The Barnstable Patriot began production in June of 1830. The first 100 years are archived and available online at the Sturgis Library's website. To celebrate Hallowe'en, feast upon this article, printed in the Barnstable Patriot, December 30, 1884 that describes some strange happenings in Cotuit.
We clip the following ''Ghost Story " from the Boston Daily Globe. On inquiry at Cotuit we learn that the stories reported in the Globe were in circulation in that village about a month ago, and when investigated were found to have no foundation—except in the lively imagination of some few people.— There is no doubt but some evil minded person did throw a stone at the carriage and horse of Mr. Levi P. Nickerson, and it is hoped the scamp may be detected:
Cotuit's Mystery.—"Spirit of Health, or Goblin Damned/'—An Apparition With a Fondness for Late Hours and Forest Glades.—Throwing Stones a Pound in Weight at a Passing Pedlar.
Cotuit, December 23.—"Yessir, I've seen it once; an' my husband's seen it _sev'ral times. Others has seen it, too."
So said Mrs. George Childs of Cotuit, Mass., in reference to a mysterious something which has for some time been agitating the little village. The latter—in reality a part of the town of Barnstable—is picturesquely situated on an arm of Vineyard Sound and has a population of about 600. The principal occupations of its inhabitants are blue-fishing and coasting—in its nautical sense—and there is but little danger of error in addressing any one of its older male inhabitants as "captain." It is the summer home of about a dozen Boston families, its distance from the railroad—seven miles—making it a particularly secluded resort. North ol the village, between it and West Barnstable, is a dense forest, in or near which, and always in the night time, the strange something has appeared. One of the times my husband saw it continued Mrs. Childs, "he was kinder sittin' down—just a lightin' his pipe when it came along, an' nearly passed over him. He said it 'peared like a tall woman,dressed all in black with a black veil over her head, reachin' down to her shoulders. He said 'Hey there,' kinder sharp, but it didn't make no answer; an' was out of sight in a minute. The same thing passed right close to him another night, an' he said, 'Good evenin'' but there wasn't no answer." "When did you see it yourself?" "It was the night the band played here. I was walkin' along the road with mother, an' she said suddenly: 'Did you see that?' I turned an' set; what looked jest like a woman dressed all in black, her head covered with a black veil jest as my husband said. She was standin' by a tree when I see her an ' the next minute she was gone. It had brushed right by mother. If it's a, ghost, it's a black one that's sure, it was just about 9 o'clock when we see it."
Mr. Childs' house is situated in a lonely spot about half a mile from the centre of the village, and it was within a short distance of his house that the apparition, if apparition it be, was seen.
Mr. Millard Adams of Cotuit was next interrogated: "I saw it, " he said, "at about the same place as the others. It looked to me like a tallish woman. I couldn't say how it was dressed. I stopped when I see it, and the next minute it brushed right past me an' disappeared. It was just about 11 o'clock when I see it. I did not say anything to it at all."
"When I saw it," said Mr. Eugene Crowell, "it was about 8 o'clock. It was starlight, but there wasn't any moon an' I was coming along the road with Ezra Hobson. When we see it was right up to us, an' it looked like a tall woman dressed in black her head and face covered with a black veil. It rushed right by me and was gone, like a flash. Neither of us said a word to it."
"I will tell you my experience, " said Mr. Levi P. Nickerson. "Let me see, it was the 4th of this month. I was driving in from Osterville—I'm a peddler—an' was sitltin' on the right-hand side of the seat kinder leanin' up against the side of the cart, havin' a smoke. The night wasn't very clear, it was kinder misty, an' it was about 6 o 'clock. I'd just come to the woods between Marston's Mills an' here, on the stage road, when, wish! came a large stone out of the bushes, striking my horse oh his right side. I looked in that direction and saw a movement in the bushes like a man's arm and the next instant another stone whizzed by my head made a hole in the wagon cover and dropped in the team. My horse is afraid of the whip and when the stone struck him he set off on the run. I pulled him in as soon as I could, within maybe twenty yards and got out of the team and walked back a way, but I was empty-handed and didn't go far. The only thing I saw at all besides the stones was the slight movement in the bushes, like a man's arm and a dim outline of something or other; I could not say what. It looked to me as if it might be a tall man, with a long coat.— The stone which dropped in the wagon weighed all of a pound, and appeared to be a piece of a grindstone. It was different from any kind of stone you would expect to find in those woods."
"Yes, " said Mrs. Nickerson "there is mystery even about the stone, and I've been frightened ever since."
All the parties quoted are well-known residents of Cotuit and their varacity is beyond question. One other incident of a mysterious nature has taken place since those above related. Willie A. Sturgis of the schooner John Stroupe, now in Boston harbor, and Captain Willis T. Nickerson of the schooner Nellie C. Paine were driving into Cotuit the other evening and when near the scene of Mr. Nickerson's adventure, suddenly beheld what appeared to be a tall man standing in the road in front of them. Their horse was going rapidly at the time, and when they yelled at the apparition it appeared-to step to one side and they passed by it so near that it seemed as if they touched it.
The testimony of these gentlemen, as that of the others quoted, is beyond question. Furthermore, the town is strictly temperate, nothing whatever of an alcoholic nature being sold in it.—
The bushes through which the phantom arm was seen by Mr. Nickerson were visited to-day and in their cheerless winter garb seemed a fitting abode for a- restless inhabitant of the other world. With the exception of the stone throwing it has shown no disposition to molest any one, the only fault to be found with it otherwise being its fondness for late hours and forest glades. All attempts to unravel the mystery have thus far, proved unsuccessful.