13 Apr 2021

RANDOM Times •

To survive, you must tell stories…(“,)

The grave of Mary Nasson, the Witch of York ~

5 min read

Like all states, also Maine has it’s weird and paranormal events throughout history.
When the Spaniards came into the Southwest had the very first Thanksgiving (recorded), some 35 years or more before the Pilgrims’ landed on Plymouth rock.
This is a historical fact that all of Far West Texas and New Mexico residents hold in highest esteem.
Be that as it may be, the English Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Actually, the Pilgrim’s never even referred to the rock and it was not mentioned until about 1715 and then only as a Township boundary.
It’s not specifically important as to who had the first Thanksgiving but what each culture brought with it into the new world.
Of course, the Pilgrim’s brought forth their staunch Protestantism as well as their cultural fears of the unknown. The Spaniards as well and each of these and other cultures were soon influenced by not just their own cultural demons, but influenced also by the cultures they conquered or, came into contact with.
In these areas the Spaniards came into contact with the Pueblo and Zuni tribes who already had their own fear and beliefs in the spiritual world. This mixed with Spanish Catholicism only enhanced various dark beliefs.
The Indians feared witchcraft above all, and the Catholic church took full advantage of those fears but, at the sometime enhanced their own, including the “devil himself.”
With the advent of the English, and eventually German/Dutch migrations into the Easter coast and Pennsylvania, much of fears focused upon “Witch’s” and “witchcraft.”
Were there “Witches” in Salem?
Yes of course, as there have been “Witches” everywhere and in every time.
Were there “Witches” in Maine?
Sure…then and now.
Not by chance, English and European cultures have always believed in witchery, and…they still do.

Among them, there is the alleged famous “Witch of York”, sometimes known as the “White Witch” of York, a term meaning a witch who practiced “white medicine” in other words, who did not do harmful spells.
The old graveyard of York, Maine, dates back to the 17th century. It’s small, sparsely tombstoned, and surrounded by a low stone wall that surround peacefully a shady spot among the historic buildings of the Old York area of the town. Nothing in particular, with the exception that it has this special tenant: the grave of a witch.
Her name was Mary Nasson, and passed away in on August 18, 1774.
She was about 29 years old, had no children, and she had been a successful and respected herbalist in the community. It seems she was also skilled at performing exorcisms.
To memorialize her, her husband Samuel had an image of her carved on the crown of the gravestone. It depicts Mary, or at least her upper half, as a woman with bugged eyes, a thin nose, a slightly upturned mouth, and a humped hairdo. The portrayal is crude naturally for the time, but seems to denote an Afro American young woman.
There’s nothing accidentally evil or disturbing in the image, and the flowing script of her epitaph merely states that she was a loving wife, and that the husband looks forward to when his dust can mingle with hers.

The inscription on the headstone:
Here liest quite free from Lifes
Distressing Care,
A loving Wife
A tender Parent dear
Cut down in midst of days
As you may see
But – stop – my Grief
I soon shall equal be
when death shall stop my breath
And end my Time
God grant my Dust
May mingle, then, with thine.

Sacred to the memory of Mrs. MARY NASSON, wife of Mr. SAMUEL NASSON, who departed this life Aug. 18th 1774, AEtat 29″.

However, the folks of York say she’s a witch, a legend that popped up decades after Mary’s death.
The legend arose because weighing down the sod of her grave is a granite slab, which, according to the later stories, was laid down as an attempt to hold down the deceased’s body and soul. The story goes that the stone was placed there to keep her from crawling out of her grave, but historians disagree, as these types of stones are pretty common in old New England graves and were used to keep pigs and other cattle away. Whatever the reason for the slab, it is the only one of its kind in the entire cemetery.
Other graves in the Old Burying Ground probably had them as well, but over time they disappeared, probably recycled for building materials, including the wall of the cemetery itself.
In any case, the information sign on the wall of the cemetery lists the usual gamut of historical facts for the place, and even tells the legend of the witch’s grave (including also the real reason why the slab was likely installed).
The grave is locally known as “Witch’s Grave,” and it is reported to be haunted and that the large stone slab emits heat. To add more fire to the legend, crows which frequent the cemetery in the summer are reported to be Mrs. Nasson’s “familiars,” still paying tribute to her.
Either way, Maine has a large following of “witches” many of whom are simply “Wiccans” or Teenage “want a be’s”.
But it seems there is an undertow of the more serious calibers, most of those well entrenched in secret covens, and or through solitary practices, and the surrounding deep dark woods are perfect spots for these individuals as they have been through the ages.

Images from web – Google Research