By Randy Trevino
For this segment we decided to bring you a few small excerpts from The Haunted Portsmouth: Tales of the Boneyfiddle District by Samantha Meadows and Ryan Snyder starting with Lorenzo Dow McKinny, former Portsmouth resident, who hosted an odd yearly occurrence.
In 1895 he was 80 years old. Mr. McKinny eerily celebrated the fifth anniversary of his funeral in an unusual but spectacular way. It's said that about 5,000 people assembled in a grove to attend this more than strange event. Lorenzo sat on a raised platform and watched as the funeral was conducted in a regular manner.
The Man of the Hour was quoted saying, “It was useless for a man to postpone his funeral services until after he was dead, thus missing all the fun and good things his neighbors say about him.”
‘WOW HAVE YOU SEEN THAT UNCANNY GHOST”
Was the strange headline that the Portsmouth Tribune ran on September 26, 1905.
Mrs. Alice Wymer lived on East Ninth Street. She was convinced a “ghost” of spiteful origin was hauntedly harassing her home. Along with unearthly noises from the haunt, the ghost would send boards violently careening against the rear end of her house, often with enough force to wake the neighbors.
“WOMAN IN BLACK IS AGAIN VISIBLE” Touted the headline on June 4,1910.
According to the story, Mr. and Mrs. George Turvey of 71 East Fourth street, saw a woman in black, suspended in the air outside their home on Thursday night.
She re-appeared on Friday and almost scared Mrs. Williams and her daughter, Laura, out of their wits.
The following evening, a large crowd gathered in suspense to see if the lady in black would make an appearance. The crowd began to disperse around 9pm in disappointment.
Fifteen minutes later, Mrs. Turvey, Mrs. Williams, and Laura were standing in the rear of the Turvey residence when they claimed to see the mysterious lady appear suspended in the air above Mrs. Gertrude Carter’s house. Mrs. Williams gave a loud shriek and Laura went into hysterics.
The Neighborhood was said to be “greatly stirred” following the event. Mrs. Turvey spent much time in prayer due to the fear that it was a warning of a terrible event to come.
THE SONS OF MALTA
Before the Civil war erupted in our nation, a Secret society existed in Portsmouth.
It was a regular occurrence to see this tightly knit brotherhood parade through the streets of Portsmouth. They were known as the “Sons of Malta”.
At midnight, dressed in full black gowns complete with black masks and pointed hats, they marched in sync through the streets. During this strange procession they carried a coffin.
These intimidating seemingly mock funerals sparked fear amongst the city dwellers.
The mysterious group claimed that it was purely a social gathering and that the regular and strange funeral procession was simply to arouse curiosity.
These are just a few of the Local Happenings and spooky things that have occurred in our Historic city's storied past.
Perhaps with ongoing renovations in the downtown historic Boneyfiddle area, some friends of Portsmouth’s past will, in some way, give us a new headline to scream about.
Do The Sons of Malta still linger in the shadows of Portsmouth?
Has something from the otherside spooked you in town? Share it with us, if you dare.