Reportedly the Harry Hibbard House in Bath, New Hampshire is haunted. One report states that Harry “walks the halls of his Federalist mansion.” I’m not out to prove that the haunting is true, but I certainly can examine the lives of the real people behind the story.
Some folks say that ghosts are dead people who are stuck between the place of the living and those of the dead, possibly as the result of a terrible accident, tragedy, or trauma.
The Hibbard family certainly had their share of tragedy–especially Mrs. Hibbard.
Sarah Hale was born the 6th day of January in 1822, in Keene New Hampshire, the daughter of David & Hannah (Emerson) Hale. Her mother was reportedly a relative of Hannah Dustin, the famous (or possibly infamous) woman who was captured by Indians, and managed to kill most of her captors and escape. Her aunt by marriage was Sarah Josepha (Buell) Hale, whose husband David Hale has died prematurely young, leaving his widow and children.
Sarah married in 1843 to Stephen Rowe Bellows. Sadly he died only 7 months later. She remained a widow for four years, returning to Keene NH to live, when she met and married in 1848 to Harry Hibbard. He was a proficient attorney, and she moved with him to his home in Bath, New Hampshire. Another untimely tragedy occurred, when their only child Alice died at a very early age. When Harry Hibbard became active in politics, she supported his efforts, and they spent several happy years together.
As a young attorney in 1844, before his marriage to Sarah, Harry Hibbard had been involved as a prosecuting attorney in the murder trial of William F. Comings, for killing his wife. The jury found Comings guilty of murder in the first degree, and he was sentenced to hang. In June 1853, after being in prison for nine years, William Comings was finally pardoned by the executive authority of the State of New Hampshire. Mr. Comings went on to marry a second time, and to move “out west.” [more on this story will appear in a separate article]
While still a fairly young man, Harry developed a “painful and protracted illness,” and eventually was admitted to a sanatorium (actually the McLean Asylum For the Insane, at Somerville MA). Harry died there in 1872 at the age of 56 years, of “brain disease.”
Sarah grieved for her husband, but continued to live in their home in Bath NH where she collected a variety of historical documents. These papers, which she donated to the New Hampshire historical society, included the signatures or handwriting of many famous politicians and writers.
Seven years after her husband’s death, in 1879, she died suddenly, and was buried next to Harry, under a red granite cross. During her funeral, it is recorded that Rev. William O. White, a twenty-five year pastor of the Unitarian Church in Keene repeated these lines at her grave:
“Here, in an inn a stranger dwelt,
Here joy and grief, by turns, she felt,
Poor dwelling! Now we close the door,
The sojourner returns no more.
Now of a lasting home possessed,
She goes to seek a deeper rest,
Then open to her, gates of peace!
And bid the pilgrim’s journey cease.”
The preachers words would be prophetic, in that Sarah’s home would later become an inn (or at least a B&B) for a time. But is it Sarah who produces the smell of cigar smoke that is sometimes reported in her former house? And who or what is responsible for the rapping noises?
***HALE FAMILY GENEALOGY**
Thomas-1 Hale and his wife, Thomasine or Tamosin, and son Thomas, came to Newbury MA in 1635. They may have been part of the group who first settled in Newbury MA on the banks of the “Quascacunquen,” or Parker River. Coffin supposed him to have been the son of William Hale, Esq. of King’s Walden, Herts, England born there 15 May 1606, but it is not conclusively established. The date and ship of his arrival is unknown. He is described by Coffin as “ae. 78” at his death in 1682, while others state he is “ae 167” in 1677 and “ae. 50” in 1660. Savage ways he was “freeman 7 Sept 1638”. Tradition says that this Thomas of Newbury MA and Deacon Robert Hale of Charlestown were brothers. If this is true then Thomas of Newbury was not the son of William of King’s Walden, as that William had no son Robert. 10 Aug 1638 Thomas Hale was appointed “hayward” along with John Baker. He moved to Haverhill MA “from Newbury” in 1645, where his name heads the list of the first board of selectmen chosen there in 1646. He is mentioned other times in the Haverhill MA town records as road commissioner, a ferry keeper (1648), constable (1649) et al. Around 1652 he returned to Newbury and remained there until 1657 when he moved to Salem MA. He stayed in Salem until 1661, returning once again to Newbury MA. In 1659 Salem lists his occupation as a “glover,” and in 1657 gives him the title “Sarjent.” In real estate transactions he is called “glover,” “yeoman,” and “leather-dresser.” He died 21 Dec 1682 in Newbury MA. His widow, Thomasine died 40 days later in Newbury MA 30 Jan 1682-3.
Children of Thomas & Thomasine (?) Hale:
1. Thomas Hale, b. 1633; m. Mary Hutchinson
2. +John Hale, m1) Rebecca Lowell; m2) Sarah Somerby; m3) Sarah (Symonds) Cottle
4. Samuel Hale, b. 2 Feb 1639-40; m. Sarah isley
5. Apphia Hale, b. 1642; m. Benjamin Rolfe
John-2 Hale, (Thomas-1) born in Newbury MA; resided in Newbury MA, a “housewright,” or carpenter by occupation, and known as “Sergeant” Hale. He married 1st) 5 Dec 1660, Rebecca Lowell, daughter of Richard Lowell of Newbury MA. She was b. 27 Jan 1642 in Newbury and d. there 1 June 1662. He married 2nd) 8 Dec 1663, Sarah Somerby, dau of Henry and Judith (Greenleaf) Somerby of Newbury MA. She was b. 10 Feb 1645-6 in Newbury MA and d. there 19 June 1672. He married 3d) abt. 1673, Sarah (Symonds) Cottle, widow of — Cottle, born abt 1647 and d. 19 Jan 1699-1700. He had a moderate estate. His 3rd wife must have been the “Sarah Hale, aged 33” who testified against Caleb Powell at the March term of the Ipswich MA Court in 1680 to the effect that Joseph Moores had often said in her hearing “that if there were any wizards he was sure Caleb Powell was one! (Coffin, p. 125). He died in Newbury MA 2 June 1707.
Children of John & Rebecca (Lowell) Hale:
1. John Hale, b. 2 Sep 1661; m. Sarah Jacques
Children of John & Sarah (Somerby) Hale:
2. Samuel Hale, b. 15 Oct 1664; d. 15 May 1672
3. +Henry Hale, b. 20 Oct 1666; m. Sarah Kelly
4. Thomas Hale, b. 4 Nov 1668; died bef 1710
5. Judith Hale, b. 5 July 1670; m. Thomas Moody
Children of John & Sarah (Symonds-Cottle) Hale:
6. Joseph Hale, b. 24 Nov 1674; m. Mary Moody
7. Benjamin Hale, b. 11 Aug 1676; d. 31 Aug 1677
8. Moses Hale, b. 10 July 1678; m1) Elizabeth Dummer; m2) Mary Moody
Henry-3 Hale, (John-2, Thomas-1) was born in Newbury MA 20 Oct 1667; married there 11 Sep 1695, Sarah Kelly, prob daughter of John and Sarah (Knight) Kelly. She was born in Newbury MA 1 Sep 1670; she survived her husband and died there 21 Oct 1741. He spent his life in Newbury MA as a carpenter and died there about 1724. On 23 Nov 1724 administration of his estate was granted to his eldest son Thomas.
Children of Henry & Sarah (Kelly) Hale:
1. Thomas Hale, b. 15 Nov 1696; m. 12 Jan 1726-7 to Abigail Pillsbury; d. abt 1765
2. Sarah Hale, b. 20/21 Oct 1698; m. 1717 to Stephen Chase; d. 26 Dec 1755
3. Thomasine Hale, b. 10 Sep 1700; m. 30 March 1726 to Peter Morse/Morss
4. Enoch Hale, b. 11 Oct 1702, d. Dec 1702.
5. Enoch Hale 2nd, b. 7 Oct 1703, twin; m. widow Mary Hills; d. 30 May 1755
6. +Edmund Hale, b. 7 Oct 1703, twin, m. Martha Sawyer; d. 29 May 1788
7. Rebecca Hale, b. 4 Oct 1705; d. 11 May 1706
8. Henry Hale, b. 24 Aug 1707; m. Mary Bartlett; d. 21 May 1792; He was one of the pioneers of Nottingham West (now Hudson) NH. He was a farmer on a large scale, a deacon in the church and a leading man in the community where he lived. His posterity is numerous in New Hampshire and Vermont, and in Franklin and St. Lawrence counties in New York.
9. Hannah Hale, b. 8 May 1709; m. Ezra Pillsbury
10. Judith Hale, b. 28 May 1711; m. William Morse
Edmund-4 Hale, (Henry-3, John-2, Thomas-1) of Newbury MA, Haverhill MA, Plaistow NH, and Alstead NH. He b. 7 Oct 1703 in Newbury MA (twin to Enoch); he d. 29 May 1788 at Alstead NH. He m. 16 May 1728 to Martha Sawyer, dau of Samuel & Abigail Sawyer. She b. 17 Feb 1706. He bought and sold land several times. In his old age he removed to Alstead NH, probably to reside with his son Joseph, and died there. History of Alstead says he removed there in 1782.
Children of Edmund & Martha (Sawyer) Hale:
1. +Joseph Hale, b. 9 Feb 1729-29 Newbury MA, d. 1814; m. Abigail (Smith) Wise
2. Edmund Hale, b. 12 Nov 1780 Newbury MA; m and settled in Londonderry NH, killed by Indians, left two sons
3. Sarah Hale, b. 4 Apr 1733 in Newbury MA: m. — Bradley; lived in NH
4. Jane Hale, prob b. in Haverhill MA; prob. died yougn
5. Enoch 2nd, b. prob Haverhill MA; settled in Maine
6. Martha Hale, b. prob Haverhill MA
7. Abigail Hale, b. prob Haverhill MA
8. Samuel Hale, b. 7 May 1742; poss settled in MA
9. Henry Hale, b. 5 Dec 1744 Plaistow NH
10. Mary Hale, b. 18 July 1848 Plaistow NH; settled in Lyme NH
Joseph-5 Hale, (Edmund-4, Henry-3, John-2, Thomas-1), b. 9 Feb 1728/29 in Newbury MA; d 6 June 1814 Alstead NH; He m. c1751-2 Abigail (Smith) Wise, widow of Wyman Wise. She d. 3 Oct 1808, ae 85 in Alstead NH. He removed with his father to Haverhill MA in 1734 and later removed to Alstead NH prob after the beginning of the American Revolution. He held the office of Coroner in the County of Rockingham NH, under a commission from Sir John Wentowrth, bearing date 15 Dec 1772.
Children of Joseph & Abgail (Smith-Wise) Hale:
1. Hannah Hale, b. 13 Dec 1752; m. John Straw/Strachan
2. Moses Hale, b. 8 Dec 1754; m. Abigail Page
3. +David Hale, b. 1758, d. 1822; m. 6 Sep 1781 to Hannah Emerson. She b. 1762 and d. 1822
4. James Hale, b. 2 Sep 1762; m. — Yeomans
5. Martha Hale, b. 25 Apr 1765; m. William Thomson
David-6 Hale, (Joseph-5, Edmund-4, Henry-3, John-2, Thomas-1), b. 10 March 1758 Atkinson NH;, d. 26 Oct 1822 Alstead NH; He m. 6 Sep 1781 Hannah Emerson, dau of Josiah & Sarah Emerson of Haverhill. She b. 7 Oct 1762 and d. 28 Nov 1822, and reportedly was related to the famed Hannah Dustin. He served during the American Revolution in several campaigns.
Children of David & Hannah (Emerson) Hale:
1. David Hale, b. 3 July 1783 Alstead NH, d. 25 Sep 1822; res. Newport NH who m. 23 Oct 1813 Sarah Josepha (Buell) Hale**
2. James Hale, b. 13 March 1785 Alstead NH, d. 2 Nov 1866; m1) 8 Apr 1807 Jerusha Yeomans; m2) 16 May 1839 Abigail Brown.
3. +Salma Hale, b. 7 March 1787 Alstead NH, d. 19 Nov 1866; m. 4 Jan 1820 Sarah Kellogg KING. She b. 1798 and d. 1865
4. Betsey Hale, b. 27 Aug 1789 Alstead NH; died unmarried 19 May 1876
5. Patty Hale, b. 5 Feb 1792; m 21 May 1812, Benjamin Abbott; she d. 25 Dec 1855
6. Lydia Hale, b. 26 Sep 1795 Alstead NH; m. Elijah Roundy. She d. 15 Apr 1846
7. Thirza Hale, b. 6 Aug 1796 Alstead NH; m. Horace Gregory; she d. 1 Dec 1870
8. infant Hale, b. and d. 22 March 1798
9. Syene Hale, twin, b. 2 Oct 1799 Alstead NH; m1) c1 May 1824 Betsey Dow (b 17 Oct 1803, d. 1 Aug 1844 of Newport NH); he m2) Hannah Philbrick who d. 1879.
10. Silvene Hale, twin, b. 2 Oct 1799; d. 27 Oct 1799
11. Rev. Enoch Hale, b. 19 Sep 1801 Alstead NH, grad. 1826 University of VT, taught school in New London and Alstead NH and d. in Atkinson NH 16 Nov 1830 [or 1820]; m. Sarah Currier
12. Sophy Hale, b. 23 March 1804 Alstead NH; d. 24 March 1804
13. Hannah Hale, b. 8 Apr 1805 Alstead NH; m. 29 June 1829, Cyrus Barton; She d. 3 Feb 1863
14. George Emerson Hale, b. 21 Nov 1808 Alstead NH; d. 14 Nov 1822
Salma-7 Hale, (David-6, Joseph-5, Edmund-4, Henry-3, John-2, Thomas-1), b. 7 March 1787 in Alstead NH, d. 19 Nov 1866, age 79 years. At the age of 13 he was placed in the office of the Farmers’ Museum, a newspaper published at Walpole NH, where he learned the trade of a printer. At 17 he wrote an English grammar first published (in 1804) by THomas & Thomas at Worcester MA, later published in 1831 under the title “A New Grammar of the English Language.” At the age of 18 he became the editor of a republican journal in Walpole NH called the “Political Observatory/Observor.” He was a law student in the office of the Hon. Roger Vose and with Samuel Dinsmoor who was later Governor of NH. In 1812 he was appointed Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of Cheshire Co NH, and went to live in Keene in 1813. In 1816 he was elected to Congress. He received the degree of A.M. at the University of Vermont in 1824, and a degree at Dartmouth College in 1849. He was M.C. from New Hampshire 1817 to 1819 and was a well-known scholar and author. [He wrote, among other titles, “The History of the United States of America upon their First Settlement as Colonies to the Close of the War with Great Britain in 1815,” “Annals of Keene NH”]. He was a trustee of then “Dartmouth University,” and a member of the NH House of Representatives, and the State Senate. In 1820 he married 4 Jan 1820 Sarah Kellogg King, dau of Seth and Susan King of Suffield CT, She b. 31 Aug 1798 and d. 19 April 1865. She was one of the regents for New Hampshire of the national association of women for the preservation of Mt. Vernon VA in 1859. She was highly gifted in social affairs and entertained with a genial and delightful hospitality.
Children of Salma & Sarah Kellogg (King) Hale:
1. William King-8 Hale, b. 7 Nov 1820 Keene NH; d. 29 Aug 1822 Keene NH
2. +Sarah King-8 Hale, b. 6 Jan 1822 Keene NH; d. 5 Oct 1879; m. 8 Aug 1843 to Stephen Rowe Bellows, who d. 17 March 1844. She m2d) 13 May 1848 to Harry Hibbard (he b. 28 July 1872). Sarah and Harry Hibbard had one child, Alice, who died at an early age. Harry Hibbard was born June 1, 1816 in Concord Vermont, and died 28 July 1872. He was a graduate of Dartmouth College (Hanover NH), where he was a law student. He was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar in 1838. Residing in Bath, New Hampshire, he became involved in politics, both local and national, serving both in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, but also in the United States Congress. He was friends with Franklin Pierce, who reportedly stayed at his home. He died in a sanatorium (actually at McLean Insane Asylum) in Somerville, MA 28 July 1872 of “Brain Disease,”and is buried in the Village Cemetery in Bath NH.
3. George Silsbee-8 Hale, b. 24 Sep 1825 Keene NH, d. 27 July 1897 at Bar Harbor Maine, m. 25 Nov 1868 Ellen (Sever) Tibbetts. She b. 14 June 1835, d. 1904. He graduated from Harvard in 1844 Had at 2 sons, one being, Richard Walden Hale, b. 30 June 1871 in Milton MA and d. 5 March 1943 in Dover MA.
1. NEHGS Register 2:325 and 31:96; 21:292
2. Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910
3. Genealogy of descendants of Thomas Hale of Watton, England, and of Newbury, Mass., by Robert S. Hale, Albany NY; Weed Parsons & Co., 1889; page 367
4. In memory of Sarah King Hibbard, etc. of Bath NH; Not Published; Boston, 1883; Google Books [Photograph in this article also from this source]
5. A history of the town of Keene (NH) by Simon Goodell Griffin; Keene NH; Sentinel Print. Co., 1904, page 604