A witches’ sabbat night would be a good time to post about one of my ancestors: Mary Nason, the Witch of York, Maine.
In the fall of 1986 my father (Eugene Nason Doherty) and I traveled to Maine to visit my sister, Sharon, who was teaching at the Berwick Academy in So. Berwick, not far from York. A Nason landed in Kittery Point, Maine in 1629 and the family spread out from there to various towns in southern Maine and Portsmouth, NH. Mary Nason is buried in the Old Burying Yard on Rt. 1A in York Harbor, Maine.
Mary Nason (1745-1774) was 29 years old when she died on August 18, 1774. According to local lore Mary Nason was a respected herbalist and healer (probably a Wiccan) and skilled at ridding people of evil spirits and hauntings.
Maybe she was a good witch–or maybe not–but anyone with supernatural power can still raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
By the time we found her grave it was late afternoon and long shadows were falling across the cemetery. It was easy to spot: her husband put a headstone and footstone, and a very large, heavy stone slab covering the ground over her body. There is no other burial with a stone covering the grave in the cemetery. Some nave souls have posited this was done to protect her from grazing cattle or pigs.
The headstone has a carved portrait of Mary Mason. Given that puritan time, I thought it was a little weird to have exposed breasts. Defiance? Or perhaps it was the face with the slightly demonic eyes. She must have been a powerful, scary woman with a very compelling gaze.
The crows which perch on the trees by the cemetery are reported to be her familiars. I don’t recall if we saw any, but probably one or two eyed us from nearby.
Her husband, Samuel Nason, wrote a loving epitaph on her stone. However, he and the children decamped for Rhode Island shortly after her death. Was he afraid? I think so.
The three of us were glad to get back in the car. It isn’t a place I would want to stay after dark.
I would like to go pay her a visit again sometime. But only in the morning.