Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Hayden Family Curse

William Henry Hayden known as “Will” moved his family to Albany, Vermont in the early 1800s. He borrowed money from his mother-in-law Mercie Dale who was a widow and financially well off.

Mercie moved with the family, and her money helped the family settle into this new community. Will never paid this loan back, and several years later he found himself in severe financial trouble. He once again approached Mercie and requested additional money.

She refused and now uncomfortable moved away from the family. In the following months, she was struck by an ongoing illness. Now suspicious, she accused Will of poisoning her.

In 1809, as she lay dying in the presence of her daughter Silence she uttered an ominous curse in which she declared the Hayden name would die and pass into oblivion.

“The Hayden name shall die in the third generation and the last to bear the name shall die in poverty.”

Mercie bitterly announced she refused to be buried in the Hayden family cemetery she instead requested to be interred in a neighbors’ family plot.

Life went on, and the curse was forgotten.

Will Hayden’s daughters all got married and supplied the couple with several grandchildren. But the family’s luck and fortunes quickly took a turn for the worse.

Of the couple’s four sons all but one died young. The one that survived Henry was named after his father. He slowly started to show signs of erratic behavior.

Will and his wife Azabah became estranged after Will lost most of the family fortune. He later also lost his eyesight.

Will at one point fled to Canada to avoid his creditors. He died later in New York penniless.

Will’s son Henry Jr. built an extravagantly furnished home for his family in 1854 after his father's death. *

Henry Hayden Jr. mansion
The Henry Hayden Jr. family quickly became the envy of the neighborhood. The family would take regular pleasure rides down South Albany Road in handsome horse-drawn carriages.

Henry's family lived comfortably with many servants to fulfill all their needs. Their annual New Year’s party held in the new mansions 3rd story ballroom with its “spring suspended floor” was always a big success.

Hayden Family plot

As Henry Jr. continued to grow unstable, his mother cut him out of the will. He had one daughter named Mamie. He died in 1910 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Henry Jr. body was carried in a horse-drawn hearse that passed his old home on the way to the cemetery. The curtains in the windows were shut in tribute, but by this time his mansion had been empty for 20 years because he could no longer afford to live in it.

Many now recalled Mercie’s curse and most believed it had taken its toll on the Hayden family.

The only Hayden left alive was Henry Jr.’s daughter Armenia or as she was known, Mamie. All that was left of her inheritance was an unsavory family reputation and a large number of unpaid bills.

Ill and humiliated she moved to Waterville, Maine where she died alone in poverty in February of 1927.

She was the last victim of Merice Dale’s curse.

* This 160-year-old Greek revival style mansion located on Route 14 is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A family from Canada purchased the old Hayden mansion for $25,000.

Rumors started to spread that the underground tunnels that Henry Jr. had once used to smuggle illegal Chinese immigrants to supply his farmland with cheap labor were now being used for a large bootlegging operation.

This new family held dances once more in the 3rd-floor ballroom. They enjoyed the social status this brought. In 1922 they sold the mansion.

Most of the subsequent owners did not have the money to maintain the old mansion. The estate was eventually sold piece by piece other parts burnt down.

The mansion abandoned for years spiraled into disrepair.

Stories began to circulate that the old mansion located on the outskirts of town was haunted.

People passing by reported seeing strange lights. Others mentioned hearing music coming from the 3rd-floor ballroom. They stated this room was brightly lit at the time they heard this music.

Some believe that the ghosts of the Chinese immigrants that Henry smuggled into the country remain. These workers were often buried in unmarked graves near the family’s farm.

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