I’ve linked before to Daniel Boudillon’s extensive history of God’s Acre in Worcester, which is pretty solid but contains a significant amount of “woo-woo.”
I’d like to clear up one of the biggest misstatements on his website:
we did however find the Hanging Tree. Local legend knows Deed Rock as “Will Rock.” In fact, all the correspondents who have written me about the rock have called it Will Rock. It is only in researching the subject at the Worcester Historical Museum that I learned that its historical name is Deed Rock. Local legend has it that the “will” carved thereon is from a man who hung himself from a tree at a fork in the road where the old lane enters the Hermitage, thus “cursing” this area. There actually is a short chain hanging from a fork high in that tree, mute testimony to superstition.
Our next-door neighbor grew up in the caretaker’s cottage at the Hermitage, and that “spooky” chain in the “hanging” tree is his — he used it to hoist engines out of cars he was working on.
Which I believe shows that most spooky stories told by neighborhood kids have their origins in car repair.
A few links about Parsons Cider Mill/God’s Acre/Hermitage/Deed Rock, of interest: