Spooky legend persists in Wilton

Paranormal investigator Mark Linn of Milford readies the equipment he hopes will capture the “aura” of Mary Ritter Spaulding.

WILTON – Mary Ritter Spaulding died in 1808 at the age of 35. She was buried in a back corner of Vale End Cemetery, a quiet hilltop graveyard, one of the oldest in town. There are those who think she still visits the site and, over the years, many people have visited, to the detriment of the area, according to longtime residents. They say stones have been moved and broken.

While several online accounts of encounters state, “the story was handed down from generation to generation.” Longtime residents and members of the Historical Society say that isn’t necessarily true. They date the rise of the story to “maybe in the 1970s.”

Member Jane Bergeron, who grew up in the neighborhood in the 1940s and 1950s, said she never heard the story when she was young. There is a house in the neighborhood said to be haunted and attempts have been made to connect Spaulding with that house, but there is no evidence she ever lived there.

The owner of that house says it is not haunted and does not want it identified as such.

On Oct. 17, paranormal investigator Mark Linn of Milford invited those interested to join him in an attempt to communicate with Spaulding. He was joined by fellow investigators Stephanie Burke and John Brightman, but by only three local residents: women from Milford who he said were “just curious.” They prefer to remain anonymous and left the program “unconvinced.”

Lichens cover the marker making it nearly impossible to read. Visitors have left pennies on a nearby stone in accordance with several ancient traditions, including the Greek myth of the dead needing to pay the ferryman to get across the River Styx.

Linn set up a variety of electronics, including a “spirit box,” at the base of Spaulding’s marker. He said the radio frequencies pick up the voices and presences in the area. None appeared during the first hour of the program.

Linn has been investigating paranormal activity for many years and has several degrees in the subject as well as being an ordained minister. He has visited Vale End many times, as well as sights across New England.

“There are 20 to 25 spirits in this cemetery,” he said, including those of several children.

Burke said she has had “the gift of sensing spirits” since she was young and explained most people’s disbelief.

“We are programmed from when we are children to not believe in ghosts and monsters,” she said. “I’ve always been different.”

Brightman said one of his areas of interest was the many abandoned insane asylums in Massachusetts.

Mary Ritter Spaulding was born in 1763. According to the genealogy in the Livermore history of Wilton in 1888, “she was regarded as a woman of superior intellect, a great worker and a skilled tailoress,” and was raised in the church.

Popular lore says there is a “lot of mystery “surrounding her death, but there is none in the record. She died young, but she had seven children in 10 years, Historical Society members said.

“She was probably worn out,” members said.

As was usual at the time, a widower left with small children soon married again. The second Mrs. Spaulding was a widow from Milford, Mary Colburn.

“No controversy at all,” members said.

Popularity of the site, spread widely on the internet, has caused police to close the cemetery after dark and to patrol the area this time of year.

Bergeron said the stones in the area have been moved, and she heard of a piece of Mary’s headstone being offered on eBay.

The Blue Lady is said to materialize as a column of blue light over the grave, and most experiences have been in October, usually on a misty or foggy evening, not a bright sunny afternoon such as Oct. 17.

Historical Society members said they wish people would just “leave the poor lady in peace.”