Boston’s Granary Burying Ground

Boston has stood for many things since its inception in 1630. American Independence and freedom were born here. Education flourished, developed, and matured within the boundaries of this early metropolis. 

Of course, Bostonian patriotism is famous nationwide as a marker of their individuality. Their sports, food, and drink are all feverishly defiant symbols of their city. The city takes pride in the treatment of its dead as well. A city with a history so old must endeavor to do so. 

Correctly and in such a manner that begs the long passage to defy them. The Granary Burying Ground holds up Bostonian pride with its symbolic Puritan tombstones unlike any other. The Burying Ground holds the remains of over 5,000 people, many of them tied into the American Revolution through diplomacy and politics. 

Signers of the Declaration of Independence, such as John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Robert Treat Paine, all rest here. Benjamin Franklin’s family boasts one of Boston’s finest memorials among these hallowed grounds. The fevered spirits of these patriots still roam here and have been witnessed by many. Don’t believe us? Read on, or take a tour with Boston Ghosts today

The Granary Burying Ground

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Founded in 1660, three years after the foundation of one of the oldest cities in America, The Granary Burying Ground accepted burials up until 1880. For over 200 years, the burial grounds provided a service to the dead and comforted for living. 

It was built to accommodate a rising population and an increasing need for more space in the nearby Kings Chapel Burying Ground. Its odd namesake, odd in the sense that no granaries are visible, came to be when a 12,000-bushel grain storage building was constructed nearby in 1737. 

Today the Park Street Church stands where the granary once was, resting over 2,000 gravestones and 5,000 corpses. Many tombstones vanished as the years passed, and others were buried further below ground in voluminous chambers. This was apparent in 2009 when a tourist wandered off the beaten path searching for quality photos. 

She soon found herself in an eight-by-12-foot chamber 3 feet below ground. Falling through a decrepit slate cover, she discovered a staircase that led to a forgotten crypt. The crypt of Jonathan Armitage was viewed as a statement in 1732/33. This odd date does not signify a two-year term; instead that he was interred in both years! 

These years date from a time when the British crown still followed the Julien Calendar. As they transitioned to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, many records were kept within both years. Luckily the woman did not damage the crypt or come into contact with any human remains upon her surprise entry. 

The Granary has been well kept since its no vacancy sign was turned on. In the late nineteenth century, landscaping projects were undertaken to create neater paths for visitors as well as make room for a new modern invention, the lawnmower. This could explain the odd ratio of tombstones to inhabitants. 

It was a trend in the Victorian for cemeteries to resemble parks. One could visit their loved ones in comfort and enjoy the beauties of the outdoors simultaneously. This trend continues to this day around Boston’s many beautiful cemeteries and graveyards. 

Revolutionary Heroes

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Many founders and firestarters of the revolution reside in the Granary Burying Ground. Among them are the individuals who died during The Boston Massacre. By 1770 many American colonialists were growing wary of British rule. “No taxation without representation” became a common motto among early Americans tired of paying for the King’s oppressive regime. 

Sixteen thousand colonialists lived in Boston then, while only 2,000 soldiers patrolled the city. On February 22nd, a mob of patriots attacked a loyalists store. A young boy of only eleven was killed in the process. Accidentally shot dead by the gunfire of customs officer Ebenezer Richardson. 

This raised tensions, but on March 5th, 1770, a full-on riot broke out when a group of colonialists attacked one soldier. He called for backup, and at the end of it, all five lay dead, and six were wounded. They all now rest in the Granary Burying Ground including; African American dockworker Crispus Attucks, rope maker Samuel Gray, Sailor James Caldwell, Samuel Maverick, and Patrick Carr. 

This event brought the severity of revolution to the forefront for many Americans and inspired many to join the fight. One can only wonder if their spirits are indeed at rest or not. Being at the center of such a traumatic event undoubtedly left them with unfinished business. 

Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, and Paul Revere also lay here eternally. One lesser-known Revolutionary calls this cemetery home, James Otis Jr. Otis was a Harvard-educated lawyer whose parents were some of the first in Massachusetts. He played a significant role in handling political affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and published many works decrying the harsh rule of the King. 

Many say that his spirit is among those that walk the neatly trimmed pathways. In 1769 he got into an altercation with a customs commissioner that accused him of treason. Their words turned into action, and at the end of it all, Otis was left with a terrible head wound.

The Death of James Otis Jr.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This head wound, a particularly deep cut from a sword, left Otis with a deteriorating mental wound. His mental health seemingly had been declining for quite some time. This, however, exasperated the situation. He lived for almost fifteen more years. Although deemed insane by the public, he continued his patriotic work, serving in the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 and arguing a case in 1778. 

The truly odd thing about Otis, however, was his death. It is said by many he always prayed to be struck down by lighting. Then one day in 1783, it happened in Andover, Massachusetts. They say he is still electrified to this day. In fact, many strong EVP readings have occurred in the area around his grave. 

Orbs have been seen floating through photographs, and many visitors have witnessed strange occurrences. Next time you visit Boston, find out for yourselves on a tour with Boston Ghosts!