Hampton's young ghost

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By Patrick Curtis

Atlantic News, October 14, 1999

[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News ]

This week's story, related by Harold Fernald of Hampton, is about a well-known "spirit" seen by several Hampton residents and visitors since the late 1800s.

One sighting of this ghost by a vacationer from Massachusetts was even documented on a 1980's television program. It should not be difficult for interested readers to discover the name of this little spirit by merely asking around town a bit.

On February 14, 1879, a child [Valentine Marston] was born to a Hampton family and was named for the saint on whose day he arrived. The youngster is reported to have been a delightful boy, curious about the sea. He often wore blue trousers and a sailor's cap as he wished to someday sail a ship on the near-by water. At age 11, the boy was playing with his father's gun when it went off in his hands. He was not mortally wounded by the blast, but he died later of poisoning.

Since his death, many a member of the family reported seeing the youth dressed in his sailor's outfit — just as he often had before. It was reported that a strange glow surrounded his figure, and when approached, he would disappear. Through the years, sightings of the boy were recounted as a curiosity, however, family members and acquaintances began to notice that marvelous good fortune followed the lad's "appearance," which usually took place in the yards and homes that were in some way connected to his family.

Sightings of this spirit have been reported recently, and as a known collector of such tales, Mr. Fernald tends to hear the accounts first hand . He stated that an acquaintance of his, living with her husband in an old Hampton home formerly owned by the boy's family, saw the ghost one day while hanging her laundry. She reportedly plucked the last clothes pin from her mouth while hanging a large sheet and reached behind herself to get another from her basket hanging on the adjacent line when a small hand grasped hers and placed a pin inside. She recounted to Fernald that she finished hanging the sheet and turned to thank the kind youngster, recalling that he was barefoot and wore blue pants a sailor's cap. When she asked whose little boy he was, he merely smiled and disappeared.

The following day, the lady and her husband, who were soon to move south, sold the house that had been on the market for quite some time without interest from any buyer. Fernald stated that his friend gave him the clothespin that the boy had placed in her hand. The clothespin didn't match her own clothespins and was of curious construction: two bowed narrow slats tied with thin wire which was common in the 1890s. Although sightings of this kind harbinger of fortune are reported year round, his glowing form might best be observed some night this month. Fernald states that any of the original streets in town are good bets — especially those near the railroad tracks.

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