The Hayden Family Curse – Albany, VT
Legend has it that many years ago the entire Hayden family perished as victims of a curse.
In 1910, a horse drawn hearse carried the final remains of William Henry Hayden, last in the male line of his family, along the South Albany Road, to the village cemetery. Curtains were drawn across the mansion’s windows in tribute, even though the extravagantly furnished house had remained without a tenant for nearly 20 years. Some would remember Mercie Dale’s curse upon the family that the Hayden family name would die and pass into oblivion. What would happen now to the vacant, dark mansion with its wide fields and impressive barns? Was there a hidden family fortune and if so, where had it been secreted away?
Those answers and other secrets lie within the final resting place of Henry Hayden.
Over the years, William acquired so much land that in 1823 he found himself in serious financial trouble. His mother-in-law, Mercie Dale had given him money over the years to help but it had never been repaid while he continued to ask for more. Suspicion set in and Mercie Dale became victim to a long illness, accusing William of poisoning her.
As the end came, Mercie uttered her ominous curse in the presence of her daughter, Silence: “The Hayden name shall die in the third generation and the last to bear the name shall die in poverty.” In the final days, neighbor Sally Rogers cared for Mercie until she died. Her body was interred in the Rogers family cemetery as Mercie refused to lay within the same cemetery as the Haydens.
Once the new mansion was built, the Haydens enjoyed a privileged life that was the envy of the region. Pleasure rides in the horse drawn handsome carriages would often be the order of the day. There were servants to wait on family members. A New Year’s Eve grand party would be held on the third floor ballroom.
For the most part, life was going well for the Hayden’s and “the curse” was all but forgotten. Will and Azubah’s daughters were all married and soon bearing grandchildren regularly. Though one son, William Henry (known as Henry) was more often than not erratic in nature and not very dependable. It wasn’t long before things started to take a turn for the worse.
The curse continued to victimize the Hayden family
The only Hayden eventually left alive was Henry’s daughter Armenia. All that was left of her inheritance was an unsavory family reputation and a number of unpaid debts. Due to illness and humiliation, she decided to live out her final days, in Waterville, Maine, where she died alone in poverty on February 20, 1927. She was the last of the Hayden family and the final victim of Mercie Dale’s curse.
A Canadian family purchased the mansion and land for $25,000. Rumor is that the extensive bootlegging now took place within the estate, utilizing the underground tunnels previously used for smuggling Chinese. Public dances were held in the old ballroom as the new owners enjoyed their social status. Finally in 1922, the Canadians sold the property.
The Fall of the House of Hayden
Over the years, each successive owner found the mansion difficult to maintain in the grand style it was accustomed to. During a period of hard financial times, the estate was sold off piece by piece, barns burned, the mansion fell into disrepair and the ell was engulfed by fire.
For many years, the mansion remained abandoned and was open inside and out to anyone passing by.
Stories of ghostly activity and odd lights within the abandoned house were reported by people passing by over the years.
Some claim to have heard violin music resonating from the ballroom on a brightly lit, full moon evening in the summer. An interview with Dwight Dow, a descendant of the family, sets the record straight: “Ghosts? Hell no!!! Just some drunk passin’ by in the middle of the night making up things. They had a ballroom floor, on springs, for dancing but they weren’t no ghosts or none of that. Who’s the damn fool that told you that anyway?” Dwight Dow passed away in 1976, soon after the interview.
The following is based on an interview with Helen Stacy of Albany, VT. on 6/10/2016:
Helen grew up at the Hayden house in the 1950’s. She lived there for about 20 years, starting at age 11. Her family (Alfred and Goldie Mason) purchased the Hayden house for a mere $15,000 at the time. Helen said that there were a lot of fires at the property that seemingly started on their own. She recalls seeing a fire start in the roof of an outbuilding that started spontaneously while no one was in the area. She also recalls when the ell and carriage barn burned down, later replaced by the structure that’s in place today.
Yes, the Hayden house IS haunted!
Despite the claim by Dwight Dow in a 1970’s interview I conducted with him, Helen claims that there were indeed paranormal activities taking place within the house. Although she doesn’t believe that there was an actual curse, she did say that the Hayden family died out and that misfortune haunted the house for years after.
Two of the stories she recalls are as follow:
“My mother saw ghosts at least twice. The first time, she noticed a man sitting in the living room dressed in Lincoln period clothes with a hat similar to what Abraham Lincoln wore. She didn’t believe what she was seeing and tried to ignore it. But, she had a little boy visiting at the time and the boy saw the man too. He called it “Pepere” (meaning grandfather in French) and approached it but the apparition stood up, walked toward the hall and then vanished.”
“Another time, my mother heard old style ballroom music playing. It seemed to be coming from the dance hall in the upper portion of the house. Sort of like old fashioned waltz music. Curious as to where the music was coming from, she walked to the top of the stairs and the music just stopped and went away.”
I asked her if she knew of any other odd, ghostly happenings.
“Well, I am 80 now, so I can’t remember too many things but I do know that a lot of people would not stay at the house. Everybody in town knew there was something different about the Hayden house and most people didn’t want to stay there.”
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