The Zombie without a Heart

Fortune tellers and psychics sometimes comment that they have a tough time in Keene.  A few have reported they have better readings outside of Keene, and that they sometimes have nightmares after attending a psychic fair in Keene.  Things go wrong, batteries run out of power, lights flicker, things they were sure they packed go missing.  Some claim their dreams are of 2 young men, that are angry at all those that cast fortunes.  Others though dream of what we would now call a zombie, a dead young man, looking for his eternal rest and also very unhappy with those that would cast fortunes in Keene.  Perhaps they have good reason to be angry, if those young men are Seth, Adam, Issac and Samuel who lived in Keene in the early 1800’s.

Seth and Adam’s brother Issac was dying. They knew this because they had recently lost another brother, Samuel, and the symptoms were the same. Consumption, or what we would now call TB, was a leading killer before the introduction of antibiotic treatment in the 1940’s.

The endless coughing, that would bring up blood, was a sure sign that death was near. Since the cause was unknown, except that it would often decimate families, attempts to cure varied widely and were almost always ineffective. Still, Seth and Adam, having lost one brother already, were willing to try anything. Desperate for a cure, they went to a fortune teller in Keene and asked for advice.

When traditional medicine fails, even today people will seek the help of alternative medicine. This however was the early 1800’s and your local doctor could often do as much harm as good. The fortune teller the young men turned to was more than willing to take their money for her bad advice. When the local doctor said there was nothing to do, the fortune teller gave the boys something to do. Hope was bought at a high price for this working class family.

The fortune teller gave the young men a cure that was gruesome, but she swore it would work. Seth and Adam were to dig up the body of their recently deseased brother Samuel. They were then to take out his heart, and feed it to their ill brother Issac. The brother Samuel the fortune teller claimed was not at rest. His spirit was still alive. If they family could feed that spirit, via the heart, to Issac, he would regain his strength.

The fortune teller claimed that Samuel had cursed the family for not curing him, and that only by destroying his heart would his spirit rest and leave not claim the life of his brother. If this was not done, each brother would die off one by one, and the spirit of Samuel would haunt Keene forever.

The brothers followed the fortune tellers directions, digging up their brother from his grave in the middle of the night, to try to hide it from watching eyes. They were shocked to find their brother’s body looking as if they had just buried him. Some versions of the story even claim that Samuel looked even better than when he had been buried an emaciated corpse, Samuel looked like the fit and strong young man he was before his illness.

The brothers worked quickly, cutting into the body and retrieving the heart. The heart itself was not withered and dry, but was plump and wet. The brothers then reburied the body, and went home to make a meal for their sick brother of the heart. When the brothers cut into the heart, fresh liquid, perhaps blood, spurted out.

Sadly, the cure did not work, for Issac soon died. The brothers were angry, the fortune teller had not only taken their money but she had caused them to desecrate the grave of Samuel. They went to demand their money back from the crooked seer, but could find no sign of the fortune teller. The small hut where the fortune teller lived was empty, but it looked as if it had been ransacked with the small bits of furniture smashed and broken and the plates broken and smashed. The brothers were accused of having attacked the fortune teller, as she was never seen again, but they always claimed someone else with a grievance had cheated them of their revenge.

The brothers prepared Issac for his burial much as they had done for Samuel not long before. The night Issac had died, a frost had come and the ground had frozen. As is traditional even today in parts of New Hampshire, Issac’s body was put in a grave vault to await a thaw when the ground could be opened to receive his body.

It was then that that the problems started for Keene. Young men walking late at night would feel a sudden chill, and turn around to find another young man following them. The young man appeared to be normal, except there was a hole in the middle of his body. Since streetlights were not around, the descriptions are based on what could be seen from a carried lantern or just the moonlight. Also since many of these young men were returning from taverns, the stories were treated as a joke.

There was one young man, tipsy enough, to challenge the man with the hole in his chest. The brave ,but drunk, man claimed he was then attacked by a demon, that tried to “tear out my heart!” The sightings stopped soon after this, and people wondered were the stories just imaginings or had something else happened?

Spring and a thaw came and Seth and Adam were preparing to oversee the internment of their brother Issac. When the body was brought out from the grave vault, to the surprise of everyone, Issac’s body was found to have been mutilated. Where his heart should have been, was a gaping hole. The brothers quickly buried their brother, and the story remained buried in family legend until now.

Did Keene have a zombie? Looking to replace his own stolen heart? Also why was the body of Samuel so fresh? It could be the cold chill of Fall weather, preserving his body, or was Samuel one of the New England vampires of legend?

Fortune tellers of the time were known to recommend such remedies for curing illnesses. There are many written accounts of this happening all over New England, but this family story of what happened next is especially chilling. Let’s hope Samuel continues to rest in peace.  Even if fortune tellers and psychics of today may still be haunted by the brothers!

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Monkey Ghost House, Colorado Street Keene NH

Keene is not just perhaps inhabited by human spirits. A small street off West street near downtown is the supposed home of a simian ghost. The monkey ghost of Keene inhabits a lovely home typical of the area with a beautiful front porch. The back yard though perhaps still holds a hint to the spirit reported within. A play house stands in the yard, not for a child but for a monkey.

At one time in the small one car garage toys belonging to the pet also resided, long after the monkey had moved or gone on to his not so final resting place.

The monkey ghost supposedly makes himself known in ways no human ghost would dare to use. The monkey ghost of Keene will tug at hair, especially loving long hair, as a person walks down the stairs or even sits in the living room to read or watch TV. The mischevious monkey is also reported to throw monkey “pooh” at visitors he disapproves of, or perhaps just for fun. Odd smells have been reported, that were defininely scatagorical in nature.

Tugs and smells seem to be the only reported signs of the monkey, along with a feeling of unease when people would go into the basement. The basement contained a large cage for holding the monkey, which was peculiar enough to generate scary thoughts of what might have been contained there.

No one seems to know why this monkey might have decided to stay in Keene, it appears the monkey had a loving home with toys, outdoor play area and large indoor cage. Perhaps the monkey just had it too good, and isn’t ready to leave such a pleasant home.

Simply the imaginings of residents and visitors based on the evidence of a former monkey resident, or does a monkey still reside and get up to trouble in Keene? The ghost monkey of Keene is probably one of the more colorful ghosts in the town, just watch out if you have long hair and if you smell anything foul, duck! The odor is reported to dissipate quickly.

The Eternal Tenant

Ghost stories are often just that, a story told by one person to another. There is rarely any sort of proof, perhaps a fuzzy photograph or strange video. Proof of life after death would require far more than just eye witness testimony and vague photographs.

However the story that most impressed the staff at the Cheshire County Historical Society was that of one ghost, reported by two different people.

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The story is a simple one. A tenant at an apartment in an old house in town came in to try to find out about a ghost. The was a woman dressed from a long ago era that he had seen sitting in his apartment looking out the window. The tenant wasn’t afraid of the ghost. Indeed, it seems Keene is a town that accepts ghosts as simply part of the pleasure of living in an old historic home. Still, the tenant wanted to know more about the ghost. While there is no official record of ghosts, the Historical society was glad to help look up the history of the house. The tenant went home and was not heard from again.

Many years later, another tenant came to the Historical Society to find out who was the women in old fashioned dress sitting in his apartment looking out the window. This sounded familiar to the staff. Upon checking the address, it was indeed the same apartment. The same ghost, but a new tenant. Again, the tenant had no fear of the ghost, simply a wish to get to know the history of the eternal tenant in his apartment.

Keene seems a town very tolerant and accepting of sharing their homes with previous occupants.

While no other tenants from this apartment have shown up, it could be that the last tenant to check is still living there, perfectly happy to pay rent for both himself and the ghost. The mysterious woman who has a keen interest in what’s happening outside the home she’s never left, like most Keene ghosts, is welcome to stay as long as she likes.