By Thomas D’Agostino from Haunted Massachusetts
I am surprised the spectral encounters at Minute Man National Historical Park are not reported as much as one may have expected. From the day of April 19, 1775, to now, a stretch of thoroughfare from Concord to Lexington known as Battle Road has become an indelible mark in the forging of America’s independence. So powerful is the events that took place that fateful spring day, the energy has seemed to remain suspended eternally in time.
The Park was created on September 21, 1959, as a memorial to the American Revolution. Minute Men were basically militia who were well trained and ready to take arms on a “minute’s notice.” (It is thought that the best Minute Men in the colonies came from Smithfield, Rhode Island, my hometown.) Battle Road runs through Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord where the “shot heard round the world” was fired at the North Bridge on April 19, 1775, by a member of the Colonial Militia. No one knows who actually fired that fateful round but it became a motto that made history. In the throes of impending battle with Great Britain, our Declaration of Independence was instituted and signed in 1776 and the birth of a nation became a lingering legacy. A few spirits of ‘76 still linger as well. Park rangers have related a few accounts to spin of the ghosts that have never left their posts hundreds of years after the skirmish.
Nine hundred acres of land wind along segments of the original Battle Road. Along the Road there are old taverns and homesteads that witnessed the building of a nation. Some of the taverns such as the Hartwell Tavern where Ephriam and Elizabeth Hartwell farmed became a meeting place where the continental army discussed strategies of the inevitable struggle with the British regulars. There is also the Buckman Tavern near Battle Green where the Lexington Militia met on April 19, 1775. Taverns were the early sources of information. News from travelers was always a welcome occasion. Mail and newspapers of the day were often brought to these public houses and many important meetings penned their minutes within their walls.
In 1775, local militiamen emerged from the Buckman Tavern and formed two rows on the green in preparation for arriving British troops. The militiamen suffered the first casualties of the American Revolution when the two sides exchanged fire. This was effectively the official start of the war. After that confrontation, British troops had to march back to Boston where they were met with constant fire from the colonial militia. Hundreds were killed or wounded from both sides during that long march. Battle Road may now lull in the absence of musket fire but there are still many spirits who remain for one reason or another on the eternal journey to freedom.
The Jacob Whittemore House was witness to the skirmish. Some of the witnesses are still around. The home is now residence to park rangers and their families. According to reports by the tenants, it is quite haunted. Several years ago my friend Bob Vespia and I visited the park. The Jacob Whittemore House stood placid among the bushes and gardens that immediately transported us to centuries past. The people still seen from centuries past, including a little boy who used to play with one of the ranger’s children’s toys. The ranger’s children complained of a little boy in a dress taking their toys. It was common in the old days to outfit young boys in dresses as they grew too fast to keep acquiring pants for them.
Unexplainable noises in the house are common. Ghostly footsteps are heard throughout the building. Doorknobs rattle and turn as if someone is about to enter. They then lay dormant and all is quiet. The past residents seem to be active in both sound and sight. The countenance of a man has been seen in the house as well as the misty figure of a woman with no feet floating through the halls. Who the apparitions are is anybody’s guess. There were so many different families who lived in the house over the centuries. Pay a visit to the park. Historically it is an education of priceless value. Who knows what entity you might run into marching down the road or who might take rest beside you in one of the taverns?