Small Islands, Big Stories at the Isles of Shoals

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Isles of Shoals ghost

The Isles of Shoals are one of New Hampshire’s popular attractions.  Located in the gulf of Maine stretching across to New Hampshire, there are eighteen reported islands, although nine are considered the primary for the area established in 1614.  The Isles of Shoals were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and the area is anything but lacking when it comes to interesting history.

(images:65089906@N00/flickr) Isles of Shoals

(images:65089906@N00/flickr) Isles of Shoals

The small group of islands is located six miles of the coast of the United States.  They were first settled for fishing by the early indigenous peoples and later settled by Americans in the seventeenth century.  The Isles were named after English explorer John Smith in 1614.  Many lie empty today and are primarily still used for fishing.

The largest island is Appledore Island, spanning over ninety five acres.  The main attraction of Appledore is a large hotel that was built in 1847.  Struggling throughout its years of operation, it finally burned down in 1914.  Owners of the hotel blamed the lack of success and eventual fire on the evil said to be haunting the island.  Many ghosts are reported on Appledore.  One popular tale involves a young women from the seventeenth century, who fled with her child after being pursued by indigenous people of the area.  She hid in a cave but when the child wouldn’t settle, she killed him to save herself.  Another woman died in 1846 after being wiped off the island by a mysterious wave and carried out to sea.  Visitors say the women still wander the island, destined to be permanent castaways.

The second largest island is Star Island, which is nearly fifty acres.  Star Island was once home to a booming community and still features a 150 year old chapel, hotels, and original village houses.  The hotel is the Oceanic Hotel and is also purported to be quite haunted.  The third and fourth floors are home to spirits who commonly move furniture around and appear to be searching for something, resulting in banging of drawers and chests.  Doors slam on their own and the men’s restroom is said to have visits from its seventeenth century guests.  Similarly, Sam Haley’s eighteenth century house still is said to house Mr. Haley himself who, even at death, has decided not to leave.

(images:brettsview/flickr)

(images:brettsview/flickr)

Supporting its reputation for being a ship wreck hot spot, Smuttynose Island has been home to a variety of wrecks.  The third largest island, Smuttynose spans just over twenty acres.  Said to be the place of Blackbeard’s honeymoon, two phantom ships are commonly spotted.  The first is the shipwreck of Sagunto from 1813.  Over a dozen people died in that wreck and the ghost ship still sails the seas.  The second is the phantom ship of Isidore, wrecked in 1842.  It also commonly appears in the cluster of islands.  Ships aren’t the only thing spotted on the island.  Home to a gruesome 1873 murder of two young girls, the house belonging to the girls burned shortly after.  Rumors exist that any home attempted to be rebuilt on the spot also meets a firey fate within two years.

Other smaller islands make up the Isles of Shoals.  One is Lunging Island, said to be the place where Blackbeard abandoned his thirteenth wife.  She is said to wander the island repeating, “he will return.”  Blackbeard himself made a claim to return to the area as it is rumored that his coveted pirate gold is buried on the island.  Malaga Island also has a history of pirate gold.  The island was paid for in pirate gold after its owner found gold buried under a rock on the island.

Megan Borchert
Megan Borchert
Lover of all things unusual, Megan is a staff attorney for the state of South Dakota. When she's not stuffed in an office writing case synopses, you can find her at home with her army of Schnauzers, snuggled up with some strong wine and a good book.

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