52 Ancestors: #39 Jerusha Howe, the Ghost of the Wayside Inn

Jerusha Howe (1797-1842)

If you want to meet Jerusha, it is recommended you stay in Room 9 at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn. It was our good fortune to be assigned that room during our reunion of some descendents of the Sudbury and  Marlborough Howes.

Jerusha's ghost

Room 9, Jessica’s room, over the Old Kitchen.

The last family members to run the Howe’s Tavern/Inn were a brother and sister, Lyman and Jerusha Howe. By then it was called Longfellow’s Wayside Inn because Longfellow had written about it during their father, Adam’s time. (John How>Samuel How>Ezekial Howe>Adam Howe>Lyman and Jerusha).

Rooms 9 and ten, above the old kitchen in the right hand wing are rented today as historic rooms, the only original Howe rooms you can sleep in. (The other rooms are part of a later addition.)

Jerusha's ghost room from outside.

Room 9 appears in the top left of this wing, with room ten to the right.

Here are some appropriately spooky shots of the room of Jerusha’s ghost.

ghost room

Candle sconce in Jerusha’s room

stairs to ghost room

Back stairs directly to Old Kitchen (now a dining room.

Jerusha's ghost chair

Some people have seen Jerusha’s ghost in this chair.

Jerusha's door

Well worn door, one of many in Jerusha’s room.

The following  Is borrowed from Gothic Horror Stories, which bases it’s explanation on several books on the Wayside Inn.  http://www.gothichorrorstories.com/true-ghost-stories/haunted-inns-of-new-england-longfellows-wayside-inn-and-the-ghost-of-jerusha-howe/

“Rumors that the Wayside Inn is haunted date back prior to 1868. Found among the notes for the hostess of the inn was a report of an incident where a ghost was reported half floating half running through the room known ever since as the Hobgoblin Room. The room had been used for dancing parties and large group meetings, though later converted into a bedroom, was also known as the Old Hall.

“But the most famous ghost of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn would have to be that of Jerusha Howe …  Jerusha was far above the typical country girl of the period, according to Harper’s New Monthly Magazine “she possessed great common-sense, combined with refined tastes, musical accomplishments and rare domestic abilities. She was delicate in person, not of robust constitution, which kept her much at home under the care of watchful parents.”

“Known as the belle of Sudbury, Miss Jerusha was an arbiter of taste in the area …”

“She was known to have rejected all suitors, and it is from this that the story of Jerusha’s ghost first comes to life. According to legend, rumor or innuendo, it’s no longer known which, Miss Jerusha fell for a visitor from England, who  … pledged to return for her after his return to England. But he never did, and it’s not known whether he was lost at sea, lost on land or maybe betrothed back in England.”

Today, people leave notes to Jerusha, tucked in ceiling joists, or they become members of the Secret Drawer Society, by discovering a secret place where notes are left. Did I find the hidden place? Where? I’m not telling.

Did I see Jerusha’s ghost? I think that would be a good Halloween Story, don’t you?

Jerusha Howe is my 1st cousin 6 times removed.


1960s Lobster Recipe

I must admit that I go a little bit crazy when I get to Maine or New Brunswick or Nova Scotia where lobsters are plentiful. I love lobsters, and to be able to get a full lobster meal for the price I would pay for a lobster salad at home—well, it is just heaven.

Catching Lobster for my lobster recipe in Nova Scotia

Lobster traps along the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia

My favorite memory of a meal while traveling was one summer when my husband and I and our three boys joined his sister and parents for a Cape Cod vacation. We saw a notice in a throwaway newspaper for a local organization’s Lobster Bake on the beach. The meal was heavenly. Someone took pity on us and gave us plastic utensils and paper plates (which we didn’t understand we were supposed to bring) and we stood around the huge pit while the smoke bore the aromas of roasting meat and shellfish and corn.

Soon the guys running the show shoveled off the dirt and rocks, scraped off the seaweed and dug up the wire baskets of clams, lobster, sausage and ears of corn. I’ve never smelled anything quite as good! That probably was where I first got hooked on lobster.

Lobster and Clam bake

Lobster and Clam bake

In Maine a few years ago, I pledged to eat lobster three times a day to make up for all the days I’d miss in Arizona. I managed to do it with the help of a friendly chef who made a lobster omelet for me for breakfast, and McDonald’s who serve a lobster roll along with their more plebeian offerings.

So here I am this year traveling in Nova Scotia where all things seafood are abundant–crabs, shrimp, lobster and everything else to make my mouth water.


Lobster dinner at the Bell Buoy, Baddeck, Nova Scotia

However, when I think of my pilgrim ancestors and their approach to lobster, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Briefly–they looked DOWN on lobster, thinking it was kind of a cheap, everyday source of protein that they would eat only because their beloved beef and pork were not available when they first arrived in America. There they were in New England, the waters teeming with seafood of all kinds, and they didn’t like any of it (except maybe oysters.)

Not until the 19th century did lobster come to be seen as a gourmet item on menus. In the 60s, as a young bride, I chose this lobster casserole as my go-to gourmet company dish. I certainly could not afford to buy a whole lobster–let alone have a clue how to cook it.

But I’m happy I’m in Nova Scotia and New England and I can eat LOTS of lobster this week and I don’t have to take small chunks and stretch it with noodles.


Lobster Casserole

Serves 8-10
Prep time 1 hour
Cook time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total time 2 hours, 30 minutes
Allergy Milk, Shellfish, Wheat
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Gourmet, Serve Hot


  • 8 rock lobster tails
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion (or fresh to taste)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon angostura bitters
  • 12oz package noodles (cooked)
  • bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter (melted)
  • 1/4 cup capers


1. Allow 8 hours to thaw lobster tails if frozen.
Cooking lobster and noodles.
2. Broil lobster tails 5 to 10 minutes; OR simmer lobster tails 8-12 minutes until meat is opaque. Cook noodles to firm texture (they will cook more in casserole), rinse in cold water and set aside.
Cooking lobster
3. Let cool while making white sauce.
White Sauce
4. Mix flour and seasonings. Melt butter. Whisk in seasoned flour. Add cream and milk, stirring constantly over medium heat until thickened.
5. Set white sauce off heat while preparing lobster.
6. Cut each tail in half lengthwise.
7. Cut one of the halves of each tail in chunks, and set the other aside to top the casserole.
Prepare Casserole
8. Stir the chunks into the white sauce and add sherry.
9. Put cooked noodles in buttered 3-quart casserole. Pour lobster chunks with sauce on top of noodles and stir gently.
10. Scatter bread crumbs on top of casserole
11. Bake in moderate oven until hot and bubbly.
12. Top casserole with reserved tail halves, brush with melted butter mixed with drained capers.
13. Return to oven for about 10 minutes.


Angostura Bitters was a commonplace for any decent home bar in the 50s and 60s, but if you don't make Manhattans at home, you may not have any at hand. The bitters have a distinctive flavor (supposedly more than 40 ingredients go into it) so be warned your dish will be different if you substitute lemon, Worcestershire Sauce or another sauce.

Some kitchens also do not regularly stock capers. If yours is one of those caper-less kitchens, consider buying a small bottle. They had a nice punch to this dish and other --particularly fish--dishes. Try them in tuna salad, for instance.

52 Ancestors: The First Howe Tavern Keeper–# 38 John Howe, The Pioneer

John How(e) 1602-1680

John How was definitely a pioneer in fact as well as spirit.  Although we don’t know exactly when he came to this continent from his native England, it must have been in the 1630’s. He was part of what is known as the Great Migration, when 20,000 immigrants, mostly English Puritans, flooded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the first decades after the Mayflower arrived, emigrants  created new communities–35 in the first ten years– across what is now New England.

John How probably  lived briefly in Watertown, Massachusetts, but he first shows up in public records as one of the 54 men who started Sudbury in 1637. It was there he first became a Freeman and was elected a selection in 1642.

But the families there soon wanted more land and John was one of 12 who pushed into the wilderness to found Marlborough. In 1661, at the age of 59, he opened a tavern, or ordinary.

This was the start of a long line of Howe tavern keepers, both in Marlborough and in Sudbury, where his son Samuel moved.

Even my grandmother, John Howe’s 6th great-grand daughter, ran a bar-restaurant, as you can see at the top of this page.

So it was fitting that a group of descendants of Vera Stout Anderson and John Howe gathered at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, formerly known as Howe’s Tavern.  Here in front of the Martha and Mary Chapel, added by Henry Ford (more later about how Henry gets into this story), we snapped pictures of representatives of four generations.

Descendents of John , Samuel, David, and Elizabeth Howe.

Note: I will add links, references and descent notes later. Writing from Nova Scotia, where I traveled after Massachusetts.