By Thomas D’Agostino
I would like to present one more lighthouse ghost story before moving on to a new subject. This is one that will be appearing in a forthcoming book. It is one of my favorite little stories as it mixes music with a haunting. This is the account of the second oldest light in Maine, the Seguin (SEE-guin, also pronounced se-GUIN) Light.
George Washington approved the original light in 1794. The station was established in 1795 at the cost of $6,400. The first keeper was a man named Count John Polereczky, a Hungarian Hussar who fought during the American Revolution. In 1819 the wooden tower was replaced with a stone edifice. It was modified once more in 1857 making it the highest navigational light above the sea in Maine. To finish the light, a first order Fresnel lens, the most powerful in Maine was installed. The area of the Kennebec and Sheepscott Rivers where the light is located is not only very busy with sea traffic, it is also one of the foggiest places in the north. Because of this, the fog bell, which sounds almost half the year, can be heard up to 14 miles away.
The light became automated in 1985 and a year later ownership of the light was transferred to the Friends of Seguin Light. Through grants the light was restored and caretakers live on the island, maintaining the light and surrounding grounds. They are not alone, for there are a few other permanent residents that dwell at the light.
One story concerns a young keeper and his wife who came to live on the island in the 1800s. According to legend, their names are lost to antiquity but their ghosts are ever present. The keeper furnished his bride with a piano to alleviate any boredom she may have suffered from the isolation of the atoll.
While the keeper went about his chores his young bride played her piano. Often ships passing could here the soothing sounds of the instrument mixing with the crashing of the tides and shrieking sonnets of the seagulls. To the keeper, it was at first blissful but soon, the monotony of her playing the same music began to become sour music in his ears. He begged her to play something different and she did, but after a few melodies her favorite song, the one he grew to detest, would once again echo off the walls of the lighthouse. Even the light room was not impervious to the dreaded notes that flowed from that cursed instrument.
One day, while cleaning the lens atop the light, the sound of the piano began to fill his ears. It was that song again. Somehow the keeper snapped, rushed down the stairs grabbed an ax and commenced chopping the piano to pieces. He then turned his rage on his wife, killing her as well, then taking his own life.
The next keeper took on the responsibilities not knowing he would have unseen guests.
He began to see a gentleman in a light keeper’s uniform about the island and on occasion heard the sound of a piano playing in the wind. Other keepers have seen the apparition of a young girl on the stairs. One story relates that a former keeper’s daughter died on the island and was buried there. Ships passing close to the island have seen the ghost of the forlorn keeper and have heard faint music from a piano emanating from the light.
When the light was automated it was the Coast Guard’s duty to remove the furniture and other items from the keepers quarters. While sleeping in the house, the captain swore he was jostled from his sleep by a man in oilskins telling him to leave and do not take any of the furniture. The next day, believing it was just a dream, he ordered all the items taken from the house to be loaded onto a trolley that was used to bring supplies up to the lighthouse from the rocky shore below. While en route to the boat, the chain lowering the cars suddenly snapped, sending the household furnishing into the sea below. The captain then realized his dream might have been more of a warning from a ghost than anything else. The crew left the island to the ghost and his furniture.
Seguin Island Light can be reached by various cruises. Go to www.seguinisland.org. It has a list of all the keepers but does not mention which one would have gone mad and killed his wife. Perhaps it is just a tale or…