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I don't know how I missed this on the way to Ellsworth, but I did! The cemetery is right
on the main road through the town on Busksport, and the monument is clearly visible from
The iron gate around the cemetery is ornamented with skulls. It is a very picturesque
place, like much of the state.
The Buck on the monument refers to Colonel Buck, founder of the town and Revolutionary War
So why does this tomb attract so much interest that the town felt compelled to
erect a sign explaining the legend? Well, the legend is rather macabre...
A little historical background: John Buck was born in 1719 in Massachusetts. Back then,
Maine was still part of MA.
He got a parcel of land in what is now Maine. Buck is described by his contemporaries as
having "dark, penetrating eyes" and he was a man of strong convictions that would not easily
be changed. Buck was appointed
Colonel of the 5th Militia regiment of his county and the Justice of the Peace. He was
Fort Brownal, a British fort during the French & Indian Wars.
The legend of Colonel Buck and the witch was immortalized and romanticized in a
poem called "The Foot of Tucksport" by Robert P. Tristam Coffin (of all names...),
and it goes something like this:
A woman was accused of witchcraft and brought before Colonel Buck. She was then condemned
to death. As the noose was placed around
her neck, she supposedly uttered this curse," Jonathan Buck, listen to these words, the last
my tongue shall utter.
In the spirit of the only true and living God I speak to you. You will soon die. Over
your grave they will erect
a stone that all may know where the bones of the mighty Jonathan Buck are crumbling to dust.
But listen, all ye people, and may your descendents ever know the truth. Upon that stone will
the imprint of my foot, and for a long time after your accursed race has perished from the
earth the people
will come from afar to view the fulfillment and will say: 'There lies the man who murdered a
woman.' Remember well, Jonathan Buck, remember well."
When the Colonel died, his grave was marked by an ordinary marker. In 1852, Buck's descendents
decided to erect a larger, more elegant monument to better honor their esteemed ancestor. That is when the
curse came to bear.
It was noted at the time that the relatives had chosen an exceptionally clean,
unblemished piece of granite.
Nevertheless, one morning the townspeople noticed the unmistakeable mark of a leg and a foot
on the front
of the monument! it was assumed that it was done by vandals, and they attempted to have the
with some kind of solution, but nothing work. The legend goes on to state that they tried to
gouge it out, but it returned, and that the monument was replaced three
times, but the image returned every time.
The marker near the stone points out that no one was ever executed for witchcraft in Maine.
It also states that this was after the
witchcraft hysteria died down. Also, it states the marker was never replaced and that the
image is from an inclusion in the granite.
As far as the inclusion, why wasn't it noted at the time of carving? Inclusions don't just
appear as far as I know.
As far as witches, there are many legends of witches being tortured and executed, and it is
possible this one was not put on the books for some reason. Yes, the Salem witch trials had
happened in 1692, but rememebr Salem is not
the only place in the US where witch trials ocurred. (See The Witch of
Ridley Creek and
Barbara Houndsworth) So, I would
say no one was ever offcially
executed for witchcraft in Maine, but history records at least at least three people
were "examined". Also, at that time in history, Maine was part of Massachusetts
Colony. In addition, the woman could easily have been accused of another crime and simply
suspected of being a witch.
Her manner of death would not have been by burning. No one has ever been burned in the US for
witchcraft or any other crime. They have all been hanged, or died as a result or pressing or
Interesting local legend: a local "simple" man was accused of murdering a woman who was found
and missing a leg! Of course, he was innocent. The man was said to have claimed, just before
his execution, that this injustice would
be made clear by the appearance of the missing leg on his grave!
The cemetery is rather spooky. I had some interesting temperature fluctautions there as well
misty-looking shapes on my 35mm shots.