Govs Ghost Stories

Govs Ghost Stories

As old as the Governor's campus and its buildings are, the presence of ghost stories should not surprise us. Nearly every old house has some ghost tale that has circulated among its inhabitants. On this campus, one of the interesting things about our ghost stories is how they have changed through the years. Old books about local history, student articles in The Archon and The Governor, and other forms of campus lore reveal a variety of popular ghost stories through the years.

The oldest ghost story centers on the man first responsible for choosing Master Moody as the school’s first Master. The Reverend Moses Parsons, father of Theophilus Parsons, was the pastor at the Byfield Parish Church only several miles up the road. For years, the church and the school had close ties, with students walking the almost two miles to the church to attend mandatory Sunday services. Parsons was generally well regarded by the community.  His forward thinking deacon, Deacon Coleman, found the reverend to be sinful in one important area: Reverend Parsons owned slaves. Deacon Coleman was among those who were speaking out about the evils of slavery and felt that any man who owned slaves was not serving God. This was Coleman’s explanation for the ghost that visited Byfield one night in the late 1700s. The spectre, which first appeared at Mansion House as a cloaked figure nearly twenty feet tall, moved through the town until arriving at the church, circling it and finally disappearing with a loud cry. Deacon Coleman believed it to be the Devil, whose presence was a sign of God’s displeasure with the Reverend Parsons.

Other campus ghosts have appeared to be more benign. Most of us have heard the story of the Governor, his wife Catherine, and their horse riding up the stairs of Mansion House upon arriving there after their wedding. In August, when there are two full moons, witnesses have claimed to see the ghosts of the couple and their horse riding up that same staircase. Likewise, around the turn of the century, Mansion House was haunted by the ghost of a small girl named Elizabeth. Headmaster Perley Horne, who served from 1896-1904, is said to have an aunt who, upon seeing the ghost, was so alarmed that she left the campus never to return again.

Mansion House is not the only allegedly haunted building on our campus. Boynton and Morgan Tower are the subjects of their own ghost stories. Boynton, currently the home of Ms. Finch and Mr. Werner on the first floor and Ms. O'Connell, on the second floor, has a long and interesting history. While most of us know it as a campus building that was once a dormitory, in the 1700’s it was a tavern that attracted travelers as they traveled from Newburyport and Portsmouth to Boston and back. During the early years of the school, Boynton was a boarding house that, while not technically part of the school, housed many of its students. It was at this time that Bess worked as a housekeeper in Boynton. In both her life and her afterlife, Bess is said to have looked out for the residents of Boynton, shutting windows, turning off lights, and covering sleeping students with blankets as needed.

Morgan Tower, currently occupied by Mr. Wann and his wife Bonnie Jean, was home to a very interesting and mysterious woman named Christiana Morgan. Morgan was a professor at Harvard, but was perhaps more known for her ability to inspire others, most notably the psychologist Carl Jung. Jung listened to Morgan describe her dreams and visions. These visions became the basis of Jung’s theories regarding dreams. Jung himself had a tower consisting of three levels. The ground level represented one’s soul or subconscious, the middle level represented the body, and the upper level represented the mind. Morgan had her tower built as a replica of Jung’s. While former occupant Mr. Gerry has not reported any supernatural encounters, previous occupants of the house have felt Christiana’s presence during their time there. Some former residents even led ghost tours through the tower, as was told by one alumna from the mid-1970s.

So, when you are walking around campus in the evening or staying up late working, think of those who came before you. They may still be here!


Cover photo: Boynton House

Thank you to Archivist Sharon Slater