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The Creature From the Bridgewater Triangle: and other Odd Tales from New England

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The Creature From the Bridgewater Triangle

And Other Odd Tales From New England

by Bill Russo

Bill Russo in a still from the2013 award winning documentary film – The Bridgewater Triangle

 

Shakespir Edition License Notes

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Shakespir.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This little book has more than a dozen stories of strange and unusual events in Massachusetts, spread through nine chapters. Some are fact and some are legend.

I hope you will find all of them, interesting.

Table of Contents:

[]Chapter 1: The Creature, the Glowing forest, and the Asylum

[][* Chapter 2: The Joseph Boat –or- Reverend Metcalfe Gets Two Wishes *]

[]Chapter 3: Ghosts, Witches, Pirates, and Buried Treasure

Chapter 4: ‘Massachusetts Rocks!’

Chapter 5: The Legend of Princess Scargo

Chapter 6: The Lady In Black

Chapter 7: Solving the Coldest Case in the United States

Chapter 8: Cape Cod Murders: Real and Imagined

Chapter 9: The Right Whales

Chapter one: The Creature, The Glowing Forest, & the Asylum

[
**]In 2010, I blogged about a strange incident that happened to me, close to my house near what was a hunting grounds of the Wampanoag Tribe in the 1600s.

Something hairy and inhuman came from a nearby swamp and confronted me just a few hundred yards away from my home.

I had no idea that others had also seen weird things in the area that has come to be known as “The Bridgewater Triangle”.

A feature documentary on this ‘haunted’ area of about 200 square miles in the Southern part of Massachusetts was released in late 2013.

“America’s Bermuda Triangle” – an abbreviated version of the film airs regularly on the Discovery Channel’s Destination America.

The producers of the movie contacted me after reading my report. They filmed my account of what I saw and it is a featured segment that has received critical acclaim from a number of review sites, including three that are listed on the Internet Movie Data Base’s Bridgewater Triangle page.

The documentary premiered at the University of Massachusetts’ main auditorium and drew the largest crowd ever to attend an event at the venue. A sold out audience of about 800 turned out for the showing. This was followed by many screenings at colleges, theaters, fan conventions, and film festivals.

The film has garnered five awards at film festivals in New England and as far West as Chicago.

The Blu-ray & DVD versions of the film were released in mid June 2014. It contains the full documentary plus three hours of bonus material not seen in the original production. You can get more information on the film on line by visiting the Bridgewater Triangle Documentary website. There is an online store for those wishing to purchase the DVD of the film as well as related merchandise.

About the same time the movie was scheduled for release, Destination America interviewed me for their program “Monsters and Mysteries in America.” That 20 minute segment led off the second season of the series and was run weekly for two years. The program is still available for purchase from Amazon and other sites.

As written for the Hubpages website, here’s my original report of what I saw:

“It is not my intention in this report, to recount or verify any of the events and happenings in the area known as the Bridgewater Triangle, I am only going to detail what happened to me one starless night long, long ago. (The actual date was the autumn of 1990.)

Over the last few hundred years, much of the Hockomock Swamp in Southeastern Massachusetts, has been filled in and whole towns have sprung up where formerly, the murky waters were home to many thousands of varieties of fish, birds and other unusual creatures – some unknown to the rest of the continent.

My home in the Bridgewater Triangle was built in the town of Raynham on a knoll just a few hundred yards from an entrance to a large tract of the Hockomock that has not been filled and was never fully explored.

Buffering my backyard from the entrance to the swamp, is a several mile long swath of undeveloped land, occupied only by high tension power lines running from Providence up towards Boston. Even in daylight, walking this overgrown tract that we called ‘the High Tees’, is somewhat disconcerting because it is used as a main highway for a kaleidoscope of animals including coyotes and the occasional wildcat and mountain lion. At night those relatively harmless mammals are reportedly joined by a plethora of bizarre creatures – some beyond description.

Two photos representing the vast & still uncharted Hockomock Swamp

For six years, I worked a three to midnight shift and when I got home my custom was to walk my dog – an 80 pound female Rotweiller-Shepherd mix. ‘Samantha’ and I loved our exercise and we walked every single night Summer and Winter.

We usually walked on the sidewalks towards the center of town and stayed away from the Hockomock Swamp. But one night, we varied our routine and walked through the woods toward an old dam that once provided water power for an early iron works.

‘Sam, why do you want to walk the High Tees?,’ I asked her as she pulled me towards the tall wires that were shrouded by even loftier trees. Sammy just looked at me with her bright eyes. She did not bark or get excited like she did when we went for hamburgers at McDonalds or swimming at ‘The Nip’. But I could tell she wanted to walk the different route.

I went along with Sam’s wishes because we were best friends. My grandchildren had often joked that I treated Sam better than them. “I treat Sam like a person because she acts like one, while you guys act like animals!” I joked.

As Sam and I cut through the backyard and entered the High Tees, darkness was instant and total. No streetlights or star lights can penetrate the canopy of the rangy hundred year old pines that dwarf the power lines.

About a half mile into the walk we arrived at a break where a road cuts through the swath. Sam pulled hard on her leash and looked up at me. Her hair stood on end. She made not a noise, but trembled and looked at me for protection.

“What’s wrong Samantha? I don’t see anything. It’s okay baby. We’ll go home now. Come on.”

I tugged on her leash but she did not budge. It wasn’t obstinacy. It was fear. My big Rot-Shep mix who would tackle a one ton bison or a wild mountain lion, was scared stiff.

I heard what frightened her before I saw it.

“Eee wah chu. Eee wah chu. Keer. Keer. Eee wah chu.” an eerie call floated to my ears in the still night.

‘Eee WAH CHU. EE WAN CHEW. EEE WAH CHU. KEER, keer EEEEEE WAHHHHHN CHEW.”, the unearthly high pitched voice was closer and louder.

There was a street lamp about 20 feet in front of me and it cast a bluish circle of light on the pavement.

Into the circle walked a hairy creature about three to four feet tall which weighed probably a hundred pounds

“EEEE WAH CHU EEEEE WAH CHEW CHEW … Chew Chew. Eee wah chu.,” it repeated over and over again.

The creature stood very straight on two feet and looked at me with eyes that were too large for its head – like the eyes of an owl. Sammy and I were frozen as we watched the hairy thing. It did not advance further and did not appear to be threatening us – but we were still scared. Sam did not bark, nor whine. She trembled slightly and kept looking at me as if to say, “What is it?”

“It’s okay Sam,” I said unconvincingly.

The creature kept talking and began motioning with its arms. It wore no clothes and was completely covered with coarse, unkempt hair that was about five or six inches long. It seemed to have a pot belly and I took it to be in the young stages of old age.

(Author’s note: During the making of the film, the producers of the ‘Bridgewater Triangle’ sent me a few artists’ depictions of the creature and I told them that the illustrations looked nothing like what I saw.

Later, they contacted Boston artist John Geig and he read my description of the ‘Littlefoot’ and nailed it! As soon as I saw his work, I exclaimed, “That’s it! That’s what it looked like.”

In the flesh, the creatures eyes were a bit bigger than in the drawing. They were not huge, but were somewhat like the eyes of a cat, which are large in proportion to the animal’s overall size.

Note the forlorn, sad eyed look on the face of the creature in Mr. Geig’s work. The illustration captured the child-like quality it possessed which would seem to be completely at odds with what we think we know about Puckwudgies and other swamp creatures.

(Seeing the cute little drawing It might be hard for you to imagine such a pitiful looking thing being frightening – but it was.)

We stood watching the thing for not more than a minute but it felt like hours. It kept speaking to us, but made no further movement toward us. I summoned enough courage to ask it a few questions but got no answer other than “EEE WAH CHEW” repeated again and again.

If I had been Darwin, or Dr. Livingston, I would have walked to the thing and would have made a great discovery and would have written a new chapter in human history. But I was just a weak, frightened man who slinked away and lost a chance to catalog an entirely new species.

I am ashamed to admit that I walked away. Sam and I turned and went home as fast as we could.

In my living room, I stayed up all night analyzing the encounter.

I tried to figure out what the hairy thing was saying and my best guess at a translation is this: It was speaking English and saying, “We want you. We want you. Come here. Come here.” “Eee wah chu. Eee wah chu. Keer. Keer.“

To this day, I do not know what they wanted me for. Or maybe it was Sam they wanted. If I had the grit to meet with the creature, I could probably write a good ending to this story. Or maybe Sam and I would have been a midnight snack to a band of hairy, little potbellied carnivores.

Over the years, I did go back to the place of the encounter, but I never again saw the hirsute, big eyed thing that summoned me with the call, “eeeee wah chew … ee wah chu.”

I do not know what it was.

I do know what it was not!

It was not a beaver, muskrat, woodchuck, raccoon, bear, or anything like that. It stood very erect, used its arms like a person and was paunchy in the middle. These characteristics do not apply to the various forest creatures that I previously mentioned.

Also…IT WAS NOT HUMAN. There is no doubt in my mind that the thing was inhuman.

I guess what it was, or is, is some type of subhuman swamp creature that has lived in the Hockomock swamp for thousands of years. It was living there before the humans came….and it probably will live there, after the humans have gone.”

That’s the end of my brief report as filed on Hubpages in the early 2000s.

When I saw the creature, I had never heard of ‘The Bridgewater Triangle’. I certainly did not expect that hundreds and even thousands of people would read and be interested in my strange late night meeting with a creature I now sometimes call ‘Little Foot’.

Much later, I found out that for hundreds of years the area running from near Fall River and New Bedford up to Bridgewater and Raynham has been the site of hundreds of unusual and often tragic occurrences.

As to what I saw, I have now come to believe after speaking with many experts, including the learned researcher Andrew Lake, who is featured in the Bridgewater Triangle Documentary, that it was a Puckwudgie.

First off, let’s talk about their size. All reports, including my observation, indicate that the Puckwudgies are small. They are three to four feet tall and have a pot belly. Though the people that see them are almost always far bigger than the creatures, few individuals dare to tangle with them, because they are deadly.

And yet, a Puckwudgie cannot attack a person. It has to be invited. Hence the beckoning call of the creature I saw. The Puckwudgie tries to lure his victim to him, and then very bad things will happen.

There is of course, considerable variation in the reports of the little monsters; but some things appear in almost all of the accounts:

1. They cannot force themselves upon you. They cannot directly attack a person. Instead they try to draw the victim to them.

2. They are small. The one I saw was somewhere between three and four feet. I’d say closer to four than three. I suspect that it weighed about a hundred pounds. In no way did it look muscular or especially strong. It also did not look fierce. Though I took it to be old or of middle age it was child-like. In fact at first, I thought that it was a child, somehow out on the street after midnight while its parents slept. I did not include this information in my original report: when I first saw it, I asked, “Do you need help? Are you lost? Where are your parents?”

Thinking it to be a neighbor’s child, I started towards it but quickly realized by the pull of the leash that my dog was horrified at what she saw. I wonder now, if she perhaps had a different image than the one I was seeing. Some reports say that the Puckwudgies are able to change shape and form.

3. They are insidious. If you allow yourself to be trapped by one, bad things will happen. Death could be instant or in some cases the victim will live, but be plagued by extreme misfortune.

4. They are associated with the Wampanoag Tribe of Native Americans who were the dominant force in an area from Cape Cod to near Boston in the 1600s when the Europeans first arrived and occupied the land of the native peoples.

Here are some other properties often ascribed to the creatures. Please note: although I believe that the four characteristics that I have described apply to the thing I saw – The four items listed below DID NOT seem to be abilities possessed by it.

1, They can appear or disappear at will.

2. They can create fire on their fingertips.

3. They can morph into the shapes of other beings.

4. They have magical powers.

The legend says that the Puckwudgies once were friends with the Native Americans but at some point had an irreversible falling out with them and they became enemies. Apparently they now are enemies to all other people as well.

I have searched without success for stories of people who were actually harmed by a Puckwudgie. Perhaps this lack of information is because those who are lured into contact with the eerie thing, do not live to tell the tale.

All people who study and talk about them agree on one thing; they are tiny, but deadly. People much larger than the creatures, never confront them and walk away, just as I did.

Why would anyone fear a being barely four feet tall and weighing less than a hundred pounds? Why don’t people just walk up and grab the Puckwudgie and take it to the closest zoo?

I wondered about it for a long time and I think I have at least a partial answer – My Dog. Samantha. She was 80 pounds and a mix of Rottweiler and German Shepherd.

She was fearless. One time at an animal preserve, we were admiring a small herd of buffalo. I thought we were safely separated from them by a chain link fence. One large male took an instant dislike to Sammy and me and charged us.

He hit that chain link fence like a locomotive, pushing a massive bulge in it the size of a kid’s wading pool. I was certain that the fence was going to split, but somehow it held, with the profile of the beast remaining permanently as testimony to its strength.

My dog Sammy went nuts. She bared her teeth and started snapping at the buffalo. She did everything she could to get in the enclosure so that she could do battle with the behemoth.

I dragged her home where she finally settled down. I had that dog for 12 years until she passed away of old age, and she was always courageous as well as intelligent.

She never showed fear of anything until the night we saw the Creature from the Bridgewater Triangle.

Sammy was shaking like an overloaded washing machine. She was petrified. She was nearly frightened to death by a small hairy thing that did nothing more than beckon us with the cry, “Ee wan chu”.

If that Puckwudgie was not afraid of Sam, and had the power to scare her, which it did; then that’s proof enough for me, that the little monsters do have a power that is far greater than their size would indicate.

If you ever see such a creature, I think you will understand.

As frightening as the Puckwudgies are, there are other eerie beings in the Bridgewater Triangle that may be even more scary.

In the 1970s, as a young newspaper reporter, I knew a police officer in one of the area towns who reported seeing a Thunderbird. His report, filed in the town of Norton, stated that he was driving home from work late one night in summer.

He slowed at an intersection and saw an enormous bird standing in the roadway. The creature was over six feet tall with a wingspan estimated at between eight and ten feet. The bird looked directly at Sgt. Thomas Downey and then flew straight up in the air. Over the years, the policeman was queried so many times about his sighting that he eventually refused further comments.

As a reporter in the area during that time, I had found the Sergeant, and indeed his entire department, to be sober, reputable and unbiased sources of news.

The Thunderbird of mythology was so named, for the strength of its enormous wings; which when beating created violent storms marked by loud claps of thunder.

Thunderbirds appear in a great many tales of Native American culture from the first yarns in the new England on West towards the Mexican and Spanish territories of California, Texas and such: as well to the North in the Canada of France.

Some of the old reports claim that the powerful creatures could assume human form. A few took the human shape permanently and even married into homo sapien society.

A narrative from Canada says that one family of human thunderbirds was attacked by a tribe who wanted to enslave them. The thunders reverted to their bird shapes and quickly pecked and clawed the warlike tribe to bloody shreds.

My favorite paranormal sighting in the Bridgewater Triangle is that witnessed by TV and radio reporters Steve Sbraccia and Jerry Lopes who were driving by the Raynham Dog Track after a long day of work; and saw an eerie illuminated object in the dark sky. Flying along high above them was a craft that was shaped like baseball’s home plate.

They pulled their car over to the side of the road, along with many others who were seeing the same thing. As they watched, the bright object flew near them. It was the size of three Bowing 707s, wingtip to wingtip. It hovered over them for several minutes and then took off.

Steve Sbraccia is currently a reporter for the Raleigh NBC affiliated television station WNCN which bills him as “a journalist with a passion for story telling”. He has never shied away from telling about the UFO that he and Jerry saw and is probably one of the most credible witnesses ever to share such an experience.

There are literally thousands of weird tales that have come out of the Bridgewater Triangle from recent times and dating back to the 1600s. Many of them are featured in the Bridgewater Triangle Documentary. It’s available at the Bridgewater Triangle website store. It can also be streamed on Vimeo. The one hour version of the film airs on the Discovery Channels under the name “America’s Bermuda Triangle”.

The producers, Aaron Cadieux and Manny Famolare sold the TV rights to Discovery, but they retained the rest of the distribution rights – the DVDs, theatrical and educational showings and such.

Without over-blowing it and trying to make the ‘meeting’ more eerie and dramatic than it was, that’s the story of my encounter with the creature. In the next section I’ll answer a few of the questions people have been asking me since the release of the Bridgewater Triangle movie and my appearance on Monsters and Mysteries in America on the Destination America channel (part of the Discovery Network).

***

Have others seen the Creature From the Bridgewater Triangle?”

I am unable at this time to go into detail, but since publication of my account, I have been recipient of certain statements from one other credible person who claims to have viewed the same creature as the one I saw. His run-in with the beast was in almost the same place as my encounter.

He too chose not to answer the pleading summons of the hairy little thing. I have been unable to learn how many times he has seen the Puckwudgie or if he was able to communicate with it.

Every time I tried to get the creature to answer me; it ignored my questions and kept up its steady drone, “keer, keer, ee wan chu……….keer keer.”

In early summer a few years ago, I interviewed another Hockomock Swamp dweller directly, who said that he did not actually see the creature but found evidence of its lair – including piles of hair/fur. He said the fur was matted in large clumps almost as if it was being saved for use as a pillow. He had been scouring a remote area of his property in search of a group of otters who he thought were depleting the stock of one of his private fishing ponds.

After coming upon a mound of fish bones the size of an easy chair, he located the apparent puckwudgie home underneath a partially fallen tree. He told me that just one single otter can eat more than five pounds of fish a day, so he thought that the otters were responsible for the lack of fish in his pond. After locating the Puckwudgie lair, he wondered if they were the ones doing the fishing, and not the otters.

Though he attempted to spot the puckwudgies, he never was able to actually see one. Evidently the lair had been abandoned and the puckwudgie family had moved elsewhere.

Regarding the otters, they kept on depleting the stock of his ponds until November first, when the trapping season opened in Massachusetts. He baited a great number of traps before he finally captured the voracious weasel like critters. They had nearly ruined an entire series of ponds that he had been building for years. State law forbids the shooting of the pests. They can only be trapped and only for a short 45 day season beginning November 1.

Both of the people who have spoken to me about the Puckwudgies are credible. Both are reputable, hard working, successful citizens. They are not ready to have their identities, or their stories made public at this time. In future, if allowed, I will update this book with their narratives.

It’s interesting to note that much of the ghostly activity in the Bridgewater Triangle emanates from the section occupied by the Hockomock Swamp – a vast area that has fought off ‘civilization’ for over 400 years and continues to do so today.

Here’s a quirky fact to ponder: in the original Native American tongue, ‘Hockomock’ means the place of spirits!

The Glowing Forest

After a few decades in the Bridgewater Triangle, I moved to Cape Cod at the turn of the century and my son, Bill Russo Junior, bought my house. He still lives there at the edge of the wetlands. For well over 20 years, starting as a teenager, Bill has fished in, worked in, swum in, and camped in the Hockomock Swamp and nearby forests.

So, as someone who has spent more time in the haunted woods and streams than just about anybody else, what horrors has he seen?

“No horrors,” Bill reports. “But I have been in the middle of the Glowing Forest!”

He told me that he has seen it several times. Once every few years, an entire interior section of the Hockomock Forest near the Raynham/Bridgewater line takes on an eerie glow like the faint spark of a firefly. Every tree becomes swathed in a pale light from its lowest exposed root to its tallest limb and leaf.

Individually, one glowing tree would barely be noticed, but when the entire forest begins to look like ‘glow sticks’ at a rock concert, it’s hard not to notice.

Bill said that rather than being frightened by the glowing trees, he was fascinated and walked directly into the ghostly white arboretum with no ill effects.

During the Raynham portion of the filming of The Bridgewater Triangle movie, I took a side expedition with Bill Jr. and a few other people, to the site of the “Glowing Forest”. From the main highway, I would estimate we walked about a half mile – it could have been less.

We marched through thick brush after the trail ended; we waded in shallow bogs clogged with frogs and mosquitoes, hiked over rotted limbs and branches, and stepped past giant trees unmolested for centuries.

At length we halted beside a soupy green pond. A fallen log rested on the bank and dipped one of its long arms into the thick, algoid rich mixture. It looked like an enormous wooden spoon stirring the only waters that would ever be allowed in hell.

Here’s one reason why some people call the Hockomock, “The Devil’s Swamp”.

I saw nothing weird that day in the forest adjacent to the scum crusted bog. It was daytime. We were under bright sun. Still, it was easy to imagine how frightening the “Glowing Forest” could be at night.

We touched the rough bark of one of the maples. Carefully, we searched for moss or lichen that might explain why the trees occasionally give off the spectral glow. We found nothing. A dozen more huge pines and maples were checked in the same manner. All seemed normal. There were no growths of any substance that would account for the phenomenon.

We had in our party, an individual with exceptional knowledge of trees and moss.

“It is not lichen that makes these trees glow,” he reported after his own examination. “Lichen does on occasion come to life and create a glowing tree. But that is not what is happening here. There is no lichen on these pines and maples. Also, the lichen only glows for a short time after a rainstorm and only the moss-like lichen glows, not the entire tree.

“I can state with certainty that this stand of timber is not getting its luminescence from moss or lichen,” he affirmed.

Then what is causing the ‘Glowing Forest? “ I wondered.

The Bridgewater Triangle,” he replied in a soft whisper.

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Bill Jr. was interviewed by a television crew from the Discovery Networks and part of that interview is featured in Season Two, Episode Two of Monsters and Mysteries in America.

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Bizarre lights have been a hallmark of much of the paranormal activity in the Triangle for a long time. The Raynham Dog Track where the reporters saw the massive UFO three times as big as a ‘707’ has long been a hot spot for the weird lights. The local police have heard many times of ‘glowing balls of light floating in the trees behind the track.’

Members of my own family have reported seeing odd lights in the sky, especially when driving near the ill-fated ‘Nip’. It’s a large, shallow lake that is about as high as a yardstick in most places, but has a snaky deep channel that has caused so many drownings that the lake has been forever closed to swimming.

Sometimes people try to track the source of the balls of light using their car. When they get to where the light seemed to be coming from, it disappears.

There are hundreds of reports similar to this little composite that I have written:

“We were sitting outside by our fire pit and saw five mysterious glowing balls of light in the sky. There were not high up like planes or stars. They were fairly close to the ground – far too close to have been aircraft. The lights darted back and forth and turned off and on like flashlights, but they were not. The lights would go from blinding brightness to a soft glow and then back to bright again. They darted into the tree line and were gone for a moment. Seconds later they would re-appear far from where they had been.”

The very first appearance of ‘ghost lights’, ‘freaky fireballs’, or UFOs in the Bridgewater Triangle was more than three hundred years ago.

At ten o’clock on a sunny morning on the tenth day of May in 1760, a large ball of fire darted through the skies over the town of Bridgewater. Witnesses said the object made an odd sound. Though there was considerable experimentation with steam engines at the time, a practical machine would not be developed until more than 20 years after the UFO’s appearance over the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The people of that time obviously had never heard the sounds made by gasoline or jet engines; so we can only speculate what power source made the noise that the colonial people heard.

From that day forward there have been hundreds of well documented cases of UFO sightings in Bridgewater, Raynham, Taunton, and all of the other towns in the Triangle. It seems that the sheer weight of the paper required to print out each individual report would be enough to get the American government interested in the subject: but ever since Roswell in the 1940s virtually every explanation offered by Washington concerning UFOs and other paranormal events; dismisses the events as weather balloons and swamp gas. Sometimes the official line will hint that a UFO was actually a new type of aircraft being tested by Washington.

I don’t think most people are buying that.

Another thing that I think most people don’t buy is the story of Lizzie Borden’s innocence. I am fairly certain that the majority of citizens believe that Elizabeth did take an axe and giver her father 40 whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her step – mother 41.

The Asylum

Elizabeth’s parents were hacked to death in Fall River, which is close to, but not part of, the Bridgewater Triangle. I only mention her name because she claimed that while she was awaiting trial for the murder of her parents, she was incarcerated in the State Lunatic Hospital at Taunton. Taunton is in the Bridgewater Triangle and the Taunton State Hospital is the site of many a strange happening.

Borden never actually was committed to Taunton State, but for whatever reason, she enjoyed saying that she had stayed there while waiting for her trial to start. She was locked up in the nearby Taunton Jail, but never set foot in the State Hospital.

Taunton State Hospital was built in the 1800s as an insane asylum; yet it had grand and rare architecture. It was built in an elegant, neo classical style. At one time there were 40 buildings on the 150 acre grounds.

Patient care in the early days was more like a ‘B horror movie’ than a medical facility. There were dungeons, chains on the wall, and instruments of torture in the basement of the main building, almost within earshot of an elegant theater, a ballroom and a beautiful dining room.

The Breezeway of the Taunton State Hospital shortly before closure of the venerable facility in the early 2000s.

Photo by Christopher Payne.

A complete record of the incidents at Taunton State would fill many thousands of pages and I will touch on some of them; but first here is a portion of an interview with my daughter about the facility. She was employed there before the turn of the century, for some time in a clerical position.

“I never saw a ghost. The area around my desk did not suddenly get cold and damp. Not once did I hear the screams of the spirits of long-dead people who were chained and tortured in the basement. But I did hear a lot of screams. It was a hospital for the insane.

“The creepiest thing I ever experienced during my time employed there, was the parking lot during a full moon. Whenever there was a full moon you could hear the moans and cries of the patients for a mile.

“I left work at night and most of the time there would be one or two people acting up; but on the nights of a full moon, almost all the patients were rowdy. The volume of noise was six times louder than a normal evening.”

ME – “Did you ever see the torture chambers?

My Daughter – “No, they were closed long before I started working there. But I knew people who did get a tour of the subterranean tunnels leading to what we would call torture chambers. The doctors of the 1800s and early 1900s called them treatment rooms. Chaining people to the walls sounds barbaric today when we have medicines that can calm violent people; but back then, the only way the doctors could prevent some of the patients from hurting themselves and others, was to chain them to the wall.”

Even in the era of modern treatment for lunacy, there were some individuals at the hospital in recent years who required special treatment. A cannibal woman had to be encased in an iron mask to prevent her from chewing off the fingers of the doctors and nurses.

The most notorious patient at the hospital was cruel Jane Toppan who aspired to have the highest body count of any serial murderer. It’s thought that nurse Jane killed at least 31 people. Many of her victims were patients in the hospitals where she worked. She even managed to get employment at one of Boston’s best facilities but she was fired when officials realized she was mis-using opiates. Apparently they did not realize she was mis-using the opiates to kill people. One of the more esoteric aspects of her killings, was her love of getting in bed with her victims and snuggling with them as they died.

After being fired from both Mass General and Cambridge Hospital, Jane began a career as a private nurse and a killer by poison. She killed her landlords, poisoned her own relatives, and even poisoned the widower of one of her victims so that she could nurse him back to health. When he figured out what she was up to, he gave her the boot. She poisoned herself to gain his sympathy, but he was too smart for her. He gave her a double boot and became one of the few who survived an encounter with crazy Jane Toppan.

As wacky as Toppan was, there are reports that some sadistic nurses and doctors at Taunton State Hospital, were even worse. According to some sources, the unscrupulous medicos took patients to the cellar dungeons and used the unwilling unfortunates in satanic rituals. Several people, according to some sources, were sacrificed to the devil, who made more than one personal appearance in the bowels of the hospital.

There are a number of reports that indicate that staff people who did not know of the history of the basement tortures, felt very frightened when they had to go to the cellar. They told friends that cold spots would develop and move along with them where ever they went.

A number of patients at the ‘trustee’ level refused to enter the cellars even if it meant losing their preferred position.

From the 1960s on, it is said that the hard working nurses and doctors of that era felt a tremendous discomfort if they even had to go near the stairs leading to the basement.

Reports abound of the eerie ‘Shadow Man’. It is said that he is a ghost who can crawl up and down walls and even walk upside down on ceilings. He likes to spy on patients.

Even upstairs things could be scary. Patients reported huge temperature drops in their rooms. Lights would go off and out without reason.

By 2014 most of the Taunton State Hospital was closed. Its beautiful buildings which had fallen into dis-repair, were demolished. The doctors and nurses were sent away. The patients were sent away. Some were killers. Some were dangerous to themselves but not others. Some were sent to other institutions but others were just let loose on society.

And what of the Ghosts of Taunton State Hospital? Where will they go?

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There are many more unexplained things in the Triangle – including the story of a famous Massachusetts rock. It is not the Plymouth Rock, which is a tourist trap of dubious origin – but the Dighton Rock.

The Dighton Rock is a 40 ton mystery that was buried in salt water for centuries. It has been dug up and is now on display in its own scary little museum in Dighton by the side of an eerie body of water. There is a great quantity of ancient writing on the rock, dating back perhaps 400 years or more – but nobody can figure out what it says. More on this later in a chapter I call “Massachusetts Rocks!”.

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This next tale comes from Cape Cod, a narrow spit of sand that looks like an outstretched arm floating in the Atlantic off the Massachusetts coast, about an hour south of the Bridgewater Triangle.

The area has such a great number of historical and spectral connections to that haunted triangle, that it could be called the Bridgewater Triangle Annex.

This fact-based legend tells of a goodly, but unfortunate minister to the people of the Town of Falmouth in colonial New England.

At birth he was called Joseph Metcalfe; although a more apt name for the poor fellow would have been the biblical ‘Job’, for he demonstrated both patience and forgiveness far above that which is commonly allotted to women and men.

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Chapter Two: The Joseph Boat

The following story is based on Falmouth town records and church documents.

This narrative of ghostly wanderings and odd happenings takes place in England’s “New England” in the late 1600s and early 1700s. It was long before a rabble army led by a former British military aide named Washington, wrested control of the Colonies from the Crown.[
**]People lived in peace with the Mother Country then. Business deals, debts, and wages were paid in British Pounds, shillings and such.

Our report starts out in present day Cape Cod where a wealthy media magnate maintains a lofty summer estate in Falmouth, at the elbow of the arm shaped island………..

Beyond the warmth of the elegant seaside mansion was a cheerless night. Inside, a roaring blaze in the massive hearth, and a sideboard laden with aromatic culinary delights made for a festive atmosphere in the auditorium sized living-room.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Johnson of Boston and Cape Cod, were entertaining their winter friends, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Woodard of New York City and Fisher Island, Florida. The exclusive island near Miami is the richest Zip Code in all of the 48 states as well as the two new states – gold rich Alaska and sand rich Hawaii.

The curtains of the expansive bay windows that traverse the full width of the living room, facing the ocean, had been drawn wide by Kennedy the butler so that the two couples could watch the stormy drama endlessly unfolding in the choppy and agitated Vineyard Sound.

From the rear courtyards of the elegant dwelling, it was less than two hundred paces to the sandy beach and the sea. A warm spell had helped to create a plethora of flowers in the old fishing dory that Mr. Johnson’s gardeners had placed on the pillowy lawn. It was filled with rich earth that persuaded lush spring flowers to burst from the boat like corn popping from a skillet on a hot stove.

When the Florida guests arrived in the early afternoon the storm was still at sea. Unaware that a monster of nature was speeding toward them, they relaxed on the patio under bright sun and chatted.

“Forget about Amazon dot com Charlie. They are all done. Their time has passed. Facebook? Same thing! Our new app will have them in bankruptcy within three years time!”

“I will tell you what to forget Frank. Forget about business for a few days. This is Cape Cod and life is slow here. The Cape is for refreshing and renewing yourself. There will be plenty of time to talk commerce later. First I want you and Eileen to sample some food and beverages.”

His wife Maria, a stunning blonde woman of sixty who looked twenty years younger chimed in……..

“Frank. Eileen. Sit down and enjoy the afternoon sun while I have Kennedy bring you something really special. Our new chef from Italy is also a master mixologist who won the Bacardi Legacy Medal.”

Kennedy emerged silently from the pantry with a tray of drinks. He set a clear glass filled to the brim with a snowy white liquid in front of each person.

“Please m’am,” Kennedy said to Eileen Woodard, “Have a Ghost Martini, made by master chef Gino Romano. And Mr. Woodard here is one for you.”

Next, he served drinks to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson before exiting with a stately air as he walked back to the pantry.

“About Kennedy, Isn’t he ……?” whispered Mrs. Woodward to her host.

“That’s him,” replied Charley Johnson, “but he’s just plain Kennedy now – our butler. Old money does not last forever. Things change. Even here on Cape Cod.”

“Try your drink,” prompted Maria, “It’s Chef Romano’s Ghost Martini. He made this treat especially for you because we are near the end of spring and sometimes ghostly things happen in May on old Cape Cod.”

“This is the perfect little drink,” added her husband Charlie, “Notice how everything in the martini glass is white. Chef uses whipped vodka, vanilla vodka, and white chocolate liqueur.”

“It’s a little girlish, but it is cute,” Frank replied. “How did Chef make that ghost shape that’s floating on the top?”

“That’s vanilla ice cream,” Charley said, “cut into a ghostly form and plopped into the ocean of chilled vodka. It’s excellent. Try it.”

The conversation turned at various times to the upcoming Newport yachting season, the polo matches in Hamilton at Myopia Hunt Club and of course, the obligatory trip to Fenway Park where they would be seated within a hot dog toss of the billionaire Red Sox owner, John Henry.

At length, Eileen Woodard whose garden on Fisher Island was valued in the high seven figures, took note of the ragged old fishing dory in the middle of the lawn, filled with the beautiful spring blossoms.

“That’s The Joseph Boat,” Charley Johnson informed her.

“Is Joseph your gardener?,” queried Mrs. Woodard.

“No. Well, in a sense maybe he is – but he is not on my payroll,” Charlie answered. “It’s a long story and a fascinating one that my company is turning into a one hour prime time special on one of our television programs with supporting pieces in our print magazine, and of course, on line.”

“Sounds interesting,” said Frank, “Tell us about it. You know Eileen and I love anything about gardening.”

“It’s more about ghosts than flowers Frank. I believe I will save the story for tonight. For now, we have the bounty of the sea to tackle. Kennedy is going to serve Chef Romano’s new creation, Rigatoni pasta stuffed with lobster. Now don’t say a thing until you have tried it. This is a culinary experience you will cherish for years.”

The afternoon went by languidly and pleasantly as Cape Cod afternoons do, with good food and lively conversation.

After a rest and some hot tub time in their respective suites, the friends gathered for a sumptuous deep fried dinner, layered with servings of cod, fries, onion rings, steamed quahogs, corn on the cob, zucchini, and local blue crab. For dessert, the party moved to the Great Room, which could have doubled as a ball room. They sat in ornate Morris chairs from the late 1890s. Each overstuffed recliner was worth in excess of $50,000.

The music system had been programmed to play nothing but Morris Chair music. First up was Irving Berlin’s “You’d be surprised”.

“At a party

Or at a ball

I’ve got to admit

He’s nothing at all

But in a Morris chair

You’d be surprised.”

Even the father of country music, Jimmy Rodgers, the singing brakeman, had a Morris Chair song:

“A big Morris chair waits for me there

In front of a bright log fire

My babe at my knee and my wife sings with me

While I strum on my old guitar

In fact we’re as happy, as happy can be.”

 

Forgotten was The Joseph Boat – The old fishing dory in the yard being used as a flower planter.

 

One of the last Joseph Boats left on Cape Cod. It’s on the Northside of Dennis at Corporation Beach

Photo: copyrighted by Bill Russo

 

 

Then the storm came. It was just a typical Northeaster to the Johnsons who had summered on Cape for many years; but to the Woodards who were spending their first night at the edge of Vineyard Sound, it seemed like the worst hurricane in the history of the world.

Winds of gale strength twisted the arms and trunks of the trees. White caps of up to ten feet raced to the shore where they swallowed the beach whole and tried to force their way over the rows of heavy sandbags that had been set against them by the gardeners.

The very timbers of the great house groaned in pain at every salvo of the tempestuous wind.

Charley Johnson who was always thrilled by the savage strength and beauty of a Northeaster, had his servants dim the lights, add more wood to the fire, and light clusters of candles.

“Don’t worry Frank – Or you either Eileen. We get these storms frequently. Just sit back and watch the battle of nature fought out in the skies and on the sea.”

An enormous streak of lightning flashed just a few yards off shore and cracked the black of night with dizzying brightness; momentarily illuminating the back yard as if it were midday.

“Charlie, I saw someone in your yard just now! He was standing in your boat of flowers!” Frank said excitedly.

As the thunder from the prior barrage shook the massive three story house to its foundation, a second array of lightning flashed : exposing again an eerie figure; now leaving the yard, a fistful of flowers clutched in his hand. Dressed in rags, with an ornate powdered wig atop his head, he glided swiftly toward the water, though his legs never moved. Like dissipating smoke from a doused campfire, the figure dissolved before their eyes.

The visitors were aghast.

Charlie said, “I see that man once every Spring. He comes to the dory to pick flowers. They actually are his flowers. He first planted them – or some like them – almost 300 years ago.”

His wife Maria affirmed that she too had seen the spectral being once a year, every year since they put the flower boat in the yard.

Frank and Eileen Woodard had collapsed together into a Morris Chair. Gasping for breath, they held each-other tightly.

“We could not have seen what we think we saw”, Frank finally wheezed.

“You did see it just as Maria and I have seen it these several years. At first we thought it was a neighbor stealing our blossoms. We had the servants set up cameras. Every night during the spring time we would have the recorders in place and running from dusk to dawn,” Charlie said.

“One stormy night toward the end of May three years ago,” Maria picked up the tale, “We captured the whole thing on camera. The wigged man walked into the boat and examined every flower, before picking a bunch and then leaving. When we viewed the recording, it was blank.”

“Ghosts cannot be filmed,” Charlie confirmed. “Every time we recorded the wigged man, we came up with nothing but a black screen.”

Kennedy quickly entered the salon from his perch in the pantry and served martinis all around. The Woodards bolted down their cocktails quickly and were just as rapidly served another.

They gradually got their breath back and began questioning their host machine gun style, for answers.

“I will tell you the story of this man and the flower boats, just as my research team has told it to me. The man that you saw, if he were still living, would be close to 340 years old. But since he died at the age of 42 and is a ghost, I guess what we saw is a man of 42 years, in his third century as a Cape Cod ghost.

The name of the specter is Joseph Metcalfe, he was the second Minster of the Congregational Church of Falmouth from 1707 to 1723. Both the church and the Town of Falmouth kept good records so we were able to uncover a mountain of information about this case.

Born in Dedham, Massachusetts in 1682, the young Metcalfe came from a proper family and was dedicated to theology at an early age. He graduated from Harvard College in Boston in 1703 and was considered by his classmates as a studious, thoughtful and serious young man.

He showed little interest in sporting events, news events, the women of Boston and Cambridge, or politics. In short, it was universally accepted that he would make the perfect Puritan Minister.

There were however, no ministerial positions available for the 21 year old graduate, so he took a teaching position for 12 pounds a year in a town called Rehoboth, near present day Rhode Island. He remained with his students for two years, until he was summoned to appear before the great and wondrous Reverend Michael Wigglesworth in the city of Malden, just outside of Boston.

Wigglesworth was one of the most influential theologians in the new England. He wrote the runaway best seller, “The Day of Doom”. For more than a hundred years this text was seated at the right hand of the bible and people could quote it as well as the Good Book itself.

Old Wigglesworth was the stereotypical puritan. Virtually everything was a sin in his mind, and he felt that human beings were not even fit to worship God. Indeed he felt that he, himself was unworthy of being a minister. He professed to be deathly sick most of his life, yet lived long and was married several times; fathering a flock of offspring – all the while decrying nearly every aspect of life to be damnably sinful.

How Metcalfe, who was to prove to be one of the most reasonable and thoughtful men in the new world, ever got along with Wigglesworth, it’s hard to imagine. Wigglesworth was in semi retirement and he allowed young Reverend Metcalfe to take on a great percentage of his work. In return Wigglesworth gave the freshman minister lodging and some food, but no pay.

Short but effective sermons were the hallmark of young Reverend Metcalfe and the people of Malden liked him, though their leaders voted against giving him a single shilling. We did uncover one report that says that the Town Council voted him a one-time payment of Three pounds and ten shillings.

When the puritans of distant Falmouth got it in mind to get rid of their minister, Reverend Samuel Shiverick, because he was getting too old, Joseph made a few trial runs as Guest Minster and he scored well with the Town Fathers.

Unlike today when there is much talk of separation of church and state, there was little of it in the colonies. The Town Council hired and fired the preachers and voted as well on the salary to be paid.

The three Selectmen of Falmouth were considering offering Joseph a contract which would make him just the second minister to serve the faithful, since the formation of the church seven years prior – when it was split off from the Barnstable Congregational Church.

They summoned the young bachelor to the Falmouth Meeting House on the Ides of August in 1707.

The expansive one room structure had a massive oak table in the front of the hall, with 18 chairs around it. Twelve places were reserved for the three Selectmen and for various other town officials including the Constable. The six remaining chairs were for people who appeared before the council during business sessions or when the Selectmen were sitting in judgment of defendants.

The rest of the building was given over to pews, purchased by members of the congregation. Each family had its own pew. The proximity of the bench seat to the officials’ table, indicated the importance of the family, as well as the price of the pew.

Reverend Metcalfe walked into the Meeting Room at the appointed time on the 15th day of August. As he entered the dimly lit hall, a hand almost as big as a dog clamped on to his shoulder and began ushering him forward. He nearly had to run to avoid being dragged.

“Welcome to Falmouth Reverend Metcalfe,” said a man seated at the head of the long table. He had a flowing white beard that appeared to be more than three feet long.

“The gentleman with the big hands and the big body,” he continued, “is our Constable, Mr. Deliverance J. Makepeace. Thank you Del. You may release the Minister from your grip. He is not one of your convicts. You may leave now Del.”

Stroking the hoary beard that was longer than a horsetail, the man at the head of the table waited until the Constable has departed and then continued.

“I am Elder John Robinson, Chairman of the Selectmen of the Town of Falmouth. I am also Master of the School, Keeper of the Records, Disburser of Town Monies, and Chief Judge of the Court. Seated at my right is Selectman John Davis and at my left, Selectman Moses Hatch. Selectman Davis will open the meeting.”

“Good day Reverend,” Elder Davis said, taking a deep pull on a clay pipe nearly as long his arm. Smoke wreathed his head as he continued, “We have found your work as Guest Preacher to be worthy of merit. So much so that we are prepared to offer you a contract, providing that you pass this little interview that we have in store. When I use the word ‘store’ it reminds me to tell you that although you will be in charge of the spiritual well being of the people, it is I that keeps their bodies healthy. In my dry goods store, I sell the finest clay pipes, like the one I am using. And of course, we expect you to recommend that all parishioners smoke a good clay pipe because as we all know, smoking is the highest thing a person can do for his health. The medicine in the smoke enters the body and eliminates grosse gasses and regulates the balance of the four humors – the blood, the phlegm, the choler, and the black bile. Do we agree on this?”

“Of course we do Selectman Davis. Professor Lambick Penn of Harvard college lectured regularly on the health benefits of the pipe and tobacco. We were all expected to have a good set of clay pipes. Sadly mine broke on the way to this meeting.”

“Yes clay pipes break frequently and that is why I always have a large stock on hand. “Gentlemen,” he said to his fellow officials, “I vote that we hire this fine young man to be our Minister. I like the way he talks. Reverend Metcalfe, I have a spare pipe in my vest that I am going to give to you. And I am even going to put it in the contract, if the others agree, that you get an allotment of 48 pipes per annum to be paid at the rate of four per month. What say you Selectman Hatch?”

Mr. Hatch stood up. Though he was nearly as thin as the rein of a horse’s bridle, the man was uncommonly tall. Reverend Metcalfe had to tip his chin up as high as it would go to be able to see the elder’s face.’‘

“Don’t strain yourself looking up at me young man. Take a seat in my family’s pew – in the very first row. That’s fine. Now I will tell you about me. I am Town Administrator of Agriculture. I set the rules on farming, sheeping, cowing, chicken raising, and anything else to do with food or drink and the growing or making of it. I am also a farmer. Your eyes have told you I am probably the tallest man you have ever seen. I am at least two inches over six feet – a good head over everybody else in the colony. My body is like the Town of Falmouth – long. The town stretches in all directions for miles. You will note also that I am very lean and again I am like the Town. Our crops have not done well for years. So to pay you is going to be a strain for us. I will tell you that right now. What say you to that?”

The Reverend Mr. Metcalfe stuck a finger under his wig by his left ear to stifle an itch while he thought of what he should say. At length he responded.

“Selectman Hatch. You are the longest man I have ever seen and I swear that is true. That you and your crops are lean, I understand and can only point out that whomever you pick for a Minister – he will be of flesh and blood and as such, he needs food and shelter. But as for me, I always remember that the Lord said ‘what gaineth a man? – if he hath a stomach full of food but a heart full of lust, greed, and longing for gold’. I did not become a spreader of the word of God to harvest money: to gather sheep for His fold, did I toil for my degree.”

Hatch swore that the Reverend’s words were among the finest he had ever heard and he sided with Davis in voting to hire Mr. Metcalfe.

“It falls to me then, to either assent or say nay to this well spoken gentleman,” said Chairman Robinson, all the while stroking that unkempt horsetail beard like one might pat a fine retrieving dog. “Reverend Metcalfe, no man in this town wears a powdered wig as you do. Is not pride a sin?”

“Indeed it is Selectman Robinson. But the wearing of the Peruke by judges, clergy, and various officials is standard practice. In the city, one would not dare be seen without one.”

A hushed murmur emerged from the Selectmen’s table as they mulled over what the Reverend has said.

“As the Town’s store keeper, I can testify the truth of what the Reverend says. The fact is, I have been contemplating bringing in a line of those wigs – I mean Perukes,” said John Davis.

Chairman Robinson took a different tack. “What about Huguenots and Jean Calvin’s Calvinism? Where do you stand?”

Reverend Metcalfe had heard that one of the reasons they were firing their old Minister was because he favored the French Protestant movement, so he chose his words carefully.

“Their religion has been banned in the country of its birth – France, but it is not outlawed in the colonies. In some areas they are being welcomed. However, I do not believe they have a place in Falmouth.”

Chairman Robinson took hold of his beard like a broom handle, threw it over his shoulder and fairly jumped from the table to get to Reverend Metcalfe.

For his part, the Reverend thought he was about to be attacked and prepared to run for his life. Before he could move, Chairman Robinson was directly in front of his face.

“Mr. Metcalfe! Welcome to Falmouth. I vote yay! You are the new Minister of our town.

Moses Hatch arose, drew a paper from his coat and began reading. “Reverend we are officially offering you this parish. We will pay you the very generous sum of 40 pounds a year, which will go up every year until it reaches 70 pounds. This money is to be paid from the Town treasury.”

John Davis added, “we will also give you land on which you can build a home. Further we will provide two serviceable cows, and 20 cords of firewood.”

“But that’s not all,” chimed in John Robinson, “we will dig you a well and even line it with stone. Plus we will settle upon you the large sum of 160 pounds to cover the cost of moving from Rehoboth to Falmouth.”

“What say you, Reverend Metcalfe?” they asked in unison.

“Gentlemen my response is that I will see you in church on Sunday.”

As good as his word, the 26 year old Reverend Metcalfe filled the pulpit of the Rehoboth Congregational church that following Sunday and every Sunday for the next 16 years.

Shortly after he assumed his new duties, he married the young Abiel Adams, daughter of the Reverend William Adams of Dedham. The new Mrs. Metcalfe could trace her family directly back almost 90 years to her great, great grandfather, Governor William Bradford of the 1620 Mayflower voyage.

The entire congregation took an immediate liking to their new ministerial family; yet as the Minister toiled in his every spare minute to build a home for himself and his wife, there was little help. The town fathers who voted unanimously to hire him, were nowhere to be seen when walls were raised or the roof was put on.

A young black man who was servant to one of Selectman Robinson’s brothers was the only person who unfailingly offered help whenever he was permitted to do so. Later on, the minister rewarded the man’s assistance by making him a full member of the church despite objections from a number of the parishioners.

By the time his first child was born, the Reverend Metcalfe had built the house, a few outbuildings, and had also started an orchard, a vegetable garden and a flower garden.

A number of parishioners thought that flowers were sinful, but the Reverend’s impassioned sermon about the beauty of God’s creations turned the tide and eventually all but a very few Falmouth residents had flower gardens.

The Metcalfe’s first child, a boy, did not survive infancy; nor did the second, a girl. But after that, Mr. and Mrs. Metcalfe had seven daughters, each of whom reached adulthood and married. A tenth pregnancy would come, but more about that later.

 

How they managed to feed the burgeoning group was almost a miracle in itself, for the Town reneged numerous times on the Reverend’s tiny salary.

He had given faithful service to the town for two full years, when his second salary payment was due. He waited patiently for the money for four months.

On a warm April day just after noon, upon completion of traveling on foot from one end of town to the other ministering to the sick and the aged, Reverend Joseph, sat in his meager kitchen at lunch with his wife.

“This soup is wonderful Abiel. I just don’t know how you can prepare it so well. And the bread. It is the softest inside and yet the crust has a perfect snap to it. I certainly was wise in marrying the best cook in the new England.”

“Hush Joseph. You know it’s just water with a few scraps from our garden. But I am pleased that you think my soup is good. Would you like your tea now?”

She served him a steaming cup of tea with milk from the one cow that was still giving it. He drank with just a hint of a sour look on his face.

“I was hoping that there would be sugar in it Abiel.”

“Joseph. How can it be sweetened when there’s been not a shilling in this house for 17 long months? We cannot buy sugar. We cannot even buy a match to light a candle. But that doesn’t matter since we have run out of candles! Don’t you think it’s about time you spoke to those gentlemen who promised you an extra ten pounds this year and yet have failed to give you even a penny of last year’s salary!”

It was a speech of great moment from the normally silent Abiel Metcalfe, and it prompted Joseph to vow to her that he would speak to the Council that very afternoon.

 

He went into his bedroom and freshened his clothing, removing as much as he could of the dust and dirt that he had collected during his morning rounds. When he was satisfied with his efforts he reached for his peruke.

For two centuries, up until around 1800, perukes (powdered wigs) were fashion necessities for judges, barristers, businessmen, ministers, and virtually all of the middle class.

It wasn’t pride or vanity then that prompted Joseph to put fresh white powdered starch on his peruke and add some lavender scent. Well, perhaps there was just a touch of pride in the heart of Reverend Metcalfe when he perched that peruke on his head. It had been given to him as a gift when he earned his theological degree. Though the wig was beginning to show signs of wear and tear, it still looked dignified and respectable. Momentarily, he wished that he could purchase a new one, but he quickly cast the thought aside.

To modern Americans the colonial money system is difficult to comprehend. Simplified, it breaks down into pence (pennies), shillings and pounds. It took 12 pence to equal a shilling and 20 shillings to make a pound.

An inexpensive peruke in the shops of Boston in 1710 would cost between a pound and a pound plus one shilling. An expensive wig such as those long curly ones worn by royalty could cost upwards of a thousand shillings or 50 pounds. That would be one full year’s pay for the Reverend – if he actually were to receive his wages.

Joseph finished dabbing the white powder on his tresses and then removed the dressing gown he had slipped on to protect his suit, as well as the cone of paper around his face which served the same purpose, and set off on foot to meet the town council.

He had to walk because he had no horse, although the town fathers had said that he would have the use of one twice a year to visit relatives back in Dedham. He had yet to avail himself of that privilege.

Upon arriving at the Meeting House, Reverend Metcalfe was lucky enough to find all three elders present.

I will spare you the text of the sad conversation the Reverend Mr. Metcalfe had with Selectmen John Robinson, John Davis, and Moses Hatch; except to say that they gave him no money. Not a shilling. Not even a pence.

“It’s worms and drought. Don’t you see Reverend that because of the sad state of the town’s crops we are unable to pay you the cash portion of your salary,” said the thin man, Moses Hatch.

"But we greatly admire and respect your work," said John Robinson -his never cut beard now reached nearly to his knees - "and don't you worry, you’re still going to get every cord of wood that we promised you. We take our contract with you very seriously."

“We certainly do,” added John Davis, “That’s why we’re going to replace that cow that stopped giving milk. We are going to give you another one, even though the contract says nothing about extra cows. We just think it is the right thing to do. Oh and here’s an extra clay pipe and an ounce of tobacco. Smoke regularly to keep in good health young man.”

After listening to the plight of the Town Council, Reverend Metcalfe was sorry that he had bothered them.

“Don’t worry about the Metcalfe family gentlemen. We will get by, what with our vegetable garden and such. And one more thing gentlemen. The fifty pounds I am owed for last year. Consider it paid. I cancel the debt.”

After the unfortunate minister left the Meeting House, the three elders joked that they certainly had made a fine choice when they hired young Joseph Metcalf.

Somehow the Metcalfe family survived without the wages for that year and the next. Finally on the third year without pay, the patient Joseph Metcalfe once again put on his peruke, now well worn and shabby; and conferred again with the Town Council.

“Gentlemen I am sorry to take up your time today but it’s been three years now without pay,” he said.

“Don’t you worry about taking up our time Reverend. Great sermon last Sunday, by the way. You know when you talked about Jesus not even owning the clothes that he wore, I was just so proud that we have got a minister who not only can speak the word of God but can actually live in the same style as the Master. Why sir, you are an inspiration to us all. You come and see us anytime,” blustered John Robinson, stroking a white beard, never cut, that now almost touched the dirt floor of the Meeting House.

“I second that motion,” added John Davis, “Reverend Metcalfe. You are a credit to our community. And next year when things are better, we are going to see that you are paid before anyone else. Here, have a free clay pipe and an ounce of tobacco. Smoke daily, just before your prayers.”

“It’s true that we cannot pay you this year,” said wispy Moses Hatch fingering the curls of a brand new, mighty peruke that looked as big as a leafy tree, running from the top of his head almost to his waist. “The Town of Falmouth is broke. It’s the black-birds Reverend. Will you explain it Mr. Davis?”

“I surely will. We are flat busted. But don’t you worry Minister, our Agriculture Administrator, Selectman Hatch came up with a capital idea. The black-birds have eaten almost all of the crops. That’s why we have no money. Nobody else knows what we are going to tell you now. We are making a new law to save the crops from devastation by the black-birds. Every male citizen of Falmouth is hereby ordered to kill six old and 12 young black-birds, or four bluejays between the dates of March 25 and June 15. Now those that don’t kill their quota, and there will be some, will have to pay a fine of three shillings.”

“Now the good news Reverend. Not only will killing the black-birds save next year’s crop, but also we are going to pay you all the three shilling fines that we take in,” said Mr. Hatch.

“Come back here next year Reverend and we will have some money for you,” said John Robinson in a final and dismissive tone.

Of course when next year came, the only thing that came to the Reverend and Mrs. Metcalfe was another child. They now were up to seven girls and how they were able to manage that household was the biggest mystery on Cape Cod.

The well tended garden of vegetables helped, but even more helpful were a handful of neighbors who were outraged by the shabby treatment the elders gave to the patient minister.

To question the elders, however, was to be disciplined by the whip or in the stocks. The elders, and their robot constable, had full power over the citizenry, so help when it came, had to be delivered somewhat surreptitiously.

Under cover of darkness, clothing and necessities, were secreted into the tiny house whose main furnishing was bunks in every corner.

Marcus Kinley, the black servant who had helped to build the Reverend’s house, eventually became a land owner and was as successful as it was possible for a person of his race to be during the era of slavery.

The closest thing to a friend the Reverend had, Mr. Kinley regularly marched up to the house with things the family needed, even during the brightness of day.

“Mr. Kinley,” said Abiel Metcalfe, “you put yourself in danger by coming here when it is not dark. Some businessmen may see you and refuse to trade with you.”

“Thanks for your concern m’am, but you don’t have to worry. They’ll just think I’m here to wash your floors or swamp out your outbuildings. And even if they don’t like my color, they have never minded the color of my money.”

And so it went for 16 years. The Reverend Mr. Metcalfe smiled and tended his flock with the greatest of care, though he was rarely paid.

Every few years the Town Fathers would reluctantly part with a few pounds, but most years the pay was zero. These meager circumstances failed to dim the brightness of the family or the spirit of its patriarch. The seven girls were among the prettiest and smartest in the colony. They could read, write, cook, sew and mend.

It was said as far away as Boston that the Metcalfe girls in a few years would be sought after as brides even by the sons of the colony’s elite families.

Parson Metcalfe was now in his 40th year. His once proud peruke was moldy, partly bare, and moth-eaten. One of his two great wishes in life was to have a new wig.

His second wish was even more modest. He had lived by Vineyard Sound for almost two decades and was lulled to sleep at night by its rhythmic tidal pulse. He was awakened in the mornings to the sound of the breakers crashing into great boulders embedded in the sandy beach. He yearned for a little boat so that he could row out towards the island of Martha’s Vineyard and just relax his mind while riding on the rise and fall of the waves.

For a man with virtually no income, these two wishes could never come true. And yet, for once, fortune smiled on the unassuming minister. A distant relative in Boston died and left him a small fortune of several hundred pounds. In truth it was a ‘small’ fortune but to a man with wants as meager as Rev. Metcalfe, it was a huge windfall.

Donning his worn out peruke, the gentle parson headed once more for the Meeting House to appear before the Selectmen. The elders saw him coming too late to bolt.

“Metcalfe is on the way,” said Mr. Chase. “What will we tell him this time?”

“Let’s tell him that unless he takes a cut in pay, we might have to get another minister,” Mr. Robinson offered.

“No. He might quit and we’ll never get another man as good as he is. How about we just go with the old Black-bird story? Tell him we are broke,” said Mr. Hatch with conviction.

“Good morning gentlemen,” smiled Reverend Metcalfe, “I have good news. I am going to Boston today to claim an inheritance and so I wanted to let you know that you do not have to fret about my wages this year. I will not need them. Also, as to the 200 pounds I am still owed for the last several years. I am canceling that debt. Have a wonderful day my friends. I will be back in time for services. See you on Sunday.”

As he departed the Meeting House, he left the three old chiselers speechless. Finally Mr. Chase said….“That’s the best minister any town ever had.”

“Agreed”, said the others in unison. “Let’s keep him on!”

Using the borrowed horse he had rights to twice a year; Reverend Metcalfe set off for the great town of Boston – at the time called, the Metropolis of the Whole English America. By far the largest city in the new England, the population was some 12,000 citizens.

Old Puffy, the creature that the elders had given the Reverend to ride, was as worn out a nag as it is possible for a horse to be, and still carry a rider. But Minister Metcalfe was as gentle and patient with that ancient hay-burner as he was with his flock, and the two of them slowly trotted into the city in two days time.

They passed the Bay of Boston, filled with three masted ships and even a large number of four and five masted schooners. At the bottom of the bay, the Reverend marveled at the pier, which was said to be 2000 feet long. So great was the span that even the largest vessels were able to unload directly onto the pier. From the head of the pier the Reverend and Old Puffy went directly to Main Street, the home of commerce. There were booksellers everywhere and five printing-presses!!!! New York City had but one. One floor above one of the presses was the office of the barrister that he had to see to claim his inheritance.

The task was quickly done and the Reverend and Old Puffy set off to fulfill one of the Minister’s two wishes. On narrow Beacon Street, was the shop of the finest peruke maker in all of the ‘new’England, Barker and Son.

His pockets stuffed with pound notes, the kindly Minister met with Mr. Barker Senior and was fitted with an excellent wig, powdered to snowy perfection and containing hundreds of well placed curls. It came to 40 pounds, a whole year’s pay if he actually received his pay, but the Reverend truly needed the new Peruke – as the old one had become a nesting ground for nits, the occasional mouse or rat, and had more spots of bare, than hair.

Before going back to Falmouth, the Reverend allowed himself one further luxury, a boiled dinner at the brand new Durgin Park in a warehouse near what is today called Faneuil Hall – that restaurant, by the way, is still operating today in 21st. Century Boston, after some 300 years.

Arriving back at Falmouth on a Friday afternoon, the Reverend went to the meeting house and paid the elders 20 pounds cash money for old Puffy. It was about 19 pounds and a couple shillings more than the withered old animal was worth, but the Minister felt that if he did not buy it, Puffy would probably be sent to slaughter before winter. He liked the horse far too much for that.

The new peruke atop the Minister’s head was the biggest news in Falmouth that day. He had been wearing it when he met with the Selectmen and elder John Davis was livid that the Reverend would spend his money on something so vain as a new wig – especially when he did not buy it from Davis’s store. In truth Selectman Davis’ dry goods emporium had no peruke the equal of the one the Reverend bought in Boston.

At Sunday service, the Reverend thought he looked excellent in his new wig. It’s brilliant whiteness shone even brighter than the cluster of candles illuminating his pulpit.

Although he was at the top of his game, all during the first service that Sabbath morning, he could tell the parishioners were not paying attention.

At the second service the first comment was like a tiny hole in a dam that leads to the collapse of the whole structure.

Right in the middle of the sermon, shop keeper John Davis stood up and said aloud, “I wonder why we should be listening to a man who is so vain as to spend probably 800 shillings on a fancy powdered wig when there’s folks in town who have not eaten in a week because of the crop failures.”

One after another, they stood up and belittled their humble little Minister. He stood in the pulpit and took it. He bore every barb just as the Master bore the whippings and the crown of thorns.

When finally their venom had been spit out and there was nothing left, he asked…………… “What would you have me do? Would you wish me to go back to the rat-eaten half bare wig that I wore last week?”

“No, No Reverend,” they all said in unison. “It’s just a little too gaudy.”

Goody Standish had a suggestion that the parishioners liked and Rev. Metcalfe said he would go along with it.

Mrs. Standish left services and returned in a few moments with a pair of shears. She said she would just trim the peruke a little bit to make it acceptable to the flock.

She snipped a curl here and there and told the Reverend to stand up and twirl around so that everybody could see the altered wig.

Poor Reverend Metcalfe did as he was told and the congregation said it was perfect – except for a curl or two on the left side. Mrs. White volunteered to snip the offenders. She did so and once again the luckless minister was made to twist around and show the wig from all sides.

Everyone agreed that it was now perfect and the Reverend could certainly wear it without fear of being sinful. The Peruke now was more than fit for public viewing – except for a few curls in the front.

And so it went for one full hour. One after another the vultures flew onto the grandest wig in all of Falmouth and methodically reduced it to a more threadbare and cheerless peruke than even the old moth-eaten one.

In a single day the Reverend’s fondest wish had come true and then been sliced and snipped away to nothingness.

Still he did not complain. At the next Sunday service he wore the wrecked wig just as his Lord had worn that crown of thorns – without uttering a single objection.

Two weeks later the Reverend was about his daily duties seeing to the sick, the elderly and anyone in need. He and Puffy traipsed over the whole town, much of the time he walked beside the old horse to lighten the load.

He wanted to get home as quickly as he could, for his wife was nearly ready to give birth again. After seven girls in a row, he wondered if this next child would be a boy. The kindly Reverend would love the child no matter what, but now that he was 42, he thought that having a boy would be good because he was getting a little too old for some of the chores that were too rough for the girls to do. A boy would be handy for such things.

His last call of the day was at the seaside home and boatbuilding shop of Caleb Gifford. Mrs. Gifford was suffering from a mysterious illness. The Reverend hoped it wasn’t small pox. He had heard that an epidemic hit Boston just after he left and wiped out almost half of the city.

After talking with Mrs. Gifford, he was sure that there was nothing wrong with the good woman. She just enjoyed having the Minister visit now and again.

Before leaving for home, he talked with Caleb about boats. In the back of his mind was his second great wish – to have a little boat to row out a few hundred yards in the Sound and just ‘ease’ his mind for a while.

Caleb had four or five large, elegant boats in various stages of construction in his large workshop. But what interested the Reverend were a few old dories splayed in the high grass behind Caleb’s barn.

“How much would you charge for one of those dories Caleb?”

“Oh Reverend, those dories are past it. I’ve put them out back because they are really not seaworthy any more. I might get around to fixing them in a slow period but right now I have more work than I can handle.”

Caleb finally set a price of two pounds for any one of the boats. The Reverend selected one and Caleb said he’d patch it up a bit and deliver it in a day or two.

At services the next Sunday the Reverend was excited the whole day by the prospect of the imminent arrival of his boat. He would soon be rowing through the waves of Vineyard Sound and ‘easing’ his mind.

After services his mind got even more troubled when the group of ladies who had shredded his new peruke, came up with a new set of complaints. Walking to church in the morning they had noticed the Reverend’s fine garden of flowers.

“We think that our Minster should be spending more time tending his flock than his garden,” the women complained. For more than thirty minutes they lectured him about the evils of what he was doing. In the end the poor Reverend promised to give up his flower garden.

“I’m going to be too busy riding the waves in my boat to do garden work anyway,” he reasoned. It made it easier to give up something had loved and had been doing for sixteen years.

On Tuesday next, Caleb Gifford delivered the refurbished dory. But the Reverend had no time to use it on that day, for his rounds were longer than usual and he spent every hour of the daylight in going from house to house to offer prayer and consolation and to minister to the needs of the sick and the elderly. For several people he had to run errands that included shopping for items at elder John Davis’ Dry Goods Store. It was well after dark when the Reverend and Puffy clip clopped back home. The Reverend fell asleep almost instantly after his supper. His last thoughts before falling asleep were happy ones of riding the waves in his new boat the next day.

As I am sure you can guess, this was not to be. While the good Minister was out doing the Lord’s work, a number of his parishioners were looking over his boat. They decided it was not right for a Minister to be out floating around in a boat when he should be tending his flock.

So the very next morning almost at the crow of the rooster, the elders were at knocking at the Reverend’s door.

“Reverend Metcalfe,” said Chairman John Robinson, who now was tripping over that never-cut beard, “It’s just not right for our Minister to be out rowing around while the Lord’s work needs doing. And if it’s fish you need, we will give you fish.”

Patiently, Reverend Metcalfe explained that he just wanted to get out on the ocean to relax and think. The elders would have none of it.

“If it’s out on the ocean you want,” said spike thin Moses Hatch, “We’ll put you in a big boat and we’ll take you around the Sound. If you want to fish we will give you the gear and even bait your hook. We can’t have you out by yourself, you might drown.”

So in the end, the Reverend gave up his second great wish and agreed to give the boat back to Caleb and never use it.

On Saturday night The Reverend did not go to sleep easily or happily. Still, he did not complain. He prayed for his parishioners. He prayed that the crops would be bountiful. He kept praying until finally sleep overcame him.

In the deepest, darkest part of night – that segment when strange things happen and no man dares walk near the town’s burying ground – a great Nor’easter came crashing in. So ferocious was the gale that houses floated away, leaving behind flooded cellars. Like nails yanked from rotten wood, trees were pulled out by their roots and sent thudding to the ground. Dozens of ships were dashed on the rocks and others were loosed from their moorings and freed for crew-less voyages to the old world.

Reverend Metcalfe huddled together with his wife and the seven daughters, barely able to keep a sputtering fire in the hearth. The family prayed for the safety of the town, the people and the crops as the wind threatened to tear the roof off the small house.

Just before dawn there was a heavy knock on the back door. Nobody moved. After a moment there was another knock, even louder than the first. Warily, the Reverend went to the door and opened it a crack. He saw nothing but the torment. He opened the door wider and one of his daughters held up a lantern. Still they saw nothing in the darkness but wind-swept raindrops and the outlines of trees gyrating in bizarre dances.

Reverend Metcalfe felt something heavy brush against his leg. Looking down when his daughter shone the light, he was amazed to see……the boat! It had jumped its moorings in Vineyard Sound and sailed through the flooded village right to his front door! His dory! But it was his no more – for they had forced him to give it up!

What follows is from an entry into the Reverend’s diary the next day. Some words were missing so I (Charles Johnson & my team) have guessed at what the absent verbiage was:

“I have bin tempted to persue the sea since I was borne. But it may natt be. For, have I pruf of the Lord’s harboring no wrath, for this nice gift in a storme cam to me – my bote that wishes to live on land with me ef I can’t have her at sea.” signed Rev. Jos Metcalfe.

The ferocious gale raged on all through the Lord’s Day, washing away more homes, loosing boats and flooding the village.

By the crow of the rooster Sunday morning there was more than a foot of water flooding every street in Falmouth Village. The Reverend had to get to his flock and help those in need. Puffy couldn’t be expected to brave the waters. What would he do?

[
**]“Joseph. Take the boat,” said his wife. “It’s the Lord’s will for you to use the boat not to ease your mind in the waters of Vineyard Sound but in the waters of our streets.”

Instantly Reverend Metcalfe was filled with inspiration, love, hope and jubilation. He would at last get his second and greatest wish, to ease his mind in his own boat.

He loaded his craft with what food and other items he had been able to keep safe from the storm and giddily rowed off to the nearest neighbor’s house.

For three days and three nights, without rest or sleep, Reverend Joseph Metcalfe was the happiest man in the world. He was rowing his boat and doing the Lord’s work at the same time. He brought food, medicine, and spiritual comfort to the whole village. The residents, by then (even the three elders) had begun to realize how wrongly they had treated the kindly Minister and as the water finally receded and the streets dried; a goodly number of people decided to take up a collection to pay the Minister his back wages and buy him a new wig.

The exhausted Reverend gleefully rowed home, parking his boat right in the middle of his front lawn next to his flower garden. He was saddened to see that his beautiful flowers that he had been forced to neglect, had been uprooted by the storm.

Since the garden was still partially flooded, he took a shovel and filled the boat with dirt, and replanted his flowers in the dory. He paused frequently because he had developed a nagging cough and a slight shortness of breath during his ordeal.

Fighting against eyes that felt as heavy as full grown hogs and a desperate need for sleep, the Reverend spent a few minutes admiring his boat of flowers.

His wife put him instantly to bed when he entered the house. She fed him chicken soup and smoothed his brow, which by now was as hot as a blacksmith’s iron.

Joseph Metcalfe died during the night. He was 42 years old.

In the morning his wife looked out at the boat of flowers and was amazed to note that they had almost doubled in size. Neighbors came by all day and were horrified to learn that their Pastor had died. They brought more flowers for the boat and every flower that was put into the dory became the most beautiful posey of its kind in all of the ‘new’ England.

People came by the score to bring food, household items and clothing to the widow and her family. In a month a baby boy was born to Abiel. She named him Joseph ‘Dory’ Metcalfe.

Every spring thereafter the whole village would come to Rev. Metcalfe’s house to tend the flower boat. They began to call it “The Joseph’s Boat”.

Soon people all over Cape Cod began to pull old weather-beaten boats from the sea and drag them on land to fill with flowers. By the year 1900, almost 200 years after Rev. Metcalfe’s passing, “The Joseph Boat” was everywhere on Cape Cod.

You couldn’t go down a single street in any one of the 15 towns of Cape Cod, without seeing “The Joseph Boat” on at least one lawn.

…“and that my friends,” said Charlie Johnson “is the legend of ‘The Joseph Boat’ and the haunting of them by Joseph himself.”

“It’s a pretty good story Charlie,” Frank Woodard said, “Yet I can’t help but think that you put some neighbor up to running out into your boat in the middle of the storm just to spice up your story.”

“That’s something that I might do Frank. But I did not. I really do believe what we saw was real and really is Joseph’s ghost. I’ll tell you why I believe it.”

The two couples sat back in their Morris chairs and Kennedy brought food and drink while Charlie continued……..

“A few years after Rev. Joseph Metcalfe died, every year, on the anniversary of the big Nor’easter, people began seeing a ghostly figure in their ‘Joseph Boats’. The ghost would only appear once a year. He never did any harm to anyone, other than picking their flowers and standing in their flower boat.

“So consider this Frank. We have tried under controlled, investigative circumstances to film him and we cannot. That goes a long way toward proving he’s a ghost.

“And here’s another thing to consider. How many Joseph’s Boats do you think there are on Cape Cod?”

“Eileen and Frank both speculated that based on what they were told there must be thousands of them.”

“You would think so. But there are not. The number of flower boats peaked a hundred years ago. By 1920 people began chopping up those boats and burning them as fast as they could.”

“Why did they do that?” asked Eileen.

“They did it because of the Reverend. Everybody who’s had a Joseph’s Boat sooner or later sees the ghost. Folks nowadays don’t want any part of a ghost. Oh, there are ghost hunting groups in Salem and elsewhere, but they are just for fun. Show the ghost-hunters a real ghost and they’ll end up in Taunton State Hospital in diapers.

“Up until last year, there were just two ‘Joseph Boats’ left in all of Cape Cod. There was one in Wellfleet. It was owned by an old sailor. When he died the family destroyed the boat.”

“Then there was just one ‘Joseph Boat’ – ours,” said Maria, “and as long as we live, our yard will always have a boatload of flowers for the Reverend Mr. Joseph Metcalfe.

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(Author’s Note: ‘The Joseph Boat’ is a centuries old Cape Cod fact-based legend that is little known today. The boats are one hundred per cent real! Whether Reverend Metcalf comes around every year to check up on them and pick flowers, is another matter. I myself am tempted to test the tale – but like the good Minister Metcalfe, I think if I had a boat I would rather be at sea easing my mind in it, rather than using it as a wooden planter.)

At one time they were seen as often as white churches and village greens. In the 21st century there are very few left, for reasons we can only speculate.

When I first began telling this story in a blog article, I received a few reports of Joseph’s Boats. Yet each time I visited the location, I found that there was no Joseph Boat.

In July of 2015, a longtime business associate told me that he knew for sure where a Joseph Boat was located. He claimed that there was one at a restaurant off Route 6A in Brewster. I challenged him to show it to me.

Early in the afternoon on a sunny Sunday, we set off for Brewster to see the boat planter that my friend assured me was still there. We arrived at the eatery and the front lawn had NO Joseph Boat!

“Where is it? You were so certain that they still had it and yet it is not here,” I said.

“They must have moved it behind the building,” he said and he set off to search every square foot of the property without success.

We queried the help, but being seasonal summer help, the young students at the serving counter, knew nothing about the boat.

So that it was not a total loss, my friend and I each had Fried Cod and chips, with a side of onion rings.

As summer neared its end in late August I received another tip about a Joseph Boat from a friend who said she had seen one for certain and it was right at my fingertips. With more than a little disbelief I set out with my friend on the first day of September and drove to the very popular, but highly secluded Northside Dennis recreation area called ‘Corporation Beach’. As we wound our way through ancient maze like streets with quaint names, we finally sighted the beach road. There it was. On the side of the road by a fire hydrant, dressed in a banner of red, white, and blue flowers; was a beautiful battered old craft – an honest to goodness Joseph Boat. It might just be the last one on Cape Cod.

A recent play based on this legend has been well received and one can hope that ‘The Joseph Boats’ will make a comeback on Cape and elsewhere.)

 

 

 

 

 

The Joseph Boat as seen from the bow.

Copyrighted Photo by Bill Russo

 

 

Chapter Three: Ghosts, Witches, Pirates, and Buried Treasure

The next ‘odd tale’ from Massachusetts is set in the same era and area as the story of The Joseph Boats – Cape Cod in the early 1700s.

The story is told in the summer of 2015 at an unusual event in Provincetown – by an even more unusual man, Anse Peckins.

Peckins is the aged proprietor of a throwback drygoods store in the middle of Cape Cod. He came to the attention of the general public a few years ago when he revealed the sad and bizarre narrative of a strange lake in Cape Cod known to be the home of extraordinarily large catfish, and an unfortunate boy named Jimmy Catfish, who was said to be half human and half fish.

Since publication of that epic tale, Peckins had become in demand at libraries and among reading groups all over Cape Cod, where story spinning is an art form much admired.

At the outermost tip of the Cape, in Provincetown, there are less than 2,000 year round residents, but in July and August, America’s biggest little town loosens its belt enough to accommodate over 100,000 tourists and summer-folk on any given sunny day.

Provincetown, Cape Cod – Photo by Phillip Capper

licensed by Creative Commons

There’s all manner of entertainment on busy Commercial Street – music, plays, parades, and one of the more eclectic diversions: the ‘Myrth Radio Hour’.

A tiny Cape Cod radio station, which has a huge worldwide internet listenership, sponsors a ‘story jam’ at a local venue. An appreciative audience eagerly listens; while one after another, Cape Cod’s greatest tellers of tales, walk to the center of a stage – mostly bare, save for one stand-up microphone – and weave their yarns.

The stories are funny or sad; about bravery or cowardice; personal struggles or gains; or perhaps local lore and legend.

The best of the orations, recorded live at the ‘jam’, are presented on the ‘Myrth Radio Hour’ which has a sizeable, loyal audience that willingly pays stiff subscriber fees to keep the station prosperous.

On a warm summer night in 2015, the Myrth’s audiophile crowd filled every one of the 220 seats in the venue. There were tale tellers from all over the globe and some of them were world famous, but none was more eagerly anticipated than the local shop keeper, Anse Peckins.

The house illumination was lowered and the spotlight came on, casting a bright circle of light on the old fashioned microphone that was set before a single chair of the common kitchen variety. A small table was companion to the chair.

The chatter and din in the crowded hall ceased when an ancient, shrunken man walked gingerly to the microphone, an old fashioned glass soda bottle in hand.

“Hello everybody, I’m Anse Peckins. You can call me “A.P.”, everybody does.”

The wrinkled old man sat down and took a long pull from his “Simpson Springs” Birch Beer – a New England favorite in the early 1900s. A faded Red Sox Cap was perched on his mostly bald head. With an old-fashioned handlebar mustache sitting atop of his fluffy white beard, he looked like a skinny Santa Claus.

Setting his soda down on the table with a soft thud picked up by the powerful mike, A.P. spent a moment adjusting his cap. He grasped the microphone and moved it up and down on its stand until he found the proper height – all the while peeking out of the corner of his eye to make sure he had the full attention of the group. Satisfied that it was so, he began…….

“Welcome to the story jam. I have appeared here before and told you of the sad story of Jimmy Catfish, but tonight I am going to relate to you an even sadder yarn. It’s about witches, ghosts, and pirates. It’s also the story of 40 tons of gold and jewelry that lies hidden in the sandy beaches of Cape Cod just waiting for some lucky treasure seeker to find it.

My narrative bounces back and forth between modern Cape Cod and the old Cape of the Massachusetts and Plymouth Bay Colonies.

This room on Commercial Street is not a mile away from where a ragged troupe of dissenters from England, long ago landed a wooden ship called the Mayflower.

The year 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of that historic mile-stone. After more than two months crossing the stormy Atlantic in a boat not much bigger than Donald Trump’s bathtub, the motley band anchored in Provincetown Harbor.

But, not a single passenger or crew was permitted ashore until a document was drawn up and signed for the sake of ‘order and survival’. Called the Mayflower Compact, it became the foundation of the Constitution of the United States.”

As Anse Peckins spoke, sitting rigidly in his chair, the only motion visible was from the opposing sides of his expansive mustache, bobbing up and down like grasshoppers when his lips moved.

“But, I’m not here tonight to talk about the Mayflower. And though I might look old enough to have been on that leaky old tub, I was not. The stories that I have for you, come from about 100 years after the ‘pilgrims’ landed in Provincetown.

The first little tale has no ghosts, pirates or treasure. That will all come later. There is however, in this narrative, a roustabout scoundrel and full proof that, severe as those overly religious Puritans were; there was also a sense of humor among them.

In the village of Falmouth in 1720, Patience Winslow was the prettiest girl in town and perhaps the most beautiful maiden in the Massachusetts Bay Colony – which by then had absorbed the Plymouth Colony of the Puritans…………..”

Anse Peckins stopped a moment after he said the word ‘Puritans’. The audience speculated that the old fellow had forgotten his story. In truth, he was just pausing to take a moment to clarify a matter of some confusion.

“Please pardon a brief intermission,” he said, reaching again for his Birch Beer and taking a long swallow of the clear bubbly soda. “I stopped not just to have a pull from my bottle, but also because I would like to explain something.

“Most people think that the words ‘Puritan’ and ‘Pilgrim’ are interchangeable. They are not!

“The people who landed in Provincetown and then moved to Plymouth were Pilgrims. Those who settled Massachusetts Bay and the rest of the new England, were Puritans.

“Both of these groups were religious dissenters and had bolted the Church of England. The main difference between the two was that the Puritans believed that the Church of England could be purified – that was why they were called Puritans.

“But the Pilgrims, the ones from the Mayflower, they felt that the Church of England was corrupted beyond repair. So you could say that the Pilgrims were more radical than the other group. The Pilgrims wanted to live by themselves and shut out the world, while the Puritans were reformers. By the year 1700, the Pilgrim Colony of Plymouth had been absorbed into the larger Massachusetts Bay Colony.

“There’s another misconception about the Pilgrims and Puritans; contrary to what most people believe, celebrations and festivals were held throughout the year. Outside of the church, where only hymns were permitted, people sang popular songs. One of the favorite tunes throughout the Bay Colony was a sea shanty about Cape Cod Girls.

Well, Cape Cod girls don’t have no frills,

They’re plain and skinny as codfish Gills.

Haul away. Heave away, Haul away,

And we’re bound away for Australia.

And Cape Cod Kids don’t have no sleds,

They slide down the dunes on codfish heads.

And Cape Cod cats don’t got no tails,

Cause they lost them all in the Northeast gales.

At sea, the Cape Cod men would sing the ditty to lighten the work of setting thousands of feet of heavy sail across three or four masts – sometimes five.

Back in the village the songs were sung by both men and women. Beer and liquor were permitted during the festivities.

It was at one such event that nearly every woman in Falmouth was tempted by carnal thoughts when handsome, young Johnathan Prior rose to spin a story during the tale telling portion of the festival.

Very tall – nearly five feet and ten inches high – and wide of shoulder whilst slim of waist; Johnny had thick black curly hair and a face that looked to be carved from the finest polished wood.

Though he was an Englishman and a Congregationalist, it was whispered that he carried the blood of the Italian explorer, Christoforo Columbo – who many people said, was the first to discover the new world.

Johnny was glib of tongue, especially after it was oiled by a sufficient quantity of grog. The tale he told on that day’s festival was of a brave young explorer named Barth……………………………….

‘Barth was the son of an adventurer and a friend of a friend of the Bard, William Shakespeare. Barth’s father was able to prevail upon Shakespeare’s business manager to outfit a small vessel so that young Barth could sail from Falmouth, England to the new England. His mission was to deposit 24 men who would be settlers in the new land, and then grab whatever cargo he could and return it to the old England.

When Barth set sail with his crew of eight, along with the 24 passengers, he thought at first he had made a bad bargain. The tiny three masted ‘bark’ that had been outfitted for him, was in poor condition. Yet, like an old war horse rallying for one final battle, his rotting little craft fairly flew over the Atlantic and when they cast anchor at a rocky coast in Maine, they had drawn X-marks across only 49 days of the calendar! They had made the fastest ocean crossing ever!

The rocky coast of Maine and the frigid waters surrounding it, prompted Barth to try his luck further south and his old horse responded valiantly once again, transporting them in no time to a serene harbor clothed in expansive sandy white beaches.

The passengers and crew cast lines into the placid waters and found that the large cod fish which swam there in abundance, fairly jumped into the hold with little prompting from baited hooks.

Barth led a shore party which found fruits and nuts in amazing quantities with an excellent taste. Game was plentiful. They met native people who were intelligent and eager to trade for knives and trinkets.

But the biggest treasure they found was a generous grove of sassafras trees. Long used in the making of root beer beverages, it had recently been claimed in England by the highest of authorities that sassafras would also cure the ‘floy floy’ which was running rampant in jolly old England at the time. When the nobility heard that sassafras would cure venereal diseases, the price of the tree and its by-products soared.

Barth and his mates filled the hold of the ship with Sassafras roots, leaves, and twigs. The 24 men who were supposed to settle the new land told Barth they wanted to go back to England with him. They may have been afraid of the natives, or they were not sure if they had enough provisions for the winter. Either way, they decided against staying in the new world.

Yet again Barth’s old bark raced across the waters as if powered by the flash of lightning. They made the return voyage in just 37 days! But once back in England, Barth’s luck played out.

Walter Raleigh, who had a patent on everything related to the new world, demanded that the sassafras cargo be turned over to him. Raleigh was a very powerful man, although his reputation was somewhat diminished by the failure of his Roanoke colony in Virginia. Still, he had sufficient clout that he was able to strip away all of Barth’s cargo and money.

In the end, all that Barth had was the memories of the land that he discovered with the gentle bays and sandy beaches. It was a land to which he, Bartholomew Gosnold, gave the name, Cape Cod.

Cape Cod Circa 1700 – photo Wikimedia Commons

Prior finished his story and it was well received by the people of the village, especially the women. He had a flair for the dramatic and if there were money to be made in telling tales, he would have had a generous income.

After his turn at story spinning, he chatted for a bit with the elders and then young Patience Winslow – who he squired to a secluded glade where he convinced her to imbibe some of his home made beer.

As Patience was warmed by the strong brew, she spoke of her family. She told Johnny that she could trace her family tree all the way back 100 years, to the landing of the Mayflower.

“My grandfather was Peregrine White,” she said. “He was born in that short period when the Mayflower was anchored in the Provincetown harbor – before the strength of the cape cod ‘indians’ forced the Europeans to seek a safer location in Plymouth.”

“My great grandparents were William and Susanna White who sailed on the Mayflower with their infant son ‘Resolved’,” she informed the handsome Johnny Prior. “The father, William White, died during the first winter in Plymouth in 1621 when he was one of three of the European settlers to perish on the same day. Over half of the Pilgrims died that first year.”

“Six weeks later my Great Grandmother married one of the other Mayflower passengers, Edward Winslow, who had recently lost his wife. So, she had the distinction of having the first child in the new world and a few weeks later, she also was the very first bride.”

“Aye,” responded Johnny, “The hasty marriages back then were needed to provide for the woman and her children. It was common among the early settlers.”

Smitten by his golden tongue and his good looks, she readily accepted when he proposed.

Things fell apart virtually as soon as they were married. Prior rarely worked. He took to the sea infrequently and then only on short fishing trips. He was so little help as a seaman that he’d never be allowed on the same boat twice.

Prior began drinking heavily and was punished more than once for public drunkenness. He took to manufacturing his own whiskey and selling it to the natives, which brought Constable Deliverance J. Makepace to arrest him on several occasions. Public punishment did not deter him. Whippings and beatings while in the stocks and pillories failed to get the scoundrel to stop his sinful ways even for a week.

Lawbreakers in the 1700s were almost never locked up for their crimes. Jails were mainly used only to hold prisoners until their trial. If convicted, their punishment was immediate and painful.

For lesser crimes, fines were levied. For more serious breaches of the rules; stocks, pillories, flogging, and hanging were the sentences generally handed out – along with the occasional removal of ears and such.

As has been stated, Johnny Prior was visited many times by the bulky presence of Constable Makepeace. After a few Indians died from drinking too much of Prior’s liquor, two of the three elders running the town decided to hang him.

The death of a few or even several natives was not usually something that would upset the town officials. But the sheer weight of the number of Prior’s transgressions was sufficient for them to decide on a punishment that would guarantee an end to his shenanigans.

The third elder, John Robinson, Chairman of the Selectmen, suggested that they maroon Prior on one of the three tiny Weepecket islands in the Elizabeth chain, off the Falmouth coast.

“Let’s let Constable Deliverance J. Makepeace take him to the island. And we’ll tell Del that if something happens to Prior, that will be just fine with us. In face if he brings back the body, let’s give him 10 shillings.”

“Make it three pounds,” said selectman Francis Hatch. “It will be worth it to be rid of him.”

One Monday morning after he had again missed Sunday services, Prior was visited by the beefy Constable Makepeace, who clamped a fist the size of a hog on Johnny’s shoulder and hauled him from his bed to a waiting drag sled (two poles running from the saddle of a horse to the ground).

Deliverance began to lash Johnny to the drag sled, but the slippery roustabout wriggled out from the vise grip of Del’s steel like fingers, and started to make a break.

One thumping blow of Del’s crashing right hand caused Johnny to collapse in a heap. As he slowly regained his senses, Johnny was being tied to the poles and he knew that he was done for.

No details were ever recorded in the Town’s records about the details of Johanthan Prior’s banishment to the Weepecket Islands. It is only known that Constable Makepeace returned to Falmouth three days later, with the lifeless body of handsome Johnny Prior, still strapped to the drag sled.

Being righteous Congregationalists the Selectmen, led by John Robinson, decided that a Christian burial and service must be held even for heathens and scofflaws like Prior.

Mrs. Prior however, would have none of it. She had come from a fine family and was a respected woman until her shiftless husband had ruined her.

“Throw him in the sea like the worthless carrion he is,” she demanded.

So adamant was she in her objections to the burial that she even refused to go to the service. Deliverance J. Makepeace administered five lashes to the widow before clamping a meaty arm on her shoulder and dragging her to the funeral service in the Town Cemetery.

“It’s done then, he’s buried, and we have done our Holy Duty,” said Selectman John Robinson.

“We could say nothing good of the wastrel,” added Selectman Hatch, “so his epitaph is spare.”

Selectman Hatch read the two lines that had been carved into the headstone:

“As I am now, so shall ye be

Prepare yourself and follow me”

The good Reverend Joseph Metcalfe spoke a final word and sent everyone home; while reminding the widow to pray for wisdom and peace of mind.

The widow Prior did pray for peace, even as the blood on her back still wept from Del’s lashes. Slowly during the long night and into the early morning darkness she prayed, and finally peace did come to her.

It arrived with a thought. She knew what she must do to regain some measure of contentment. From a shelf she clasped some sort of a tool or implement to her breast and walked bareheaded from her home towards the cemetery.

When she arrived at Johnny’s burial plot, she bent down and read aloud the epitaph…………………

“As I am now, so shall ye be

Prepare yourself and follow me”

Speaking to the owls and other creatures of the night, Mrs. Prior said, “There are two lines only, on Johnny’s headstone. I will provide two more” From her breast she withdrew the tool she had carried. It was a sharp knife. She raised it high above her head and then lowered it; to scratch onto the stone, the following verse:

“To follow you, I’ll not consent

Because I know which way you went.”

That brief tale concluded the first part of Anse Peckin’s yarn for the Myrth Radio Hour. To generous applause from the appreciative crowd, he smiled and waved occasionally to faces he recognized, and took long, thoughtful pulls on his “Simpson Springs” Birch Beer.

After the cheering died down, A.P. thanked the crowd for their attention and began to spin his second story – a tale compounded of equal parts of piracy, lost love, ghosts, and treasure strewn over the Cape Cod beaches.

“This next legend is a love story, a ghost yarn and a pirate tale all rolled up into one.

Draining the last of his Birch Beer, Anse removed his Red Sox cap, scratched the top of his bald head and stifled a yawn.

“I think before I continue, I could use another bottle of soda. Would somebody please bring me one?”

From the kitchen swiftly came a waitress with two cold, glass bottles of Simpson Springs Birch Beer. The old gentleman thanked her and quickly opened one the chilled bottles. Taking a long draught, he wiped his mouth and beard with the back of his hand and declared that he was ready.

“I don’t have any stock in the company that makes this beverage, although I think it’s the finest soft drink ever made. It has been brewed here in Massachusetts by the same family for almost 150 years. The water comes from a spring that was near the summer home of the great Native American leader, Massasoit – who saved the Pilgrims from starvation when they went to Plymouth after they left Cape Cod. I guess that might make a story for another time on the Radio Hour.

The one that I am going to tell tonight, starts out as a love story then it takes a bad turn towards piracy before winding up as both a mystery and a ghostly epic.

Before we start; for the story to make proper sense, you need to know that there is such a thing as love at first sight. It’s perhaps very rare, but real none the less, and many times that first sight; though but a sliver in time, lasts a lifetime and even beyond.

The span of life in the colonies in the 1700s was all too short. A great percentage of the population died in childhood. Then disease took as many as half of the remaining population before they reached the age of 35.

Yet in the ‘new’ England people lived longer and were healthier than the people in the other colonies and back in Europe. Maybe it was the clean air and water. Perhaps it was the abundance of food – but for whatever reason historians say that New England invented grandparents.

For the first time, great numbers of people actually lived long enough to see their children have children of their own and they even had a chance to see their grandchildren grow to adulthood.

Still for many, the best a body could hope for was 35 or 40 years. It was not unreasonable then, given such a short life span, that people fell in love and married at a much younger age than they do today.

So it was with our heroine. She was a beautiful, natural blonde. Her luxurious tresses dove in golden waves all the way down to her slim waist. Though only 15, she was in all ways a woman.

Her formal education was little or none, but from her toddler days she had busied herself in her father’s tavern in the Town of Eastham on outer Cape Cod. Almost before she could walk, she helped her Dad, who was a widower, swamp out the outhouses as well as serve drinks and repast to the patrons.

She learned sums and cyphers from drummers who sold her father rum and beer; and how to read from school masters who summered in shacks near First Encounter Beach. Her father instructed her in how to write. Before she was nine was writing the weekly inventory and order list for the family’s pub.

She toiled at cooking, cleaning, and serving customers by day and read by night in the light of candles on her headboard. Teachers and sailors alike brought books to the young girl in a quantity sufficient to fully stock the shelves of the village library.

Though the daughter of a Congregationalist man, she had the colorful first name “Maria” It was given to her at birth by her Mother who came to New England by way of sunny Sicily, off the Italian coast.

“Call her Maria, Ernest,” were her Mother’s wishes as she lay dying , shortly after giving birth. Promise me you will give her my name so that you both will remember me,”

Ernest Hallett made the promise and kept his word. He had fallen in love with Maria’s Mother at first sight and even after her passing, his love for her remained so strong, that he never thought of a second marriage.

The industrious young man threw himself into his work and his efforts produced good and measurable results, as his tavern came to be known as the finest on Cape Cod. Much of the trade came from the multitude of sailors and fishermen in Eastham.

As previously mentioned, consumption of beer, whiskey, and rum was permitted by the Puritans and Pilgrims, so it was not uncommon to see even town officials gathering at Hallett’s Inn, for some brew and lively chat with the seafarers.

The sailors and fishermen were great entertainment in colonial days for they carried the news of events in the far larger and more sophisticated, old world.

One evening in summer, Selectman Jedidiah Cosgrove was seated with a few friends at a table near the front door. An animated young man from the West Country of England was trying to convince the local men to invest in his fledgling salvage company.

“Gentlemen, I have it on the highest authority that there is treasure buried along with the hulk of a ship that went down in an easily reached area of the West Indies. I have a map showing her wreckage spread over an area just two and three fathoms deep.”

“Son,” said Elder Cosgrove, “ you seem like a fine young man and I wish you well but you’re not going to get any investors here. Why within 15 miles of us, there are probably at least 20 sunken ships. If we want to go salvaging, we don’t have to go all the way to the West Indies, we can do it right here.”

The rest of the good men of Eastham agreed, sending the crestfallen youth slowly out the door where he dejectedly flopped down at the edge of the dusty street.[
**]“Don’t be so sad. I believe that you will find treasure near your sunken boat,” said a voice more beautiful than the song of a nightingale.

The would-be salvage man looked up and saw that the glorious sounds came from the gorgeous young woman who had been serving food and drink in the pub.

Cheered by her encouragement, he stood up and spoke…[
**]“Thank you for the kind words, miss. I am Sam. Sam Bellamy. I do believe that I can find valuable salvage but those men just won’t listen.”

“I am Maria, Sam, and I will listen.”

Before either one could utter another sentence, both Maria and Sam knew that they that they had instantly fallen deeply and eternally, in love.

Each felt like they wanted to spend the rest of their life with the other, have children, build a home; and go to sleep and wake up every day in a shared embrace.

They were like piano keys. She the cool blonde with the light eyes; and he the hot, swarthy man with curly black hair and eyes the color of midnight.

Arm in arm, they walked to the barn behind the Inn and went inside. Sam barred the door and followed the aroma of good hay to the stack where Maria had lain down on the mat of sweet straw to wait for him.

In the darkness they peered hard at each other for a long moment, without moving. As tentatively as a turtle crossing a stagecoach path, their trembling hands finally touched……..

Sam awoke first, as a ray of early morning sun knifed its way through a crack in the barn-board wall and bathed Maria’s elegant, gold-shrouded visage in its warm glow.

In the morning her face was even more angelic and sweet than it had seemed in the evening when she was serving food and drink. Her hair, the color of fire, was as soft as corn silk and smelled of lavender.

The busy brain under Sam Bellamy’s curly black locks, was filled with opposing thoughts. One part of his intellect informed him that he had found that rare and precious thing: eternal love at first sight. He instructed himself to marry the girl as soon as possible and never leave her.

A second segment of his mind – more cautious and wiser in the ways of the world, told him that he was just a salvage boy and not good enough for this most beautiful woman. He must first pledge his troth and then leave her to go forth to make a fortune. After he had become wealthy and important, he could return to Eastham to wed his true love.

When Maria crept out of her deep, satisfying slumber; much to her sadness, Sam told her that he had chosen the second course of action – to build a fortune and then to come back to her with a golden ring.

One fortnight more did Bellamy stay in Eastham and during that time, Sam and Maria were never apart.

Sam had arrived on Cape in a tight old sloop with a good crew of four hands. His sailors had spent their days on board the ship readying her for the return trip to the Indies; and their nights at Hallett’s Inn. Hence, the vessel was ready to go at a moment’s notice and the sad day for Maria came on the morning of August 5^th,^ 1715, when Sam gave the order to weigh anchor and make for the island of Cuba.

“Goodbye Maria. I shall return with silver and gold in great chests but the biggest prize shall be that tiny ring of gold which the Reverend Mr. Treat of the Congregational Church will use to band us together for all time,” Sam shouted as he prepared to leave the Eastham dock.

Maria stayed on shore waving goodbye until the ship became a dot on the horizon. Then she returned to the barn where she and Sam had first expressed their love; and cried herself to sleep.

Sam’s little sloop was fast afoot and quickly raced the 1500 miles to his Carribbean destination. He anchored at a spot just off the coast at a depth of three fathoms (18 feet).

With native people helping; Sam and the crew took turns diving between 10 and 20 feet to the ocean bottom where they raked the sand in search for buried treasure. Months went by with not a single doubloon or piece of eight discovered.

Things were not going well for Sam, but back on the Cape, they were even worse for Maria. She soon discovered that she was with child. She took one man only, in her confidence – her kindly and wise father.

He outfitted the barn as a house for her, where she could stay during her pregnancy, unobserved by the townspeople. To the tavern patrons he explained that Maria had begun touring Europe to visit the homelands of her Mother.

Maria was happy to be having the baby of Sam Bellamy and was certain in the knowledge that Sam would return as soon as he could. She had no doubts.

Sam had left Cape Cod in August to seek his fortune and in April the product of his union with Maria arrived with little warning in the pre dawn hours of a chilly spring morning.

Maria was awaked by a pressure in her belly. She was surprised that there was little pain. The young woman had been frightened during her pregnancy because her Mother died giving birth to her; and yet as her baby began making its entry into the world, her contractions felt like they were no more than mild muscle spasms.

Maria started her morning chores. She pitched forkfuls of nutritious hay to the horses. After watering and rubbing down her father’s favorite team, she laid down on a hay pile, to have her child.

The baby came quickly and Maria who had studied birthing from one of her books, took as good care of herself as any trained nurse would have done.

The cord cut, she wrapped the child in white cotton and placed him on the hay mound. Maria was happy and not the least bit sore or tired. To the contrary, she wanted to sing and dance.

“Hello my baby,” Maria smiled, “You are a boy. You are Sam’s boy and so you shall be named. You are Samuel Bellamy Hallett. With your curly little hair and your black eyes, you look just like your Daddy. Maria drew the child to her chest and he fed eagerly.

“You’ve got a good appetite too. Just like your Daddy. I’m going up to the Inn for just a little while to let my Father know that you are here. I will come back soon Little Sam.”

When she got halfway to the Inn she changed her mind. The brave young girl, now 16 years old, decided that even though she was not married. She would show the whole village her child.

Everyone knew that Sam was coming back with her wedding ring. She was reasonably certain that her punishment would only be 20 or 30 lashes and maybe a day and a night in the stocks. She could handle that if it meant that she could openly be with her baby.

So the beautiful Maria Hallett ran back to the barn to get her child. In the lamplight she saw that he had a slip of straw in his hand.

The baby started to fuss. Before Maria could get to him, he began crying whilst kicking his feet and waving his arms. The fragment of straw somehow got transferred to his mouth and the baby quickly choked to death on it, in full sight of its mama.

Maria howled louder than a wolfpack screaming at the moon. Her whole body shook and shuddered as tears streamed from her eyes.

As ill fate would have it, Constable Constant Hearthstone was using the privy behind the Inn when Maria’s screams shattered the silence of the village.

Hearthstone followed the noise and discovered Maria and her lifeless baby. Hearthstone dragged her off to the gaol (jail) where he accused her of a litany of crimes ranging from having a child out of wedlock to murder.

Maria was too distraught to even listen to Hearthstone. She left all charges unanswered, which the Constable took as an admission of guilt.

Constable Hearthstone warned Maria that he was going to visit the Selectmen and tell them of her crimes. He advised her that he would be back within the hour to administer the first of many thrashings that she was due, from his bloody whip.

When he returned, he was astonished to find the cell still locked, but empty. Somehow, in full daylight, with two of his deputies in the building, Maria Hallett had escaped unnoticed.

It is written in the official town records that no bars could hold Maria. Six times was she jailed and six times did she escape within six hours, leaving no clues – save for one written message saying:

“Six times you have barred me. Six times did I flee unfettered. Six more times will I escape ‘tis true – for this Town and the people in it, I give a gift. It’s ‘6-6-6’ for you.”

It fell to the Reverend Mr. Treat to explain to the elders how Maria was able to escape.

“666 is the number after 665 and the number before 667,” said the Minister. “It is also the sum of the first 36 natural numbers. That is 1 plus 2, plus 3, plus 4………..plus 34, plus 35, plus 36, equals 666.

By itself, this is merely an odd fact, but what makes the number unholy is what is written in the Good Book. In Revelation 13:16-17, the Bible warns us that 666 is the number that represents the Beast: the Devil.

It means that Maria Hallett has given herself carnally and in spirit to the Devil. She must be cast from the village forever. To consort with her is to mingle with Satan himself.”

James Stanton, one of the town’s jailers came shyly forth with a story.

“I didn’t tell this before because I thought it was my imagination; or that I had been dozing and dreamed it. Here’s what I saw, or I think I saw.

Five days ago when I was on duty watching her jail cell, she had a visitor. I didn’t let him in. He just appeared. It was late afternoon and the girl was carrying on as usual, weeping wildly and beating her hands against the bars of her cell.

An expensively suited gentleman sauntered up to the bars and just stood there looking at the bewildered girl. He wore the finest clothes I have ever seen and he was slashing the air with a gold tipped cane, using it like a sword.

One of the iron bars of the cell door, was between their faces. He just touched it and it flew out of its anchoring and fell to the floor. Then he just flicked away another bar from the cell door and he talked in a whispery voice to Maria.

‘You are young Maria but you have showed that you are old enough for the employment I can give you. And you can forget all this’ he said as he reached out and grasped another bar between his thumb and forefinger and just flicked it away as if it were no more than a fly after a speck of mince pie.

‘You know who I am, don’t you Maria?’

She said she did and he flicked away all the rest of the bars of the cell door.

From his coat he produced a document that had lots of writing on it. She read it and nodded her head yes. Under his coat was a shiny red vest the color of a roaring fire. From it, he withdrew a quill that had a feather on one end and a point on the other end. The nub was as red and hot as a horse-shoe in a blacksmith’s fire.

‘Sign this, ‘the gentleman said, ‘and no cell will ever be able to hold you Maria. You may come and go where ever you wish, as you please.’

She took the pen and signed her name on the document with the blazing hot tip of the pen, burning the letters into the parchment. A vast quantity of smoke roiled from the paper, filling the room with gasping, choking soot. When the air cleared, the man was gone. Maria Hallett was gone, and the cell bars were all back in place.

Constable, surely you can understand why I failed to report this. I was unable to believe my eyes at the time. But now after what the Reverend said, I believe that I did see the Devil and his new servant.”

“Brother Stanton, “said the Reverend and the Constable at once, “you are forgiven for not reporting what you saw, for at the time we would probably have accused you of falling victim to Mary Hallett’s charms and releasing her for carnal reasons. We see now that ‘Witch Hallett’ must be stoned away from this town forever.”

More than 100 villagers – men, women, and children, filled their pockets with pebbles and rocks; some sharp edged and some rounded and smoothed by the action of the sea. With Reverend Mr. Treat and Constable Constant Hearthstone in the lead, they marched double file in search of the beautiful young woman, they would call ‘Mary’ no more. She was now, Witch Hallett.

The Grim Weepers

They had not far to go nor long to look, for the golden haired lady always made her way to the town dock, where she stood and watched the horizon for the return of dashing Sam Bellamy, the salvage man.

On they marched, at a steady pace. The leaders of the column of more than fifty pairs of armed, rock throwers, stopped as they set their moccasins on the first boards of the pier. A tiny feminine figure was balanced precariously at the very edge of the last boards.

A man stood between the grim stone tossers and the young woman.

“Please, my friends. Do not do this. She is betrothed. She is not a sinner. Sam Bellamy will marry her.” The pleadings came from the gentle, good hearted Innkeeper, Ernest Hallett – Maria’ s father. “Brothers and sisters, I implore you to wait one month more, until Sam……………….”

Mr. Hallett’s words were cut off, when a boy of not more than eleven years ran up to him and with all his youthful might hurled a fist sized rock directly into the father’s nose.

Twenty more of the citizens advanced on Mr. Hallett and likewise jetted their holy stones at him. Bleeding from a hundred painful welts, Mr. Hallett slipped into the ocean and drowned.

Many of the citizens wept, for they had known and loved Hallett. But their duty was clear. The grim weepers advanced next on the tiny form of Maria Hallett.

Maria saw what had happened and stood up to her full five feet and one inch of height and looked directly at her foes. Later, each would claim that she had looked directly into their eyes alone – but as Maria had only one set of eyes, how could she have looked into 100 others pairs all at the same time?

The grim weepers were now only 20 paces from Maria. Many of the rock throwers were still wiping away tears; yet their little dabs were but a twig compared to the massive logs falling from the soft blue eyes of the yellow haired Maria Hallett.

“Talk of witchery, the devil, and false sin, has transformed you all into misshapen horrors,” Maria spoke. “You brutally killed the kindest man in the village as he courageously stood to defend me. Maybe I have made a bargain with the Devil. If so, I could smite you all, for in the Heavenly judgment, you are probably due that and more.”

“Throw your pebbles, hurl your stones, and bash me with your rocks. I will not lift a finger against you,” Maria concluded and fell in a sobbing heap to the boards of the pier.

A little girl of no more than six years, at the urging of her parents, stood directly in front of Maria and cast the first stone. It had little force and yet increased Maria’s suffering by a thousand per cent.

Like rain from a gale, a torrent of stones flew from the hands of the grim weepers. As each landed with a sickening thud Maria seemed to grow stronger and shake off the blood and the pain.

Her tears stopped. Though red welts mounded like ant hills on her face and body, she smiled. Her eyes seemed to glow and her hair commenced to sort itself out into glowing spikes which danced and twisted as if they were trees being tortured by a Northeaster.

She grimaced and opened her mouth as the stunned villagers dropped their remaining rocks and quivered as if expecting all their stones would be cycloned back at them.

“I am leaving now but not under force of your ethereal pebbles – I am beyond their reach – I am departing to the dunes of First Encounter Beach where I shall build a house to wait for my dashing Sam Bellamy.

He is coming to marry me. I might invite you to the wedding. Perhaps I will let you throw rice instead of rocks, when next we meet.”

Maria leaped from the pier into the white caps of the choppy sea. The villagers watched but never saw the golden hair of the young woman surface.

“She has drowned,” said one of the children.

“She may be dead,” agreed Reverend Treat. “But even if she is. We will see her again. Of that I am certain.”

Back with Bellamy in the Caribbean

Sam Bellamy’s honest toil in searching for salvage among the pieces of a wreck just off the coast of Cuba over a period of nine months, had brought him nothing but a steep reduction in his finances.

One after another, his crew left when he could no longer pay them. In the end he was by himself. Even the islanders came no more to dive into the warm waters and search the soft sands for lost treasure.

After his final shilling was spent and not even a pence had been recovered from the wreck, he met a young man from Nantucket named Paul Williams .

Paul had an idea on how to make a large sum of money, but he lacked a ship. Sam still had his tight little sloop, though no cash to outfit her for a voyage.

With money from Williams, the vessel’s larder was stocked with meats, fishes, fruit and nuts. A crew of four ‘hardcases’ was signed on and the Monsieurs Bellamy and Williams set off on a new venture as pirates of the Caribbean sea – although, in truth neither man knew much about the business of seaway robbery.

After a week rounding Cuba with no action it looked as though the young men were not cut out for pirating – except that one morning everything changed.

Off the starboard side, Paul Williams spotted two ships flying black flags with an image of a ‘death’s head and bones across’.

“I think they’re pirates. Real pirates!” Paul Williams shouted enthusiastically.

“Ahoy there. Hello the ship! We want to join up with you,” shouted Sam Bellamy across the water.

The two pirate boats made straight for Sam’s little sloop and the two pirate captains came aboard.

“I am Captain Benjamin Thorngold of the Mary Anne,” announced one.

“Et moi, Je suis…oh, pardonnez moi… in English, I will talk…I am the Capitan of the ship, The Fromage – Francois LaBoeuf.”

“Gentlemen,” Thorngold said to the men of Sam’s sloop, “since you have surrendered without damage to yourselves or to any of the vessels, you will not be harmed. You are however, our prisoners and we claim your ship and its cargo as our prize.”

Sam and Paul explained that they would willingly join the pirate fleet and had been working at the trade without success for a week.

“Mon dieu, exclaimed LaBoeuf, “how can you claim to be pirates, you did not even have the drapeau!”

“He means the flag,” Thorngold explained. “Pirate ships carry the ‘Jolly Roger’ and it’s so scary a flag, that half the time, when you sail near a ship while displaying your ‘death’s head and bones across,’ the boats will just give up without firing a shot. You can take all the plunder you can carry and never have to duck a bullet or a sword.”

After a time, LaBoeuf and Thorngold agreed to add Sam’s sloop to the fleet and take the young men on as apprentice pirates of the Caribbean.

The combined fleet of three speedy little marauders met with great and immediate success. Under the tutelage of the veteran scalliwags, Sam and Pete quickly became skilled pirates of the first rank.

The quartet of seaway robbers quickly piled up so many tons of loot that they required another ship to hold all of their plunder. In the distance off the port bow, one afternoon near sunset, Paul Williams spotted a massive five masted schooner flying the colors of England. It looked like a first rate prize. It was expected that the hold would contain either a full cargo of valuable merchandise, or tons of gold that was received for the sale of her cargo. Either way, Sam Bellamy and Paul Williams wanted the cargo of the English ship.

They ahoyed LaBoeuf and Thorngold, and huddled aboard the Mary Anne to discuss the capture of the big ship.

“No. No. No. It cannot be done,” said Ben Thorngold. “I have taught you gentlemen the art of piracy, but never have you seen me take an English vessel and you never will. I am an Englishman of honor and I will never see harm caused to a member of His Magesty’s fleet.

The discussion became heated when LaBoeuf sided with Paul and Sam. Finally to head off violence, Sam called for a vote of the crews of all three boats.

When the votes were counted, 24 sailors had cast lots with Thorngold and 104 with Sam Bellamy. A second vote declared Sam Bellamy as the Admiral of the fleet.

In his first act as leader, Sam addressed his mentor….

“Benjamin Thorngold. You are a fine and brave Captain. No harm will come to you. I will not attack this particular British ship. But in future, I will attack any ship of any nation. I suggest that we part as friends. You may take the 24 crew who voted with you and leave unfettered with every ounce of your share of our treasures.”

Thorngold sailed away with Sam’s sloop and the new fleet of two ships began an immediate and hungry hunt for plunder off the shores of the Virgin Islands.

In a fortnight, they took seven small ships and many thousands of shillings’ worth of gold, jewels, and silver as well as some valuable cargos.

Their first big prize came on the 16th day as a two ship fleet, when they spied the Sultana, a fine three masted schooner with a cargo of sugar and 14 chests of doubloons.

Sam took command of the Sultana and promoted Paul Williams to captain of the Mary Anne. LaBoeuf remained with the Fromage.

A few more weeks work resulted in more than ten tons of gold being wedged between the decks of the Sultana.

The fleet put in to the harbor at Havana for the winter to refit the ships and rest the crew. After a month they weighed anchor and set sail for Cape Cod.

Sam calculated that he could work his way to Eastham and have the wealth of a king by the time he unfurled his sails in Provincetown Harbor.

The third day at sea brought the formation of a minor gale. It was not big enough to do any damage but was sufficient to scatter the fleet. Clearing weather brought the Mary Anne in sight of the Sultana but LaBoeuf and the Fromage were nowhere to be seen.

“Leave LaBoeuf to his own devices,” Paul said. “Let’s not waste time in seeking the Fromage. You want to get to Cape Cod to marry. I want to get there to retire from pirating and start anew in the South as a tobacco farmer. With all the health benefits of smoking; tobacco is likely to be the biggest business in the new world.”

The Sultana and the Mary Anne sailed on towards Cape Cod and into the heart of an angry Northeaster. Both ships had to heave to and ride out the storm for 36 hours. When the skies finally cleared the two seaworthy pirate ships were none the worse for the wear.

As the whitecaps relaxed into gentle ripples, Sam Bellamy put his glass to his eye and saw a mountain. It seemed like a mountain, but it was a mast – a compound wooden pole reaching so high that it seemed to punch a hole in a cloud.

He lowered the glass until he could read the name on the

bow……….The Whidah.

What a ship she was. Built in London five years earlier, she was a hundred feet long, square rigged galley with a complement of 150 sailors and fighters. She could house 400 prisoners chained below decks and 300 tons of cargo.

He learned later that her freight was elephant teeth, sugar, and four tons of gold dust. The plunder from this one capture would be enough for him and Paul to retire in a style of great opulence.

The Whidah could outrun most any ship as she raced along at speeds of up to 15 knots. How could the Sultana and the Mary Anne hope to catch her?

Model of the Whidah aka Whydah, Widah, & others.

Gold Coins from the Whidah at the Museum on Cape Cod in Yarmouth.

The Whidah Museum is on Route 28 near the Cape Cod Inflatable Park.

The Sultana was heavy hulled and slow footed. He could never outsail the Whidah. But just as if God and not the Devil were on his side, the winds filled only the sails of the Sultana and the Mary Anne, with not a whisper directed at the sleek Whidah.

With 5,000 feet of canvas, wind-filled almost to bursting, Admirial Sam Bellamy gave the order that always rang a bell in the heart of a pirate: “Run up the flag boys. Show ‘em the Death’s head and Bones Across.”

The Sultana and the Mary Anne flew straight at the mighty Whidah. The Mary Anne came about on the port side of the prize, while the Sultana lightly scraped the timbers of the Whidah on the starboard side.

Now any sailor will tell you that Captain Peter Prince of the Whidah should have been able to sail right through this little blockade as easily as a rat avoids the boot of the ship’s cook.

But luck and the winds had deserted the British vessel. Prince thought about breaking out the oars and trying to escape – but under oar power, three or four knots would be the maximum speed he could hope for; and the invaders were cruising at better than 10 knots.

Sam Bellamy, for the second time in his life, experienced love at first sight. He wanted the Whidah – not as much as he wanted Maria Hallett – but he wanted the boat in a different way. He wanted to master it and to sail the Whidah into Provincetown Bay. He prayed that he could capture the ship with little damage to her.

Captain Prince wanted to surrender. He was not a coward, but he could see that all was lost. With no wind to make good an escape, he had to stand and fight or give up.

The Whidah was carrying a skeleton crew of 30 able seamen. Most of the crew had been paid off and sent ashore at Boston when a large part of his freight had been exchanged for gold. Barely armed, his men would not stand a chance against seasoned pirates.

To save face, Captain Prince fired two chase guns far off the bow of the Sultana. A few seconds later, before the enemy would have a chance to return fire, he gave the order to lower the flag in surrender.

Sam Bellamy was ecstatic. He fairly flew across the gangplank to board the Whidah. He greeted Captain Prince warmly. Always a gentleman pirate, Sam informed Captain Prince that he was going to be given the Sultana and he would be allowed to keep one fourth of all cargo and riches.

Captain Prince could not believe his good fortune. Even just 25 per cent of his cargo and treasure would return a handsome profit to his investors. With his share, and what he could get for selling the Sultana, he could purchase a new galley just as fine as the Whidah.

How Captain Paul Williams, who had to remain with the Mary Anne, felt about Sam’s generosity; we can only speculate.

As for Sam, he gleamed as brightly as the golden treasure being stuffed between decks as he sailed towards the Cape at the helm of his new flagship, The Whidah.

Paul Williams reminded Sam that to go back to the West Indies would be the safe thing to do.

“Taking a dozen small ships creates barely a stir in England or the Colonies, but the capturing of a ship of the stature of the Whidah, puts a mammoth target on our backs and heads,” Paul said.

“Ease your mind Paul,” Sam advised. “On the way to the Cape we will take another dozen ships and add millions to our wealth. We will be able to purchase pardons and be free men. I will have so much gold left over that I can pile it at Maria’s feet and even build her a home with the roof, floor and walls, all made of gold.”

“Aye, and I will have enough wealth to buy the whole of Virginia and all the tobacco in it,” Paul laughed, “unless we get our necks stretched first.”

Over the next week, they captured four more ships. Two were plundered. Sam gave the ships back to the captains along with a share of their riches and cargo. The Captains knew of Sam and told him they had heard of him. He learned from then that he was being called the gentleman pirate for the humane way he went about his devilish business.

A third ship, a leaky old tub, quickly sank after being hit only 12 times by the cannon of Admiral Bellamy’s fleet. At risk of their own lives, Sam and Paul’s crew braved the the turgid Atlantic waves to rescue the mates of the sinking vessel. No seaman was lost and all were offered positions as apprentice pirates in the Bellamy fleet. Most men accepted. Those that did not were given provisions, money, and a sturdy lifeboat to head back to shore.

The fourth ship, a sleek bark called ‘Goose Wings’ was added to the fleet along with about half of her crew. Those that did not accept piracy were allowed a boat and provisions, in the usual manner of the genial, handsome young Admiral Sam Bellamy.

Here and there, a few men who lost their ship and berths to Sam, bore him a grudge. Back in the Colonies or in England they told lies and painted a dark picture of Bellamy and his crews. Enough people believed the lies that a new nickname emerged for Sam. Most people still termed him, The Gentleman Pirate. There were however, a number of bitter souls who spat out the words, ‘Black Sam Bellamy’, when they spoke of his heart and his deeds.

I will detail no more of Sam’s captures and plunders” except to say that he made more than 24 more successful purges of vessels over the next month.

Finally, a mere eight weeks after he gained possession of the Whidah, he reached the placid waters of Cape Cod. He was just hours away from his reunion with his lovely bride to be, Maria Hallet.

Sam Bellamy’s personal share of looted treasure included more than four tons of gold in bars, coins and dust – enough to make him the richest pirate who ever sailed the Caribbean.

Though it was less than two bells of the afternoon, darkness overtook the Whidah as she glided by the coast of Wellfleet on April 26 in 1717.

Winds shredded the sails and broke the mainmast like a toothpick as the crew fought the storm for six hours. The tempest grew so bad that the waves were said to be cyclonic. Just before eight bells a wave that today would be called a tsunami rolled the Whidah on her side and broke her in two. Wreckage was strewn for miles in tidal pools and on the Wellfleet beaches.

The facts of the sinking of the Whidah are well documented. You can read them in many books and online publications. There has probably even been a movie made about her. You can visit the museum in Yarmouth that is devoted to the Widah. It has artifacts taken from the actual wreckage – after explorer Barry Clifford found the carcass of the Whidah in the late 1900s, and retrieved a significant amount of her treasure.

Some people say that even today – the rest of the of the doubloons, pieces of eight, gold and silver bars, jewels, and bags of gold dust; are still buried in sand in the beaches of Eastham and Wellfleet.

There are many variations to the ending of this story. My favorite is this one………………….

More than 100 bodies washed ashore after the wreck of the Whidah. Village officials devoted long hours to the grim task of identifying bodies.

Paul Williams, whose ship was not lost in the storm, volunteered to assist in the investigation in return for a full pardon. Selectman Cosgrove agreed and gave Williams his freedom.

Williams was instrumental in the eventual identification of every dead pirate. Six men who escaped the wreck unharmed were taken to Boston. Four were found guilty of various crimes and were hanged. Two men were released on the grounds that they had been forced into pirate labor.

Before they left for judgment, the six who were put on trial agreed with Paul Williams when he said that none of the dead men was Admirial Sam Bellamy.

Many local residents combed the beaches and waters close to shore for the next several years in search of the vast quantities of Whidah treasure. Bits and pieces were found, but the bulk of gold, silver, and jewels remained hidden.

Over the years people claimed to have seen Maria Hallett walking the dunes in Provincetown, Wellfleet and Eastham in beautiful gowns that she fashioned herself in her shack.

“She was always looking toward the sea,” they avowed, “searching the horizon for her man, Sam Bellamy.”

Some of the braver citizenry peeked into her shack at the edge of the water and although it always appeared ready for occupancy; no one ever actually saw Maria in it.

Constable Constant Hearthstone took over Hallett’s Inn along with his partners, the town Selectmen. It was never run as well as when Mr. Hallett was alive, but the pub was still a popular gathering place.

One evening in 1722, five years after the sinking of the Whidah, a peculiar young man entered the Inn. Dressed as a sailor, he had a shock of curly black hair with a gray streak running along the top of his head. Nearly white, the streak had taken the shape of a flash of lightning.

Oddest of all was a deep indentation in his forehead sitting under an angry scar. The wound ran from the top of his nose right up into the gray streak where it disappeared under cover of his hair. The large depressed section of his skull must have resulted from a powerful injury, such as might happen from a piece of a splintered mast bashing him as it snapped off during a storm.

“I am not sure but I think I am looking for Mr. Hallett,” said the confused young man to Constable Hearthstone, wearing a filthy apron has he drew beer, wine and grog for his patrons.

“He died son. Had an accident on the Town Pier. This is my place now.”

“I need to talk to Mr. Hallett, but I am not exactly sure what I am supposed to ask him,“ said the stranger.

“Well if you got the price of a tankard of ale, you can talk to me.”

“Money? I have money,” he said burying a hand in his pocket and coming out with a handful of shiny doubloons. “I will have a glass.”

Hearthstone’s eyes lit up at the sight of the golden coins. He tried to keep the confused man talking.

“I need to talk with Mr. Hallett, not you.” he repeated.

“Hallett’s dead I told you. You might have better luck talking to his daughter Maria. On a night like this, she might be walking the dunes,”

“Maria? Maria Hallett? I think I need to speak with Maria Hallett, but I am not sure what about,” said the stranger as he walked out the front door.

Several of the patrons had been watching the bewildered sailor with interest and they followed him as he lurched towards the dunes.

They reported later that the sailor had gone to the very edge of the dunes where Maria Hallett’s eerie shack still stood.

“There was a taper burning. We could see it through the window,” said one of the men.

“Though the slender candle gave scarcely any illumination, we could see enough to note that a woman with long hair and an elegant dress opened the door and called out to the stranger.”

“As sure as I am standing here,” said Selectmen Cosgrove, “that woman was Maria Hallett. She opened the door and looked right at the injured seaman walking slowly towards her.”

“She smiled a smile so bright it was like ten lamps on high wick, and she said ‘Sam – Dashing Sam Bellamy, Is that you?”

“What happened then?” asked Constable Constant Hearthstone as a dozen more patrons crowded around him, also eagerly awaiting the answer.

“The sailor stopped when he heard the voice. He spoke to her. He said…..

‘I remember you Maria. Your voice is more beautiful than the song of the nightingale’.

‘You said that to me once before Sam. Come to me my love.’

Selectman Cosgrove told the assembled townsmen that the sailor walked into the house and a moment later the dim light of the taper ceased to glow.

He said that he and the three friends who were with him, would swear that everything he was relating to them is true.

“We waited in the silent darkness for two hours before daring to go near the shack. Finally we crept to the window and peered in. Seeing nothing, we dared to open the door a crack. Still nothing. At length, we pushed the door full open and lighted the taper. Nothing. There was no one in the shack.”

“But on the table, in a dinner-plate was a ring. It was a gold wedding band, “ Cosgrove said.

None of the people of Wellfleet, Eastham, or Provincetown ever saw Sam or Maria again by light of day – but on dark stormy nights, they were seen many times, walking arm in arm through the dunes.

People report that they can hear them talking, but the words are not understandable. From 1722 to 2022, it will be 300 years that they have walked the dunes together.

Every few years, credible and otherwise sensible people have reported viewing one or both of the ghosts of Eastham walking through the sand or wading in the ocean.

As recently as 2012, Maria, or some other lady with long blond tresses wearing an elegant dress from the 1700s; was seen leaving the ladies room at an Eastham restaurant. She walked outside.

A curious patron who followed her, said that when he got outside the woman had disappeared.[
**]“There was no place for her to go,” he declared. “I was right behind her. But when I stepped through the door, she was gone. There were no cars in sight and no place for her to hide. She just disappeared.”

Anse Peckins ended his story by clearing his throat, swallowing a final swig of his Simpson Springs Birch Beer and getting up from his chair to leave the Provincetown Story Jam.

He leaned into the microphone for a few parting words to the appreciative crowd…….

“Thanks for allowing me here tonight to tell my story. Don’t take this yarn too seriously folks. If you meet Sam or Maria some stormy night on the beach, just remember that Bellamy never killed anybody, even in his pirate days and poor Maria never hurt anyone, although it seems like she had the power to do so, if she had wanted to.”

“Until next time: Good night folks”

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The stories of Maria Hallett and of Reverend Joseph Metcalfe are based on real people whose lives were documented by a group of settlers who kept detailed records of events in the ‘new’ England. They recorded such things as births, deaths, weddings, festivals, crime and punishment, and even the success or failure of the crops.

The Puritan and Pilgrim people that settled in the new world are often considered heroes, pioneers, and explorers. And yet, when they arrived in what is now called North America – they were invaders.

Native peoples were already living on the land. They were called ‘salvages’ by the invaders. Later the ‘L’ was dropped and the indigenous people were termed ‘savages’.

The Puritans and Pilgrims said that the native people were primitive and that they had no written language. And yet, in the next chapter you will see a mystery in the form of a giant rock that had writing on it. This writing is so obscure and abstruse that even the greatest minds of the 21st century cannot interpret it.

The source of the markings is unknown, but many scholars believe that the work was done by the Native American people who supposedly had no written language.

Read on and decide for yourself who carved the markings: in the story of the two great rocks of the New England.

 

Chapter Four: ‘Massachusetts Rocks!’

Not as in ‘being cool’ but ‘rocks’ – as in two large chunks of Granite

Rock One – The Dighton Rock at low tide.

The Dighton Rock

There are two boulders of historic importance in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The one you’ve heard of is Plymouth Rock. Thousands of tourists make a pilgrimage to it every year.

The other, you will almost never hear about. It is Dighton Rock, housed in its own rural museum in the middle of the Hockomock Swamp, in the heart of the mythic Bridgewater Triangle.

It’s a 40 ton rock, that was buried in the mud of the Taunton Great River for about 10,000 years, after falling off the back of an iceberg. What makes it more than just a big rock, is the fact that about 500 years ago, ancient and unknown people carved dozens of strange signs and symbols into it.

Since the rock was fully submersed at high tide, the work had to be done at low tide, when about six feet of it came up for air.

First discovery by Europeans was in the 1600s. In 1680, an Englishman, Rev. John Danforth made the initial drawing of the mystery. His rendering is preserved today in The British Museum. Ten years later Cotton Mather described it in a book about the “Wonderful Works of God, Commemorated”.

Even now, the meanings of the markings have not been learned. Dozens of studies have yielded few clues. Some speculate that the work was that of Portuguese explorers who arrived in North America before Columbus.

Gavin Menzies believes that Chinese people did the work, as proposed in his recent book, “1421, the year China Discovered America”.

Another theory held that the symbols were the results of visits from the ancient Phoenicians.

A fourth idea, and perhaps most probable, is that the markings are the work of the indigenous people of the area, the Wampanoag Tribe.

Under the leadership of the great Chief Massasoit, the Wampanoag people welcomed the European settlers to Cape Cod in the early 1600s. It can be reliably stated that the great sachem prevented the failure of the Plymouth colony and saved the settlers from starvation. During his long life, Massasoit was a proven friend to the immigrants and he taught them the needed survival skills that allowed them to grow strong and multiply.

By the late 1600s, after the Chief’s death, relations had soured. Massasoit’s son, Metacom (King Philip) led his people in a desperate war against the Europeans. With flint arrows against gunpowder and outnumbered ten to one, the Wampanoags were beaten and almost exterminated. Metacom was killed and his remains were unspeakably mis-used.

Before he died, Metacom put an eternal curse on the land and on the occupying people. That curse became known as the “Curse of the Bridgewater Triangle”.

The Bridgewater Triangle is an area of about 200 square miles, centered in Raynham and Bridgewater in Southeastern Massachusetts. It encompasses much of the land of Metacom and his people. Since being cursed, the area has reportedly been the site of ritualistic murders, Bigfoot sightings, strange lights, weird animals, and many odd and often bloody occurrences.

Metacom was killed in 1676, just four years before Rev. Danforth spied the Dighton Rock and made the first drawing and report of it. The Chief spent his last days within a few miles of the rock. The markings appear to show ghosts as well as deer, fish and other items important to the Wampanoags. Could these signs and symbols be an expression of the Chief’s anger? – akin to the graffiti scrawled around today’s cities.

Whether the markings actually are a curse is not known. But a constant stream of lurid and eerie news stories flow from the Bridgewater Triangle.

Should you wish to visit the Dighton Rock and decide for yourself the nature of its origins; it’s easy to see it now, because it has been moved from the Taunton River to a museum of its own. The little visited building is in the middle of the Hockomock Swamp on Dighton Rock Road in Berkley, Massachusetts – exit ten off Route 24.

Come before dark because strange things happen in the Bridgewater Triangle after the sun goes down.

This is a drawing of the symbols on the Dighton Rock. The sketch, made in 1830, is preserved in a museum.

2. The Other Rock

Thousands of visitors each year come to gaze at Plymouth rock, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It is the supposed landing site of the Europeans from the British ship, ‘Mayflower’, in 1620.

If you have not visited this historic rock, I can save you a trip.

Skip it. Forget about it!

A. It is so small that visitors are abashed when they see it and they gasp,

“Is that all there is?”

B. The Pilgrims did not land on the rock. It’s a real rock, but not the real landing site….they put ashore about 100 miles away from it in Cape Cod – in what is now called Provincetown.

It was less than a month away from New Year’s Day, 1621, when the Mayflower set anchor into the pristine waters of P-Town harbor. Governor William Bradford and a combination contingent of crew and settlers went ashore for an eight day scout.

When Bradford returned to the ship, with about a dozen bushels of seed corn that he pilfered from Native American store-mounds, he received the sad news that his wife had become the first casualty of the harbor. She had fallen overboard and drowned.

“Tis God’s Will,” Bradford reportedly said. He said the same thing months later when the settlers took over an area in Plymouth, after the ‘Indians’ who owned it, died due to diseases unwittingly given them by the Europeans.

Back to the Plymouth Rock. Nobody landed on it. There’s no mention of it in Bradford’s journal. Over the years Plymouth residents handed down an oral tradition that evolved into the great myth of the Plymouth Rock. By the 1780s, the Rock had become pretty much universally accepted as the landing site of the Mayflower.

The town of Plymouth is scenic and wonderful and well worth a visit. But if you plan to go there just to see the rock – don’t.

Here’s a sampling of Yelp website reviews. Wendy from Texas gives it ONE STAR, saying

“Just a rock nothing special. Don’t see what the fuss is about. Like the historical aspect of it!”

Hana from L.A. gave it FOUR STARS, saying “Drove out of our way just to see and take pictures of the rock. Plymouth is a small town with only the rock and mayflower to recommend (and mayflower is only a recreation). Still, it’s nice to take picture just to say you’ve been there, lol. And it’s free anyways.”

Steven R gives the rock THREE STARS – “This ‘attraction’ currently has 3 stars on yelp and I think 3 stars nails this site perfectly. Plymouth Rock should probably be referred to as Plymouth pebble, but let’s not harp on that (size doesn’t always matter ;)”

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Plymouth Rock (just a fraction of the size of Dighton Rock) is on display at the bottom of a granite walled pit near Downtown Plymouth.

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Chapter Five: The Legend of Princess Scargo

I moved from Raynham, Massachusetts to Cape Cod shortly after the turn of the century and almost immediately found a delightful fresh water lake that came complete with an intriguing legend.

Here’s a story that I wrote, based on the fable . It is about a beautiful native American princess who lived a few hundred years ago with her family by a small fresh water spring, in what is now the town of Dennis, on Cape Cod.

The Nobscussett Indians had a single, tiny village of barely one hundred people, in the summer of 1600. Their Chief, Sagem, was not remarkable in appearance or ability. The tribe survived from one moon to the next, but never prospered.

The mighty Wampanoags had as many as thirty villages from one end of Cape Cod to the other. The Mashpee had several settlements; as did the Nauset, the Massachuset, and a number of others.

Altogether, there were probably more than two dozen tribes, a hundred and fifty villages, and as many as 5000 people on Cape Cod, as the new century began.

There were dynamic leaders among the people. Chief Massasoit could assemble and equip a war party faster than an arrow; and could speak words hotter and smokier than a campfire. His villages all prospered and grew.

Many moons in the future, when the giant boats would cross the big water, it would fall to Massasoit to meet them and wrestle out the agreements that would keep the people safe.

Chief Sagem of the Nobscussetts may not have been a strong leader, but he was kindly and his people, though poor, were happy.

The chief had no sons and only one daughter. Her name was Scargo and she was uncommonly beautiful.

So pretty was Princess Scargo that warriors would come from either end of Cape Cod to the middle of the land where the Nobscussett village was, just to see Scargo. Often, they brought gifts that helped sustain the people when the farming was poor as it often was in soil that was mostly salt and sand.

The village was built around a small fresh-water spring that threatened to dry up during the long sun days. Twelve wigwams circled the spring and formed the entire settlement.

Princess Scargo lived in the largest one, with her father, her grandmother, and her father’s brother and his family – ten people altogether. Each wigwam had between eight and twelve occupants.

If the tribe grew, they would simply add more wigwams. They were easy to make. The women would get six spruce poles and tie them together at the top with the roots. The poles would be stood up and spread out to make a cone. The covering was fashioned from large overlapping strips of birch bark. Birch trees were so plentiful that it took only a few hours to get enough bark to completely cover a large wigwam.

The season of long-suns was more than two moons old when a warrior came to the village one morning not long after sunrise.

Weaquaquet Comes to Scargo

“My name is Weaquaquet, and I seek the beautiful Princess Scargo,” the tall stranger announced to the first person he saw.

Directed to the spring, he walked until he saw her, standing at the edge drawing water.

She was even more beautiful than he had been told. Unlike his tribe, her skin was light and yet it was beautiful as it contrasted with her hair that was the color of a night with no moon.

Her eyes were as wide as a clam shell and sparkled like a knife ready to slit a cod. She had full lips and wide hips and Weaquaquet was filled with love.

“Everywhere there is a campfire, men talk of you,” Weaquaquet told her. “The old ones, the magic ones, the warriors too – all speak of your beauty and your gentle nature.

Chief Massasoit sends me to all his villages to bring his messages to his chieftans. Some distant villages are five running days away. But no matter how far I go, I hear of you.” Scargo listened as the young warrior spoke. He was handsome like many of the young men who had come to visit her. But he had something more. His calm, smooth voice hinted at a gentleness that she found very attractive.

By the time the sun crossed to mid-point Scargo and Weaquaquet had joined hearts. She took him to meet her father and Weaquaket gave Sagem the greatest of respect. He shared news from Massasoit and suggested that the great chief would be willing to offer protection and assistance to the Nobscusset people.

“I have to return to the ‘end of the earth’,where my people live,” Weaquaquet announced as sunset neared. “The ‘end of the earth’ is just a single arrow-shoot wide. The Big Water surrounds us to the East, the North and the South”.

“In the middle of the arrow-shoot is rich earth that grows giant food. Only as wide as 10 wigwams and as long as 20, this farm is able to grow enough food to feed two big Wampanoag villages.”

“And even during the long-sun days when all the waters in ‘end of the earth’ start to dry up, the rich-farm continues to thrive.“

Reluctantly, the young lovers parted, for Weaquaquet had to return to his village where orders from Massasoit awaited him. Orders that would take him on a long journey of not just moons, but whole seasons.

Before he left, he promised Scargo and Sagem that as he next passed their village on his business for Massasoit, he would bring a gift from the rich-farm. It would be a gift unlike anything they had seen….a secret present of something unknown outside of the Wampanoag capital city.

From Princess Scargo’s Tower in Dennis, your eyes will scan beautiful Cape Cod Bay and you’ll spy Provincetown forty miles across the water.

Photo by Bill Russo

The Mighty Wampanoag Nation

He left on a kiss from Scargo and ran non-stop to the ‘end of the earth’, compressing a two day warrior’s journey into less than one sun.

Standing on a flat stone at land’s edge, with Big Water all around him and a brisk wind whipping salt into his eyes, Weaquaquet met with Massasoit to receive his orders.

Squinting, due to a relentless sun in a cloudless sky, he gazed at Massasoit. The Chief, tall and immovable on the rock, had his face painted in war colors – half red and half black, His bow was in his left hand. His right clutched his lucky amulet, made from the tooth of a fox. It looked for a moment like the big man was actually formed of rock and not of flesh.

Massasoit spoke and shared tribal secrets with young Weaquaquet. Through his nation, the great leader was known by many different names. The Masachuset and the Nauset called him ‘Yellow Feather.” The Mashpee knew him as Naumkeg. In other villages he was known by other names and other titles.

“The Masachuset do not know that Chief Yellow Feather is also Chief Naumkeg. They think that the two are different chiefs! I do this so that no people will know my true strength. But the time is coming when I will have to make myself known to all,” he explained.

“You know of only thirty villages of our people, but there are many more. The Wampanoag nation stretches not for five days run, but for ten times five days run.”

“ My two brothers are Chiefs of villages in a land far away where there are hills so high it takes half a sun to climb them.”

“I have picked you Weaquaquet, to take twenty braves with you and visit my brothers and all my villages as far away as the nation of the Mohegan.”

“When you return, you must bring all of my Sachems to the ‘end of the earth’. We will meet here to talk about the Big Water.”

“What about the Big Water?,” Weaquaquet wondered.

“Do not speak of it to the Chiefs, but the magic men have told me there are giant boats on the Big Water and they are coming to our shore. A giant boat is so big that it would take more than two hundred canoes to fill its belly.”

“This is why I must reveal myself to all the tribes and unify all my nations.”

Massasoit’s brothers Quadequina and Pokanoket were his main Sachems to the West (often Sachems were called Kings) – but he had at least seven other Sachems and dozens of minor leaders in all parts of the known world. Visiting every settlement would require Weaquaquet to devote as many as three seasons to his mission.

“I will go as soon as you like my Chief. But I have met and fallen in love with Princess Scargo of the Nobscussetts. May I take her a gift from the rich-farm?”

“You may take her anything,” the chief replied. “and when you return I will give you and Scargo a wedding next to rich-land right here in ‘end of the earth’. It will be a wedding fit for a sachem and his princess – for a king is what I will make you when you return from your mission, with all my chiefs.”

Weaquaquet looked at ‘Yellow Feather’ and realized perhaps for the first time, that Massasoit would be spoken about by people for as long as there is campfire, and fellowship, and pipes to smoke. He had lived under the Chief’s protection for all his life but only just now realized what an incredible leader the huge, rock-faced man was.

Weaquaquet’s Gift

Sunrise, the next morning, found Weaquaquet directing his braves loading supplies for the journey. The last thing they did before leaving was to go to the garden of ‘rich-land’ to find a present for the princess.

Scargo sat by the small spring which was nearly dry as the end of the long-sun days approached. Slowly she ran her hand through her hair, lifted her arm and watched as the wind snatched it from her skin and blew black, silken strands straight out like so many arrows from a hunter’s bow.

Her skin was the shade of the lightest of the maple leaves, in that time when they have changed color after the long-sun days, just before they are ready to fall off and signal the start of the white-blanket days – the dreary period when the village is covered by a cold, snowy shawl.

The laziness of the hot day was erased by the bustle of a large group of warriors who entered Nobscussett bearing many bundles. At the head of the group was her handsome Weaquaquet.

“We have brought food and skins and tools to help your people in the white-blanket days,” he told Scargo as his Braves began offering bundles to Chief Sagem. “And I have something special for you. If you accept it, then it will seal our engagement. It will remind you of me and it will grow just as my love for you. When I return we shall marry.”

At that moment, from a clearing in the woods, two Braves appeared carrying a massive orange pumpkin. It was as wide as a cow is long and almost as tall. The huge vegetable was placed in front of Scargo who examined it.

The pumpkin had been hollowed out and filled with water. Swimming inside were four shimmering fish.

“I will be back when these fingerlings are the size of your hand. Will you wait for me?”

“I will,” replied the beautiful princess. “I will keep these silvery creatures alive and growing like my love for you.”

Forging the Alliance

After dining and smoking a pipe with Sagem, Weaquaquet and his warriors left on their mission. Through knee deep snow in short-sun, and blistering heat in long-sun; the men followed Yellow Feather’s directive.

They traveled to village after village laying the groundwork for the historic alliance – that in future would save the people from slaughter by the big-boat people.

The magic men said that the strangers could carry in their hands, fire-sticks so powerful, one burst could do the work of 25 arrows in bringing down a fox, a bear or a moose.

The Nobscussett are Dying

For her part, Scargo, fed the fish every day through the short sun and into the long-sun that followed. As the fish began to grow, the massive pumpkin, that was grown in the magic earth of rich-land, began to deteriorate so she released the fish into the village’s tiny spring.

The long-sun days wore on. After two moons, the spring was almost dry and the four fish had barely enough water to keep covered. One morning when she went out to the spring she saw to her horror that one of the shimmering fish had died. The next morning another was lifeless.

“Father, Father,” she moaned. “Please come to the Spring. Please help me. My fish are dying.”

“I don’t know what to do daughter,” Sagem said sadly. “It has been many moons since your Weaquaquet left. Do you really believe he is coming back?”

Through sobs and tears that ran the length of her face, Scargo wept, “He’s coming. He will be here before the arrival of short-sun days. But we must keep the fish alive,” she begged.

One of Scargo’s tears fell from her eye, ran down to her chin and dropped into the water of the spring causing a small ripple that drew both remaining fish to it.

They nibbled at the salty tear and began joyfully splashing in the inch or two of water that remained. Before the tear, they had been dull and lifeless, but after touching the ripple of the tear, the fish shimmered anew.

Never a man moved much to talk, or to action – Sagem found inspiration in the weeping and in the fish.

He knew in an instant what he had to do.

Running to the large rock next to the spring, he leaped on top of it like a young panther and shouted: “People of Nobscusset, Our spring is dying, our fish were almost lifeless and in two or maybe three days time, we will have no water and our whole nation will die.”

Surprised villagers gathered around the rock to listen to their chief. It was the first time in anyone’s memory the sachem had ever spoken like a chief and the first time for sure that he had mounted the rock—that long ago with other chiefs, had been a council rock.

“My daughter is crying big tears. She weeps for Weaquaquet who is far away. She cries for the fish who have no water, and for the tiny village of Nobscussett. But today, we will save our nation. We will transform our little spring into a lake. Our strongest bowman will shoot an arrow from the edge of the spring. Where that arrow lands will be the other end of our lake. We will get clam shells from the Big Water and dig our lake into the shape of a fish. When we are done, we will have a lake big enough to revive our tribe and make it grow.”

“Chief Sagem, how will we fill this lake with water?,” several of the people asked at once.

“We will fill it with my daughter’s tears. It will rise to the level of the shore and will never go dry,” Sagem affirmed.

In three days of digging with clamshells, the one hundred men, women and children of the Nobscussett nation did indeed dig Scargo Lake and like a miracle – in the hot, dry afternoon – Scargo’s lake swelled with clear, cold water. It filled to the top and changed the Princess’s tears to laughter.

Here’s the Proof of the Legend of Scargo Lake

The two fish not only survived but multiplied. Their descendants swim in Scargo Lake today. Weaquaquet returned from his mission and helped ‘Yellow Feather’ form a strong alliance that would hold for more than three score years. The alliance kept all the people safe from the big-boat strangers.

The alliance helped the strangers just when the land was about to defeat them and send them back across the big water.

Some of the elders say even today (almost 400 years later) that the Strangers never would have survived if it had not been for the help of Massasoit.

The young lovers married and had many children. Both survive today in spirit at their lakes. Weaquaquet at his in what is called Centerville and Scargo in her lake in the town of Dennis.

The legend says that Scargo Lake was filled by the Princess’s tears.

The scientists say that glaciers dug and filled Scargo’s lake.

In the early 1900’s a stone tower was built at the lake. It still stands today. For free, you can go up the 28 foot tower which rests at the top of the tallest hill in all of Cape Cod.

The legend says that hill was made from the dirt scooped out by the clamshells when the lake was made by Scargo and her family.

Scientists doubt that. They have some crazy notion that a glacier gouged out the lake.

Question for the scientists. Why is Scargo Hill nearly the only steep hill on all of Cape Cod – as well as its tallest?

There are dozens of other lakes in the area but none has a hill beside it!

One thing is for sure….if you go up to the top of Scargo tower and look out…you can see all the way to Provincetown some thirty miles distant.

You can see the famous Provincetown Monument erected to commemorate the Pilgrims landing there and meeting Yellow Feather himself in 1620.

You can see miles and miles out upon the big-water. You can see where Cape Cod is connected by three bridges to the state of Massachusetts.

Oh yes….you can see something else

Just as in the legend: Scargo Lake is in the shape of one of the fish that Weaquaquet gave to his princess!

Scientists…..what do you have to say to that?

Scargo’s Lake, with the Big Water in the rear.

( Author’s note: The story of Scargo Lake and the beautiful princess who gave her name to it is another tale from Massachusetts that has a considerable basis in fact. Scargo Lake is real and there really was a beautiful Native American royal that bore the name Scargo.

I can’t prove the lake is magical but I can tell you of one experience that I had there, that was ethereal.

Like many Cape Codders, I love a good Nor’easter. More than one time, I have found myself clinging onto the rocks of a jetty on Haigus Beach in Dennis Port – in gale winds with seas as high as rooftops, just to get a close-up breath of the storm soaked air.’’

It is truly awe inspiring to drive your car to the parking lot of West Dennis Beach during a fierce storm. The tarmac runs like an island through the sand for a full mile, with ocean in front and behind.

If you drive to the end of the parking lot and face your vehicle towards Hyannis, the torment soon makes you forget that you are in a car as the heavy wind buffets you from all sides. On occasion the cyclonic wind lifts your car an inch or so in the air and rocks it from side to side.

Visibility is limited to a hundred feet or less. The road disappears as whitecaps wash over it. This experience of being in your vehicle while the storm bashes it, is as close as you can get to the seafaring experience the ancient salts had while riding out such a storm in a three masted schooner of old.

In recent years because of gale loving fools like me, the local police departments have begun closing the gates of the Cape Cod beaches during bad weather – preventing the storm riding that I so much love.

During a mini hurricane some years back, a friend and I tried to get into West Dennis beach but its heavy iron gates would not allow my car to get by. It was the same thing at Sea Street Beach, and Corporation Beach, Even the unguarded, tiny Depot Street Beach was blocked off.

We decided to head for fresh water and Scargo Beach. Success! The entrance to Scargo had not been barred. We drove to the parking lot and got out of the vehicle.

Instantly, we noticed that we had left behind the torment of the hurricane. The waters of Scargo were as calm and mild as the laziest of summer days.

In the distance we could see large trees doing the death dance with the gale force winds. But the trees surrounding Scargo were dancing nothing more than a gentle waltz and the surface of the lake was nearly as smooth as glass. For more than an hour, my friend and I waded and swam in the warm water. We ate a picnic lunch before finally deciding to go back home to South Dennis.

As soon as we drove out of the Scargo lot, it was as if we had left sanctuary. Trees were blown over, power lines were down, ambulances, and repair crews were the only other vehicles on the road. Electrical power had been lost to most homes and businesses.

And yet, Scargo Lake had been as mild and gentle as a kitten. I don’t know if this proves the magical quality of Scargo Lake, but the story is true and it was a delightful interlude in a fierce storm.)

Chapter Six: The Lady in Black

This is another story I wrote based on a Massachusetts legend. It is set during the American Civil War. Many of the names and locations are factual.

(Editor’s Note)

Based on real life people, incidents, and places.

The following is a representation of a letter written during the United States Civil War by a Confederate officer who was a prisoner of war in a compact military base on a 28 acre island in Boston Harbor.

Prison Camp

Fort Warren, Massachusetts:

To any officer of the Army of the Confederate States of America.

If you are reading this letter, then it means that you have killed or captured the Union soldier who was carrying it for me. I hope he is still alive, for this letter is to implore you to keep him so.

My name is Captain Andrew Taylor. It is December 1862. I was captured 14 months ago and have been imprisoned in Fort Warren, on an island within rifle-shot of the city of Boston.

Fort Warren is under the command of Colonel Adam Dimmick, a fine officer, even if he is on the wrong side of the war.

This letter is in two parts, the first of which is to inform you that this prison is the most humane of facilities. We are well treated and fed. We are allowed to go unfettered nearly anywhere we wish and even receive a beer and whiskey ration.

It causes me some pain, to be so well treated when so many of my brethren in chains elsewhere are not. Fortunate indeed is the soldier sent to this island.

It is for this reason that I ask you to treat kindly the man who carries this message. Please give him and his fellows the best treatment that you can. Rest assured that if you have a son, brother or relation here in Massachusetts, he will receive treatment in kind. The soldiers of Fort Warren are good men and they don’t deserve the horror we have brought to them.

You may already have received similar appeals from other prisoners here including our honorable Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens and Postmaster John Henninger.

The second part of this communication is to relate to you the true story as I saw it, of what happened to Lt. Andrew Lanier and his wife, Penelope.

The couple was married less than a month before he was captured in the early days of the war and sent to Fort Warren. There are less than 100 Union soldiers here and more than 1,000 Confederate prisoners. Our captors, as I have stated, have treated us with respect and have allowed us many unexpected freedoms. They have even smuggled out some items of correspondence for us, such as the letter Lanier wrote to his wife.

He asked his young bride to help him break free; requesting that she leave Georgia and take up residence in Hull – less than a mile away from the small island fort. There are a number of Southern sympathizers in Boston and he gave her the name of a home where she could stay while they worked out the escape plan.

Mrs. Lanier made the perilous journey from Georgia and was warmly received in Hull. She kept her purpose to herself and was regarded as a friendly and polite young woman. She was often seen on the streets of town. But what the people did not notice, was that she was systematically analyzing the defenses of the Fort. With a spy-glass, she looked across the water at the base, which was only a mile away from Hull. She was able to notate all guard posts, when the guard was changed, and how many sentries were on duty on each shift. She was able to divine the location of the barracks, the magazine, the cells, the store rooms, and even the kitchen and mess rooms.

She and her husband decided that on January 15, 1862, she would row to the island and begin the plan for her and her husband to flee Fort Warren.

On the morning of the appointed day, Mrs. Lanier chopped her long auburn hair and fashioned it to look like a man’s. She threw off her dress and all her woman’s clothing and dressed as a man. She left her lodgings for the last time and walked to a nearby beach. A rowboat was waiting for her. Into the boat she put a small pick-axe and an old pistol.

The night was stormy and it took considerable time and effort to row to George’s Island, the site of Fort Warren. At last she put ashore and crept to the fort.

She stole her way towards the jails and prostrated herself near her husband’s cell. According to plan, she whistled the first part of an old Southern song. She waited for a response but there was none.

What can have gone wrong?, she wondered. After a few minutes she thought about turning back, but decided to try again. She whistled the beginning of the song and a few seconds later, her husband answered by whistling the second part.

She rose from the ground and was able to squeeze through the bars of the cell into the arms of her husband. The plan called for the husband to use the axe to remove the bars, and then the couple was to use the rowboat to leave the island.

The other prisoners in the cell demanded that they be included. Lanier explained that the rowboat could not hold them all. Finally the plan was changed and a new scheme was hatched. The prisoners decided to dig a tunnel from the cells to the Ammunition Magazine. They believed that once they controlled the weapons and bullets, that they could take over the whole fort.

For weeks the soldiers dug their big hole. When the project was nearly completed a guard heard the blow of a pick-axe and discovered the tunnel and the bewildered soldiers.

With their backs literally against the wall, the soldiers were forced to surrender to the Union guards. All except for one. A short, slight man refused and displayed an ancient pistol.

“Get back all of you or I will kill the Colonel,” said the defiant youngster, pointing the weapon at Dimmick’s head. Lieutenant Lanier and I are leaving. Let us pass or your Colonel is dead.”

The guards began to close in and the young soldier fired the old weapon. The barrel of the aged gun exploded and the bullet went wildly into the heart of Lt. Lanier. He was dead almost as soon as he fell to the ground. The young soldier who had fired the weapon began to wail and moan louder even than the Nor’easter that was pounding the fort.

The guards immediately arrested the shooter and soon discovered that it was a woman. She was overcome with grief and unable to speak. The conspirators finally told the guards that it was Mrs. Lanier, and that she had shot and killed her own husband.

Mrs. Lanier was tried and convicted for her role in the escape plot. Colonel Dimmick had no choice and he sentenced her to hang. On the day of the execution, the Colonel asked her if she had a last request. All she wanted, she said, was to give up the man clothing she was wearing and be hanged in woman’s garb. A search of the fort produced an old black gown that had been used previously in an entertainment.

Mrs. Lanier went bravely to her death, dressed in the long black robes.

She was buried on the island and that should have been the end of it, but in the months since she was executed there have been dozens of reported sightings of a ghostlike woman dressed all in black. One guard deserted his post and was court marshaled. He claimed that a sepia clad spirit attacked him with an ancient pistol. He said she fired at him, so he fired back. He claimed that his shot went right through the woman’s head, but had no effect. He ran until he collapsed, exhausted and feverish.

Three soldiers walking under the great arch at the entrance to the fort discovered in the fresh snow, five impressions of a woman’s shoe leading nowhere and coming from nowhere. There are no women on the island.

When a guard was climbing to the top of the ladder that leads to the corridor of dungeons, he heard a woman’s voice warning him, “Don’t come in here!” He took the advice.

For some time, a traditional poker game was played every week, in the old ordinance storeroom. At ten o‘clock one night, a stone was rolled across the whole length of the floor. All the men were at the table and the stone moved by itself. The next week there were fewer guards at the game and the stone rolled again. After it happened a third time, there was no more poker game.

The spectral “Lady in Black” has been seen dozens of times in the past several months. Spirits (those of the guards) are very low and even we prisoners are uneasy about these events. If this letter reaches the Confederacy, I am asking that a prisoner exchange be arranged. I propose we exchange 24 Union soldiers for the bodies of Lt. and Mrs. Lanier. If their corpses are taken back to Georgia and buried in Southern soil, then perhaps the “Lady in Black” will find peace and haunt this island no more.

Yours Very Truly,

Captain Andrew Taylor

Chapter Seven: Solving the Coldest Case in the United States!

The next chapter brings us back to Massachusetts to have a look at one of the strangest missing person case you will ever read about. In the headline for the chapter, I hint that the case is solved. It is and it isn’t. It’s all part of what makes this odd tale, perhaps one of the most perplexing in history.

Joan Risch – Abducted 50 Years Ago – Look to Casey Anthony For the Solution

The year, 2015, marked the 54thanniversary of the strangest case of abduction and disappearance in the long history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

A toddler’s pleas for help were the first signs of trouble.

Mommy is gone. My baby brother is crying and there’s red paint all over the kitchen”, the chilling words came from four year old Lillian Risch.

The terrified little girl fled from her house to the home of next door neighbor, Mrs. Barbara Barker.

Mrs. Barker later told police that she ran to the Risch house and was unable to find the child’s Mother, Joan. She said that she feared the ’red paint’ was blood. There was some on the floor and some on a wall. Traces of it led out the front door and right up to Mrs. Risch’s car in the driveway. The kitchen phone had been ripped from the wall and thrown in a wastebasket. One chair was overturned but nothing else in the house seemed out of place.

Running up the stairs after hearing a baby’s cry, Mrs. Barker found two year old David safe and unharmed in his crib. She took the two children to her home and called the police.

From the records of the Massachusetts State Police and the local, Lincoln Mass. Police: here are the facts in the case.

At 1630 Hours (4:30 p.m.) on October 24, 1961, Mrs. Barbara Barker called Lincoln Police Chief Leo Algeo. He took one look and notified State Police.

Mass. State Patrolmen along with District Atty. John J. Droney and Lt. George Harnois hurried to the house on Old Bedford Road.

Detectives found what seemed to be a fairly large amount of blood in the kitchen, as well as a trail of blood spatters leading outside. The droplets stopped at Mrs. Risch’s car, which was parked in her driveway.

But for the overturned chair and the ripped out telephone, everything in the home was in place. No cabinets had been ransacked. No drawers were pulled out.

The wastebasket that contained the phone, was brimful with tin cans and one empty whiskey bottle.

A bloody left thumb print was on the wall next to where the phone had been.

There was an address book opened to a page with emergency numbers. An attempt had been made by someone to clean up the blood with a kitchen cloth. No weapons of any sort were found. Other than the blood, there was no indication that a weapon had been used. There were no marks, dents, or damage to walls or any objects in the kitchen. An immediate search was launched of the area surrounding the home. It was later supplemented and expanded by land based vehicles and helicopters. No trace of the missing woman was found.

Lab reports soon confirmed that the blood was indeed that of 31 year old housewife, Joan Risch. Despite checking over 5,000 sets of fingerprints, police were unable to ever determine whose thumbprint was etched in blood on the wall.

Mrs. Risch’s husband, Martin, a paper mill executive, was on a New York City business trip the day his wife disappeared. He was quickly ruled out as a suspect. He told the authorities that he and his wife had a good marriage, no money troubles and they loved the Old Bedford Street house they had purchased a short time before his wife’s disappearance. They paid over $25,000 for the home which was in a ‘nice’ neighborhood.

Police theorized that Mrs. Risch had been abducted. They believed that she was led outside and forced into a car or carried off into nearby woods.

Neighbors reported seeing a blue car in the driveway alongside of Mrs. Risch’s car in the early afternoon. Mrs. Barker said that she saw Mrs. Risch in her driveway around 2:30 p.m. She was wearing an overcoat and was dressed for outdoors.

Mrs. Risch’s son was upstairs in his crib and her daughter was playing with a neighbor child most of the afternoon in Mrs. Barker’s yard. Mrs. Barker said that the little girl went home around four p.m. and returned about a half hour later to ask for help.

The girl’s words are interesting. She did not say “Mommy is hurt”. She did not tell of a fight or a strange man in the house. She said, “Mommy is gone” and she added that “the baby won’t stop crying”, and told of ‘red paint’ in the kitchen.

So it appears that Mrs. Risch disappeared sometime between 2:30 when she was seen in her driveway, and four p.m. when the daughter went back home – to discover: that her Mother had gone, there was ‘red paint splattered in the kitchen’, and that her little brother was crying.

As the days went by, bits of information leaked to the newspapers. The amount of blood in the house was actually determined to be a small amount – about as much as you’d get from a nosebleed. Police hinted that the car spotted in the driveway was actually an undercover police car. Why was an undercover car sitting in the driveway of a prominent, wealthy, law abiding suburban housewife?

Several persons recounted tales of seeing a woman fitting the description of Mrs. Risch walking on busy Route 128 which leads to Boston.

The case takes a surprising twist – reminiscent of Casey Anthony’s looking up chloroform on her computer. Back in 1961 Joan Risch did not have a computer, but she did have a free public library.

Sareen Gerson, a reporter for the Lincoln weekly newspaper, found an eerie clue when perusing a book about Brigham Young’s 27th wife who had mysteriously disappeared.

In the 1960s, libraries pasted a check-out card on the back page of every book. The card had pre-printed lines which were filled in by the librarian telling the name of the borrower and the due date of the book. Gerson was shocked when she looked at the checkout card and noticed that Joan Risch had borrowed the book just two months before her disappearance.

One book could be a coincidence so Gerson kept snooping through the stacks and spotted a book called “Into Thin Air”. It was about a woman who vanished, leaving no trace except for BLOOD SPATTERS AND A TOWEL.

With shaking hands, Gerson thumbed to the back of the book to see who had recently borrowed it. PAYDIRT!

Joan Risch had also borrowed this book shortly before she vanished, leaving no trace except for blood spatters and a towel.

A group of volunteers was quickly assembled and they found 25 similar books that Joan Risch had checked out during the Summer and the Fall right up to the time of her own disappearance.

One or two books might be surprising but hardly enough to justify full blown suspicion. But 25 books is like a lighthouse in a storm. You can see only one solution.

The evidence is circumstantial but plentiful – Mrs. Risch planned and carried out her own abduction.

She had wealth and thus the means to buy another car for her getaway and for a new start somewhere else.

Why would a young woman want to disappear? In her case, there may have been several reasons.

She graduated from an exclusive college and prior to her marriage had a lucrative career in publishing.

Some have speculated that she missed her professional life and that she had discovered that she was again pregnant and dreaded the thought of another child.

Some have theorized that she wanted a divorce. Marriages were much harder to dissolve in 1961 than they are now. Also, access to abortion, was considerably more restricted than it is today.

Further, she had lost her parents when she was only nine years old. They died under mysterious circumstances in a fire. It is not known if she was with the parents when they died.

She was adopted and was reportedly abused by her step father.

“The whole thing added up to our feeling that she had planned the disappearance and was looking for a way to do it,’‘ said reporter Gerson, in a 2009 interview.

In August, Mrs. Risch – or whatever she might be calling herself now – will turn 80 years old. Her former husband died a few years ago. Her two children, now in their 50s, still think about her.

A reporter asked her son David, who never married and lived with his Dad right up until Mr. Risch died (he never re-married), …. “Where do you think your Mom is now?” David Risch answered, “In heaven, I hope.”

Chapter Eight: Cape Cod Murders: Real and Imagined

This chapter tells another story proving that truth is stranger than fiction. It will be told in two parts. The first part is the imagined murder. It takes place in a Hollywood film. The second part of the story is real and happens many years after the movie; yet the gruesome story is strikingly similar to the cinematic murder.

The biggest difference between the two cases: In the Hollywood treatment, they caught the bad guy!

Here then, is the story of Cape Cod Murders:

Part One. Murder on Old Cape Cod

CASE ONE: Imagined

Status: Solved – by Ricardo Montalban

Location filming: Scollay Square in Boston and Hyannis in Cape Cod.

The year is 1950

Leonard Spiglegass wrote the screenplay for a film called Mystery Street. In it, a young girl discovers the skeleton of a woman brutally murdered near a beach in Hyannis village – part of the town of Barnstable.

No clothing is found. No identification of the woman is possible. Barnstable police officer Peter Moralas (Ricardo Montalban) teams up with Harvard University using amazing (for the time period) facial reconstruction techniques to establish the identity of the murdered woman.

The film shows Harvard professors skillfully putting photos of faces on the dead woman’s skull, long before computer imaging and such made the technique relatively easy. Montalban fights racism and a bad guy and manages to solve the crime in this movie, which was the first film to be shot on location in Boston and on Cape Cod.

John Sturges took Spiglegass’s story and directed the low budget MGM entry so masterfully that it transcended its pauper budget and earned high praise from such institutions as Time Magazine and the New York Times.

Also featured are Elsa Lanchester, Jan Sterling, Marshall Thompson, Sally Forrest and Bruce Bennett. Willard Waterman pleases in a cameo appearance as an undertaker. He played the Great Gildersleeve on television and on radio from about 1950 to 1957.

This film noir merits a look. Turner Classic Movies plays in on occasion. It was put out on DVD in 2007 paired with another great dark film: ‘Act of Violence’ with Van Heflin and Robert Ryan as two WW2 vets who meet violently in peacetime.

CASE TWO: REAL: Status – Awaiting Solution.

The year 1974. Twenty Four years after Mystery Street.

The Location: The dunes of Race Point Beach in Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod.

In late July, a 13 year old girl walking her beagle, makes a grim discovery. Among the sandy dunes near the water, she sees the nude body of a woman lying on one side of a large beach towel.

The lady’s head, resting on a pair of jeans, has been nearly severed.

The teenager who made the discovery is spared the grisly details that are uncovered a short time later by the authorities: Cause of death - a blow to the head.

Both hands of the victim had been meticulously cut off, apparently to prevent identification by fingerprints. The woman was almost decapitated, seemingly by an item such as a military entrenching tool. The left side of the skull had been crushed. No weapon was found at the scene. The missing hands were never found.

The lady was lying on half the towel as if she had been sharing it. Police say that there was no sign of a struggle. No items of clothing were found other than the jeans her head was placed upon and a bandanna.

It is estimated that the victim had been murdered two to three weeks before her corpse was discovered. Police believe that she was between 25 and 40 years old. She had long red or auburn hair. Her jeans were waist size 34 and inseam 31. She was said to be about 5’6’’ tall with a body weight of 140 pounds. Her toenails were painted pink.

The one remarkable feature that has confounded the authorities for years is the woman’s teeth. She had extensive dental work. It is estimated that the gold crowns she had, probably cost five to ten thousand dollars when done almost forty years ago. It would seem that the number of women who had this kind of work done would be small and that a dental trail could be established. Police have sniffed for this path for decades and have not found a single lead.

Some people theorize that the reason for this is that the woman was a criminal and her dental work was done through contacts in the underworld. They add fuel to this fire by speculating that the hands were removed because she had a criminal record and was fingerprinted by police.

The theory gained further momentum when it was suspected that the dead woman was named Rory Gene Kesinger. Kesinger was serving time in Massachusetts as a convicted murderer and bank robber. She escaped jail a short time before the discovery of the body of the Lady in the Dunes.

It was speculated that Kesinger’s associates helped to spring her from the pen and then rubbed her out to guarantee she would never talk.

Kesinger fits the description of the murdered woman and she has never been sighted since her escape from prison.

A few years ago the authorities exhumed the remains of the Lady in the Dunes and extracted a DNA sample. They located Kesinger’s Mother somewhere in the Midwest and they tried to match up the two samples. The police were pretty sure they would have a match………but the results said that the dead woman was NOT Rory Gene Kesinger.

One year ago, P-town Police Chief Jeff Jaran released a new composite image of the woman. He hopes the photo will generate some fresh leads.

Compounding the problems of a 39 year old cold case, is the seasonal nature of Cape Cod in general and Provincetown in particular.

Provincetown has a winter population of about 2,000 people and if the killing had happened on January 26 instead of July 26, the crime would have been solved in 26 minutes.

In Summer the village explodes. On a given Sunday there might be 100,000 visitors and seasonal residents in town. Imagine if New York city’s July population expanded like Cape Cod’s…if it did, there would be about one half of a billion people in the Big Apple.

Further hampering the investigation is the fact that the visitors come from all around the world. The murdered woman could have as easily been from Paris as from Boston or Toronto or Atlanta or anywhere.

Chapter Nine: The Right Whales

What follows is certainly not a spectral tale, but it is very odd in its own right.

There are only 475 Right Whales on earth. The hulking fish-like mammals have some 350 million cubic miles of ocean to swim in. In point of fact, oceans cover 70 per cent of the planet.

So, with an enormous backyard to play in, that literally takes up most of the globe, why would about half of the entire population gather in a single spot no more than ten miles long?

That is the question scientists all over the world asked two years ago when more than 200 of the massive creatures gathered just a few hundred yards from the sand dunes in Provincetown bay at the tip of Cape Cod.

They began arriving early. In mid winter, the Cape Cod Canal had to be shut down for a few hours as a pair of the endangered mammals swam through. In February there were scattered sightings. Through March and into April, observers could see them on Whale Watch boats or even from the beaches of outer Cape Cod.

Right Whales were once abundant, but by the early 1900s, whalers from Cape Cod, Fall River, New Bedford and Long Island; and around the globe, nearly wiped out the whole population of Right Whales.

Amazingly, over half of the less than 500 survivors, gathered in 2014 in Cape Cod Bay near Provincetown. On one day alone, 100 of the 60 foot long, highly acrobatic creatures were spotted off Race Point Beach. The final tally made by the scientists from Woods Hole, indicated that more than 200 individual whales were concentrated in the tiny area.

No one knows who called the meeting of giants which was documented by a number of researchers including those from the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies. They made a reconnaissance flight and spotted the 100 whales in seven hours.

Dr. Charles Mayo of the Center, was quoted in the Boston Globe, with a scholarly speculation on why the giants converged on Massachusetts. I boiled down his dissertation into a single sentence………

They flocked to the Cape for the same reasons that millions of tourists flood the little island off the Massachusetts coast – the great beaches and the fabulous seafood.

While the typical tourist in Hyannis, Dennis Port, or Provincetown might be looking for a ‘Lobster and Shrimp’ feast, the Right Whales prefer plankton. And that’s a good thing because I’d hate to think of them gobbling up the lobsters. At 40 to 60 feet, these guys and gals are bigger than an 18 wheel truck, and can weigh up to almost 200,000 pounds.

Cape Cod has a superabundance of the Plankton and apparently the whale hotline has gotten that information out to the entire community, because more and more of them are gracing the surf and sandy beaches every year.

You can instantly tell a Right Whale from other types by the crusty patches on their heads.

Another thing that makes these whales unique is the “V” shaped pattern of the breach, created by the unusual position of their blow holes.

The breach of a right whale as photographed by a U.S. Government research team.

The whales have continued to gather in overwhelming numbers on Cape Cod every summer season.

If you come to the Cape to see them in person, the two best land-based spots to see the congregation are the Herring Cove and Race Point beaches in Provincetown. Some of the whales are just a few yards off the beach! Others are about a quarter mile out.

If you want to get closer, you can whale watch from any of dozens of boats that specialize in whale watches, but often there are so many of the mammoth beauties, you can save the money and just relax on the beach.

You will see the breathtaking sight of the breaching of one of the rarest creatures in all the world.

I live in South Dennis in mid-cape, about 40 minutes away from the center of the watch. For years I have been checking the beaches across the street from me.

During my most recent quest, I did not spot any whales; but I gave myself a consolation prize. I made my way up Swan River Road to West Dennis and discovered a great Shrimp & Scallop feast at one of the Cape’s oldest and finest seafood palaces – ‘Kreme and Kone‘.

I didn’t get to see a whale but at least I ate enough to look like one!

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If you have enjoyed this book, please check out Bill Russo’s other titles available in paperback from all major online retailers.

Including “Swamp TalesHorrors from the Hockomock Swamp and the Marshes of Cape Cod. (This book, the first in the Jimmy Catfish series, is free on all websites)

The book has a number of camp fire yarns, some of which are based on Bridgewater Triangle myths. The first part of the Jimmy Catfish saga is one of the stories. Scary Joe Santini, a millionaire land preservationist, relates a hair raising adventure about the unlucky consequences of modern day theft of land from Native Americans. Several more odd narratives are included. These stories may be just legends – but perhaps there is more of misadventure than myth, in them. You will be the judge of that.

Jimmy Catfish

The Beginning and The End

Completing a an epic saga that was begun in ‘Swamp Tales’, Anse Peckins of the Myrth Radio Hour, tells the complete, epic tale of Jimmy Catfish and the unusual parents who gave him life.

The story starts out far across the Atlantic where two young men leave their homeland in the last commercially operating wooden three masted sailing ship. In 1950s America, they live the adventurous sea life of old; making one ocean crossing after another, until misfortune forces one of the men, Cisco da Silva, to retire on Cape Cod. He lost his legs during an historic Nor’easter. But when he gets to Cape Cod, his troubles really begin.

Visit the Bill Russo, Creature From the Bridgewater Triangle, Author Page for a listing of all of Bill’s work.

Other books by Bill Russo

 

 

 

Crossing the Musical Color Line

Stories of iconic singers and musicians known or interviewed by the author during a long career in radio and as a newspaper editor.

The Ghosts of Cape Cod – available as an E-book and in paperback. Also available as an audio book with narration by Scott R. Pollak of National Public Radio

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The Creature From the Bridgewater Triangle: and other Odd Tales from New England

Bill Russo's riveting story, as seen on National Television on 'Monsters and Mysteries in America', and on 'America's Bermuda Triangle'; as well as in the award winning documentary film, 'The Bridgewater Triangle'. Bill Russo's story, as seen on National Television on 'Monsters and Mysteries in America', and on 'America's Bermuda Triangle'; as well as in the award winning documentary film, 'The Bridgewater Triangle'. Bill Russo had lived for over 20 years in Southeastern Massachusetts and had no idea of the strange beings that lurked in the nearby swamp, until he met one on a dark night. Three feet tall, covered in hair, it walked to a circle of light cast by an overhead street-lamp. Raising a furry paw, it beckoned him to come closer; then the pot bellied, big eyed thing spoke: - "Keer, Keer. Eeee Wan chu."

  • Author: Bill Russo
  • Published: 2016-09-10 23:20:46
  • Words: 38566
The Creature From the Bridgewater Triangle: and other Odd Tales from New England The Creature From the Bridgewater Triangle: and other Odd Tales from New England