Though Valentine’s Day just passed, I feel like we could still use a little more love, especially in light of the tragic events in Parkland, Florida. Though there are as many reasons for ghosts as there are ghosts, ironically, love is the reason they stick around in the majority of cases I’ve studied.
This sounds like the antithesis to any fan of the genre, I know. The idea of a ghost or spirit hanging around out of love doesn’t make for a good horror movie, nor does it make for a potentially dangerous television investigation. Yet most of the cases that come across my desk involve the passing of a loved one, who then returned in some tangible way. Sometimes it may be only a sighting, other times there’s a message, but the emotional impact is the same. The messages are positive, and come from a place of love. Closure. Peace. Affection. They’re still here.
There are also romantic hauntings that stick around because we can all relate to them. Our empathy toward the person in life may keep them around after death. A few years ago, while working on the Valentine’s episode of Ghost Adventures, we investigated the haunted Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts. This haunt centers on the story of Jerusha Howe.
The Wayside Inn is America’s oldest continuously-operating lodging. Since 1716, this tavern and inn built along the Old Boston Post Road has taken in lodgers and seen a country revolt, be born, and evolve. The place is famous because American author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow visited Howe’s Tavern in 1862 and was inspired to write Tales of a Wayside Inn.
“And from the harpsichord there came
A ghostly murmur of acclaim…”
Longfellow wrote. It makes me wonder if he heard the ghost story back then…
Jerusha Howe was born in 1797 at the Inn and lived her entire life here. Many people came to stay at the Howe’s Inn over the years, but only one caught Jerusha’s eye. A gentleman merchant from England wooed Jerusha during his stay. He promised her marriage and a speedy return from a business trip back to England.
Weeks turned to months, months turned to years, but Jerusha never heard from her suitor again. No letter, no word ever came. She was left to agonize in wonder if his ship sank, if he was murdered, or if he never meant the words he spoke to her.
Jerusha Howe passed her time entertaining visitors to the inn. She played the piano forte for guests, but also spent many lonely hours in her sitting room and bedroom – always stealing glances toward the window to see if her love would return.
At the young age of 45, Jerusha died, they say, of a broken heart in 1842. But her story didn’t end here. Jerusha, it seems, is still waiting for her lost love to come back.
Jerusha’s spirit has been seen and sensed throughout the inn, but she seems to be most active in Rooms 9 and 10—her former sitting room and bedroom, her former kitchen below, and in the front parlor where her old piano forte is still said to play a quiet waltz on occasion, though no living person is near the instrument.
Today many guests of the Wayside Inn still have ghostly experiences. Especially men who stay in Rooms 9 and 10. One gentleman I spoke to recalls feeling the covers being pulled from his body in the middle of the night. Another saw a ghostly woman rise from the floor.
We connect with Jerusha Howe because we’ve all had our heart broken somewhere along the line. If nothing else, let her ghost haunt us as a reminder... don’t wait forever!
This month I’m pleased to announce that the latest episode of my New England Legends television show is now on Amazon Prime! In this episode, we uncover the hidden history of New England Witches. Our journey takes us to the region’s first witch trials in Hartford, Connecticut, to Salem, Massachusetts, to York, Maine, and Hampton, New Hampshire, in search of witch history, trials, and legends. We also meet modern-day Witches, including Laurie Cabot, the “Official Witch of Salem.” Prime members can watch it for free here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07215SKYX/
For those interested in discussing New England Legends, we recently started a Facebook group. You can join for free here: https://www.facebook...EnglandLegends/
Until next month, I’m hoping you can find a little more love in the world -- even if only in a haunting -- we need it!