Newburyport Ghost Hunter
In a region as old as ours, reports of hauntings are plentiful. And when there are ghosts, there are sure to be people who hunt them. In the early decades of the 20th century, MIT graduate and architect John Cuthbert Parker became known as a ghost hunter after encountering a boy phantasm in his Newburyport home. The ghost claimed he’d left his coat and hat behind at a party thrown for author Benjamin Hale’s son.
One of Parker’s many investigations was the Hadley home of Capt. Moses Porter, whose wife and daughter were killed in the French and Indian War after he was. Melissa Davenport Berry, creator of the “anceSTORY Archives” website, has researched and written extensively about the Parker family. Of this hunt, she says, “A powder he spread across the hall showed no footprints, but a tape recorder was moved and the tape inside broken. He also saw the tightly secured attic door swing back and forth with great force.”
In another famous case, Parker investigated the former home of Gen. Jonathan Moulton in Hampton, N.H. Legend holds that Moulton offered his soul to the devil in exchange for having his boots filled with gold on the first of every month. The general was such a cheapskate that he removed his dead wife’s wedding ring to use when marrying a second wife. The scorned departed came back and wrenched the bauble from the poor bride’s hand that very night.
Berry reports that Parker conducted more than 30 investigations and developed a popular “New England Ghost Houses” lecture that included a slideshow, painted sketches and pamphlets about ghost hunting. He was a member of the Newburyport Art Association and the Historical Society. His architectural résumé included projects at Wellesley College, Westover Air Reserve Base and West Point, including the Cadets Memorial. Parker died in 1997 at the age of 92.