Sunday, November 27, 2005

Maine UFOria

A few highlights from the National UFO Reporting Center's UFO reports from Maine:
  • Brewer (June 9, 2004): "What I saw was a 3D cube floating above the ground oriented standing on end. I dont believe that it was rotating. The only way to describe the outer surface of the object is to say that if you took video footage of a large sheet caught in a rising thermal (the sheet fully spread out and tossing in the thermal) and projected that footage on the outside of the 3D cube... that is what I saw."
  • Gardiner (Aug. 4, 2002): "The plants (grasses and fescue with goldenrod, Queen Anne's Lace, clover and milkweed) were fairly gently laid over, with the thicker-stalked plants such as milkweed clearly showing bending at the base. No broken stalks were found. All plants were swirled clockwise and it could not be determined whether the swirls had begun in the centers or ended there. The initial impression of the crop lay was of fluidity, with a clear undulating character to the flow of downed plants."
  • Scarborough (Aug. 8, 1958): "I was climbing a tree in a neighbor's yard. The land sloped downhill from where I was. From that high vantage point, I could see across a forest that was intersected by a meandering power line that was probably 1/4 to 1/3 mi away from me as the crow flies. There were two sets of lines, and there on the ground was a saucer-shaped disk with a dome on top. The craft appeared to span most of the distance between the stantions so I would guess it might have been 50 feet across."
This site has well over 200 first-hand accounts of UFO sightings in Maine — well worth a peek even if you're a skeptic like me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sea Serpents in Maine

A year or so ago I started reading a lot about giant squids, and inevitably got intrigued by accounts of sea serpents, especially ones purported to inhabit the cold waters along the New England coast. While most of these sightings were Victorian-era, some were surprisingly recent.

The most recent I've found of late is on the Unmuseum page, circa 2002:

"I work for a science museum and recently got a phone call from a woman who is insisting that she saw something called the Biddeford Sea Monster which is Maine's equivalent to the Loch Ness Monster. Do you know anything about this legend? Until she called me I had never heard of it.
- Anonymous

Your caller may have been referring to the sea serpent that reportedly haunted the coves and bays along New England during the 18th, 19th and much of the early 20th century. Though a listing of sea serpent reports from that era shows none specifically for Biddeford, nearby Kennebunk, Wells Beach, Kittery, Casco Bay and Portland all have multiple sightings associated with them. All in all over 200 reports were made during this period and even today nobody is quite sure of what people were seeing.

A good place to start with learning about the phenomenon is our own page,
The Monstrous Sea Serpent of Gloucester, and J.P. O'Neill's excellent volume The Great New England Sea Serpent. If you caller indeed sighted the creature it will be welcome news for serpent supporters who have been concerned that over-fishing along the coast my have deprived the animal of its food supply and driving it away from the coast."


Loren Coleman, as usual, is way ahead of me. Back in 1958 a sea serpent was spotted in Casco Bay just off of Portland, and many years later the witness approached him with his story. The account was re-published in the Portland Press Herald on October 30, 2005. I guess they never got any really good local ghost stories in time for Halloween, and went for the monsters instead. Though they don't mention it in the article, the adopted moniker for our local sea serpent is Cassie (for Casco Bay), according to Mr. Coleman.

Sunday, October 30, 2005
Sea serpent in Casco Bay?
Copyright © 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

Here is an excerpt from "The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep," co-authored by Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe.

DATE: June 5, 1958
WITNESSES: Ejmar Hairgaard, Ole Mikkelsen
LOCATION: Casco Bay, Gulf of Maine

In 1985, an elderly Scandinavian man cautiously approached the speaker who had just given a talk on cryptozoology before the Appalachian Mountain Club. The man told the speaker, Loren Coleman, that a friend of his had seen a Sea Serpent. The man was Ole Mikkelsen of Portland, Maine.

When Coleman interviewed Mikkelsen, the fisherman began to relive his experience, the date exploding from Mikkelsen's lips: "The fifth day of June 1958! I won't soon forget it."

In 1985, Mikkelsen was not only trim, muscular, and tanned, but alert and active for a man of 81. He told Coleman that he had been fishing since he was six and continued to do so up through 1984. Born and raised in Denmark, he had come to Maine in 1923, and he knew the waters of Casco Bay well. But he had never seen anything before 1958 to prepare him for the monster he saw that June.

The fifth had started like most workdays for Mikkelsen. Up early, he and his partner, Ejmar Hairgaard, since deceased, were out to sea before daybreak. Mikkelsen recalled that it was about a half hour after sunrise, about 6 a.m., when they first saw "it." They were about five miles off Cape Elizabeth, only about one and a quarter miles south of the Portland Light Ship.

"Suddenly," Mikkelsen recalled, "we saw an object coming toward us out of a haze; we took it to be a submarine, but as it came near we discovered it was some live thing. As it came still nearer it dove down and a tail came up out of the water, and slowly it went down again. In about three or four minutes it surfaced again, came near us, and dove again. Then it came up once more about 125 feet away from us and stopped as if to look us over."

At that point, Hairgaard shouted, "Give me the knife; if it comes nearer, we'll cut the nets and run for the lightship!"

"But luckily," Mikkelsen said, "it decided to swim in a nice turn to the south of us. We saw it disappear to the southeast in the haze."

Not surprisingly, Mikkelsen's metaphors and frames of reference related to his years of fishing. He said the thing's color was like that of a cusk, a light-brown North Atlantic food fish, with a lighter underside to its neck. He said the tail was like a mackerel's. But of course, he knew it was not a cusk or a mackerel.

Mikkelsen was certain that what he saw was well over one hundred feet long. The head stuck out of the water and was broader than the long neck it was on. He could not pick out any ears or eyes, but he is certain it could hear.

Mikkelsen reported that every time the Portland Light Ship blew its mournful foghorn, as the anchored Coast Guard vessel did regularly, the creature turned its head in that direction. Hairgaard and Mikkelsen had the creature in view for more than 45 minutes, and they regularly saw the creature's head rotating toward the sound of the lightship's horn.

The Mikkelsen report fits well into the body of reports dating back to the eighteenth century from the waters northeast of Maine, in Broad Bay in 1751 and in Penobscot Bay in 1779, when Sea Serpents were sighted by men fishing the same waters. During June and July 1818, fishermen told of seeing a Sea Serpent in Portland Harbor. Many sightings occurred off Woods Island, Maine, in the early 1900s. And Eastport, Maine, was the scene of encounters in the late 1930s and in 1940.

Sources: Interview with Ole Mikkelsen of Portland, Maine, by Loren Coleman, 1985; "Portlandiana: Casco Bay's Sea Serpent," Portland Monthly, May 1986; Loren Coleman, "Mysterious America: The Revised Edition (New York: Paraview, 2001).

Excerpt from "The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep," by Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe



Around the same time, I found to my amusement this morning, Chris D over at All Things Maine published an article on the Mount Desert Island sea serpent. I wonder if that 100-foot long mysterious skeleton found in 1819 is still in the neighborhood? I would love to see it.


The 1800s seem to have been a very popular time for oceanic oddities in Maine, as another report, this time from New Harbor, Maine, shows. This was found on as part of an excellent article called Bring Me The Head of The Sea Serpent! The creature described sounds absolutely fascinating. A real sea serpent, in effect!

The New Harbor "Sea Serpent"

In August 1880, a sea serpent of sorts was procured that apparently comprised a quite different but equally unknown species of shark. Captured dead by Captain S. W. Hanna at New Harbor in Maine, it was approximately 25 ft. long and 10 in. wide, and was shaped like an eel, with a flat head whose upper portion projected over its small mouth (containing sharp teeth, and positioned at the tip of its head), fine sharklike skin, an eel-like tail fin, a pair of small fins behind its head, a small triangular dorsal fin, and just three pairs of gills, which were not covered by a flap of skin.

Overall, therefore, it resembled an eel-like shark--in particular, a deepwater serpentine version called the frilled shark Chlamydoselachus anguineus ("snakelike shark with frills"), which, unlike most other species, does have a terminally sited mouth and a noticeably elongated body. However, the longest confirmed specimens of frilled shark do not exceed 7 ft.

Moreover, the New Harbor fish was additionally distinguished via its paucity of gill pairs--all modern day sharks possess at least five pairs. Clearly, therefore, Hanna's catch was a most significant one--which makes it all the more tragic that although its appearance was ultimately documented by an eminent ichthyologist, Prof. Spencer Baird, by that time the body itself had been discarded. No comparable specimen has been recorded since.

And you know, if I saw one of these little doggies coming at me in the water, I would be suitably terrified.


Another fine article is found in the Boothbay Register, reprinting an original account of the 1831 Boothbay sea serpent sightings. This is a wonderfully colorful account, including such eyewitness quotes as "Back they came, their eyes big as saucers, screaming, 'Mother, Mother, there's the biggest eel you ever see in your life, got into the cove (Fairy Cove).'"

The author of the article laments the common sense of the woman in question, saying "This was unquestionably a young serpent, and I only regretted at the time no attempt had been made to arouse him to some demonstration. Mrs. Chandler declared she 'expected every moment he would come on shore, and there was no telling what he would do.' " Hey, give the lady a break. (Although, it must be admitted that if a hypothetical Mrs. Chandler had provoked the beastie into untold acts, it would make a bang-up monster movie premise). Besides, how rude to harass a sea serpent. Have a little respect, there, mister!


Finally, if I had not been dealing with my monstrous (ha ha) wedding, I would have had the excellent opportunity to improve my knowledge of the sassy sea serpents of Maine by attending the recent Cryptozoology Conference, at which J.P. O'Neill gave a talk on the subject, as reviewed in the Portland Phoenix. I don't suppose anyone out there videotaped it???

Well, let's hear it for giant, strange sea creatures in Maine. Here, here!!!

Have a great Thanksgiving, one and all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Double Identity

Strange Maine... actually, forget double identity -- it's really a triple identity. Like Brendan Evans, proprietor of the phantasmagorical store on Congress Street (Portland) of the same name, I too am under the spell of the book entitled Strange Maine.

Last week I deposited some little flyers for this site in Strange Maine (the store), and received a report from Brendan the other day that there is some confusion occurring. So, for the sake of clarity amongst all the weirdness, here is a rundown of Strange Maine as I understand it.

Strange Maine the first: The book.
Edited by Charles G. Waugh, with Martin H. Greenberg and Frank D. McSherry, Jr. and published in 1986. This anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories set in Maine is a weird little collection, true to its name. Many of us read it when we were younger, and many more of us discover and rediscover it again as adults, lured in by the garish and mysterious cover art and the promise of Maine-related oddities. doesn't even have a synopsis for it, but lit-wise it's a heavy hitter, with works by Stephen King, Fritz Leiber, Pangborn, Ruth Sawyer, Harriet Prescott Spofford, Jane Yolen, Thomas A. Easton, Charlotte Armstrong, and more. Haven't read it? There are copies available all over the place, and they run as cheap as 89 cents used at Amazon. Someday maybe I'll do a rundown of the stories for the curious.

Strange Maine the second: The store.
Here's a good interview with Brendan done by the Free Press that covers some of the basics of the store's history and general mojo vibe, with some good photos thrown in to boot. Basically, this store is the latest and greatest nexus of weirdness in Portland. Opened not too long ago, it has quickly garnered quite the reputation among the crowd that seeks for somewhere sincerely strange to go. Packed with artifacts and detritus from pop culture and the leaky hands of artists, its a regular stop for experimental bands on tour and spontaneous film festivals. All events are free. There is a schedule posted on their website (if you are having a hard time reading the type because of its color, just highlight the text using your mouse or print it out). Prices inside the shop are for the most part ridiculously reasonable. This shop, while not directly affiliated with this site, is definitely a homebase for it, and we here at Strange Maine the site HIGHLY RECOMMEND Strange Maine the store. We like to think of it as our Sister Store (kind of like Sister Cities only smaller and bigger at the same time).

Strange Maine the third: This site.
Well, you're here, but do you understand it? I certainly don't. Basically it is even newer than the store, but it's based on the same type of premise. Maine is a little weird and we love it that way. We are fascinated both by current stuff and the historical base that preceded it. It's a little obsessive, but that's alright with us. Sometimes being obsessed is the only way to get things done. We welcome new members -- just send an e-mail to msouliere AT meca DOT edu (figure that out -- it's easy -- I'm trying to avoid spambots) if you would like to be able to post articles, instead of just commenting. If you don't want to join up, please feel free to sound off anyhow, we're wide open here. So far, just over a month into this, things are going smashingly, with almost 450 hits to date and some really neat people coming on board. Personally, I'm very excited about it all. It makes me hop up and down like a maniac when I get to thinking about all the fun I'm having doing this.

Future plans include a possible print version of salient articles to be distributed throughout Maine for free whereever we can land a corner of a store counter. Please let me know if you have a perch for us, and your address, and I'll file it away for that happy day (hopefully in the near future, yes indeedy!).

Oh, who am I? Well, I'm supposedly an illustrator by trade, though currently I work in an office. I have a spotty history of notoriety in the zine community for such rags as Poetry Comix, Baby Mandelbrot, and Bad Cakes/Bad Influences (a cooperative effort with my friend Chris W, also posting here on Strange Maine). I dig Maine. I dig research. I dig finding things out randomly or following up on rumors. I love to write. You name it -- email, articles, stories, hand-written letters (my god! you can't be serious but I am). It's all dessert to me.

So I hope this clears up some of the confusion for any new visitors and current members. I mean, we can't clear ALL of it up, then there wouldn't be any mystery! And I am firmly convinced that confusion is good for the soul.

So... stay tuned, and read on!!!


Speaking of strange local films as we have been lately, it might be a good time to mention that Lobsteroids is available for viewing at the Streets of Portland website. Poor viewing quality, but the mad scientist speaks clearly from his lab on Peaks Island, so it's worth a gander!

Speaking of Streets of Portland, tunnels, and all that good stuff -- I'll be exploring the facilities there tonight when I accompany Tristan, as Eggbot has a gig there tonight. Rumors abound of a load-in trek below the Congress Street block that is 1/3 of a mile long. We'll see!!! I'll bring my camera, eh?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Fugitive Florida Toes Cause Trouble

More goodies from the cache of the Press Herald! This time it's pure foolishness. Whoa, Nellie! Again, I have highlighted the (ir?)relevant text. Har!


Wednesday, December 10, 2003 11:15 pm

Penobscot County sheriff appears on Newsweek cover
Associated Press
©Copyright 2003 Associated Press.

BANGOR, Maine — The Penobscot County sheriff is gaining national exposure with his appearance on the cover of this week´s Newsweek magazine.

Sheriff Glenn Ross appears on the cover of the national publication with a minister and a doctor as part of a cover story on how lawsuits are affecting professionals in fields from education to law enforcement.

Ross was featured in the article talking about a bizarre case last year involving a man wanted in Florida who fled into the woods in Mattawamkeag and eluded police for three days.

But the man later lost two toes to frostbite, so he threatened to sue police for not capturing him quickly enough. A lawsuit was never filed.

Ross was flown to New York City last week for the photo shoot with a minister from South Carolina and a doctor from New York.

On Tuesday, after the magazine hit the newsstands, Ross fielded questions and comments from Penobscot County commissioners and autographed a copy of the magazine for Penobscot County Administrator Bill Collins.

"It´s kind of surreal to see your picture there," Ross said.


This, of course, led me to more concurrent mention of the story, which baffled newshounds everywhere! Here is a nice summation with quotes from the fugitive from a Utah website:

"Fugitive Harvey Taylor is threatening to sue the Maine sheriff's deputy who failed to track him down fast enough, a delay that resulted in Taylor's losing three toes to frostbite after he spent three nights wandering in the woods. Taylor, a convicted sex offender wanted in Florida, said he got caught in hip-deep snow while fleeing. From his hospital Taylor was quoted as saying, "If [the deputy] had done his job properly, I wouldn't be here right now." (Washington Post, Dec 29, 2002)"

The McLarty Firm reports that "Harvey Taylor has not filed a suit in ME or FL, because most lawyers refuse to take cases without merit." Of course.

Bears Like Beer

I was digging around on the Press Herald's site and found a cache of this story from earlier this year. I've highlighted the text that made me hoot in a different color.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 6:15 pm

Moosehead beer caper trial begins for Canadian truck driver

©Copyright 2005 Associated Press.

FREDERICTON, New Brunswick — A lone six pack of Moosehead beer was a key exhibit as the trial began for a New Brunswick man charged with stealing a truckload of the beverage en route to Mexico.

Wade Haines of the Fredericton area appeared before judge and jury on Tuesday as his trial opened on a charge of theft in connection with the disappearance of about 50,000 cans of Moosehead beer last August.

Most of the beer, with its distinctive Spanish labeling, was never recovered, although a few stashes of the stolen suds turned up in different areas of the province. Prosecutors said they will rely on circumstantial evidence to convict Haines, who was supposed to be driving the truck when the beer was stolen.

"We´re not asserting Wade Haines acted alone," Crown prosecutor Trent Wilson said as he made his opening remarks to the jury. "Common sense tells us he could not have acted alone, but we intend to prove that he was involved."

No other person has been charged in connection with the heist.

Wilson said that Haines was the person in control of the truck hauling the beer. He said that when the beer vanished, Haines himself was nowhere to be found.

The tractor-trailer was found Aug. 17 in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, along the border with Maine, its engine still running and the bulk of the Moosehead gone. Haines was arrested near Peterborough, Ontario, later that month.

The six-pack of beer on the evidence table at the trial showed how distinctive the product was, with English writing on one side of the label and Spanish on the other. Haines was driving the load from Fredericton to the Toronto area, from where it was to be shipped to Mexico.

The beer heist quickly became a celebrated crime story in New Brunswick and beyond, especially after cans of the missing beer started showing up in strange places.

At one point, police discovered a stash at a marijuana operation deep in the woods near Doaktown, New Brunswick. Bears had been at the brew and had consumed at least six cans.

As the crime story started to sound more and more like a Super Bowl commercial, complete with beer-guzzling bears, Moosehead capitalized on the publicity.

Joel Levesque, a Moosehead spokesman, said the brewery was pleased to see the bears favored the New Brunswick-brewed beer.

"The thing that really impressed us is the bears chose the Moosehead beer over the dope," Levesque said.

Only three witnesses gave evidence on the opening day of the trial. They said that the beer was loaded into a truck driven by Haines on Aug. 13. He was supposed to have the load in Ontario by Aug. 16.

Source << may or may not work

Wedding Weirdness

For those of you who have been dying of curiousity as to when exactly my wedding pictures would be available-- here at last is a taste of strange done up in pure Portland style!!!

Witness oodles of photos of Tristan and Michelle's wedding the night before Halloween. We requested that folks show up in costume, and we spent most of the night being amazed at what folks cooked up. It was held at Bubba's Sulky Lounge (a strange Maine place if there ever was one).

Go here:

Please enjoy. There are lots of them! About 500, I think.


Stephen King's Western Maine

Please take a peek at Chris D's mention of a great article about Maine through the eyes of Stephen King! Mmm.... Strange Maine in spades!!!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Tales From the Crypt

The Kennebec Journal reports that human remains stolen seven years ago from a crypt in Readfield will return to town on Monday.

Two skulls were stolen from the crypt of the Nortons — Readfield's oldest family — in 1998.
Collin Sweatt and Nathan Morin, both of Readfield, were charged with breaking into the crypt and stealing jewelry and at least one skull, which police believed was passed around from person to person at parties.

One skull eventually was found at Mount Hope Cemetery in Augusta, between floral arrangements; the second was found buried near a Readfield stream.

Sweatt was sentenced to five years in prison, with all but six months suspended, on a burglary charge, plus nine months for abuse of a corpse. He also was handed four years of probation.

Morin was sentenced to nine months in jail for abuse of a corpse and was ordered to stay out of graveyards as a condition of his three-year probation. [source]
As a genealogist, I have to say that staying out of graveyards for three years would be cruel and unusual punishment.

Mystery Monster Movie?

Okay, in mentioning the movie Mud (see Chris D's excellent post of this morning) to my supervisor here at work, another movie was brought up that seems of great interest in the Strange Maine vein.

She mentioned seeing a locally-made movie featuring a monster that terrorized the streets of Portland. It was very homemade, but she rented a videotape of it at a Saco video store, so it was at least locally distributed. This would have been at least 20 years ago (i.e., circa 1985).

I'm wondering if there are copies of this movie out there still today. Personally, I would LOVE to see a movie of a monster roaming the streets of Portland.

If anyone has any info about this movie, I would love to hear about it!!!

NOTE: The writer/director of "Mud", Andy Davis, has imparted vital information about this film to us here at Strange Maine: "The movie you are looking for was made by Robert Dipitriantnio of Saco. He did the special effects for my movie THE DARK."

Whoopee! We are hot on the trail, folks!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Zamphini Monster's Screen Debut

Here's one more critter for Loren Coleman to track down.

MUD, an independent film debuting Friday in Portland, definitely has a Strange Maine plot. It's also the first feature-length film shot in Maine in high-definition digital video.

Here's the gist:
At the heart of MUD lives the LaPann family. A hardworking father, a stay at home mother, two young boys and a daughter. The family has a history of alcoholism, an affliction that just seems to keep passing itself down to the next generation. When he was 5, Kevin LaPann's father Carol discovered strange tracks in the woods. He poured plaster into one and brought it home.

Measuring in at just over 14 inches, he discovered what he would later call the "Zamphini Monster" and devoted his life as well as a small shed on his property to discovering more about this mysterious being. [Source]
See the press kit for more info on the "Legend of the Zamphini."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Witch's House, Maine

If you go to the Library of Congress' "American Memory" site (very similar to the Maine Historical Society's site mentioned by Chris W) and type the words "maine" and "witch" into the search box, at the top of the list that comes up are two photos taken by Carl Van Vechten entitled "The witch's house, Maine."

The photos, dating from 1936, depict a collapsed Maine house in a field with bare trees. They are stark and eerie. No location is given.

One wonders if Van Vechten was creating a pictorial scenario and imagined the witch himself as a motif that would generate the mood he was witnessing, or if some locals told him that the structure was a witch's house.

Vanished town underwater

Well this is something that I had never thought of -- with all its various dams and whatnot, Maine's rivers must have some areas where local populations' homes wound up underwater in the name of progress. A USA Today article mentions one of these places, which sounds fascinating and well worth checking out:

Flagstaff Lake, Maine
"In 1949, the towns of Dead River and Flagstaff were flooded when a dam was built on the Dead River," Torkells says. "If you canoe on Flagstaff Lake, and the water is low enough, you'll see building foundations, cellar holes, even artifacts. It's pretty creepy. The ghost of an elderly resident, who refused to leave after the flood, is reported to be hanging around. The lake is in western Maine on Route 27 between Stratton and Eustis." 207-246-2271;

Maine Shipwrecks Ahoy

A few years ago I did an internship at the Maine Historical Society working on the Maine Memory Network. If you're not familiar with this site, you should definitely check it out. It features many items from the collection of the MHS and over 150 organizations from around Maine. These organizations include libraries, camps, museums, towns, parks, local historical societies, and various other groups.

There is also a fantastic search feature in which you can put keywords to bring up any number of interesting things. Put in the word murder and you get nine items. Put in death, you get 123 items. How about haunted? That gets you 25 items. How fun is that? Granted, the number of items will only be as relevent as whatever keywords they used to catalog the item, but it is still great fun.

One of my tasks during my internship was to pick a topic I was interested in and make an exhibit for the web site. This let me dig through their collection and view many interesting items, which helped me decide upon my choice of Cape Elizabeth Shipwrecks. I highly suggest you read it, not only because I wrote it, but because there are some incredible photos of wrecked vessels and even a rescue in progress in which men are rescued from a wreck during a storm. The pictures are really quite dramatic.

Please view the entire list of exhibits as there are articles on everything from the Civil War to Suffrage to the Kotzschmar Organ. Even though I am not interested in all the exhibits subject matter, the pictures and documents themselves can be interesting.

--Chris Wallace

Vanishing post!!!

Dammit I was writing a huge long post and then it just *poof* disappeared. Argh!!! Maybe I will have time to rewrite the whole goldurn thing later.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

why New England is spookier than Florida

I really think it's the climate. and all the dead Puritans. perhaps the living ones as well.

but then, Florida has its own special brand of sunshiney creepiness. like Stepford.

Wacky Millinocket Election Debacle

Well, we all know that elections get folks all riled up, here and away alike.

This election, the folks in Millinocket's press have been having a field day with a number of issues, including campaign signs being illegally posted, vandalized, and other tomfoolery, which in turn has been sensationalized (and some think tinkered with) by parties involved.

A bit of interesting reading on this, courtesy of the Magic City Morning Star... please read on!

Let's hear it for excellent journalism, and the clearing away of the mists before our eyes! If only the Press Herald were so sharp...

Return from Sleepy Hollow

Well folks, I'm back as of last night from a sojourn south to New York, where I paid an all-too-brief visit to Sleepy Hollow and its cemetery. Of note during the tour of the grounds was a mausoleum that was used as the grave of Barnabas Collins during the filming of the Dark Shadows series (with the addition of the name "Collins" to its doorway). Pictures to follow soon.

I mention this because Dark Shadows is one of those pop culture concoctions that uses Maine as its fictional setting. In the future, Chris Wallace and I would like to post an article (in process) about the connection between Maine and this prominent supernatural television show.

The Scifi Network, upon reairing the series in 1999, states thusly:
"The series stars Jonathan Frid as a vampire named Barnabas Collins who presides over a mansion in Collinsport, Maine, which is home to werewolves, witches, ghosts and other monsters."

Do they mean that the mansion is home to these ghoulies, or Maine in general? One must wonder.

To whet your appetite, here is the purported website of the town of Collinsport, Maine.

At any rate, once again, it's good to be back in Maine!!! :)


Sunday, November 13, 2005

For Sale: Haunted Life Size Doll

Someone is selling on eBay a "Haunted Life Size Doll" with a Maine connection. Here's part of the description:
The story behind this doll is a man named James Herrington met and married a woman named Karen they were married and her husband was crazy about her, Karen was killed in Maine while on a trip to visit her elderly mother. James was heartbroken. Karen was killed in 1998. James found the doll and couldn't believe how much it looked like Karen. After bringing the doll home James hired people who promised him they could do a spell to get Karen's spirit in the doll. James treated this doll like a queen always dressing her in the best clothes. In 2002 James died sitting at the feet of his Karen.
James' sister came into possession of the doll, and contacted a psychic medium to get in touch with her brother through the doll. It all got too scary for the sister when she "kept having dreams of the doll being mad because her clothes hadn't been changed."

The seller advises that "If you are afraid of haunted item's please do not bid."

[Hat tip:]

Friday, November 11, 2005

Medical Cannibalism in Penobscot County

Since my first post was so well received, here's another. The following was published in the Bangor Register in 1828 under the headline "Ignorance."
Three of a consumptive family, residing in a town adjacent to this, had been cut off by this dreadful malady, within a very short period of time. During the winter of 1827, whether by some whimsical dream, by some preternatural revelation, or whether it was one of the odd fancies of some quackish old woman, I know not; but the notion came into their heads, that the heart of one who had died of consumption, was a "sure cure" for the disease. Accordingly the last deceased, who had slept in her grave for about one year, was actually disinterred, the heart extracted, and a tincture made for the cure of another sister.

A woman, about 60 years of age, walked some miles, to a physician of this town, expressing deep concern for a friend of hers, who, she said, was "just gone with consumption," and entreating the doctor to go and assist to procure the heart of another person, who had died of the complaint, for the relief of her poor friend. But the hard hearted doctor treated the matter lightly, and said "he did not believe in this resurrection business;" which caused the good old lady to go away with a heavy heart, much grieved.
The therapeutic use of human tissue has been dubbed "medical cannibalism" by anthropologists, and was the subject of a lecture given at Vanderbilt University last year. The events described above occurred at a time when the practice had fallen out of favor in the scientific community—which (along with the stigma associated with grave-robbing) explains the doctor's refusal to assist.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Coolidge Murder Ballad and more!

Well, I did a little poking around online, and found some information about the case.

Presumably the Maine Historical Society will have clippings giving a more detailed account, and the Bangor Library has a Boston Daily Times article from 1848 in their Special Collections department (cage 343.1.C779t). There is also a broadside by Dr. O. Drake titled "The Waterville Tragedy: Or, Death of Edward Mathews by Dr. Valorus P. Coolidge" that a few Maine libraries also have.

But in the meantime, here is what I dug up on-line:

"Mathews refused to lend money to the over-extended doctor, but then invited his victim to his office for a drink. Brandy laced with prussic acid did the job, but Coolidge panicked and attempted first to make the death appear as murder by violence, then to hide the body. Neither was successfu, despite Coolidge acting as coroner, performing the autopsy, and trying to hide the stomach."

Tried to hide the guy's stomach, huh? Wow! Just as an abstract fact (not even taking into account the whole escape/faked-suicide thingie), this alone is worth mentioning.

After the murder, the town of Waterville voted "to establish a night watch to consist of fourteen sober, temperate, and moral men who shall be voters of the town."

Later, according to Olive Woolly Burt's American Murder Ballads & Their Stories (1958), a ballad was made of the account, including the lyrics "Poor Edward Mathews, where is he? Sent headlong to eternity. O! V.P. Coolidge, how could you So black a deed of murder do?" The rest of the info included the book seems to have a garbled account of the murder, changing the story to that of Coolidge trying to steal a load of hay from Mathews. I'll research this firsthand once I get the book from interlibrary loan, and report back with the full lyrics and anything else I find.

Another article, which recounts the history of the Somerset County Press, mentions that a small publication, Mann's Physician and Down East Screamer (!!), "occasioned much comment by its position on the murder of Edward Matthews at Waterville in the autumn of 1848, for which Dr. V.P. Coolidge was tried and convicted, the incidents of which are still fresh in the minds of most readers. It will be remembered that the public excitement concerning events subsequent to the conviction and imprisonment of Dr. Coolidge, was for a long time intense, and entered to some extent into the political campaign of 1849."

So there you have it folks. It doesn't really top the tale of missing bodies or mysterious reappearances near the border, but it does give a wider view of some of the effects the murder had in the area.

Snowblower Sacrifice Rituals

Just overheard:

"I'm going to make a ritual sacrifice out of my snowblower and set it on fire in my driveway."

Presumably someone is not excited about the soon-to-arrive snow season here in Maine?

I wonder what the years have seen in the way of wonderfully superstitious attempts to allay winter worries...

For those more interested in a positive approach to winter, there are apparently a number of options. Witness this auction at for a selection of winter and snow related spells, including a "Walk in the Snow Spell" which makes me wonder... what?

Who's In V. P. Coolidge's Grave?

My first contribution to the Strange Maine conversation involves a distant cousin of mine: Dr. Valorus Perry Coolidge.

He was arrested in the fall of 1847 for the murder of Edward Matthews in Waterville. A newspaper account noted that "the unfortunate man was poisoned by prussic acid, which was administered to him in a glass of brandy." Matthews' body was discovered on a pile of wood in a cellar; his watch was found in Dr. Coolidge's sleigh, and his money was found secreted in a shed. A student of Coolidge's named Flint came forward, saying that he had aided in disposing of the body. The doctor had told Flint that Matthews died of natural causes in his office, and that he wanted to be spared the embarrassment of having the body found there.

Coolidge was convicted the following March of murder, and was sentenced to a year in the State Prison at Thomaston, followed by his execution.

Here's where the story gets interesting.

On the morning of May 18, 1849, Coolidge was reportedly found dead in this cell — an apparent suicide. A short time prior to his death, evidence was found of his plotting the murder of Dr. Flint — his former student and witness against him. He had forged a confession to Matthews' murder in Flint's handwriting, and had enlisted a fellow prisoner to kill Flint and stage a suicide. When the warden discovered this evidence, he confined Coolidge to his cell, where he was found dead two days later.

But, was he really dead?

No jury of inquest was called to investigate the alleged suicide, and doubts immediately arose whether Coolidge was in fact deceased. A Dr. Mann pressed the inquiry, and collected affidavits, including one from Coolidge's father, who stated his belief that a stranger had been buried in his son's place.

Dr. Coolidge's body was disinterred from its resting place in Canton twice to determine the corpse's identity. On both occasions, relatives and acquaintances declared that it was not Valorus P. Coolidge. Then, in November of 1849, a letter was published in New England newspapers, dated "Short Bar, 30 miles from Colona, California, Sept. 3d." and addressed to a man in Boston:
Yesterday morning there came up here three strangers from Sacramento city, one of whom I recognized as the notorious Dr. Valorus P. Coolidge, formerly of Waterville, Me., the alleged murderer of Ed. Matthews. Could I be mistaken? How came he here? Has he escaped hanging? I knew Coolidge well, at Waterville, and if this is not him, then I never saw the man. His beard was very thin and scattered over his thin, narrow face, but it had grown out two or three inches in length. He passed here by the name of Wilkes or Wilkins. His eye I could not mistake. He appeared well, but in no other way altered, save that he was meanly dressed, and looked a little harder than usual. I told my belief to W., and the next morning Coolidge was gone. Where he has wandered I cannot guess, but I feel sure it was him. If you ever write, tell me what this can mean. Or am I deceived?
The grave of Valorus P. Coolidge's body-double can be seen in a recently re-discovered cemetery in Canton, near the town-lines of Jay and Livermore. Who inhabits the grave, and what became of the doctor, are unknown.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Maine link to Myrtles Plantation

For some of you who follow the TAPS ghost-hunting show on the Sci-Fi Network, here is an interesting tidbit. One of the tragic deaths on the grounds of the actively haunted Myrtles Plantation was that of a man born in Maine.

"On December 5, 1865, Mary Cobb hired, William Drew Winter, the husband of her daughter, Sarah Mulford, to act as her agent and attorney and to help her manage the plantation lands. As part of the deal, she gave Sarah and William the Myrtles as their home.

William Winter had been born to Captain Samuel Winter and Sarah Bowman on October 28, 1820 in Bath, Maine. Little is known about his life or how he managed to meet Sarah Mulford Stirling. However, they were married on June 3, 1852 at the Myrtles and together, they had six children, Mary, Sarah, Kate, Ruffin, William and Francis.

Kate died from typhoid at the age of three. The Winter's first lived at Gantmore plantation, near Clinton, Louisiana and then bought a plantation on the west side of the Mississippi known as Arbroath. Twelve years after the death of Ruffin Stirling, and after the Civil War, William was named as agent and attorney by Mary Stirling to help her with the remaining lands, including Ingleside, Crescent Park, Botany Bay and the Myrtles.

In return, Mary gave William the use of the Myrtles as his home. Times were terrible though and Winter was unable to hold onto it. By December 1867, he was completely bankrupt and the Myrtles was sold by the U.S. Marshal to the New York Warehouse & Security Company on April 15, 1868.

Two years late however, on April 23,the property was sold back Mrs. Sarah M. Winter as the heir of her late father, Ruffin G. Stirling. It is unknown just what occurred to cause this reversal of fortune but it seemed as though things were improving for the family once again.But soon after, tragedy struck the Myrtles once more.

According to the January 1871 issue of the Point Coupee Democrat newspaper, Winter was teaching a Sunday School lesson in the gentlemen's parlor of the house when he heard someone approach the house on horseback. After the stranger called out to him and told him that he had some business with him, Winter went out onto the side gallery of the house and was shot. He collapsed onto the porch and died.

Those inside of the house, stunned by the sound of gunfire and the retreating horse, hurried outside to find the fallen man. Winter died on January 26, 1871 and was buried the following day at Grace Church. The newspaper reported that a man named E.S. Webber was to stand trial for Winter's murder but no outcome of the case was ever recorded.

As far as is known, Winter's killer remains unidentified and unpunished. Sarah was devastated by the incident and never remarried. She remained at the Myrtles with her mother and brothers until her death in April 1878 at the age of only 44."


Cryptozoology Heads Up

Well, I haven't had a chance to read the article about Bigfoot that was in the Press Herald on October 30th, because I was too busy getting married. Ha ha! But I would like to point out that there is a really interesting art exhibit that will be showing at Bates College in Lewiston (road trip, anyone?) next June-October (2006). Did anyone out there go to the Cryptozoology symposium held over Halloween weekend? I would love to hear a report.

For more info about the exhibit, including some tantalizing peeks at the artwork, and information about the now-past symposium, check out the well-designed website at Cryptozoology Out of Time Place Scale.

To hear what I was doing on Halloween on my honeymoon/fieldtrip to Haunted Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, you can read my LJ entry on it here. It was interesting to see Florida, but give me Maine any day!!!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Purington Massacre -- Hallowell

Well, good news from the Hallowell inquiry. I had a response from an anonymous poster which put me on the trail of a mind-boggling event from Augusta & Hallowell's history. I'm not sure if it's the same massacre related to the green glow phenomenon I'm trying to find out about, but either way it is a serious piece of Maine history.

Thank you, Anonymous, for the tip. It is extremely helpful to have names and dates to work with. I did turn up some more information about the Purington (or Purrinton) Murders, including an image of a handbill about a graphic booklet printed after the murders.
The info comes from Martha Ballard's diary (as in "The Midwife's Tale" mentioned by Anonymous).

Above is a small version of the handbill or flyleaf. The fullsize original can be found by clicking on the "handbill" link above. Please note the graphic at the bottom of the image of the coffin with axe and razor. Stark and stunning.

In addition, I found a site mentioning that during its investigations around Augusta, focusing on AMHI, the North East Paranormal Society spoke with an Augusta historian and saw the ax which was allegedly used for the murders. To quote: "Upon entering her office she also stunned us with a piece of Purington history, the axe which had been found around 1988 by a man who was eager to try out his new metal detector. The axe was unveiled nearly two feet under the roadway where Captain Purington is believed to be buried, after having it checked out it does appear to be an axe dating back to the late 1700's and early 1800's."

According to Martha Ballard's accounts, Purington was buried with his murder weapons (a foundation for a ghost story if there ever was one!).

I'm going to see if I can find a copy of the account of the murder as seen above. Stay tuned!


Glad to be back in the land of Strange Maine

Hello all! If you want to see strange, try going from Maine's chilly, bare late-October landscape to sunny Orlando, Florida where there are palm trees everywhere and tiny grey lizards instead of fat grey squirrels. Now that's strange. Not to mention spending Halloween at Universal Studios' Haunted Horror Nights in the midst of this surreal tropical scenery. Halloween without bare New England tree branches and chill-clear skies is somehow just not as.... spooky.

It seems that every trip I take away makes me realize more how much I love Maine. Soooo... sightseeing aside, let's get back to business with a rousing anthem, shall we?

Please find following a bizarre little ditty that sums up some of the essence of the Strange Maine we know and love. Incidentally, if any of you know how to get a sound file of this song, I'd love to hear about it.


Put the Blame on Maine
Lyrics © 2001 by Terence Chua
(to the tune of "Put the Blame on Mame" by Doris Fisher and Allan Roberts)

When things start to look strange - all around you - check out where you're at
So what if it seemed like a nice place - you should've smelled a rat
Because this quaint New England town - is in the baddest state around
You can put the blame on Maine boys
Put the blame on Maine
It only seems like a friendly shore
Ask Stephen King - he knows the score
So put the blame on Maine boys
Put the blame on Maine

Serial killers and devilish creatures make this their abode
Remember Jessica Fletcher just lives down the road
Vampire ghoulies on the attack - will make you their midnight snack
You can put the blame on Maine boys
Put the blame on Maine
Maine's gonna cut you right to the bone
Even Lovecraft stayed at home
So put the blame on Maine boys
Put the blame on Maine

There're storms of the cent'ry - and spiders crawling - up your waterspout
An invisible man in your closet that you'd better not let out
The head cheerleader's a demon queen - and her desires are quite obscene
You can put the blame on Maine boys
Put the blame on Maine
Where twelve-year-olds can set you ablaze
By fixing you with a fiery gaze
So put the blame on Maine boys
Put the blame on Maine

The body count's rising - and you're cornered - what are you to do?
You might be able to make it - just follow simple rules
Like, if you're stalked by a maniac - don't say, "I'll be right back."
You can put the blame on Maine boys
Put the blame on Maine
Just turn around and start making tracks
And for God's sake, please - don't have sex!
Just put the blame on Maine boys
Put the blame on Maine
Put - the - blame - on - Maine!

comments welcome. send to please


Signing off (gotta go clean my desk off! I've been gone a week and a half),
Yours truly,