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In Plymouth, Mass., ghost stories satisfy the Halloween appetite

This town will be forever linked with another autumn holiday, but lurking behind its turkey-and-stuffing facade is a feast of macabre tales and ghost stories that will satisfy the appetite of any Halloween junkie. No place can be an old haunt without a double helping of history and death, and “America’s Hometown” has amassed nearly 400 years of both. The spirits of previous generations literally lord over Plymouth from a hilltop cemetery, and the depths of its spooky past keep two year-round ghost tours afloat, without drawing the October crowds and commercialism of Salem.

Another difference between New England’s de facto Halloween and Thanksgiving capitals: In Salem, accused witches often found the noose; in Plymouth, they found justice. “Witchcraft in Plymouth Colony was a capital crime,” says Pilgrim Hall Museum curator Stephen O’Neill, “but there were only two trials in the 17th century. Both women were acquitted, and the accusers were actually fined.” Mehitable Wilder Warren, charged with witchcraft in 1708, even successfully sued accuser Joseph Morton for “defamation and slander.” On display through December as part of a special exhibition at the museum is a handwritten document in which Morton and his brother appeal the court’s ruling.

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