The history of Keene is like that of any older city. There has been crime, fortune tellers, bars, gambling, and tragedy mixed in with commerce, churches,education, pride and growth.
All cities have a dark side, and perhaps hidden in a home is an unwritten story that is part of the past history of almost all towns.
The home is older, but perhaps only 1920’s. It is currently empty, though there are plans for it to be rented out soon. I met the owner, a man in his early 40’s, at the front door. Mark assured me the home was ”safe”, but wanted me to see the bloody floor. I had assured him I was fine with just hearing his story. My goal is just to document ghost stories as folklore, not prove or disprove them. Mark still insisted I needed to see the floor. It seemed important to him that I believe the story of what his family went through.
Mark said he bought the home as a “flip” about 4 years ago. “I was going to do most of the work myself, I grew up doing this kind of work. I figured, a year, at most two, I’d make an easy profit.” Things didn’t quite go as planned. “My wife got pregnant, and then she couldn’t work. I had to take as much overtime as I could at my job to make up the income. We gave up our apartment and just moved into the home while I worked on it. It was slow going. I worked on the bathrooms and kitchen first so we could use the place. The bedrooms were just ugly, so they were going to be last.”
Mark claims as soon as they moved into the house, his wife started having nightmares. She would wake up at night, claiming she heard “women crying”. Mark said he figured it was “just being pregnant”. Mark decided with the baby coming, he might cheer his wife up if he skipped some of the downstairs, and worked on the baby’s room.
Mark explained, when you work on a room you work from the top down. The last thing you do is remove old carpet or refinish a floor. The nursery was stripped of ugly wall paper and repainted when Mark decided to tear up the old carpeting. “It’s like the lottery” he explained “you don’t know what’s going to be under there, but you hope it’s good wood flooring you can refinish”.
Mark found good wood flooring, but he also found a lot of deep brown and black stains. “There were some spots where it looked like it had been a lot of something, I dunno, like it had dripped all over. It wasn’t like those crime scene splatters, this was a lot of dripping.” He found one area near the center of the room had the worst of the stains. “There was this old coconut matting under the carpet, that had a lot of stains, but the stains in the one area of the wood flooring were really deep. I refinished the floor anyway, but I bought a rug to cover the stains in the center of the room.”
Still, Mark’s wife kept having dreams about woman crying and also, began to see things. She kept seeing a middle aged woman out of the corner of her eye and also an older man. Mark described it as “almost there” and “she knew when they were around, they let her know.”
Mark’s wife felt sorry for the crying women, but she wasn’t afraid of them. The older man and middle aged woman scared his wife. Mark hoped once the baby came his wife would calm down. He said he didn’t begin to get worried until he went and started to clean out the crawl space attic. “I found stuff up there I didn’t like”. Mark showed me some of what he had found and later brought downstairs. I saw what seemed to be doctor’s equipment from the 1920’s. there was a green metal folding table, some old clamps and what appeared to be surgical instruments. There were also some lights with large metal bowl like shades.
Mark said he then figured the room had been some sort of doctors office, though he thought it was odd to have a surgery in a bedroom rather than on the first floor. Mark said he was talking to one of his neighbors, asking about the equipment, when his neighbor told him an old rumor about the house.
The rumor was that at one time, abortions had been performed at the home by the couple that lived there. Mark said he felt a chill go through him when he heard this. Mark assured me he and his wife aren’t against abortion. “I know that my wife’s pregnancy was a real surprise for us, we wondered how we could afford just one baby. I can’t blame someone, long ago, how did you keep having kids? There wasn’t much choice back then. I wondered though about someone that would perform abortions. My wife, it wasn’t the women that upset her, it was that couple. I decided not to tell her the rumor.”
Mark said he knew the last thing his wife needed was to hear anything about abortions or confirming her anxieties while she was pregnant. “We had to live here”, he points out, “I didn’t have the money to move us. I still didn’t believe anything was going on.”
The baby came, and Mark said things just became worse for his wife. She insisted the baby sleep in the room with them, and seemed afraid to leave the baby with a sitter. “My mom, her sister, family wasn’t allowed to babysit, my wife had to be with the baby in the house. It was only when we took the baby outside the house she relaxed. She talked to her doctor, and thedoctor thought maybe she had some of that baby depression. He put her on some pills, told us to put the baby in the nursery, get out more.”
When the baby was put in the nursery, Mark would find his wife sleeping on the floor near the crib in the morning. “She would swear she didn’t remember how she got there. She would sleep walk.” Still Mark just thought it was baby blues, until the one night he awoke to hear his wife calling out his name.
Mark found his wife standing in the nursery holding the baby, and Mark swears he finally saw the couple for himself. “There were these dark shadows, near the crib. The one shadow, it seemed to be reaching out toward my family. I just lost it.” Mark shares he didn’t feel scared, he felt this huge black anger overtake him. “I just yelled at them to leave my baby alone, and ran over and picked up the crib. I picked up this heavy crib and just threw it. Everything went all over the place, it was crazy. Just crazy.” Mark said he still can’t explain his anger. He just knew all at once that he believed his wife, and he had to protect his family.
Mark says he packed up his wife and baby, and they went to stay with his parents. His wife and baby have not been back to the house since, and they are renting a new home. “We’re renting a new home, it’s only about 10 years old. I’m done with old homes, I don’t know what happened here, or what is happening, but I’m done with this place.” Mark is finishing the renovations as he can, getting the home ready to rent until the housing market picks up again. “Then I’m selling this, I’ll get what I can out of it. I have to make back something.”
I asked if he’d be selling to a young family, maybe a family with baby. Mark shakes his head. “I have to take care of my family, so I’m not going to promise anything. I hope maybe the next family is Catholic or something, or they can get some of those ghost people to figure this out. I’m not doing that, I’m just telling you as I want someone to hear this story. There is something bad here. It’s not my problem now, but it’s like a war story. Do I believe in ghosts? I don’t know what is in this house, I just know my family isn’t coming back.”
I looked at the nursery. The crib is still half broken resting on its side, but the rest of the baby furniture, clothing and toys are gone. Mark rolls back the light beige area rug that covers most of the floor. Sure enough there are dark stains. Mark shows me where he gouged into the wood, to see how deeply the stains went. He suggests maybe “Some of that crime scene stuff, maybe that could show if it’s really blood. I don’t care anymore.”
Mark reports his wife and child are doing well now. Everyone finally sleeps through the night. Mark says he’s going to install wall to wall carpeting in the old nursery soon.
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