A Grand Lady Passes Away!

DATELINE: Milestone at Mill Circle

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Virginia and neighbors hold original 1888 signage.

Ironically, during a national day of mourning for President George H.W. Bush with all US Post Offices closed, one of its postmasters—Virginia Hardy—passed after years of declining health. She was 91.

Virginia was the keeper of the Mill Circle flame at Winchendon Springs. Her abiding interest in the most important family of the community—the White family—and its ties to the Titanic disaster—made her a unique historical resource. Her interest in the town Historical Society was special and she donated many artefacts to the town.

She kept abreast of all the developments near the Virtuous Spring of lore, a few yards from her home. Her life spanned the last years of Julia White Castle (born in 1849), one of the original family pioneers, and she lived in the house next to the White mansion until her death. Between Julia White and Virginia Hardy, there was an unbroken chain of nearly 180 years.

Julia lived in Honolulu where a hospital now is named for her at Diamond Head, but always came back to Mill Circle for vacations. Virginia knew all the details.

Virginia’s role as Winchendon Springs postmaster put her in a special role. She was featured prominently in the book Village Post Office at Mill Circle and was present when the office closed in 2012.

Her extraordinary knowledge and insights are now lost to history, but those who knew her are greater for having a chance to bask in her presence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haunting Near Virtuous Spring

DATELINE: BACKSTORY TO TITANIC DISASTER!

Percival on Titanic

Photo courtesy of Encyclopedia Titanica

After seeing nearly every RMS Titanic disaster movie ever made, we found ourselves this year with a front porch proximity to the maritime event.

To say we were haunted by the experience of the Titanic would be an exaggeration—at first. After living in a house once owned by victims of the luxury liner, we started to reassess our connection. Neither Percival W. White, nor his son Richard, ever lived in the house. They rented it to their employees.

Yet, the house in which they spent considerable time across the street has long since mysteriously been razed. A photograph of Percival White on the deck of the Titanic in the days before it sank has long been misidentified as novelist Jacques Futrelle.

Futrelle was famous, forty, and fat. The man in the photo is in his 50s with a touch of gray hair. He matches the many family pictures of Percival.

Only Richard in death remains nearby. Percival was never found, but several days after the sinking, Richard was brought home to Winchendon Springs and placed in his own special plot. It is a mile from his birthplace.

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Richard Frazar White

His mother erected an imposing, carved granite cross at the cemetery and put a flat stone on either side. The cross nowadays has small coins around it, the gift of fare across River Styx from visitors.

One gravestone is designated the “Lost at Sea” victim, an empty plot. The other held her 21-year old son, returning from his college graduation present: a Grand Tour of the European continent as people of a certain class did in those days. The cost of his first-class cabin did nothing to save him from the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

Thirty years later, Richard’s mother, living a life wracked in grief, ordered her body be placed next to her son. There is no marker for her. She would never detract attention from the love of her life. A friend identified Richard’s body by his Bowdoin College lapel pin. His mother, Edith, wore this fraternity pin every day after he died. And, she was buried wearing it.

Psychics tell us that Richard is nearby still, a spirit that has chosen to stay here, wandering the hundreds of acres his family’s descendants still own.

Now a new book tells the back-story: HAUNTING NEAR VIRTUOUS SPRING. It’s available on Amazon.com, and it deserves your attention.