in 1621 at Plymouth Rock was one of communal celebration between the Pilgrims and local Native Americans. Unfortunately the accuracy of historical events can be a bit skewed, deviating from the truth to make events seem more public relations-friendly. In the context of our traditional three day feast, Abraham Lincoln thought up the scenario pictured above as a way of showing a desire to cooperate with those peoples already living here in North America. But there is another side to the story: 

"You’ve probably heard the story of how Squanto assisted in their planting of corn? So this was their first successful harvest and they were celebrating that harvest and planning a day of their own thanksgiving. And it’s kind of like what some of the Arab nations do when they celebrate by shooting guns in the air. So this is what was going on over there at Plymouth. They were shooting guns and canons as a celebration, which alerted us because we didn’t know who they were shooting at. So Massasoit [the Wampanoag chief] gathered up some 90 warriors and showed up at Plymouth prepared to engage, if that was what was happening, if they were taking any of our people. They didn’t know. It was a fact-finding mission.....In those days, the English really needed to rely on us and, yes, they were polite as best they could be, but they regarded us as savages nonetheless.... You can see throughout their journals that they were always nervous and, unfortunately, when they were nervous they were very aggressive."

I wanted to highlight this little known perspective on American history because it gives us a side of a very popular holiday tradition in our culture we do not read about in textbooks. Please understand that in no way do I wish to demean the "spirit" of Thanksgiving or to assert that I am an authority of history. The other cultural perspectives are fascinating and should be given any merit they deserve. Despite the story presented by the Wampanoag people, many Native Americans today do treat this cultural event as a positive celebration and agree with the implied spirit of cooperation.

In this article you will discover haunted sites in the Plymouth, Massachusetts area that will continue to redefine your perspective on the Thanksgiving holiday. The Wampanoag people not only offer a rich history of culture and traditions, but they also have a past that is shrouded in the paranormal. What I hope to reveal to you are paranormal connections to the celebration of Thanksgiving that go far beyond the simple feast of 1621. The haunted sites, attributed to the Wampanoag tribes, are ones you may have heard of; however, you may not have made their direct connection with our November celebration or the Pilgrims who survived the dangerous journey.

Journey Across the Sea  

The 23 Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1621 and with them they brought the microorganisms of their native country, England. By the grace of God they made it to North America and were determined to settle and raise their families. The problem was they needed help to maintain survival. Here is where the Wampanoag Indians stepped up and showed them how to plant and grow corn. This honorable gesture on their part opened their people up to something they could never have anticipated - disease.

As a result of exposure, the Wapanoag people have suffered several different epidemics - each one wiping out a huge part of their population. The first, which came in three waves over four years, was in 1614 and is believed to be caused by a bacterial infection called leptospirosis or the 7-day fever. This disease, caused by infected rats, took a population of 12,000 and reduced it all the way down to 2,000. These mass epidemics created massive burial grounds on the Massachusetts mainland. 

The Wampanoag were also inhabitants of nearby Nantucket Island, 40 miles southeast of Plymouth rock. Here is where our paranormal journey begins.

At the island's high point, the Wampanoag population reached almost 3,000. After the Pilgrims migrated to the area and over a century later, the Wampanoag tribe had gone completely extinct from the Nantucket Island. At one point in history, right at the start of the Revolutionary War, 222 members of this tribe -then only numbering 358 - had died of a devastating epidemic. This time around the cause was blamed on viruses and bacteria that the Pilgrims had brought with them. Here, southeast of Plymouth on Nantucket Island, the Miacomet burial grounds were dug for these victims. This island remains very haunted to this day because of this sacred ground.

Since Nantucket is such a small island, there are very few paranormal investigation groups that pay a visit. There is one local team, the Nantucket Paranormal Group, that has been documenting paranormal experiences since November 2006. Over the past decade the Miacomet burial ground has gathered some attention from their investigations:

  • Since whaling was a popular trade in the 1800's, there have been reports of seeing a deceased captain haunting Nantucket Island. 
  • There is a story, shrouded in folklore, that tells of a little girl who met an untimely death. She is believed to still haunt the island. 
  • Ray Sylvia, Jr. is the founder of NPG and it is his own great-grandmother who has gained the reputation on Nantucket as the "Centennial." She lived to be 102 years-old and there are claims by other family members that they have seen her walking the island. 
"We saw something in a house in Sconset....It was 11 or 11:30 at night, about 20 degrees out. In the master bedroom we heard what sounded like a little girl's voice playing in the front lawn. Of course, there was nobody out there... We couldn't find a rational explanation for that one." - Ray Sylvia

Since it was literally freezing cold outside, the voice they heard had to be from a residual haunting. With over 200 Wampanoags being buried in such a small area in an even shorter time frame, this opens up huge opportunities for these types of hauntings. I have yet to find an investigation team, or individual for that matter, who has experienced paranormal activity from the deceased Native Americans. But, I believe, there has to be a massive prevalence of this activity.

To give you a little context for my reasoning, let's look at Civil War cemetery sites. I peronally have experienced soldiers running from behind trees and tombstones, curious of anyone who enters their cemetery. I invite you to check out one of my earlier posts on my experiences in Alton, Illinois at this link:

The residual hauntings in the Alton National Cemetery are rather intense and have left quite an impact on both my wife and myself. And so it really is no stretch of the imagination to suspect that the Miacomet burial grounds may very well be just as haunted. Anytime there is a major traumatic experience with individuals or groups of people, residual hauntings tend to be created. Since there is ghostly documentation of little girls on the island, the children may have been more strongly impacted by the epidemics. 

Freetown State Forest

The paranormal activity on nearby Nantucket Island is quite fascinating, but there's an area even closer site that is even more baffling. Freetown-Fall River State Forest is about 30 miles southwest of Plymouth, Massachusetts. It too is the burial site of Pocasset Wampanoag Native Americans, but this forest has phenomenal activity and folklore that goes off the charts. 

The wooded area cover 5,441 acres and is notorious for its scenery and nearly 50 miles of unpaved road. It is a hotspot for hikers, cyclists, fishermen, and hunters. It also has perhaps the most diverse paranormal activity known anywhere.

"The forest sits squarely within the infamous 'Bridgewater Triangle,' a 200 square mile area within southeastern Massachusetts that is the epicenter of a mind boggling array of inexplicable bizarre phenomena reported since colonial times, including strange creatures, Bigfoot, UFOs, ghosts, specters, ominous black helicopters, mysterious orbs of light, strange disappearances, giant snakes, poltergeist activity, and cattle mutilations, to name but a few."

Check out this 4 minute video to learn even more about this geographic area:

Thanksgiving Thoughts

The events at Plymouth Rock that occurred almost 400 years ago have forever changed American society. All of us are familiar with the Pilgrims who came to this country, but how much do you know about the other half of the Thanksgiving table? The Wampanoag people have a different perspective on our holiday and their culture has a very deep and rich tie to the paranormal.

The activity on Nantucket Island was brought about by epidemics, created naturally and brought over by the fleeing Europeans. The unrest their deaths has caused created a series of hauntings on the island, documented by the Nantucket Paranormal Group.

But what is surprising about the Wampanoag Native Americans is how strong and diverse the paranormal attributes are to their culture. The Bridgewater Triangle is certainly comparable to an Area 51 and the claims and legends coming from this huge forest seem almost unbelievable. One of my favorite claims from this area is documented on the website
 Mysterious Universe:

"The forest is said to be home to a race of diminutive humanoid creatures known as Pukwedgies, which have long been known by the native Wampanoag tribe. These creatures are described as being troll-like beasts around 2 to 3 feet in height and with smooth, hairy grey skin that is said to glow on occasion. The Pukwedgies have a notorious reputation for mischief and mayhem, and are said to intentionally startle people, throw rocks or sand in their faces, push or shove them, kidnap them, hurl them from cliffs, wrestle with them or even attack them with knives or spears.... Although this may seem at first glance as nothing more than spooky folklore, there are numerous visitors to the forest who have claimed to have seen such creatures, and the mischievous beasts have been blamed as the cause of the unusual number of people who have supposedly fallen from cliffs to their deaths in the area."

Works Cited:

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