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Friday, September 13, 2013

Oh, Mercie!


In 1798, William Hayden Sr., married Silence Dale in Braintree, Massachusetts.  Along with Silence, came her mother, Mercie Dale, who was wealthy in her own right.  It is said that William envisioned that acquiring land would give him prestige and power.  During that time, Mercie helped the young couple financially during hard times, as she would live with them in the future.  They settled in northern Vermont, where William continued to borrow large sums of money, and to rise in power as Town Surveyor of Albany, taking plots of land, instead of a paycheck.  He later purchased a store, a weaving mill and won a position as Town Selectmen.  


Being near the Canadian border, he eventually became the only customs officer, where it was suggested that he may have smuggled cattle across the border to amass his wealth, and lost honor among the townspeople.  During this rise (and fall) of power, he had continually borrowed money "as business" from Mercie.  After the suspicion of cattle smuggling, Mercie declined to give him any more money - no more "loans", as by now, it was obvious that he had squandered her money away to live an extravagant lifestyle. 
 


As stated, Hayden Sr. had repeatedly told Mercie Dale that he would return the money, and she continued to refuse to give him any more.  The relationship declined as Mercie steadily grew ill and suspected that he was poisoning her.  Her daughter, Silence, attempted to appease her mother, by denying that this could not be true; but in 1806, as Mercie's suspicions grew, she mustered the strength to move out of the household, but before she did, she cursed William and the Hayden family with these words:


"The Hayden name shall die in the third generation, and the last to bear the name shall die in poverty."  

William Hayden and family
William purportedly owed many people money, and lawsuits followed him.  He fled the United States to Quebec, Canada for immunity.  He was imprisoned in Montreal for disrespectful remarks toward the British, from where he somehow escaped and settled in Farnsworth, New York.  He died in 1846 - penniless.


Only 2 of the 9 children of Silence and William Sr., reached adulthood.  In 1854, Williams son - William Hayden Jr. - built an extravagantly furnished, new mansion, that still stands today.  Though the mansion has been renovated and restored in recent years, it is reported to be haunted.  Mercie's curse seemed to have inflicted the intended punishment, as William Jr.'s son Henry, died penniless in 1910.  The remaining heir was his daughter, who died in 1927.  The circle is now complete. 



"Legend has it that, many years ago, the entire Hayden family of Albany, VT, perished as victims of a curse. In 1910, a horse-drawn hearse carried the final remains of William Henry Hayden, last in the male line of his family, along the South Albany Road, to the village cemetery. Curtains were drawn across the mansion’s windows in tribute, even though the extravagantly furnished house had remained without a tenant for nearly twenty years. Some would remember Mercie Dale’s curse upon the family that the Hayden family name would die and pass into oblivion."  Source -  http://www.vermonter.com/vtpress/vermont-stories-articles/vermont-ghosts/vermont-ghosts-or-nonsense/ 


"The old house and surroundings are reputed to be haunted and widely written up in legends and lore of Northern Vermont . It is one of only a handful of reputedly haunted houses in the Northeast Kingdom.  Some say then can see ghostly lights near the property thought to be spirits of slaves that perhaps were buried in unmarked graves in the field near the farm. Some say phantom violin music can sometimes in and around the old mansion, probably a flash-back to one of the lavish parties during happier times."  Source - http://www.tomifobia.com/galexander/go_bump.html