Standing at the death’s doorway entrance of Cobb’s Hill cemetery in Barnstable Massachusetts, I shuffled my feet nervously as our tour guide explained why death’s doorways were a part of New England cemeteries built in the 1800s. The Puritans believed that if they entered with the dead, that they would die within the year or suffer extreme bad luck for the rest of their days. The death’s doorway pillars helped the Puritan’s with this problem. The pallbearers would place the casket on top of the doorway’s pillars and then walk around the outside of the cemetery to the living entrance. They would then cross the cemetery to death’s doorway from the inside and slide the coffin into the cemetery from there. Our guide finished this part of the story by asking us all to please step through death’s doorway with her. I reluctantly complied and stepped gingerly onto the damp grass of the cemetery, which was now lightly covered with a fresh coat of vibrantly colored fall leaves.
These are the kinds of interesting and chilling facts that you will receive while on one of the CAIPRS (Cape and Island Paranormal Research Society) tours. I could regale you with pages worth of the history and hauntings that I came away with from this tour, but that would spoil it for you so I will refrain as much as possible. The cemetery story is a good example of how the CAIPRS crew manages to present historical data that is infused with local lore and a spooky experience all at the same time. Our tour guide Deb, went on to point out all of the most haunted locations within Cobb’s Hill Cemetery and then let us roam around on our own to explore, experience, and photograph the place at night. It is illegal to enter cemeteries at night but the paranormal research society has special permission to be there with their guests. It is a unique opportunity to experience the special beauty that is found in these old majestic places from the 1800s. We had the added benefit of a clear night sky full of stars, and billowing fog on the ground that appeared to be hovering just below the beautiful old bows of some of the trees. The fog was there, in just enough quantity to paint an eerier image, while not obstructing the spectacular views that surrounded us in every direction.
Another favorite stop of mine was an establishment on Old King’s Highway that was haunted by a little girl. You get to go inside the hallway that she haunts and even though I am an agnostic when it comes to ghosts and hauntings, neither believing, nor disbelieving, I found myself covered with goose bumps and feeling waves of chills spilling over me as I walked the hallway there. No doubt I spooked myself, but this is a testament to the good job that CAIPRS does in delivering the experience that they advertise.
Old King’s Highway in Barnstable Massachusetts is a gorgeous stretch of route 6A that is a wonderful visit no matter how you go. The walking tours run from April to November. The fall and Halloween season is a great time to visit, but you can't go wrong no matter which month you choose to explore the genuine antiquity of Barnstable Village. If you are wondering if a CAIPRS tour is right for you, just remember that you don’t have to believe in order to enjoy this journey into the past of old Cape Cod. You’ll have a great time no matter what you believe.
I loved this book by Hanz Holzer. It has a fascinating chapter on an Inn in Barnstable that I have stayed at.