Val Marston -- A Friendly Ghost

New England's Ghostly Haunts

New Hampshire's Good Ghosts -- No. 2

By Robert Ellis Cahill

Chandler-Smith Publishing House, Inc. -- 1983

Valentine Marston

Val Marston

Another beautiful, friendly ghost of New Hampshire is Val Marston of Hampton. This wonderful little ghost came to my attention through Chandler Blackington, who, back in 1967, took my place as Director of Community Relations for the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, in Boston. "Blacky," like his father, is a marvelous story teller. His father, Alton Hall Blackington, produced a radio series, back in the 1940s entitled, "Yankee Yarns." It was through this radio program that the ghost of Val Marston came to light. During a broadcast on ghosts, Blackington was contacted by a Mr. John Robinson of Lynn, Massachusetts, who had recently been vacationing at Hampton Beach. He told Blackie that, "while out walking one morning with my wife and eight year old daughter, we encountered a ghost. We saw the figure of a little boy standing on the grass in front of an old white house. He seemed to be brighter than his surroundings," said Robinson, "In fact, he fairly glowed. My wife and daughter saw him too, and my daughter Edith cried, 'Daddy, daddy, that boy, I'm afraid'."

Mr. Robinson described the vision as a handsome smiling boy about twelve years old, with a dark brown curl falling across his forehead. He had bare feet, coveralls -- with his hands stuffed in the pockets, a blue sailor's blouse and he wore a sailor's cap. He wasn't looking at the Robinsons, but seemed to be staring into space.

"Hello sonny, do you live here?" Robinson asked the ghost, and immediately he disappeared. "My solemn word, what I've told you is the gospel truth," Robinson said to Blackington. "My daughter was baffled and asked where the boy had disappeared to, and my wife was so upset at seeing the apparition that she couldn't say a word for quite some time."

"My Dad pursued the story," Blackie told me, "and he went snooping around Hampton to see if any town folks had seen the boy-ghost. Surprisingly, many had." A middle-aged couple named Sanborn owned the "old white house" where the Robinsons had seen the ghost on the front lawn. They admitted to Blackington that they had seen the little boy often, "with sunshine around him, like a halo." He had even come to the back door one day, with violets in his hand for Mrs. Sanborn, "but when my wife reached to take them," said Mr. Sanborn, "he and the flowers vanished. . . He's like one of our family."

Blackington went to Town Hall to trace previous owners and occupants of the house, to see if he could find clues as to who the little boy might be. There, he found the information he was looking for, and managed to piece the story together: The little boy was named Valentine Marston, born Valentine's Day, 1879. He died October 12, 1890. He and his parents lived in the old white house near the Hampton railroad station. His father owned an old gun, which Val had gotten a hold of one day and started playing with, in the front yard.

The gun exploded in his hands, and, although the wound wasn't too serious, Val died of lead poisoning. Blackington also found out that Val had a brother who was still living in Hampton, and owned a barbershop near the beach. He went to visit Chester Marston. Chester said he had never seen the ghost of his brother, but knew of others who had. He showed Blackie a photo of Val when he was a baby, with the big brown curl falling over his forehead. Chester confirmed to Blackie that Val always wore a sailor's cap, because he wanted to go to sea when he grew up.

The old white house in which Val Marston lived was moved two blocks away in 1983, and I don't know why. Whether the ghost of Val Marston moved with the house, or remains at the empty lot, is not known either. However, recently a summer visitor to Hampton Beach, Marie Maguire of Lowell, Massachusetts, revealed-on the "That's Incredible" television program -- that she had encountered a ghost while coming home from her nursing job at the local hospital one night. ... "It was 11:15 and I heard a child crying then, in the corner of the window, I saw a little boy in an old fashioned sailor suit, with curly hair. . . I was frightened and ran." Later, Marie's mother and younger sister revealed to her that they had seen the little boy ghost in the sailor suit many times before. Has Val Marston moved to Lowell? or does he remain in Hampton? Whichever, Val, like Ocean-Born Mary Wallace, isn't trying to frighten anyone. He has to be classified as a good, friendly ghost, who, like Nelly Butler of Maine, doesn't always wait until the Sun goes down to make an appearance.

Tale of Hampton Ghost Retold

Hampton Union, April 28, 1958

Skeptical about ghost stories? Then ponder this one.

Hampton's long and colorful history includes many legendary stories of witches and ghosts, but none more intriguing than the appearance of Val Marston as told in Alton H. Blackington's latest book, "More Yankee Yarns", just published.

Affectionately known to New Englanders as "Blacky", Mr. Blackington's folksy tales of both famous and little known events, which have become a part of the colorful history of New England, have been the subject of a series of radio broadcasts and published in his first big seller "Yankee Yarns".

Now comes his second book just off the printing presses, which includes the story of the ghostlike appearance of Val Marston in Hampton on several occasions.

In a chapter entitled, First Hand Ghosts, Mr. Blackington recounts the experience of Mr. Wilfred Robinson of Lynn, Mass., who encountered the ghost of Val Marston while spending a vacation in Hampton many years ago.

This paper will not spoil this intriguing yarn by a synopsis, only to say that Val Marston was born February 14, 1879, the son of C. C. and M. A. Marston and because he was born on Valentine's Day, his parents actually named him Valentine Marston.

He was a brother of Mr. Chester G. Marston of High street, who operated a barber shop in Hampton for over 50 years before his recent retirement.

The celebrated Val, who is remembered by his brother as a "real active boy", died at the age of 11 years from blood poisoning which developed in a wound suffered while playing in the woods near his home with an old gun which exploded, nearly blowing his hand off.

The testimony of many Hampton persons who also witnessed the appearance of Val Marston following his untimely death make for interesting reading.

The Union is indebted to Mr. Harlan Little, owner of the famous General Moulton house in Hampton where Mr. Blackington is a frequent visitor, for bringing this intriguing story of Val Marston to its attention.