If you’re dying to go on a Watson Adventures scavenger hunt, we can make room for you. In fact, we can help you get a permanent position in one of the historic graveyards that you’ll tour on our Haunted Scavenger Hunts for Halloween, as well as on a number of other scavenger hunts across the country.
Here are some of our favorites!
As you’ll learn on our Ghosts of Greenwich Village Scavenger Hunt, part of Washington Square Park was built over an 18th-century potters field, a common burial ground. In the 1830s, when the mayor announced a plan to remove some of the bodies, some NYU students responded by digging up some skeletons and impaling skulls on the spikes of a new fence. In response to public outcry, the mayor decided to leave the dead alone. Hundreds if not thousands of bodies might still lie below the park–indeed, recent renovations uncovered human remains.
What is it about places called Washington Square? For much of its early history, Philadelphia’s Washington Square served as a burial ground, which includes an estimated 2,000 soldiers who died in the Revolution and the Civil War. On the Haunted Philadelphia Scavenger Hunt, you’ll check out the centerpiece of the park: a memorial to the Unknown Soldier, representing the many who still rest beneath your feet. But they have not always rested in peace. In the 19th century, gravediggers would sometimes disinter bodies and sell them to medical students.
Salem’s Old Burying Point holds the earthly remains of Mary Corey, second wife of Giles Corey—who implicated his third wife, Martha, as a witch, and then got himself pressed to death for refusing to admit that he too practiced the dark arts. On the Haunted Salem Scavenger Hunt you also find John Hathorne, a judge in the witchcraft trials. His ignominious actions helped inspire one of his descendants, Nathaniel Hawthorne, to write The House of the Seven Gables.
Adjacent to the graveyard is a restaurant formerly known as Roosevelt’s. Its employees and patrons reported all sorts of strange happenings there, from ghostly children disappearing into walls, to blazing lights waking neighbors in the dead of night.
Another source of inspiration for Mr. Hawthorne can be visited on our Secrets of Old Boston Scavenger Hunt, in the King’s Chapel Burying Ground. This is Boston’s oldest graveyard, dating back to 1630. Pay your respects to Elizabeth Pain, the woman who was supposedly the inspiration for the character of Hester Prynne in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Another famous writer is interred just a few blocks away on Tremont Street: The original “Mother Goose” is said to rest in the Granary Burying Ground.
The old joke about Wall Street is that, appropriate to its fame in finance, it starts under water and ends in the graveyard. That graveyard, at the western terminus of Wall Street, flanks Trinity Church. As you learn on Hamilton: The Scavenger Hunt and the Secrets of Wall Street Scavenger Hunt, some of the gravestones were charred by the Great Fire of 1776, which burned down the first Trinity Church. Alexander Hamilton himself lies under a pyramid-shaped tombstone that lies: It has an incorrect birth year. Hamilton’s to blame: When he arrived in America and joined King’s College he misrepresented the year, to make himself seem younger, you know, to fit in with the cool kids on campus.
But in the 19th century, permanent resident Charlotte Temple received the most visitors and flowers here. She was the star of a published sex scandal that probably thrilled more people than Hamilton’s published mea culpa about his affair with Maria Reynolds. In 2008, Trinity raised Temple’s large, flat slab to see what lay beneath—and found nothing. In fact, this stone honors a fictional character, the titular star of the ironically titled Charlotte Temple: A Tale of Truth.
Speaking of Alexander Hamilton, if you’re wondering whether you can find the duelist who didn’t throw away his shot, head to Princeton, perhaps after our Princeton Prowl Scavenger Hunt: A few blocks from the Princeton University campus is the Princeton Cemetery, where Aaron Burr rests with his family. While there, also pay respects to President Grover Cleveland, as well as to this man:
Find More Haunted Fun
Visit the Public Scavenger Hunt schedule to find an upcoming seasonal scavenger hunt in cities around the country. To ask us about arranging a corporate scavenger hunt, haunted or otherwise, contact us online or at 877-946-4868, extension 11.
Check out the rest of the blog for fun stuff—like more ghost stories from our scavenger hunts and a quiz on famous gravestones—and useful tips for planning private and corporate events. And while you’re at it, find us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@watsonhunts)!