Halloween and ghost stories go together. Every town has its stories of murder and mayhem, and they are often revived at nightfall on the last day of October.

There’s the tale of “Granny” in Greene, and there’s the story of an enchantress who lived beside a road in Litchfield.

Lewiston’s newspapers in the early 1900s recorded accounts of Halloween parties every year, and they were mostly festivities for young adults. Bates College students and members of local clubs sponsored costume events at Halloween, and they spent the evening swapping scary tales.

An organization known as the Zama Zita girls celebrated “with a jollification in the home of Miss Dorothy Newell, Webster Street, Lewiston.” They all came in costume, sometimes impersonating fictional characters who were popular some seventy-plus years ago, but less known today. One young lady came as “Sis Hopkins” (a female country bumpkin). Two others came as Buster Brown and Mary Jane. They were comic strip characters dating back to 1902, and both became know as children’s shoe styles.

Others were costumed as “a Yama girl,” a spook, a baby, a Red Cross nurse and a Bates boy.

Their hostess, Miss Newell, was “charmingly gowned in white,” the news story said.

“Early in the evening, the merrymakers climbed the stairs to the garret and there they listened to spooky ghost stories … the kind that made the teeth chatter and cold shivers run down the back.”

Those storytellers may have repeated the tale of an unfortunate woman known to the people of Greene as “Granny.” In his “Folklore of Maine,” Horace Beck says this woman cared for the sick and ailing among her neighbors, but like many people a few hundred years ago, her use of natural herbs met with suspicion. Sometimes the remedies failed, and the kind intentions of ladies like Granny were misunderstood. Outlandish stories were invented concerning her “supernatural powers.”

It was claimed that she could change people into horses and drive them all night, so that they awoke exhausted in the morning.

People said Granny could make furniture fly around the room, and they attributed many other strange tricks to her.

Ironically, their distrust worked well for Granny. In order to stay “on the good side” of this strange lady, the early settlers of Greene went out of their way to make sure she was well-provided for.

Residents on a road in Litchfield believed that one of their neighbors was “an enchantress.” This woman was said to be cranky. Townspeople said she often made their ox teams balk when they passed in front of her house. They thought she was placing a curse on the oxen, and they blamed her for being stubborn about removing the curse.

One day, a squirrel jumped out of a tree in front of her house. It ran in front of a passing ox team and wagon. Of course, this startled the oxen, and the farmer gave the squirrel a sound whack with his goad stick. At that instant, the woman in the house screamed. That was enough to make the people of Greene believe that the spell had finally been broken.

The Town of Minot is the location of another story that gets repeated around Halloween.

For years, early settlers from Massachusetts had worked hard on farms and in a variety of occupations in the small community. One winter, a party was held to break the monotony.

It was a joyous time with a great deal of dancing and singing. Someone suggested that they bob for apples in a tub of water, so George, a husky lad of 18, picked up two empty water buckets and headed for the nearby well.

The merrymaking went on until someone noticed that George had not returned. A group went to the door, and when they looked out, his footprints could be seen clearly leading to the well.

Beside the last of the tracks were the two empty buckets. There was no sign of a struggle, just nothing at all.

The woods were searched and the well was dredged. Not a trace of the missing young man was ever found.

The story, as printed in an old edition of the Lewiston Evening Journal magazine section, said, “This was such a strange event that an account of it was entered in the family Bible.”

An almost identical version of the story is told about a farmer in Poland who disappeared one night halfway to his barn.

Dave Sargent is a freelance writer and native of Auburn. He can be reached by sending email to [email protected]

Spooky tales are told in local towns.

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