Some Hampton Ghosts Have A Sense Of Humor
By Norma C. Adams
Thursday, July 8, 1982
HAMPTON -- On a cold winter night, not long ago, a young boy snuggled under the quilts of his antique four-poster bed.
As he started to doze he could hear the faint murmur of his mother's voice talking on the phone in the kitchen downstairs. All was peaceful in the century-old house that evening since he and his mother were alone.
Then he heard it.
Strains of silver-toned waltz music coming up the stairwell. The music sounded, he told his mother later, as if it were being played on one of those old- fashioned gramophones. It had a distinctive tinny sound. And it was coming from the living room, directly below his bedroom.
Curious, he jumped out of bed and investigated -- "When did his mother buy one of those old machines? Why hadn't he noticed it when he came up the stairs?," he asked himself.
The music got louder as he descended the stairs, but when he looked under the second story landing to see if he could discover the source of the quaint music, it stopped abruptly.
Nowhere in that house did he or his mother ever find a source to explain that music. The mother, who had been in the kitchen, (much closer to the living room than the boy's room,) did not hear any part of the music.
Lingering "spirits" who favored the music of Strauss?
The Ghostly Hand
In another part of town, again in a very old house, a young man in his 20s settled down to go to bed. He took off his pajama shirt as it was a hot night and plunked down between the sheets after turning off the lights.
He rolled over on his stomach and started to doze into blissful sleep, when a rigid cold hand rested itself on his exposed shoulder.
He bolted upright and turned on the bedside light, fully expecting to see someone standing there.
There was no one.
He says he knew instinctively it was a woman's hand.
A "spirit" trying to materialize to tell the young man he was in her private bedroom?
These are stories about unusual happenings told by serious, sober people.
Who knows how many similar stories could be told by different people about all kinds of experiences that are unexplainable in logical or scientific terms?
Most tales, even the fanciful ones, will probably go unrecorded. When an encounter of this type is being retold, a shadow of a doubt crossing the listener's face, or a supercilious look, can seal the lips of the teller.
Hampton's Only Witch
Hampton, like most old towns, has its fair share of legends and "ghosts." And not all visitations are limited to old houses.
According to the dictionary, a "ghost" is the supposed disembodied spirit of a dead person appearing as a pale shadowy apparition."
That is certainly an apt description for what is written about Eunice "Goody" Cole, probably the most famous ghost in the Seacoast area.
In the 301 years since her death, she reportedly has been seen by a good number of people over the years, wandering around town, usually near Park Avenue, maybe still in distress because she was accused with the "vehement suspicion of having had familiarity with the devil."
It is a matter of record that she was the only woman to be convicted of witchcraft in this state, though she was accused of the heinous crime along with six other women. The court system of the day had her in and out of prison for many years in her later life, and though she died at home in 1680 in Hampton (it is not recorded exactly where), she was scorned, hated, and treated with disdain and fear unto her death.
The legend says that a vindictive mob of people carried her body to a trench beside a road where she was buried with a stake impaled in her.
A second legend states that sympathetic townspeople removed the body from the roadside ditch and placed it in a grave in a spot near Park Avenue.
It is there, at Park Avenue where the spirit of "Goody" Cole can still be seen wandering in discontent, according to several citizens' reports.
She has been described as being very old, sad, bent over with age, wearing a shawl over her head and shoulders. She displays a demeanor, it is written, that would indicate a loss of faith in humanity.
Her "discontent" however, was supposedly put to rest in 1938 when the good citizens of Hampton unanimously adopted a town resolution giving "Goody" Cole her just place as a citizen of the town, and providing ceremonies whereby [copies of] all official documents concerning "Goody's" case were burned and the ashes interred with soil from her grave in an urn.
In 1963, the town dedicated a permanent monument to Goody Cole at Meetinghouse Green Memorial Park in Hampton. This is the area enclosed by Winnacunnet Road, Park Avenue and Lafayette Road.
Though most sightings of the shabby, elderly woman were reported before the memorial was installed, the fact that she has been seen since then is noteworthy.
And the sightings were usually reported by people with little or no interest in seeking out disembodied spirits.
Is "Goody" a lost soul whose misery cannot be put to rest by any persons other than her peers of the 17th century?
Next, there is the famous legend of the "haunted house" on Lafayette Road, that grand Colonial structure known as the General Jonathan Moulton house.
Just about everyone in Hampton has read or heard about the "deal" that the General supposedly struck with the devil In exchange for "his boots to be made full of (gold) guineas on the first of every month."
Legend says the General cut the soles out of his boots in an effort to outsmart the devil in the deal and become even more wealthy than he already was in his 18th-century contracts with the locals.
The General's business contracts were at the expense of the unsophisticated of the day, according to the legend.
The story goes that the General built for himself and his two wives (in proper sequence, of course) the grandest house in the area. That house is now (1982) occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Olbres. Mr. Olbres is an architect.
In the General's time, the Moulton house stood several hundred feet east of where it is now. The house was moved in 1922 to the corner of Drakeside and Lafayette Roads. The house was put on rollers and pulled by a horse and buggy, to allow the state to straighten out a stretch of Lafayette Road.
It is written that the General's only real match was the devil himself, although the devil eventually got his due. The General died in 1787, but it was during his own lifetime that rumors of hauntings in his home began.
The Haunting Begins
Legend has it that after the General's first wife died of smallpox, he married his wife's companion.
This was against the wishes of his children (he had 10), and apparently, with little thought, he gave his first wife's jewelry to his new wife.
It is said the first wife's ghost entered the wedding chamber of her husband and his new bride and removed rings from the horrified bride's fingers. Rings that the spirit believed were justly hers.
The new wife was reported to say she had heard the gentle and well-known rustle of the dead wife's silken clothing as she ascended the broad staircase and entered the bridal chamber.
Residents of the old house, over the many years since the General's time, have given varied reports of "hauntings" but many claimed they have lived there undisturbed.
If "spirits" do exist there, they seem to dwell in the back of the main house, the area which houses a kitchen with a huge fireplace, a few adjoining rooms and a small bath.
It does seem that the people who encounter the unusual are most often the most philosophically skeptical observers.
One such disbelieving observer had occasion to be in the Moulton house several years ago, and he conceded recently there is something there he cannot explain.
When Miss Catherine Little lived there alone, some years ago, she acquired a watch dog, he recalls.
"When that dog first came to live there," the man says, "he was a calm, quiet, relaxed animal. Not a great watch dog type. Almost immediately,though, the dog changed. He became nervous, tense, with his ears cocked, always appearing to be listening and watching for unseen and unheard things," such as uninvited presences.
Taken away from the house, Miss Little's dog once again became a carefree mutt with the temperament of an indifferent child. Returned to the house, the animal reverted to intense stress and watchfulness, the observer says.
How can the dog's behavioral changes be explained? Are animals more sensitive to unseen "forces" just as they hear higher pitches than can be heard by the human ear?
Miss Little was hospitalized for several years before she died and a handyman was engaged to look after the empty house.
The handyman tells of hearing footsteps always in the kitchen area of the house in the rear, when he was in the cellar checking out the furnace. On investigation, no one was ever there, he says, "and don't tell me it was the house settling, because I know honest-to-goodness footsteps when I hear them." Since he locked doors and windows behind him as he went, including the entrance he used, the man was mystified.
On other occasions, water in the lavatory would start running for no apparent reason, doors would slam and latch as he stood and watched, "and there were no drafts or open windows to cause it," he says.
A Humorous Ghost?
While giving his brother and sister-in-law a tour of the "haunted" house, the man says he went speechless as he and his brother watched the sister- in-law approach one of the kitchen rooms and strangely fall forward as if she had tripped. But she never even touched the floor. It was as if someone had eased her from a standing position, then back up again. But the amazing thing was, she never even touched the floor," the man says with awe.
He says they were "skittish" about the place after that, so they left.
Is that what the unseen had in mind?
And there are more stories about Hampton's "ghosts." A boy, whose name was Valentine Marston, was killed in an gun accident in front of his home on Lafayette Road back on [October 12th] 1890. He was eleven years old, and for many years after the accident, he was reportedly seen sitting in the road, wearing the little blue sailor suit babies of that day often wore.
The house he lived in no longer exists, according to Hampton natives, but one native says it stood about where Simone's House of Pancakes is now (1982), on U.S. Route 1, north of the town center on the west side of the road.
However, there is a house in Hampton that is now for sale (879 Lafayette Road; house has since been moved. See here.) Though no one would confirm it, the house is supposedly haunted by uninvited guests which are very troublesome to the residents of the house.
For obvious reasons, the owners choose not to discuss the goings-on, even anonymously. That is one "ghost" story we will probably have to wait a hundred years to read about.
All in all, Hampton's ghosts seem to be kindly spirits. No one tells of ever being hurt by one of the spectral visitors.
It may be the presence of the living is more bothersome to the spirits than the other way around.