Located off a very quiet street, with a terrific view of the Piscataqua River, this small, peaceful cemetery officially came into being in 1671, when Captain John Pickering, II agreed to donate this half-acre for the purpose of having an official city burial ground, with the promise that the Pickering family could graze their cows on the grass between the grave stones. This explains why many earlier grave stones before 1682 are missing, and why others are knocked askew. The cows weren’t too respectful of the dead; just looking for something to eat!
Citizens of Portsmouth, from the common folk to the prominent families were laid to rest here, during the 1600s-1800s. Important families of Portsmouth include the several generations of Pickerings, Wentworth family, the Vaughan family, the Rogers family, and the Lears family.
The grave stones are beautifully carved in the style of early American folk art, mostly of skulls and cherubs; the work of the finest stone cutters from eastern Mass., who were hired to make these lovely markers for the departed loved ones of Portsmouth.
There are several graves of interest. The earliest, readable grave stone is the marker of John Hoddy, who died in 1684. The grand Dr. Vaughan tomb is located in the right hand corner of this burial ground. Another grave of interest is the resting place of Elizabeth Peirce, who died in 1717. The grave is all alone, not near any family plots. Also, a tall, slanted gravestone marks the shared resting place of two very young children, both under 3 years from the same family who died in the yellow fever epidemic of the 1790s.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Lonely spirits who for some reason can’t find their way to the other side, are likely to reach out to the living in this world, sometimes craving attention and contact. Sometimes people who were movers and shakers in this world, like to show the living that they are still able to shine regularly or on occasion. Sometimes grief/terror is so strong during a serious illness, a traumatic death, or at the death of loved ones, it imprints itself in the environment in a residual haunting.
Female entity of Elizabeth Peirce
Visitors to this quaint burial grounds report that they were followed as they visited the gravestones. Heard footsteps following close behind them. When standing near the winged skull decored grave stone of Elizabeth Peirce, people have felt a strong, unseen presence that follows them around the graveyard. One paranormal investigator, Roxie Zwicker felt a little push from an unseen presence on her back near this grave stone.
On approaching the grave stone of the two little children, people have picked up on the intense grief felt by the parents of these little ones. Dr. Vaughan’s above ground tomb has been known to glow when captured in a photo.
A Big Probably So! Though it is small and quaint, there seems to be a few restless entities who quietly follow the living, and on occasion, try to make non-verbal contact, letting some people know that they are still there. Visitors and paranormal investigators have had personal experiences here for many years. Pictures have been taken of Dr. Vaughan’s tomb, and it does seem to glow, but not always. Perhaps its glows when Dr. Vaughan is visiting!
There seems to be a lack of hard evidence shared and published on-line, though many people who write books include Point of Graves Burial Ground as a prime place to have a personal experience!
The Point of Graves Burial Grounds can be found on the point of land just before the Pierce Island Bridge, next to the flower gardens at Prescott Park. The Point of Graves Burial Grounds is right across the street from the Strawberry Bank Museum parking lot. It is on the south side of Mechanic Street, between Marcy Street and the Pierce Island Bridge. There are two houses on either side of the burial grounds. Take Market St. toward the Historical District and the Strawberry Bank Museum. Stay on Market St., until you reach Middle St., bearing left. Turn left onto State St., and then right onto Mercy Street.
- “Haunted New Hampshire” by Thomas D’Agostino
Schiffer Books, 2006
- “Haunted Portsmouth: Spirits and Shadows of the Past” by Roxie Zwicker
The History Press, 2007
- Images of America, Portsmouth Cemeteries by Glenn A. Knoblock
pg. 29 Arcadia Publishing, 2005