The Rose Files
True Scary Stories from Life
The (Possibly Haunted?) Benjamin Abbott House

                                      ~ By Rose Titus ~


   Many decades ago when I was a kid, we used to go down a long back road into
the next town, where there was an ice cream parlor.  Behind the ice cream parlor
were railroad tracks, and across the street was a beautiful meadow filled with tall
grass and flowers.  I recall horses behind a fence in the meadow, too.

And on the other side of the meadow was a huge and mysterious old house,
which I often noticed but did not think much about.  It was big, it was old, and it
was just…  well, it was just there.  Being a kid, I was much more concerned about
my ice cream at the time.  And looking at the horses.

   Years later I moved into that same town with the big old house.   I saw the
meadow now filled with new suburban homes; the ice cream parlor is now a pizza
place.  And the big old house is still there, just the same as it always was.

   After having become acquainted with its current owner, I have come to learn it
is listed with the National Register of Historic Places, as it was built in 1685.   And
there is apparently plenty of history under this old roof.

   Built by Benjamin Abbott so that he and his wife Sarah could have a farm and
raise a family, all was not happiness in those days.  In 1692, his neighbor, Martha
Carrier, was arrested for the very serious crime of witchcraft, as Mr. Abbott
blamed her for causing him a swollen foot along with an open sore on his side.  
Martha was already considered an outcast in the community, as she shamefully
had a child outside of wedlock and married below her station.  Coincidentally, the
strange illness occurred after they argued, and after her arrest, his strange
wounds began to heal.

   Martha Carrier was brought to Salem and tried and hanged along with other
witches.  It has been said that the infamous and cold-hearted Cotton Mather
called her the “Queen of Hell.”

   As time went on, a descendant of Benjamin Abbott married a descendant of
Martha Carrier’s sister, and the families were united under one roof.

   The site is said to have been in the middle of an Indian raid at one point in
time, as a local tribe came along looking for bloody revenge after white men
attacked their village, killing many women and children.

   The homestead was also used as a meeting place for abolitionists before the
Civil War.

   An earthquake struck the area in the past century, and you can see where the
shaking of the land moved some of the wooden beams slightly to the wrong
direction.
But yet, with all the tragedy, the proud old house still stands.

   Today, the well-preserved house is actually on its way to becoming a
museum.  Its owner, herself a descendant of an accused witch, has made the
house into a project, collecting period furniture to go with the house.

   Inside the house there are fireplaces large enough to stand in, the ceilings are
low, leading one to believe that people were shorter back then.  Many of the
rooms have no electricity, and are to be kept in “original condition.”

   The home was recently opened for a guided tour by the town’s historical
society, where visitors were told about the witch trials, the Indian attack, and the
abolitionists, and each restored room had its own story to tell.

   Its owner also tells me of her belief that the old place might be haunted…

   “Really?”

   “Yes,” she confirms, she does think it to be quite haunted.

   “Well…  have you actually seen a ghost?”

   “No.  But I hear things at night.  Sometimes a knock on an inside door...  I go to
answer it, and no one is there.”

   Once in a while she considers calling in professional ghost hunters.  The
thought of that fascinates me, for what would they discover if they came?

   Is it the ghost of the tragic Martha Carrier, crying out for justice?

   Or perhaps it is the echo of the Native American souls who lost their families to
the rapacious greed of the cruel white man?

   Could it be one of the past residents of the house who died in the so-called
“death bed,” which is still in the house, on display, as it was explained to visitors,
if you got sick, they put you in that bed, for without modern medicine, you were
expected to just die?

   Could it be the ladies of the anti-slavery society, still holding their meetings for
eternity?

   Or perhaps the spirits include all of the above?

   I admire her ability to co-exist with these spectral beings, for if I had spirits in
my house, I’d tell them to be quiet, as I need to get up for work in the morning, as
all modern people unfortunately do.  Not that they would listen, of course.

   Recently I drove her home from a local store, and went in to help her carry in
some cases of beer she bought.  The door was left open, and as I turned to
leave, it slammed shut, the lock bolting, apparently by itself.

   “Did it lock?” she asked.

   I checked the lock, “Yeah.  It did.”

   We both looked, and had a nervous laugh from it.  Was it the wind?  Or was it
something else?

   I do not know which spirits still haunt this old homestead.  But I do know that
this old house still stands, as it has for centuries, there since the birth of this
United States, and as the landscape and society changed around it, as farms
became condominiums, the house remains the same, its front door opening into
New England’s fabled and sometimes tragic past.

   The train runs by, cars pull into the parking lot across the street at the pizza
parlor, and the modern world whirls around, but the old house still remains in its
own century.