Sometimes, when I’m researching blog posts, I run across something that I find more intriguing than the story I was researching in the first place.
I was researching Block Island’s infamous “wreckers” (and finding very little; apparently all trace of their depredations has been suppressed) when I ran across this story.
Now Mad Maggie is not your basic madwoman in the attic. She’s the poltergeist who haunts Block Island’s Southeast Light.
The Southeast Light stands stop Mohegan Bluff. Since it was built, it’s been moved back from the edge at least once, as erosion threatened to send it toppling into the sea. It’s probably–as most, if not all, of our remaining lighthouses are– now an automated light maintained by the Coast Guard. Back in the day, though, it was maintained by a lighthouse keeper.
In the early 1900s, so the story goes, a keeper’s wife died under mysterious circumstances. She was found with a broken neck at the foot of the stairs. She and her husband being known to have a remarkably contentious marriage, he was immediately, despite all demurrals and insistences that she had, in a fit of temper or despair, thrown herself down the stairs, relieved of his duties, arrested, charged with murder, convicted, and sent to prison, never returning to the lighthouse.
His wife–understandably–never left.
They call her Mad Maggie. And she is one pissed-off lady.
As long as there were lighthouse keepers and their families stationed at the light, Maggie was active. She never bothered women and children, though. Her spite was directed strictly at men.
She occasionally would do gentler things such as rearranging the furniture (possibly a source of contention with her husband?), which is merely noisy–and she would stomp up and down the stairs where she died in the middle of the night. She would even throw food if men ate in “her” kitchen.
If a lightkeeper happened to be sleeping alone in one of the house’s beds, she would shake him awake. She would cause the bed to lift clear off the floor, only to settle back down with a loud bang.
And she loved locking men into empty rooms or closets, which begs the question: did her husband ever lock her up thus?
Her most spectacular feat, however, seems to have been the night she locked the keeper out of the house altogether.
The man was single and sleeping alone when Maggie began harassing him that night; he finally had had enough and went racing outside in his underwear, only to find, when he tried to go back in to his bed, that the door had been locked behind him–from the inside.
He was finally able to get into another building on the site, so the story goes, and had to call the Coast Guard to come and unlock the lighthouse, so he could get back inside.
Two things come to mind: he doubtless left shortly thereafter–
and thank the Lord he was most likely wearing long handles that night. (^_^)