October is the month for strange stories of the dead, and Maine has more than its share. We’ve dug up four of our favorites.
The Lady in a Rum Cask, Cutler
The inscription on Jeanette Corbett’s headstone in Old Cutler Cemetery offers no hint of the peculiar circumstances surrounding her burial: Jeanette, wife of Captain Tristram Corbett, died in Aransas, Cuba, 1873. But ask around town, where nearly every other family is named Corbett, and they’ll tell you: Mrs. Corbett slumbers in a cask full of rum. As the story goes, Jeanette succumbed to a tropical disease in Cuba. To preserve his wife’s body for the long voyage home, Captain Corbett placed Jeanette in a rum keg, which townspeople, fearing that her disease might be contagious, insisted serve as her coffin.
The Bucksport Foot, Bucksport
Poor Colonel John Buck! A stain on a monument near his grave has unfairly stained his reputation. In his day, Buck was a local hero for rebuilding the Revolutionary War-ravaged settlement that bears his name. The towering Buck monument wasn’t erected until 1852 — 57 years after his death — and it was even later that the leg-shaped stain appeared, inspiring one of Maine’s best-known ghost stories. According to the tale, Buck’s tomb is haunted by a woman he sentenced to death for witchcraft, and it is her leg that appears on the stone. The truth is, Buck never executed anyone, but such is the power of the curse of the Bucksport foot that it’s how the colonel is best remembered today.
Dead Man in the Road I, Phippsburg
Okay, Nathaniel Morrison’s grave is not literally in the road, but it’s darned close. For decades, his crooked tombstone on the shoulder of Route 209 was believed to mark the grave of an unknown soldier. Then, a few years ago, sisters Jessie Sutfin and Julie Varian wrestled the slate straight, revealing an inscription: “In memory of Nathaniel Morason who died Oct. 15, 1814 in the 28th Year of His Age.” Delving into town records, the sisters learned that Nathaniel was indeed a soldier who died during an epidemic that swept his unit’s encampment. Apparently Nathaniel’s body was so ripe that the detail charged with taking him home to Sebasco buried him roadside. As a final insult, the stone carver misspelled his name.
Dead Man in the Road II, Baxter State Park
Though its occupant’s name is lost to history, the grave of The Unknown River Driver is well cared for. Outlined by large rocks, the mound sits on the edge of the Park Tote Road, about 20 miles from Baxter’s south entrance. Nearby is Nesowadnehunk Stream, from which, presumably, the logger’s body was recovered one spring day when the icy, log-choked water ran high and dangerously fast.