Francestown New Hampshire: Is Haunted Lake Haunted?

Old postcard of Scobie Pond, aka Haunted Lake in Francestown NH

Old postcard of Scobie Pond, aka Haunted Lake in Francestown NH

About two miles east of the “village” section of Francestown, New Hampshire lies a sheet of water now known as both “Scoby Pond,” and “Haunted Lake.”  Even before the area was officially settled, it was called “Haunted Pond.”   It is somewhat circular in form, although some have determined its shape is more like a parallelogram. It is almost a mile in length (east and west) and nearly five-sixths of a mile in width. Some say it is “rather shallow.” One branch of the Piscataquog River issues from it.

The official town history discusses the traditions concerning its title “Haunted.” One legend has it that a terrible fire once burnt the shores of the lake killing every living thing and leaving it looking charred and spooky. When the Native People and later European surveyors walked this land, they noted its weird and startling appearance.

It was written in Hon. Matthew Patten’s Diary (of Bedford NH) that when he was employed to survey or “run the boundaries of New Boston,” in 1753 he made allowance for “what part of the Haunted Pond it takes in.”  The History of Francestown mentions that about the time of this survey that Patten and two of his assistants camped near the outlet of the Pond one night. “Soon after darkness set in, there commenced groanings and shrieks as of a human being in distress, and these continued, most plaintive and affecting, till nearly morning.”  If there was any doubt about the appropriateness of this Pond’s name, certainly this odd event sealed its fate.  For more than a generation it was called “Haunted Pond.”

About 1780 David Scoby built a saw mill and a grist mill at the outlet of the lake.  Reportedly “as they were dragging logs down over the bank onto the ‘ways,’ they laid bare a human skeleton of a large size, and shown by the teeth and other evidences to be that of a young man!” One explanation for this skeleton is a separate tale about two hunters from Dunstable MA who were trapping in the area of New Boston, when one of them was killed by a catamount. Being impractical to carry the body many miles home, his friend buried him where he fell. The Scoby family maintained mills in this vicinity until selling out to Daniel Fuller. Mr. Fuller maintained them until about 1860 when they were abandoned.

There were a few tragedies that occurred on Scoby Pond, that may have continued its “haunted” mystique.  Among them were:
– A boy named Jacob Langdell, aged 15, drowned about 1810. Found with lilies clasped in hand. [author’s note: the lilies part is pretty odd, don’t you think?]
– A boy named Samuel Allen, drowned about 1816
– Ichabod Gray, drowned June 20, 1824, noticed states: “In Francestown, drowned, in Haunted Pond, Mr. Ichabod Gray, aged 55, deranged.”
– Nathaniel Aiken, drowned about 1830

At any rate, during the time Mr. Scoby and Fuller ran the mills, the locals began to call this pond after the Scoby/Scobie Family.  This moniker continued even as some of the locals continued to call it “Haunted Lake.”

Apparently the haunted story did not scare away everyone.  Buildings were erected on the west shore of the lake in an area called “Shattuck’s Grove,” where it was considered a remarkable resort for “fishing, scenery, delightful shade, pure air, and pleasure parties.”  By 1912 boy scout troops were using Scobie Pond as a camping location.

Is Haunted Lake haunted? If it is, those spirits appear to be quieter these days. Today residents and tourists alike appreciate this beautiful pond for its scenery, no matter what it is called.

Janice

PS: Scoby/Scobie Pond should not be confused with another Pond of the same name located in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

** PARTIAL SCOBY GENEALOGY**

David Scoby (b abt 1743) who settled on the Daniel Ordway place in Francestown NH, as early as 1778 was the son of Joseph Scoby whose father immigrated to America from Belfast, Ireland in 1737. The name of the father of Joseph is believed to have been David, and he is said to have brought with him, his daughter Mary, as well as his son Joseph, and to have left in Ireland a daughter named Catherine, and a son whose name is not given. Mary died in America, unmarried. Joseph held public office in Bedford years in succession. David Scoby was a man of some enterprise, being the first to utilize the water of Scoby pond by building a saw mill near its outlet. He died in Francestown NH 28 Apr 1829, aged eighty-six years. His wife died in Lowell MA.
Children of David & ? Scoby:
1. Mary Scoby, b. abt 1770; m. William Cochran of Francestown NH; she d Francestown NH 17 Nov 1851, aged 81 years.
2. John Scoby,  m. Maria Griffin of Weare NH on 1 Aug 1799. He died in Goffstown NH 22 July 1851
3. Ann Scoby, b. abt 1779; m. John Manahan of Francestown NH. She d. in Francestown NH 20 Dec 1854, aged 75 years.
4. Joseph Scoby, practiced medicine in Windham NH, removing there 31 July 1810 and living in the Centre. The History of Windham says  “He was a very passionate man, possessed fair abilities, but his life was not such as to command the full respect of his fellow-citizens. He died there about 1825; was postmaster of Windham NH from 1820 to 1824
5. James R. Scoby, m. 2 Nov 1807 in Charlemont MA to Sarah “Sally” Spurr of Deerfield [NEHGS 52:341] of Boston MA. His death was caused by his falling from a flag pole to which he was adjusting a rope. James R. Scoby & wife Sarah living in Greenfield MA. St. James Episcopal Church recs in Greenfield include: BIRTHS: 1 Dec 1824 Julia [she d. 21 Feb 1844 age 19 yrs]; 3 May 1817 Sarah Ann; 28 Oct 1821 Mary Maria; BURIAL, son James Warren 8 months, 26 Sep 1827. James R. died 25 Sep 1842, aged 60 [so b. abt 1782], and his wife Sarah d. 21 Aug 1840, age 58.
6. +William Scoby, b 1782 Francestown NH; m. Jane M. Dickey of Francestown NH 22 Dec 1812. He died in Milford NH.
7. Jean Scoby, m. Robert Smith of Windham NH on 6 March 1821. Resided in Windham NH.
8. Susannah Scoby, m. 8 Dec 1814 in Francestown NH to Alpheus Gay, son of Ichabod and Ruth (Billings) Gay. She died in Manchester NH Aug 1872. He b. 13 June 1790 n Dedham MA and d. 1 Nov 1859. Children: Azel, Mary, Alpheus Jr. (perhaps others).
9. David Scoby Jr., m. Rebecca (Allen) Whiting of Francestown NH; lived in a small house that once stood west of the Ordway house. He removed to New York.
10. Martha Scoby, m. William McAlvin/McIlvin of Francestown NH 6 Apr 1820; died in Francestown NH 30 Jan 1874, aged 80 years. He was b. 2 May 1794 in Antrim NH and d. 1863. Their children were: Susan Jane (b 4 Apr 1821, m. H.P. Clark); William Franklin (b 14 July 1822, d. 1854 unm); and Mary-Ann (b 13 march 1824, m. Francis H. Duncklee).

Major William Scoby, son of David Scoby was born in Francestown NH in 1782. He married 22 Dec 1812 to Jane M. Dickey. He was a veteran of the War of 1812. He was present with his company at the battle of Lundy’s Lane in the 21st Regiment, of the US Infantry, under the command of James Miller, who by order of General Eleazer W. Ripley led a desperate charge against a British battery, stationed on a hill which commanded the battlefield. After hard fighting with fixed bayonettes he succeeded in silencing the battery, and gained the signal victory of Lundy’s Lane. After the war, for reasons not apparent, he lived the life of a hermit in the little old huts about Milford and Amherst NH, and on land that was within the limits of Monson. Mr. Scoby was an ardent Democrat of the Jacksonian school, a subscriber and reader of the Nashua Gazette. He had two sons, one of whom lived in Lawrence MA, who it was reported paid his last sickness bills and funeral charges. [?Addison Scoby one of them, and also ?William and Mary J. of Lowell MA] Mr. Scoby died at the house of Isaac Lovejoy in Amherst NH in 1849, aged about 67 [NEHGS database says age 61, buried Elm St. Cemetery, Milford NH]

Sources:
1. “History of Francestown, N.H,” by George K. Wood, 1895; var pages
2. An Account of Some of the Early Settlers of West Dunstable, Monson.. by Charles S. Spaulding, Telegraph Press, 1915; page 142
3. NEHGS Register
4. 1790-1930 U.S. Census

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7 Responses to Francestown New Hampshire: Is Haunted Lake Haunted?

  1. Russ Brady says:

    The lilies could be water lilies.

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  4. Bill Brown says:

    Would a resident of New Boston (home adjacent to the Francestown line) be permitted to paddle his kayak on Haunted Lake? Or is the town beach reserved exclusively for Francestownians?

  5. Stephen courcy says:

    Never have I ever heard of a haunting at the haunted pond where the boy got kill by his best friend and then a few weeks later a boy drown with his fist closed with water lilies.

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