The INSIDER Summary:
- The “Moonlit Graveyard Ghost Stroll” in Mystic, Connecticut, is guided by a medium.
- It reveals fascinating details about religion, race, and gender in America’s infancy.
- Ironically, learning about history in a graveyard makes it come alive.
- No, I didn’t see any ghosts.
Local museums are a great way to learn about the history of any destination, and haunted houses provide spooky thrills, but moonlit graveyards are truly the best of both worlds.
Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, delving into American history through people that lived it is the most authentic way to get to know a place.
My friend Rivka and I booked a 'Moonlit Graveyard Ghost Stroll' through a tour group called Seaside Shadows.
For $20 a person the hour-and-a-half-long tour promises a lesson on photographing ghosts and the graveyard's 'real active spirits,' as well as local legends and folklore.
I thought it would just be a fun tour with a haunted house vibe, but I ended up learning a ton -- exactly what Reardon hopes to accomplish through her work.
'There's this misconception that a graveyard has to be scary because it's a final resting place, but it's a great place to honour and pay tribute to history,' Reardon told INSIDER.
'They didn't know if they were going to heaven or hell when they died; they believed in predestination,' Reardon said. 'That scared them.'
The language also became less morbid, from 'Here lie the bones of' to 'In memory of.'
A Native American burial mound had been repurposed as a colonial morgue. The shelves are still there.
Standing in the hollowed-out cave, the air felt heavy and thick.
We were introduced to a few locals, including Lucy Woodbridge, a woman who attended Yale in the 1700s, which was rare.
One of the most memorable sites was that of Quash Williams, an emancipated slave remembered for his motto 'Walk as well as talk.'
Even though he was freed and beloved by his townsmen, Williams is buried at the bottom of the hill, away from the rest of the graves. Reardon explained that this was done so that even in death, he'd be looking up at the people who once owned him.
His wife, buried next to him, died a slave.
'It was one thing to free a man,' Reardon told us. 'Quite another to free a woman.'
The fascinating, complicated history of religion, gender, and race in America begs to be told by those who are no longer alive to tell it.
Hearing about the lives of boundary-breaking women and freed slaves while standing at their burial sites brings potency to their narratives and humanity back to their history.
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