Tag Archives: Plymouth

Summoning a Plymouth Colonist Ghost through Song (Legend, Memorate)


Collector: “Do you have any experiences with ghosts in your childhood?”

Informant: “Yeah, I was probably about 10 or 12 years old. I was in a town called Duxbury Massachusetts, which is right outside of Plymouth. In Duxbury, there is a little memorial park [for] one of the founding colonists on the Mayflower named Myles Standish he was a military general of Plymouth Colony. The cellar hole where his house used to stand, you can kinda walk down this cliff face to this beach. I was kickin’ it there with my buddies, swimming [in the water] and such, and the sun started to set. A friend of mine started telling this freaky ghost story he had heard on the internet. It was like a song that was starting to haunt people. He got the the end of the story and then started playing the song. The sun sets, it’s dusk, we look up at the cliff face and there’s this like dark pilgrim-looking figure standing up there and we started freaking out. We all saw it. It looked like someone was standing at the top of the cliff. So we [run] up the stairs and get to our bikes, we start peddling down the streets. That’s my ghost story.”


The Informant is a 21-year-old male college student who grew up in Boston Massachusetts. As a child, he would visit Plymouth to see family and frequently heard legends about the land, its bloody history, and spirits who came back to haunt it. The informant’s friends summoned a colonist spirit by playing a song. 


The Informant’s story is an example of a memorate because this spiritual encounter was a first-hand experience. The Friend’s “freaky ghost story” about a song was a legend that the group then decided to test. What intrigued me about the story was where the test took place. There was a memorial site on the land for a brutal colonist military general, Myles Standish. The English general was infamous for the ruthless slaughter of Neponset Band Natives in The Massacre at Wessagusset. Standish lured Natives into a small building where he stabbed and hung them. The general even (my Informant shared this with me during a different conversation) stuck a well-respected Neponset Band Warrior’s head on a pike to scare the Natives. The dead bodies did not get a proper “send-off” into the afterlife. According to our class lecture, some cultures believe that the absence of a ritual or funeral ceremony for the dead means spirits cannot transition into the afterlife. Instead, the spirits are condemned to haunting the land where they died. Plymouth is not only haunted by spirits but by its history. The story of Myles Standish delegitimizes the land and calls into question rightful ownership. This supports Professor Thompson’s commentary on why Americans do not encourage or embrace the practice of folklore.