The 5 Most Haunted Places in Rhode Island

All by itself, New England is a ghost story. The oldest inhabited area in the nation has seen countless paranormal activities since the Pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower in 1620. New England native and spook hunter Lorraine Warren once said to the Los Angeles Times that her native state is “the most haunted area in the United States.”

Think about how New England is known for the Lizzie Borden story, the Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft stories, the Salem Witch Trials, and the vampire pandemic. This heritage has always delighted New Englanders. “Pioneer families crowded around the hearth…entertained themselves with tales of mystery and marvel…cradled and nurtured in the wonder-laden atmosphere of a new world and stimulated by brimstone theology that clothed evil in human form,” writes folklorist Richard M. Dorson.

To suggest that the six New England states are full with haunted houses, haunting graveyards, possessed streets, and other paranormal activities would be an understatement. The smallest of the New England states, Rhode Island, is teeming with the paranormal despite its small size. Let’s take a moment to learn about Rhode Island’s past before learning about the top 5 haunted locations in the state. In this manner, it could be easier to comprehend why there is so much haunting occurring.

Roger Williams and the Founding of Rhode Island

Roger Williams was a well educated, independent man who was expelled from Massachusetts for advocating the separation of church and state. Williams attended Cambridge University in Scotland, where he became friends with two prominent Puritans in politics, Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Hooker. In 1661, Williams left England to sail to America, defying the Church of England’s established doctrine.

There is no denying that Williams was a radical. He advocated for the separation of religion and state while residing in Massachusetts, which was tantamount to heresy. The Puritan authorities exiled Williams and his separatist supporters from the colony as retaliation, doing as any decent Puritan would have done.

The group moved south and made their home along Narragansett Bay, founding a colony they named Providence in 1636. They received the land from the native Narragansett people. Anne Hutchinson and other rebel Puritans quickly found safety in Rhode Island. Williams applied for and was granted a patent in 1644 to establish the Providence Plantations, an English settlement that would subsequently become Rhode Island.

For those facing religious persecution, Rhode Island served as a ray of hope. All of them, desiring the freedom to practice their religion as they pleased, came to the colony, including Jews, Baptists, and Quakers. Against this backdrop of religion and all of its paranormal foundations, we have to examine five of Rhode Island’s most haunted locations.

Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Exeter

In Exeter, in the Baptist Church’s shadow, lurks a vampire. Mercy Brown goes by Mercy Brown, and according to author Joseph Citro in his book “Passing Strange: True Tales of New England Hauntings and Horrors,” Mercy is the most well-known vampire in the country as well as in New England.

Mercy had a sizable family that started to disperse in the late 1800s. They perished from consumption, also referred to as the “white death” by others. Today, it is referred to as TB. The deadly lung condition known as tuberculosis can spread to other areas of the body. People deteriorate with death. However, in a little New England community in the 1800s, people felt that something more sinister and otherworldly was taking place.

Mercy’s relatives fell unwell. Mercy’s mother, who was only 36 years old when she passed away in 1883, was among the first to die. After Mary Olive, her daughter, passed away six months later, George, Mercy’s father, was left to care for one son and four daughters. On 12 January 1892, Mercy herself passed away. Her age was just 19. At least that was what everyone thought about the family. They readily assumed that a vampire was to blame for Mercy and her family’s deaths because they knew very little about consumption. As a vestige of its colonial heritage, a large number of people in New England still had vampire beliefs at the time.

Grave Diggers

If a vampire was active in Exeter, there was only one way to find out. The graves held the evidence. The town couldn’t figure out which Brown family member was the bloodsucker until that point. Mercy’s brother Edwin Brown had managed to escape his family’s ordeal. He relocated to a another town. However, he fled for Colorado when he began to exhibit the initial signs of tuberculosis. He returned to Exeter after Mercy passed away to see his family’s remains being unearthed. Dr Harold Metcalf, who grudgingly consented to examine the deceased, was by his side. After the bodies were discovered, Metcalf went to work and discovered nothing unusual.

Some in Exeter, however, weren’t so convinced and decided to find evidence that a vampire was in charge. They looked closely at the actual bodies. The bodies of Mary Olive and Mrs. Brown disintegrated. Regarding Mercy, well, there was a whole other tale. She was still mostly whole. She was lying on her side, which was another oddity. Clearly, it was not how she was buried. Many took this to mean that she had moved. “Slayer,” they yelled. After cutting Mercy’s heart from her corpse, an eyewitness who thought of himself as a surgeon observed that it was moist with blood. On top of a rock close to her grave, he set it ablaze.

Edwin was then given a concoction of liquid and Mercy’s ashes in the hopes that it would heal him. Even with the cocktail, he died. According to the villagers, Mercy Brown strolls around the graveyard these days. Her spectral presence is frequently observed.

Southeast Lighthouse, Block Island

Block Island is the classic New England island in the summertime. A perfect dot on the Atlantic, its population increases in the summer and decreases to a handful of devoted Yankees come wintertime. Giovanni de Verrazzano sighted the island for the first time in 1524, and Dutch adventurer Adrien Block “rediscovered” it in 1614. Early in the 1660s, English colonists made the area their home.

Block Island is tiny, but it’s seen a lot of mayhem in its time. For thousands of years, many native tribes had lived on the island. John Oldham, a man from Massachusetts, was killed by the Native Americans of the island in 1636—the same year that Roger Williams was establishing his crib in Providence. Oldham was known to be a cunning dealer. A bunch of armed Puritans headed to Block in retaliation in order to have their revenge. They “shot every dog they could find,” killed men and women, and set wigwams on fire.

Mad Maggie

Legend has it that 40 Mohegan raiders were driven to their deaths in another incident off the 200-foot-tall cliffs on the southeast side of the island. The Southeast Lighthouse is located not far from those bluffs today. The lighthouse keeper and his spouse got into a fight in the early 1900s. She did not seem to enjoy living in such a remote place. According to the tale, her husband pushed Maggie down the stairs as a solution to their issues.

She fell, the keeper reported. According to the police, she was killed. After a trial, the keeper was put in jail. People still tell that “Mad Maggie” lurks around the Southeast Lighthouse, displaying her contempt for any men that dabble within. Some say to have avoided knives and other sharp things that were thrown at them, while others have found themselves mysteriously confined in rooms. One lighthouse keeper angered Mad Maggie to such an extent that her spirit is said to have pursued him outside before locking the door. It took the keeper, standing in his panties, to phone the Coast Guard to get permission to enter.

The cliffs were eroding, so crews moved the lighthouse back in 1993. It appears that Maggie’s spirit was not at all content and expressed her wrath by hurling food, rearranging furniture, and running up and down the stairs.

White Horse Tavern, Newport

One of the most elegant and refined locations in New England is undoubtedly Newport. When Anne Hutchinson took the helm, the port, which had been first founded in 1639, developed into a thriving hub of trade and a symbol of religious tolerance. The area had been inhabited by indigenous people for almost 5,000 years. They were good land managers and skilled fishermen.

With time, Newport gained popularity among the Gilded Age’s wealthiest families. Rich families like the Vanderbilts, Morgans, and Astors constructed exquisite summer “cottages” that faced the sea. Standing as a reflection of the past, the White Horse Tavern was there long before these industrialists built these elaborate homes.

The original building was built in 1652 by a man by the name of Francis Brinley as a residence for his family. William Mayes bought the structure and converted it into a bar and inn twenty-one years later. William Jr., his son, was a real pirate who pillaged the Red Sea and was something of a rapscallion himself. Eventually, he returned to Newport to assist his father in managing the family company. In 1702, William Jr. came to inherit the tavern.

A guest of the inn passed away in slumber at some point in the 1720s. Nobody understood the cause. The authorities transferred Mary Nichols, William Sr.’s daughter, who was managing the inn at the time, and an indigenous girl who worked with her to Harbor Island because they thought whatever killed him was communicable. During their stay, the women contracted smallpox. Mary lived, but the girl did not.

The White Horse is said to be haunted by the man who passed away in the inn. Employees, clients, and visitors have reported seeing a man in period attire in the upstairs men’s restroom and main eating area. Some have felt a tap on their shoulder, while others have heard a small child sobbing. There have been occasional reports of a female apparition hovering over diners. Footsteps have been heard upstairs by others when nobody was present.

The Breakers, Newport

One of Newport’s most opulent “cottages” is The Breakers. The Vanderbilts’ summer residence was an Italian Renaissance-style palace with seventy rooms. Cornelius Vanderbilt II constructed the three-story Breakers in 1895. It also features a basement and an attic. The cottage was a summertime destination for Cornelius’s wife, Alice, and their seven children, though he did not spend much time there himself. Alice kept the home staffed by almost thirty maids.

Alice endured a lifetime of heartbreak despite her passion for the Breakers. She lived to see four of her children and her husband through. Those who have visited the Breakers attest that although Alice passed away in 1934, she never really departed. It’s said that Alice still wanders the enormous corridors. Maybe, as some say, Alice is still attempting to return to the opulent, gilded, and happy times she undoubtedly experienced at her seaside villa.

Nathaniel Green House, Coventry

One of George Washington’s most capable generals during the Revolutionary War was Nathaniel Green, a founding American patriot. One of the founding families of Rhode Island, the Greene family assisted Roger Williams in founding the colony. They were born in Warwick in 1742.

As a pious man, Greene read every book that was published, amassing a sizable collection in the process. Greene was an involved member of the Coventry community and ran his father’s mill when he wasn’t reading. He actually had a hand in constructing the town’s first public school. Greene’s passion for reading military history proved to be beneficial to him in the years leading up to American independence. Along with four other people, Greene raced to Boston to join the fighting when the American Revolution began in 1775. Later on, he was given command of 1,600 troops from Rhode Island.

His Coventry home is regarded by many as one of the most haunted in all of Rhode Island, if not all of New England. Workers at the house, which is now a museum, claim that it is haunted. Artifacts that have been moved have been observed by them. It is said that door locks open and close on their own. When no one else was there, some have reported hearing voices. Numerous ghosts have been observed.

Reports state that Greene is not the only one who seems to be haunting. Some of his relatives, such as Julia, a teenager who one employee called “the most beautiful girl in Coventry,” appear to be involved as well. She is interred in an unmarked grave on the property with her spouse, who destroyed the family riches.