The year is 1720 and a ship of Irish immigrants departed from Ireland in search of a new life in the New World. They left Londonderry, Ireland for their destination for New Hampshire. The ship "Wolf" carried these immigrants across the Atlantic but fate would intervene. As the "Wolf" neared the coast of New England, it was attacked and boarded by Spanish pirates led by a captain named Don Pedro.
Under Don Pedro's orders, the pirates prepared to slaughter the crew and the passengers. As their cutlasses were raised, the unmistakable cries of a baby were heard coming from below the deck. Don Pedro stopped his crew out of his superstitious fears that killing a baby on a ship would curse him and his crew. He ordered the baby be brought to the deck. The little girl was the captain's daughter Mary Wilson. As her father Captain James Wilson and his wife Elizabeth watched, Don Pedro softened his heart and ordered his crew to return to the pirate ship and they soon returned with packages and gifts for the infant girl.
One of the presents wrapped in brown paper was a fancy green lace dress. Don Pedro decreed to the Wilson's that in exchange for sparing the lives of the people on the ship, little Mary would one day wear this gown for her wedding. He then left the ship and they landed in New England. As the years passed, Mary grew into a tall, beautiful red headed woman and married a man named James Wallace. They had four sons and the years passed. Over time Wallace died leaving Mary and her sons behind. Each one grew and married but never moved far from their mother.
The day came when Don Pedro decided to retire to New Hampshire as well and his curiosity soon led him to find out what ever happened to that little girl he spared so many years before on the open seas. He found the widow Mary Wallace and invited her to visit him in the mansion he built near Henniker. When she did, he asked her to live with him and help take care of him. She did and for 10 years she entertained guests and friends on the spacious estate.
One evening Mary heard Don Pedro return from a trip to the coast with some other voices. She looked out the back of the house and saw Pedro and a large man burying a black trunk in the field under some trees.
When he returned to the house later, she asked him what was going on in the field but he told her not to worry about it and refused to speak about it. It was a year later and Mary was returning to the estate from the Henniker. When she arrived, no one was there to greet her. Upon investigation the servants were huddled in a garden shed scared to death. Her anxiety rising she searched the estate and soon found Don Pedro dead in the orchard with a cutlass shoved through his back pinning his lifeless body to the ground. He was dead for many hours at that point.
Keeping to his final wishes, Mary buried the pirate beneath the kitchen hearthstone. Rumors spread afterward about who Don Pedro really was and his life as a pirate. Soon treasure hunters scoured the estate looking for treasure but to no avail. Mary's sons fought in the American Revolution afterwards settling in homes close to their mother. She lived until 1814 dying at the age of 94. The Ocean Born Mary house as it was known stayed in the Wallace family estate for almost 100 years until it was sold to the Roy family.
During that 100 year period, the house was rented repeatedly but tenants only stayed for a short time before moving out without reason according to the legend. By 1910 the house was run down and rumored to be haunted. Locals would claim to see a carriage with a tall red haired woman appear near the estate and ride up to the door where the woman would exit the carriage to disappear into the night. Those brave enough to look in the windows occasionally reported seeing a tall auburn haired woman gliding down the main stair case.
Eight years later Mrs. Roy and her bachelor son Louis moved into the mansion. There was a tremendous hurricane that year. Louis went out in the gale to secure the barn and when he returned to the house supposedly his mother asked him "Who helped you with the barn?" He replied, "No one". She said, "There was a woman outside with you." She told him as he was shoring up the barn a woman appeared with him and when he finished she disappeared as he returned to the house. Louis insisted there was no one with him at the barn.
Soon the Roys claimed the same woman would appear in the house and around the estate. They believed the phantom was Mary and she was there to protect the house. She would appear on the staircase and in the house and supposedly whenever someone was in danger noises would emanate from the basement. Tales of Ocean-Born Mary spread throughout the area and soon it became an attraction.
When the house was sold by Roy to the David and Corrine Russell, they too began to describe strange experiences even sharing them with Hans Holzer for a volume of his ghost stories. Soon after though they recanted and refused to describe the house as being haunted. They claim the Roys made up the stories to attract tourists to the estate for house tours. It is strange to note the Russells claimed similar experiences before they recanted.
To this day we really have no idea if the haunting continues, but her legend and story persist and have become one of the most famous New Hampshire ghost stories in history.
Til next time…