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Our Family Spirit

Chrissie, MA, USA
September 2003

O.K this is a rather long story but I really want to share it, so please bear with me?

You've probably heard of banshees. If you haven't it's an old Irish and Scottish folklore; The Banshee is a spirit, every family has their own Banshee. The spirit is female and can either be very beautiful or hideous in appearance. They appear on the eve of a family member's death. It is said that hearing her voice means someone in the family will soon die. If she is seen, the person who saw her is to die soon.

My family is neither Scottish nor Irish; however we do have our own family spirit. The spirit is believed to be my great, great grandmother Margaret. She came to the United States from England when she was nine years old with her mother Martha and older sister Anne. They settled down in Williamsburg Massachusetts and tried to make a living on a small farm.

From the start, everything went wrong. Martha broke her leg and became crippled, unable to work in her gardens to grow produce. Margaret and Anne did their best to keep up the work but neither of them, nor their mother had much experience in farming and the garden went dead. Without food to sell, they grew extremely poor and were forced to poverty. They had nowhere to live but a rotted single room shack on the outskirts of the woods. They had absolutely nothing and were forced to forage for food and beg.

When Margaret was 12, they all still lived in poverty. It was so bad that they all had but one pair of tattered old clothing each. Margaret herself had only a hole-ridden and filthy gray cotton gown and did not even have a pair of shoes.

One day, while in the woods looking for berries, Margaret was attacked by a bear and badly injured. Since they did not have money for a doctor or even to travel, Martha and Anne tried to treat Margaret themselves but her wounds became infected. She suffered for over two months until she caught pneumonia and died.

They lived in the shack, penniless for another year and a half until a young man, my great great Grandfather, came across them and offered his help. He was an experienced farmer and he took Martha and Anne to live with him on his farm.

This was told by Great Grandmother to my grandmother and her kids, to my mom and finally to me and my brother. I will most likely pass Margaret's story on to my kids and them to theirs. I have been to the land where my great great Grandfathers farm once stood. My Grandmother still owns the land, but has done nothing with it. The house has long since collapsed and the land is overgrown with grass the bushes. Margaret was buried in the woods near the old shack, but years later, her remains were removed and given a proper burial in a cemetery. I have seen the grave many times; we always drop by when visiting out relatives out west. The gravestone itself has been replaced three times and our family always makes sure her grave is kept adorned with flowers. Unfortunately though, no one remembers her date of birth and no one knows the exact day she died aside from it being sometime during late spring or early summer.

Margaret is still with us today. Almost everyone has had some sort of experience or encounter with her, including myself. I can go on forever about the things my family and I have witnessed, but I will share some of the more memorable ones, some wonderful, some frightening?

Anne lived to be 96. Even in her old age, she was a healthy and strong old lady. Up to her death, she lived alone as her husband died many years ago. Up to the end, she never seemed to have memory problems or other ailments suffered by most senior citizens. Even my Grandmother mixes my name up with my moms or my brothers with my stepfathers and uncles. But my Anne was as sharp and bright as she was when she was younger.

One Christmas, we went to pick her up to bring her over for the holidays. While she was getting ready, she mentioned that she talked to Margaret a two nights ago. Two weeks later, my great grandmother Anne suffered a sudden stroke and died.

On many occasions, when I was little and before I really understood who Margaret was, my mom would come into my room at night to see if I was O.K. When I asked her what was wrong, she said she heard me crying. My stepfather as well would call to me or come into my room asking what was wrong. The same thing happens with my aunts and uncles with their kids also. My Uncle Ricky and Aunt Megan who do not have a daughter have said that they heard the cry of a young girl coming from inside the house and that it is probably Margaret.

As for my personal experience with Margaret, I have heard noises such as footsteps and experienced drops in temperature associated with the presence of a ghost or spirit.

When I was 14, I became very sick with the flu and was suffering from chills. Even with three blankets over me, I was still very cold and shivering, yet I would wake up the next morning with my pajamas soaked in sweat. One night as I lay their shivering and coughing with a headache desperately trying to fall asleep, there was a sudden drop in temperature, cold enough that I could see my breath. Moments later I was overcome with warmth as if my flu just disappeared. I just felt extremely comfortable and quickly fell asleep. My flu did not go away for another couple of days but that night as I lay their freezing and hacking, was probably the worst of it.

On two occasions when I was very little, I tried to make my own lamp. I figured that I could get a light bulb to come on by wrapping a wire around it and sticking it into the sockets. Both times, I did this when my parents were still asleep, yet both times they came out of the bedroom and stopped be just before I stuck the wire in the socket. I believe now that it was Margaret was watching out for me.

Like my great grandmother, others in my family have actually claimed to have seen her including my grandmother, grandfather, great uncle and my uncle Joshua. In all instances, she was wearing a tattered old gray gown and no shoes. My Grandmother had called us up one night crying. She said that she had seen Margaret dancing in circles across the back yard. At the time, my grandfather was in the hospital because of cancer and my grandmother was terrified that her presence meant he would die. But thankfully he survived his cancer though he needed to have a lung removed.

Uncle Josh described a dream he had with her in it.

He was sitting on the front porch talking to her as she sat beside him. He of course is very familiar with her, but in the dream he said he did not know who she was but felt if he knew the girl for a long time, like they were friends the same age just chatting. He did not recall what they actually talked about, but in the dream he remembered that after she got up and left, he somehow knew she was hit my a car and he went to the hospital to see if she was O.K, but no one knew who he was talking about. A week after the dream, his wife, Aunt Laura was hit by a car while jogging and had to spend a week in the hospital.

Now I want to share with you a very amazing picture. It is a picture of my great grandmothers house, taken sometime in the 1950's, before she moved into a smaller, more easily maintainable house. But in the picture is an almost perfectly clear but ghostly image of a young girl who we believe to be Margaret herself. No one really noticed it until three years ago when my grandmother and my mom were going through old photos. It was their too, just entertaining my little cousins who were also visiting grandma and grandpa.

I remember my mother just whispering "Oh my god? oh my god?" she was on the verge of crying and her face was pale. She pointed to the picture and everyone there, aside from my little cousins just could not believe what we saw. We were terrified but at the same time excited. Please have a look; the first image is the full picture scaled down, of the house. Look at the space under the porch. Do you see it? The second image is the picture enlarged with Adobe Illustrator, so the enlarged image does not appear blurred of fuzzy. Here you can clearly see the apparition of a young girl. You can also see that she is wearing what seems to be a tattered gown, gray in color. Look closely; you can see two large holes in the front of the gown and how the sleeve on the right side seems to be missing and the other side is draping down her left arm. What looks like a foot is visible at the lower right hand side.

This is a very amazing discovery to say the least you can almost clearly make out her facial features. We have no real photographs of Margaret at all, since cameras were barely used, especially by very poor people. Just recently we have decided to hand the picture over to an artist who can hopefully create for us a detailed oil painting of her. One more thing, some may explain ghostly image as double exposure or something. In defense, I ask, if it where a double exposure, why would the girl in the picture be wearing a clearly badly tattered gown. My Grandfather who had taken the picture, as well as my grandmother said the only people there when it was taken were they, Anne and my mom who was just a baby at the time.

Well I hope you enjoyed the story. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I know it was very long, but I really wanted to share this with everyone. And Margaret, if you are standing here watching me, I want you to know we all love you.

Chrissie, MA, USA
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