• Matt

WEST BRANCH CEMETERY INVESTIGATION - JULY 23, 2022

Updated: 5 days ago



WEST BRANCH CEMETERY

DATE(S) VISITED: JUL 23, 2022
LOCATION: LEE, MA
MAP

This abandoned cemetery and surrounding area has become a hot spot for paranormal activity where UFO's, Bigfoot, and large cats have all been reported. Glowing eyed beasts are also said to roam and some claim they're the descendants of Whitney's game escapees roaming the woods, whilst others say Whitney himself still haunts his old estate, forever hunting the forests for big game. But, the most prevalent story associated to the cemetery is the ghost of Anna Pease, a ten year old girl who is buried here beside her parents. Reports of the ghostly girl dressed in white as well as well as a strange humming have been documented.

 

HISTORY:


The cemetery, dates back to 1811 and is situated within the October Mountain State Forest, which is the largest state forest in Massachusetts, consisting of over 16,500 acres of land in Washington, Lenox, Lee and Becket.


Most of this land was once the estate of William C. Whitney, who served as Secretary of the Navy under President Cleveland. Here he built a game reserve complete with hunting lodge, a honeymoon cabin for his son and daughter in law, and many farmsteads and houses for his staff. Alas, after Whitney's death in 1904 the estate started to fall into disrepair and in 1915 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts entered into negotiations with the Whitney family to purchase the approximately 16,000 acres that they had amassed.


1904 map of Washington, MA showing the Whitney Estate as being located just off of what is now Lenox – Whitney Place Road on October Mountain.

The buildings that once stood here, including the cemetery, have now succumbed to nature. The faded headstones that do remain bear the family names of the early settlers: Barnum, Chapel, French and Pease. In 1982 the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission reported 40 documented burials with 33 headstones still upright or vandalized. Today, only about a third of the stone markers remain and there is no map listing the original location of the graves.

 

CONDITION(S) OF LOCATION:


The cemetery does not appear on any public maps but is pretty easy to find, although the drive up the mountain will take it's toll on your car as it is not paved. There is a small parking lot across from the entrance and a 300 foot long path leads to the cemetery.


The cemetery area is kept tidy by the DCR, but the headstones are in a state of disrepair with only a few of them still upright. A stone wall surrounds the plot as well as trees.


Looking North West as you approach the cemetery clearing from the path.

Be warned, if you come here during the warmer time of the year, horsefly's during the day and mosquito's at night plaque the area! Also, be on the look out for coyotes and bears. Whilst we were here we heard lots of howling of coyotes and rustling in the bushes nearby.

 

WEATHER CONDITIONS FOR BECKET, MA:

Sun Rise

Transit

Sunset

​Sun Rise (Next Day)

5:34 A.M.

12:59 P.M.

8:23 P.M.

5:35 A.M.

Moon Phase

Moon Rise

Crosses Meridian

Illumination

​​Moon Set

Waning Crescent (21.7%)

​1:18 A.M. (NE)

8:54 A.M. (69°)

23%

4:40 P.M. (NW)

Minimum Temperature

63.0 °F

Mean Temperature

77.1°F

Maximum Temperature

89.1°F

Mean Sea Level Pressure

29.91IN

Mean Dew Point

60.7 °F

Total Precipitation (Rain and/or melted snow reported during the day)

​0.00 IN

Visibility

9.9 MI

Snow Depth (Last report for the day if reported more than once)

No data.

Mean Wind Speed

4.26 MPH

Maximum Sustained Wind Speed

​9.21 MPH

Maximum Wind Gust

No data.

 

INVESTIGATORS & PEOPLE PRESENT AT INVESTIGATION:


  • Elizabeth (Team H)

  • Matt (Team H)

 

EQUIPMENT USED BY INVESTIGATORS:


Audio Recorders:

  • Tascam DR-08

Cameras:

  • Digital Video Camera

  • Cell Phones

  • FLIR TG167 (Thermal Camera)

  • Go-Pro Hero 7

  • Mavic Mini Drone

  • Minolta MN35Z

  • Phasma Box

  • Trail Camera

Other:

  • Ovilus (Ghost Hunting Tools)

 

REPORT & FINDINGS:


We did our investigation in two phases. Phase one, we visited the cemetery during the day, this was to find the location and get a ley of the land before attempting the drive up the mountain for phase two, our investigation at sundown.

 

PHASE ONE: DAYTIME VISIT


We arrived at the cemetery at around 9 a.m. where we did a recce on foot as well as using the drone for aerial views as apparently the graveyard stretches beyond the walled area. On finding Anna's grave, the girl who supposedly haunts the area, we left a tribute and told her that we are here to be contacted if she so wishes to talk to us, be it now, or later on when we return at sundown.


PERSONAL EXPERIENCES:


The rock laying vertical (middle) was the one that Elizabeth saw move.

Whilst we were preparing to leave the cemetery we decided to take a few more photo's before departing. I heard a thump but thought nothing of it due to hearing gunshots earlier. Elizabeth then shouts out "I just saw that rock move". The rock/stone in question was part of the stone wall that surrounds the cemetery. We were both standing near the center of the cemetery and the fact she saw it move and I heard it makes for an interesting experience. There were no high winds strong enough to move such a heavy stone during the time of our investigation. This can be corroborated as when flying the drone for aerial shots there were no high wind warnings given.

 

PHASE TWO: NIGHTTIME VISIT


We arrived back at the cemetery about 30 minutes before sundown and the atmosphere as you can imagine is very different once the sun sets.


Our trail camera was set facing SE from the mouth of the cemetery, looking down the path towards the road. It was then later moved to the road end of the path facing NW towards the cemetery. Nothing supernatural was picked up by the camera, just a large amount of mosquito's and moths.


One thing that we did not notice straight away was that one of the few upright gravestones had fallen over since our first visit. The unfortunate grave was that of Spencer Pease. Two coins had also been placed on top of the area where it had broken away from, so we suspect this was the doing of person/persons unknown. Whether this was deliberate or accidental we do not know, but either way it is very upsetting, especially when this grave is one of the few that is still standing. We reported the damage to the DCR when we got back to camp.


Trail camera capturing Team H emerging from the cemetery.

The FLIR TG167 was getting some strange readings from Anna's gravestone, but most of all the messages through our Ovilus were coming through fast and the meter was off the scale, well into the red. A few names were given, but only one name that came up we could associate with the area, that being William (William C. Whitney once founded and owned the estate). We checked the the list of those buried at the cemetery too, but none of those names matched.

<- Click to expand [Matt's Ovilus Word List: October Mountain]

The Ovilus and FLIR TG167 were very active at Anna's grave.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCES:


Neither of us experienced anything out of the ordinary. It was difficult to concentrate on our night investigation due to the high amounts of mosquito's that were eating us alive, despite how much repellent we had put on. The readings from the FLIR and Ovilus were certainly VERY active though and made for interesting reading.

 

END THOUGHTS:


With the experience we had during the day regarding the stone wall, and the Ovilus being very active during the nighttime visit, we feel like there is some paranormal activity in the October Mountain area. We cannot say it is haunted, but a follow up investigation some time in the future (when it is less buggy) will have to be held in order to try and gather more evidence.

 

SPECIAL THANKS:


Rico of the DCR who was just so friendly, super helpful and a great sense of humor.

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