Investigators: Ken DeCosta
Atmospheric Conditions: 65 degrees at arrival
47 degrees ambient temperature at start of investigation
Wind - west at 15 mph
Cobb's Hill Cemetery was part of an outing planned with our AGS affiliate from Barnstable, MA., the
Cape and Islands Paranormal Research Society (CAIPRS). We would tour many of the local hotspots and
hear of the legends and history attached to each. Of particular interest was Cobb's Hill Cemetery located
on scenic Rte. 6A in Barnstable. The group would accompany CAIPRS founder Derek Bartlett and CAIPRS
Director of Ghosts and Haunting Deb Ahern on an abbreviated investigation of the cemetery at the very
end of our night's journey.
Cobb's Hill has also been known at various times as Goodspeed Cemetery and Universalist Cemetery.
The first internment there dates back to 1715 when a John Gorham was buried there. Eventually his wife
Mary would join him in eternal rest in 1732.
According to Mr. Bartlett, Barnstable is the most actively haunted area on Cape Cod with Rte. 6A
being its epicenter. By his count there are approximately 89 known haunted locations between Sandwich
and Provincetown (Cape Cod Life 1/24/10).
The name Cobb concerns those of that moniker who migrated to Barnstable from Kent, England. The
earliest settlers date back to Henry B. Cobb, born during the 1500s in Kent. The Cobb men were also
eager and willing soldiers who fought in the French and Indian Wars as well as the War of 1812. They
were also prosperous and generous benefactors, especially where education and the building of schools
was concerned. The most charitable was Enoch Cobb, who primarily sold off firewood lots to attain his
wealth and donated a large part of his assets to benefit the construction of schools in Barnstable Village.
Many with Cobb lineage have been laid to rest in Cobb's Hill Cemetery. The most prominent marker is
that of the aforementioned Henry (below), who although passing in 1679 had this monument erected by
his descendant Enoch Cobb in 1871
Henry Cobb Monument
Cobb's Hill has a wide-ranging amount of reported paranormal activities occurring there.
At the northernmost corner, atop a slope which holds a group of trees, a local legend called
appropriately, 'Dark Man' has been seen by many who visit the cemetery. Members of CAIPRS along with
many of their tour guests as well as casual visitors to the graveyard have witnessed this phenomenon.
The figure has been described as a shadow that shifts from a darker shade to a lighter one. The
movements range from stationary to quick and darting. Psychics who have visited the burial ground have
described sensing a man who is angry at their presence there.
There is speculation that 'Dark Man' may actually be the restless spirit of one Dr. Samuel Savage, a
well-known local physician whose remains rest in Cobb's Hill (below).
"Doc" Savage once resided into another infamous Barnstable haunt, The Barnstable House (c. 1716) -
reputed to be one of the most haunted locations on Cape Cod - which goes by another foreboding
moniker, 'The House of the 11 Ghosts." Dr. Savage was a man who demanded the respect he believed a
man of his stature deserved. When children would pass by the house while he was sitting on his side
porch, he would stomp his caner and admonish them if they did not tip their caps or acknowledge him in
some way. While he was said to be a man of great wit and character, he was also a very stern sort who
had some very peculiar mannerisms. When the stage-coach was passing, would ascend a large rock,
which to this day remains in place, and in a somber tone would declare himself to be a physician and
surgeon. There are also wild rumors (wholly unsubstantiated) that he also dabbled in the black arts. Dr.
Savage died on June 28, 1831 at the age of 83 and was buried next to his wife.
As an aside, the Savages had a daughter named Hope who would eventually become the stepmother-
in-law of famed Moby Dick author Herman Melville.
Another strange and disturbing claim we were told of was the apparition of a young girl that appears
to come out of the ground, look directly at visitors and at times grab onto people's legs!! Initially
skeptical of such an outrageous assertion, we were surprised upon doing some research that indeed there
was further substantiation for the story. The most compelling of which centers around a woman who lived
directly across for the cemetery, Michelle Kerr.
Ms. Kerr was a dispatcher for the Barnstable County Sherriff's Department. She claims her home was
also the setting for many unusual phenomena during her time there. A number of years ago, she, her
brother-in-law and about six others - armed with what was then a new gadget called the disc camera -
ventured into Cobb's Hill to snap a few pictures. Michelle claimed to have a certain sensitivity to
paranormal activity and was asked by her companions if she sensed anything present. Agreeing to try,
she called on any willing spirit to contact her and then invoked The Lord's Prayer, which she always did in
Suddenly she felt a tugging on her ankle. Looking down she saw the opaque-looking face of a little
girl whose hand was reaching up to her. She saw no neck or body, just the hand and face. The girl had a
pleading look that seemed to say "Help me." At that point she also saw what looked like a shadowy figure
lurking nearby. Now feeling quite uncomfortable with the situation, she announced that she was leaving
and her friends were welcome to stay in they desired. Her son, twelve years old at that time, marked the
spot she said she saw the girl with a rock and they retreated to the house for the night.
The following day her son and a cousin went back to the spot and wrote down what was on a
tombstone at the place they left the rock. The grave was that of a young girl and her tombstone told a sad
tale: she was killed in a horse and buggy accident.
Finally, there have been reports of a girl's voice that emanates close to the Davis family plot there.
This voice has been captured on digital recorder as an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) by CAIPRS.
There have also been numerous reports of camera and recorder failures within the cemetery that seem to
cease when the camera is tried outside the graveyard confines.
As this was a very brief investigation, the investigators were scattered throughout the cemetery with
special attention paid to the grassy incline where the 'Dark Man' is often seen, the Davis family plot and
the headstone of Dr. Samuel Savage.
All investigators took turns sitting on the small hill to try and coax out or witness the appearance of
the shadowy wraith. The closest we came to contact was Deb Ahern's constant coughing which she told
us, as a sensitive, was a her usual reaction to something anomalous present. Sharing her impressions
with us, she told us whomever was there "was not happy." Digital recorders and hand held IRs yielded
nothing anomalous in terms of 'Dark Man' on this night.
Attempts were made to contact the spirit of the littler girl that has been seen attempting physical
contact with the living. The spot where she has been seen was extensively covered with handhelds and
recorders. Nothing was recorded in this area on either.
Two events of a suspicious nature did occur on this night: in one, Ken placed a digital recorder on the
headstone of Dr. Savage and attempted to make contact via ITC (Instrumental Trans-communication) or
digital recorder. A series of questions centering on the possibility of Dr. Savage's lingering presence were
asked and one fairly significant result was obtained. At one point a confirmation as to his presence was
Possible response at Dr. Savage’s grave
While at face value, the "voice" heard may be answering in the affirmative with a "yes" and does
display characteristics of a low-frequency vocal response, we cannot in all good conscience label this as
anything but an anomalous, albeit compelling sound.
Carrying a hand held IR camera, Chris and others entered the Davis family plot and began a
simultaneous EVP and documentary session. For the time they spent there it seemed very quiet with
nothing out of the ordinary occurring. This ended upon leaving the plot. As they walked out, Chris clearly
heard his name in a faint, yet distinct whisper. A check of the video recording seems to back this claim up
as very faintly, one can hear the words "Hi, Chris" coming through the camera's audio. This therefore is
not considered electronic voice phenomena or low frequency but a disembodied voice from an unknown
The only other unusual circumstance encountered was a failure of our digital camera to function properly
while in the cemetery. One picture was all that was taken and that is of Ken standing at Dr. Savage's
tombstone (below). For what this is worth, the camera once again functioned properly upon our
departure. There had been no past nor future problems with this particular camera beyond this one
The short investigation at Cobb's Hill Cemetery whetted our appetites to return sometime in the
future, and indeed we have been given a green light to do so by the CAIPRS staff, who have established a
fine working relationship within the town of Barnstable both with authorities and historical societies. We
will re-join them in a future, more comprehensive investigation.
In terms of evidence captured, the two audio elements we came away with certainly begged more
questions than they answered. An analysis shows some characteristics that we would normally associate
with electronic voice phenomena, yet we can't ascertain if that is indeed an open-and-shut case. The
timing of the "responses" while superficially spot-on, can't be used to make any definitive statements as
to whether paranormal activity, and by extension, the many legends and claims coming out of Cobb's Hill
are indeed valid beyond any shadow of a doubt.
The "Chris" video remains rather intriguing inasmuch as it was heard by all present and the name of
one of them is prominently mentioned. The last thing any of them expected at this point was to
experience anything unusual which makes this particular clip perhaps the most interesting piece of
evidence we captured there.
Nonetheless, we are looking forward to a much more comprehensive investigation of a location that
is claimed by many to contain a wide range of extraordinary and frightening activity.