A Visit with the Night Watchman at a Cape Cod Haunted House
Last evening I decided to visit our neighborhood haunted house at Falmouth Museums on the Green. In true Historic Society form, the tour this Cape Cod haunted house was educational in addition to being fun. The billing is that the houses are gently haunted, in deed, I would not hesitate to take our six-year-old grandson along next year.
The tour began at the museums gift shop in the 1730 Conant House. There we met our guide “The Night Watchman”. He guided us out of that house and through the gazebo, where we encountered “The Grim Reaper”, who did not want us to pass but our valiant guide talked him into letting us proceed.
There were six scenes in the Cape Cod haunted house:
The first took place in the front room of the 1790 Doctor Francs Wicks House. Doctor Wicks learned his profession by enlisting as a medical surgical apprentice for two years, for the U.S. during the Revolutionary War. That time as an apprentice and extensive reading was his total training. At that time whisky or rum was the only way to deaden the pain. As we entered his office, Doctor Wicks was in the process of amputating the leg of a harpooner who had been brought ashore from a whaling ship in the harbor. He was busy having an argument with the seaman’s captain.
Scene number two was in the next room on the front of the house. It takes place in the mid twentieth century. Two woman are using a game board to summon spirits. As they work the spirit of Catherine Lee Bates emerged from a closet. The three have a short conversation about her journey across the country that inspired her now famous poem, “America the Beautiful”.
The third scene took place in the large dining room. It was entitled “The Shortest Honeymoon on Record”. It appears that in December 1816, Captain William Bodfish, a widower and father of two, arranged to stop in Falmouth, while on a voyage, to marry Mary Crocker. Because the Captain was at the mercy of the harsh New England winter weather and was delayed, when he finally arrived he found his bride waiting and the dinner prepared, however, the minister had departed to attend to other duties. He had to be summoned to perform the wedding service. The captain was able to spend only a short time with his bride and he was off, with the turning of the tide, to continue his voyage.
The fourth scene took place at the opposite end of the large room. Two women are arguing about an oil painting showing the HMS Nimrod bombarding the town of Falmouth on January 28,1814. This British ship had been assigned to patrolled the New England coastline to blockade harbors. Nimrod’s Captain Nathaniel Mitchell was angry with Falmouth because the town owned two brass cannon. He came into town and demanded that Falmouth give the cannon to him. In spite of the threat of bombardment the town refused to turn over the cannon. The ship’s log says, “Commenced bombardment to destroy the town.” There was extensive damage to the salt works and one large house that was close to the shore. The bombardment only lasted four hours, however, because the sun went down. The two ladies who were dressed in the clothing of the day were arguing about whether the painting should be hung in the house because it was it depicts the enemy’s ship.
Scene number five took place in the kitchen. There we found Mistress Goodie Chadwick who had been a mid-wife and had delivered many of Falmouth’s children. She was also well versed in the art of using herbs to making teas to relieve pain and other illnesses. She learned many of her techniques from the native Americans. Goodie lived to be 102 years old.
The final scene took place in the barn. The W.C. Davis Furniture Store had been located on Main Street where the Barbos Furniture Store is located at this now. In addition to selling furniture, Mr Davis also sold coffins. This scene consisted of Mr Davis attempting to sell a coffin to a lady who wanted a chair while another woman, the widow, sits by sobbing in another chair. They soon unravel the confusion and all ends well.
At this point our guide takes us into the Education Center where we are encouraged to have hot apple cider and cookies.
It was a completely delightful thirty minutes and an experience I would recommend to anyone who enjoys learning about history.
The museums are closed now but will reopen for Falmouth’s Holidays by the Sea Weekend, when they will be beautifully decorated. In addition the members of the Falmouth Bed and Breakfast Association houses will have their annual open house and Highfield Hall will be celebrating Holidays at Highfield. Come and stroll our charming Main Street where most of the shops provide complementary gift wrapping.
While all of our rooms have their own individual charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of Halloween adventures, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Emily Dickinson room or the Herman Melville Room for its spooky nautical theme. Both rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your market-going adventures.