Ghosts in Gloucester – The Mysterious Noises in Gould’s Court 1884 Boston Globe

Just in time for some Halloween eve spirit, curl up with a selection of Boston Globe news columns featuring 19th and 20th century Gloucester ghost reports.

First up a 19th century Gloucester ghost story from 1884 with a title as long as the day, “GHOSTS IN GLOUCESTER: The Mysterious noises in Gould’s Court. An Acadian French Theory of Their Cause–Men Less Brave Than Women. Frequent Gratuitous Rappings Unexplained.”


“I hope we shall not hear that noise tonight,” said the wife of Stephen McKinney as she sat in an upper room of 12 Gould court a week ago. A female companion expressed the same hope, and Mrs. McKlancy continued: “We may not hear it for a fortnight; we have not heard it for the last three weeks, and–”

She did not finish the sentence. At that moment, in the hall below, was heard a rap! rap! rap! as knuckles at the door.

Boston Globe 1884

(The writer adds flourish to the dialogue as if the resident was a native French speaker. Decades later Cher Ami was around the corner. Was this area a French quarter?)

1903 Sanborn map detail from plate 17 with Gould Court Gloucester, Massachusetts

Part Two was published the following day: “THE GLOUCESTER GHOSTS. Is Mr. Henry Hatch’s House Really Haunted? A Diagram Illustrating the Scene of the Strange Manifestations. Similar Stories of ‘Old Jeffrey’ and Esther Cox*.”

“Another remarkable case was that of Esther Cox, at Amherst, N.S., a few years ago…”

With a diagram. Not much of a story but it made the front page. Could have titled this tall tale Ghosts of Ghoul court.


In 1896 ghosts were reported at Stage Fort Park: “Gloucester’s Fortress is Alive With Ghosts. Warriors Tremble at Sight of Gliding Specters. Hundreds Turned Out Last Night to See “It.” And “It” Appeared at the Armory Window.”


Writer Henry W. Harris, Jr. quick piece and good read from 1921 considers Rev. Cotton Mather’s account of the Gloucester Ghost Battles of 1692 when the militia was called out to defend Gloucester from ghosts, “war and witch fever”.

“The latter soon located three alleged spirits and fired at them, whereupon they lay down. “I’ve killed three! he shouted to the oncoming soldiery. At this the spirits rose from the place where they had laid down and fired back–under the circumstances there was nothing else for a self respecting spook to do.”

from 1921 Boston Globe article by Henry Harris considers Cotton Mather’s account of Gloucester Ghost Battles of 1692 “war and witch fever”

For more about witches in Gloucester see my 2018 post


Every decade or so there’s a piece about that ghostly place, Dogtown. This one from 1960 describes preservation efforts at the time: “Paradise for Naturalists and Bird Watchers: Cape Ann Moves to Save Romantic Ghost Town”.

“Leading the drive to save the area from dumping and real estate development are several naturalists, including John Kiernan…President of Dogtown Foundation, Inc., is Dr. Melvin T. Copeland, former professor at the Harvard School of Business Administration and author of a history of the school. Working closely with him is another of the trustees, Elliott C. Rogers. A book by the last two men “The Saga of Cape Ann” has just been published…the handiest compendium on the history and byways of Cape Ann…”

Herbert A. Kenny, Boston Globe, March 20, 1960

And from October that same year, “Want Ghost Town Dead”