A visit to Vale End Cemetery

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Last modified: 10/30/2015 5:48:31 PM
Whatever you do, don’t go to the Vale End Cemetery after dark. There’s a reason that people used to gather there, two or three giggling teenagers or large groups, creeping around by flashlight in the wee hours, — to the point that the town of Wilton had to ban visitors to the graveyard from dusk to 7 a.m. Yes, there’s a reason: Folks say it’s haunted.

With Halloween on the brain, I headed up to the cemetery ahead of the setting sun on a chilly fall evening last week. As I drove up the hill, I could see someone waiting for me, gazing off into the wooded depths of the surrounding forest, shadows growing long. It was paranormal expert Shane Sirois of New Ipswich, a longtime ghost hunter; who better, I’d thought, to help me navigate the markers and memories of the ancient cemetery than he?

This wasn’t Sirois’s first trip to Vale End, by any means. “There are tons of cemeteries out there that people say are haunted — they aren’t,” Sirois said. “This is the only active cemetery I’ve ever been to — and it’s not because of the cemetery, it’s because of the land and the properties around it. And it’s not evil! It’s peaceful.”

Sirois recalled his first visit, fishing down in the Sand Hill Road reservoir downhill from the cemetery. He looked up and saw a woman walking into the woods, up an overgrown trail toward the graveyard. Where she’d come from, he could not imagine. He said he chased her up the hill, but she was out of sight, and by the time he got to the top, she was gone.

The experience may have spooked the average observer, but Sirois said he’s seen it all.

“To see a full-body apparition — for some people, that freaks the crap out of them! For me, it’s second nature,” Sirois said.

It was the first apparition Sirois said he’d seen at Vale End, but it wouldn’t be the last. On subsequent trips, he recounted, Sirois saw a bearded figure pacing back and forth, seemingly searching for a low-lying gravestone, and a little girl, who walked toward the stone wall at the edge of the cemetery before dissipating before his very eyes.

Although he reported numerous apparitions at Vale End, he said he’d never seen one he could identify as Mary Ritter Spaulding, the so-called “Blue Lady” of legend who supposedly haunts the grounds. We checked out the gravestone — currently riddled with a spate of juvenile graffiti — but neither saw nor felt anything out of sorts.

Sirois has appeared on television and on numerous radio programs, and had some of his investigations featured in books on the paranormal. Last week, he took a little time off from investigating a “highly active” house in Connecticut to give a talk at the New Ipswich Library — and meet with me at Vale End. But what makes him such an expert?

To hear him tell it, a long, mysterious sickness as a child culminated in a “death experience,” during which, he said, he was shown things that let him understand the true mechanics of a haunt.

Sirois said that he can not only identify a haunt, but “reverse engineer” one as well — “and I have done that,” he said, in a controlled environment. How he does that, though, is something that will remain secret, as he said he “can not and will not” share the secrets revealed in his death experience.

Believe him or not, Sirois’s conviction seemed real, and he has a message of positivity behind his investigations and lectures. When he speaks with those who think they’re haunted, they often are; sometimes it’s a ghost, other times it’s merely negative energy (often, it’s both).

“I get to send them in a more positive direction in their personal lives,” Sirois said, “and I get to rid them of their negative memories that they’ve latched onto.”

We kept chatting, and Sirois told me of another apparition he’d seen, this one while doing a side job renovating a house in southern New Hampshire. The family was on vacation, the doors and windows were locked, but Sirois said he looked up to see a man standing in the doorway. The man, he said, was just as surprised to see Sirois as Sirois was to see him, and the figure promptly bolted, disappearing with no apparent explanation.

“Then I thought — what if I was his ghost?” Sirois said.

Before long, the sun was fully down, and we were standing in pitch darkness, talking about ghosts. Dusk came quick, and we had to make tracks hastily lest the authorities came around.

I took a last look back toward the Mary Ritter Spaulding grave. Was that a blue spark I saw, dancing like a fairy in the night, just above the headstone? Probably just a distant headlight on the Isaac Frye Highway, briefly visible through the trees, I reassured myself.



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