Sacandaga: Four stories of Folk Lore
Considered a haunted place the Batchellerville Hotel was built in 1855. It was a two story structure with a large wing that was added before the Civil War but there are no records as to when it ceased to exist. It had guest rooms, with a bar, tables for ladies, a ballroom, dining room, and a barn for horses, wagons, and the stagecoach. All that is known is it was gone before the valley was flooded in 1930. This is the only documented history involved in the story . The stories that follows is word of mouth, folklore, or tale.
It seems an old woman came to stay at the Hotel ,taking up residence, who’s name was Hester. She was known for her most unusual eyes People said if you looked into her eyes long enough the devil could be seen.
In those times, people believed there were two kinds of witches: “Granny Witches” or “Granny Ladies” who worked with herbs and potions to heal sick people.
Then there were the “ Dark” or “Black” witches would tell fortunes or misfortunes. Then cast spells or curses and except money for providing those services. This placed the people of her workings in very worrisome positions often they would make themselves sick from it. Thus fulfilling the “curse”.
There is also another story of a more heinous nature attached to the Batchellerville Hotel . A murder was said to have taken place in one of the rooms. A man was found stabbed to death and no amount of scrubbing of the wood floor could remove the stains. It was believed that as long as the stains remained his tortured soul would remain in that room. So the room it was boarded up and left unused.
This story of the “Bone Yard Gang” is one related by a teller of the years when the river valley was being prepared for flooding and had one of the jobs to exhume cemeteries on the Conklinville end of the river.
One fellow on this crew was put under arrest, fined, and lost his job for selling skulls to people at a tavern. He claimed they were from Indians and not white folk.
The “gang” was also checked by authorities everyday at quitting time for stolen items from the graves. Gold watches, wedding bands, and other family heirlooms. One of the crew was caught with five gold rings in his mouth.
In the Edinburg area in the great blizzard of 1888 a man started for points north when the snow was already deep. When it could not be determined whether he made it to his destination or not, the Tennantville lumber mill which he had left from was shut down and all the workers begun to search. They found evidence of a small fire near a tree, but that was all.
Months later, in spring, another person went out looking for traces of the northbound traveler and found a shoe with a small piece of bone by a creek. The rest of him was never found. It was assumed the remains were carried away by animals.
In 1909 in Jackson Summit out side of Mayfield lived a family with three daughters this is the story of two of the youngest ones Pearl and Mildred:
One early spring day two little sisters were playing while their mother was busy sewing gloves. They removed their shoes and stockings and proceeded outside to play. When the mother became aware that the girls were no where nearby, she and an older daughter searched for the girls to no avail. The church was notified and the bells were rung to sound the alarm. Men hurried from the surrounding area to help in the hunt for Pearl and Mildred. At nightfall they still had not found the girls.
A cold frosty morning dawned the next day. Among the newly organized search party was the Reverend Heaxt and a knowledgeable man of the woods named Rowen Brown. The previous day, during the search, the little girls family dog had been trying to lead the men across a creek. No one would follow. But Rowan Brown did.
After Brown crossed the swollen winter run off creek he found a brambled overgrown log road in which an abandoned lumber camp stood. Inside he found Pearl lying very still, with her dress frozen to the floor. But still breathing. Carrying this precious bundle on his way back through the brambles Brown found a red ribbon . He yelled for the men to cross the stream. Most did not believe that the girls would have gone that far as the rushing water was swift and would have been hard for the small girls to cross.
The mother confirmed the ribbon was Mildred’s and since the ribbon was found on the other side it meant Mildred had crossed also. Two hours later and about a mile away the search party found her at the foot of a ledge tears frozen to her face. Reverend Heaxt was the only non-drinker in the crowd of rugged men and the only one who carried brandy just for these purposes. The drink revived both girls and they were none worse for wear.
by Lorraine Frasier