Since I am in Maine I couldn’t ignore an opportunity to add to my Haunted New England Tour by taking a trip to Bucksport. Bucksport is an old coastal Maine town with a sordid history – or so some people believe.
It all starts with Colonel Buck, one of the town’s founding leaders. I was told the story went something like this: A long time ago there was a mayor named Colonel Buck who had an illicit affair with a woman about the town and when she threatened to spill the beans about it he had her burned as a witch. As she was engulfed in flames her foot fell out of the fire, flopped onto the grave stone of her accuser, and made a permanent mark after she cried out some curse involving said foot. It’s a marvelous story. Gruesome, morbid, full of intrigue… and a complete lie. This had to have been made up by some bored parent one day teasing their children walking by the cemetery. Still, it attracts visitors from all over who come to gaze at Colonel Buck’s Tomb, which isn’t a tomb so much as a pillar shaped gravestone that was erected six decades after he died. He also wasn’t the mayor, he was a justice of the peace, and if he had any illicit love affairs they’re not on record and neither is there any record of any executions of witches in Maine. In fact the only witches put to death in all of New England were hung or pressed to death with stones, not burned alive. There’s a sign saying all this, basically a big ol’ bulletin that might as well read, “Y’all full of shit.” but hey if it’s real blood guts and gore you’re after there’s a much lesser known stone with a much truer story a few streets away.
This is the stone of Sarah Ware. Her story is as weird as it gets up here in Maine. She was unusual in life because she was a divorced woman in the 1800’s, something pretty much unheard of. This had to have given her one hell of a stigma and maybe it was exactly that that got her killed. Life as a divorcee was not easy then and at fifty two years of age she was supporting herself by being a Jill of all trades babysitting, cleaning, and doing the odd job here and there. She was on her way home one evening when she disappeared. She was found two weeks later in a field viciously bludgeoned to death. She had been beaten so badly that when the body was removed her head fell clean off and her jaw was nowhere to be found. It was then kept as evidence as the rest of her was buried somewhere. Her head was kept in criminal storage as evidence for nearly a century before clerks discovered this gruesome artifact in 1983. The head was given a stone and laid to rest in the Oak Hill Cemetery, sans body.
So who killed her? Most believe it was the last guy to see her, William Treworgy, who had a long history of violence and probably didn’t want to pay her for whatever she’d done for him. They found a bloody hammer with his initials on it and aside from a confession that’s just about as good as forensic evidence gets at the end of the 1800’s. He was tried but it was years after her death and by then witnesses recanted or died. It was a hot mess. He got off. He probably would have gotten off regardless… I mean who cares enough about a divorcee to make sure she sees justice in 1898?? Sad but true. And that’s the true story of Sarah Ware, a largely forgotten figure far more interesting than the cock and bull story locals have made up about the witch’s foot… Did I mention the site where they found her body is now the high school’s parking lot? Sleep well kiddies. Sleep well.