February 05, 2012

Sally Somers, the Witch of Southwest Harbor

Which is scarier - a ghost, or an evil witch? If you visit Southwest Harbor, Maine you don't have to choose because it's haunted by an evil witch's ghost. You'll get two supernatural creatures for the price of one!

Sally Somers was born in 1791 to Elsie Somers, a witch who was known for extracting tribute from sea captains to guarantee safe passage of their ships, but also for using herbs to heal the sick. I suppose you could call Elsie morally neutral, since she was just trying to make a living from her dark arts.

Sally, on the other hand, was just no damn good.

Sally bewitched a young man named John Clark into marrying her. He spent much of their marriage wandering around in an enchanted, zombie-like daze. John tried to escape Sally's spell by booking passage on a ship bound for Europe, but disappeared before the it set sail. Everyone suspected Sally, but since his body was never found she wasn't charged with a crime.

According to another legend, Sally sacrificed two black dogs on the top of a nearby mountain so she could assume their form when she sent her spirit out to cause mischief. These devil dogs roamed through the area, terrifying the locals and sometimes drinking blood. Creepiest of all, they were said to have human eyes.

Like all successful witches, though, Sally's preferred to take the form of a black cat when she wanted to cause trouble. In this shape Sally would spy on her neighbors and find out if anyone was gossiping about her. Those who did usually came to a bad end. This black cat was also said to have human eyes.

Sally's reign of terror ended when one of her neighbors, tired of all the witchy shenanigans, fashioned a silver bullet and shot the spectral black cat. It died instantly, and Sally passed away three days later.

That was in 1832, but Sally's malefic influence supposedly still lingers around Southwest Harbor. The apples that grow on a tree near her house allegedly cause illness, accidents and even death to anyone who eats one.

In 2004, a woman named Daisy Harper was concerned for her mother's well-being because she was working in Sally's former home. Hoping to appease Sally's ghost, Daisy dropped an offering of colored stones into a crack in the apple tree's trunk. The stones fell for a long, long, long time before they hit the bottom. I don't think we want to know what's lurking under Sally's tree.

Daisy had good reason to be concerned about her mother. The furniture in Sally's house sometimes moves on its own, and it's said that anyone who breaks a pane of glass will die shortly afterwards. One window that overlooks the harbor even has an imperfection in it that looks like a witch.

If you ever go hiking near Southwest Harbor, be careful. The locals say a large black cat with human eyes haunts the woods. I guess Sally's spirit is still out there causing trouble.

I found this story about Sally in Marcus LiBirzzi's Ghosts of Acadia. If you like lurid stories about ghosts, this is the book for you.


Robert David Sullivan said...

This is one I want to see made into a movie. You can't go wrong with animals that have human eyes and the tagline "Sally is just no damn good!"

Doug said...

Spot on Robert!

Peter Muise said...

I'll start working on the script!