Could “an Indian maniac’s” prophecy explain the series of fires that occurred in the town of Carroll, New Hampshire…
or were they simply due to faulty chimneys, coincidence, and bad luck?
The ancient tales of the White Mountains of New Hampshire include several references to Native American curses–including that of “Giant’s Grave” in the town of Carroll.
The “Giant’s Grave” itself was a mound or ridge of river gravel or sand located in the now “Fabyan” section of town. According to the History of Coos County, it was tradition that an “Indian maniac once stood on this ridge, and swinging a pitch-pine torch, which he had kindled at a tree struck by lightning, shouted in the storm this prophecy–‘The Great Spirit whispered in my ear, no pale-face shall take deep roots here.'”
I found no mention why this aborigine was so upset, nor why he used the term “pale-face” (which sounds like a sound bite from a Western movie).
What is known:
Abel Crawford was the first white settler to live at Giants Grave, followed by Eleazer Rosebrook and his family in the winter of 1792.
In 1803 Eleazer built a rude log teamster’s tavern, to house drivers, who were the most common travelers passing through this remote area. Ethan Allen Crawford (Eleazer Rosebrook’s grandson) inherited the place. In 1817 he built a better hotel, but just the following year it burned. ( #1 )
In 1839 Ethan Allen Crawford inherited the land. He was known as “the Giant of the Hills,” and stood almost 7 feet tall. He built a two-story tavern, painted red, with the moose-horns for a sign. The building was lathed, not plastered, and had a stone chimney, in which in the coldest part of the winter, “over a cord of wood would be consumed in twenty-four hours.” This building was also destroyed by fire. ( #2 )
Another hotel was completed here by Horace Fabyan, and in 1853 this burnt to the ground. ( #3 ).
After this legal controversy arose over the ownership of the land constituting the original hotel site, which prevented the immediate rebuilding of the hotel. However, during the autumn of 1858, the stables, which the previous fire had spared, were struck by lightning and destroyed. ( #4 )
Finally a stock company, called the Mount Washington Hotel Company, composed of Messrs. Hartshorn, Walcott and Sylvester Marsh was chartered, and in 1872 work was begun on a new hotel.
At this time the “Giant’s Grave (mound) was removed to obtain a level site.
By now, there were locals, aware of the legend, who wondered if the curse had been broken….
The new hotel, again called “Fabyan House,” (see likeness at the top of this article) was opened to guests in 1873. It was a big, square hotel where 400 guests could be accommodated. At a station nearby all the railways of the White Mountain region concentrated, and, during the season, there was a constant crowd of people coming and going. This building survived the longest on this spot, but it too burned in 1951. ( #5 )
Today, the lovely township of Carroll in Coos County New Hampshire includes the villages of Bretton Woods, Fabyan and Twin Mountain.
The original Fabyan Railroad Station which stood near the hotel, but had not been affected by the original curse, was restored and converted into an excellent eating establishment called Fabyan’s Station Restaurant and Lounge, which exists today.
–History of Coös County, New Hampshire by George Drew Merrill; Syracuse N.Y.: W.A. Fergusson & Co., 1888, 1888
–Chronicles of the White Mountains by Frederick Wilkinson Kilbourne; Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1916
–Web site: http://www.cog-railway.com/