Tag Archives: Sudbury

The Haunted Room. Did I Meet Jerusha’s Ghost?

The haunted room

Jerusha’s Room #9 (Modern lock), Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, Sudbury Massachusetts

When I described Jerusha Howe’s historic room at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, I told you a bit about what it is like to stay in a haunted room. I also hinted that there might be more to tell. Did Jerusha visit me?

Since this is a ghost story–a story about a haunted room– it is appropriate to tell you on Halloween. (Be sure and follow that link above to see ghostly pictures of her room,  and the historic background. Go on. We’ll still be here when you get back.)

I mentioned in that prior article that people leave notes to Jerusha stuck into the beams in the ceiling:

Notes tucked in ceiling over bed of Jerusha's Room (#9)

Notes tucked in ceiling over bed of Jerusha’s Room (#9)

or stuffed into secret drawers in Rooms 9 and 10:

Haunted Room

People Leave their marks inside the secret drawer in Jerusha Howe’s Room (#9) at Wayside Inn

Letters in the secret drawer in Room #9.

Letters in the secret drawer in Room #9.

I don’t know when this all started, but according to a program for an event by Para-Boston, a paranormal society, by last year, they were able to read more than 3000 letters that had been left in the rooms. A man who used to work at the Wayside Inn told me that people leave notes in every drawer and closet available, and the staff gathers those notes up and puts them in the secet drawers where they belong. The earliest one that Para-Boston reproduced in their booklet was written in 1973. It reports seeing dark shadows move around the room.

I spent some time reading through letters, and was alternately amused and bemused by people’s disappointment at not seeing any ghostly signs, or being frightened out of their wits.

My favorite, however, said, “Yes, the ghost was here for us–either that or they have some heavy duty plumbing issues.”  The plumbing issues might explain why we got a call from the desk downstairs while I was taking a shower to complain that there was water coming through the ceiling into the Old Kitchen dining room below us. That happens, the caller said, when we don’t get the shower door shut tight and water leaks outside the shower.  I checked, and the floor outside the shower was completely dry.

I found it interesting, that although seemingly EVERYONE who sleeps in Jerusha’s room is devoutly hoping to see a ghost, Para-Boston reports that of those 3000 letters, only 180 mention a paranormal experience. Yet we go on hoping. I didn’t believe anything untoward would happen, and yet….

As for our stay, we did not smell Jerusha’s orange blossom perfume, nor did she whisper to us.  We did not feel a sudden chill, nor see the curtains move inexplicably.  So I wrote a rather sarcastic (and perhaps premature) little note for the Secret Drawer Society.

The Haunted Room

My letter in the Secret Drawer in Jerusha’s room at the Wayside Inn

In case you cannot read my writing, it says

Dear Seekers Who Found the Secret Drawer –

I am a descendent of John, Samuel and David Howe, the first innkeepers of the Howe family.  Here for a reunion with seven relatives to visit the haunts of our ancestors.

Perhaps because Jerusha is a distant cousin, she did not feel it necessary for her to visit us last night. Yes, the floor creaked and hinges squeaked, but only from human activity.  I did see the ghostly 77 [it had been mentioned by other letter writers] formed by light on the ceiling–suspiciously near the light that shines in the crack over the door top where it meets the frame.

I will be giving Jerusha two more chances to communicate, as we’re staying two more nights. Read about my results at ancestorsinaprons.com

I dropped the letter into the Secret Drawer and closed it. That was that. Not quite.

Almost immediately, I heard two sharp knocks on the inside of the door of a closet to my left.

Was Jerusha reprimanding me? Skeptical still, I ran through the possibilities. It was my husband. But no–he was elsewhere. It came from another room. No, there is no other room on the other side of that wall. Someone was in the closet?

If they were–they’re still there, because I was thoroughly spooked, and not about to explore any further.

Have you ever stayed in a haunted room? What did you experience?

 

Halloween in Graveyards

On my recent family history trip to New England, I visited several Massachusetts graveyards that are permanent home to some of my Puritan ancestors.  Since I was tromping over the grass in broad daylight, the surroundings were not as spooky as you might imagine, but I find them endlessly interesting.

The Old Rutland Burial Grounds,

In the old Rutland Cemetery, stones stretch back into the woods.

The oldest graveyard that I visited is the Rutland Old Cemetery, where burials ceased in the early 1800s. The cemetery is located on the north side of Massachusetts 122A, the main road through Rutland Massachusetts (Cradle of Ohio), beside the library.

These two stones seem to be huddled together for comfort.

Rutland Cemetery--Leaning together

Rutland Cemetery–Leaning together

The first Rutland Cemetery was laid out in 1717, and 18th and early 19th century stones are in amazingly good shape. If you can’t read an inscription, you can turn to Monumental Inscriptions in the Old Cemetery in Rutland, Worchester County, Massachusetts, published in 1902.

Some are covered by lichen, or worn by age, or have sunk into the ground.

Marker for Moses How

Here lies the body of Moses How, Esq. Born at Sudbury Aug 17th A.D. 1691 Departed this Life __Rutland Feb 16th A. D. 1749-50 in the 53th year of his age.

Some have unfamiliar language. “relict” in this case means “widow”.

Hannah Howe, widow of Moses

Erected in the memory of Hannah Howe, Relict of Moses Howe Esq who departed this life June he 7, 176_ in ye 61 year of her life. Behold….

Another very old cemetery shelters early settlers of Sudbury Massachusetts. The  North Cemetery has graves going back to the 1600s. The Cemetery lies along Sudbury Road in Wayland (which was  East Sudbury until 1835). This is the site of the 2nd Sudbury Meeting House, includes a cemetery for Indians, and a gate connects it to one of Sudbury’s Jewish cemeteries.

These two have been joined together by the tree that grew up between them, and enfolded one of them in its ridges.

Old North Cemetery

Old North Cemetery, Sudbury Tree grown into tombstones

Many tombstones in Sudbury and Rutland have the simple line drawing of a face that you can see on the ones above. Others have slightly more elaborate illustrations of urns with decorative leaves and flowers.  But my favorite thing is reading the poetry.

Erected in memory of Mrs. Sarah How wife of Lieut Calvin How, who died March 24th 1800 in he 24th year of her age. "Retire my friend Dry up your tears Here I must lie til Christ appears." Rutland Old Cemetery

Erected in memory of Mrs. Sarah How wife of Lieut Calvin How, who died March 24th 1800 in he 24th year of her age. “Retire my friend Dry up your tears Here I must lie til Christ appears.” Rutland Old Cemetery

Happy Halloween. Why not spend your Halloween in Graveyards?

Killed in Indian Wars: 52 Ancestors, #41: Sarah Howe Joslin

In 1692, Elizabeth Howe Keyes, grand daughter of the pioneering John Howe, and daughter of his son John Jr., decided to leave her home in Marlborough and visit her sister Sarah Howe Joslin, who lived in Lancaster, Massachusetts with her husband and children.

As the sisters visited, Sarah’s four children playing around the cabin, the family story says that Elizabeth was singing. Sarah’s husband would have been working in the fields. The women were interrupted, apparently without warning, by a war party of Indians.  Imagine the chaos and terror as the warriors killed Sarah and three of her children on the spot. Then they disappeared back into the woods, taking one of the children and Elizabeth Howe Keyes with them.

The child was killed soon after, but as the story goes, the Indians were charmed by Elizabeth’s singing, and they kept her with them as they fled to Canada.  She was held captive for three years, but finally released.  Her husband had become a recluse when Elizabeth was captured, and swore never to marry.  When she returned to him, the family moved to a new town, but he said that she never fully recovered from the trauma. So she was a different kind of victim of the Indian Wars.

The struggles between early settlers in the United States and the indigenous people is difficult to discuss calmly, even today. An estimate in 1894 by the census bureau estimated that 19,000 “white” people died and 30,000 Indians in the various Indian Wars.  Of course even before the most deadly battles, Indians had died in another war–attacked by viruses they were unable to fight off. Some think at least 80% died of smallpox caught from the newcomers to the continent.  So they were greatly reduced in numbers by the time the European population increase incited conflict over land.

I have great sympathy with the indigenous people. However, I also sympathize with the Puritan settlers. To understand historic events, it is essential to look at events of the past through the lens of their own time–not imposing our own different points of view. Our culture and mores are as different from the Puritans of New England as the Puritans were from the people they called savages. And I dare say that people of Native American heritage today are also far removed from the worldview of their ancestors, even though they may be working to keep their culture and religion alive.

Indian Wars Monument

Marker in honor of settlers and veterans of Indian Wars, Sudbury Cemetery

Indian Wars Monument

Inscription on Indian Wars Monument in Sudbury, MA

Glance through diaries and histories written in the 18th and 19th centuries, and you get a one-sided view–all anti-Indian. Look at the lives of the settlers and you may begin to realize why they held the views they did.

When you visit the graveyards of Puritan New England you will see many people who died at the hands of Indians. Some of those were militia members who set out to chase the native tribes from the lands wanted by the settlers.  But many were women and children, like Sarah Howe Joslin and her children, victims of terror raids staged by hostile bands who believed they could frighten the interlopers into returning to Europe.

The Howe family suffered an extraordinary number of losses, both in lives and property, in battles and in surprise raids on families.

The following is not an exhaustive list of Howe family members affected, and other ancestors in other lines also died or lost property.

In addition to the 1692 death of Sarah Howe Joslin and capture of Elizabeth:

April 20, 1676 saw the most vicious fight of the King Phillip War–an attack on Sudbury by 1000 Indian fighters and a day-long battle leaving hundreds dead and houses and barns burned to the ground.

  • John Howe, Jr., a member of the militia, killed at thirty-six years old and his house destroyed in the battle of Sudbury.
  • Samuel Howe, a member of the militia, his house and other property burned in the battle of Sudbury.
  • The people of Sudbury were so destitute that they wrote to the Irish Charities for donations to help people who had lost their homes and livelihoods.

Nehemiah Howe, a son of Samuel Howe, was captured by Indians in 1747 and held in Canada, where he wrote a journal before he died–never returning home.

Israel Howe, a member of the militia, killed in a raid on the town of Rutland at thirty-six years old in 1748. Israel Howe was my 5th great-grandfather and the son of Samuel Howe.

Other relatives in Rutland, MA, some other Howes, some Stones, some Hubbards, were also in harms way during the Indian Wars and a memorial in the old Cemetery in Rutland commemorates them.

Indian Wars

Memorial to first settlers and veterans of the French-Indian and Revolutionary Wars, Rutland MA Old Cemetery.

How I am Related

  • My maternal grandmother, Vera Stout (Anderson), was the daughter of
  • Hattie Morgan (Stout), the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett (Morgan),the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Stone (Bassett) the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Howe (Stone), the daughter of
  • Israel Howe, the son of
  • David How, the son of
  • Samuel How, and John Jr. (My 7th Great Grand Uncle), the son of
  • John How
  • Sarah How (Joslin) and Elizabeth How (Keyes), daughters of John Howe, Jr. (My first cousins, 8 x removed.)

Notes on Research

As Ancient Is This Hostelry: The Story of the Wayside Inn, by Curtis F. Garfield and Alison R. Ridley(1988)
A History of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn by Brian E. Plumb (2011)
Howe Genealogies by Daniel Wait Howe (1929), Massachusetts Historical and Genealogical Society. This is said to be the best of the several genealogies of the family. Although I do not have a copy of the entire book, portions of it are available on the Internet.
Middlesex County records found on Ancestry.com. Birth, death and marriage.
Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County Massachusetts Vol. 1, ed by Ellery Bicknell Crane (1907) Available as a Google Books e-book.

FindaGrave.com and personal visits to cemeteries of Sudbury and Rutland.