Colossal Victorian Divorce

America’s First Family in Disarray…

West Vs. West Divorce with America's first Millinaire FamilyMany of us living on the North Shore of Boston know of the mall called…The North Shore Mall. Some of us know the stories of the various graves that dot the property in the hedges before you walk into JC Penny’s and other locations or the  stories of the church that resides in the basement; very few know of the mansion that resided on this location and the nasty divorce that got the home pulled apart and reassembled in various places.

So lets back up a bit; who were the couple who built the mansion known as Oak Hill. Well Elizabeth Derby West was the daughter of Elias Hasket Derby who was America’s first millionaire and on some lists is described as the 10th wealthiest man in American history. Imagine that a millionaire who had more wealth than today’s billionaires? Inflation… Elizabeth married Nathaniel West, a man her father declared a scullion. Well in time Captain West won over his father-in-law and was confided in business decisions more often than not than his own children. So much so that the father willed to his son-in-law Derby Wharf which was the largest and most profitable in town. This little act led to  a no holds bar fist fight between Elias Hasket Derby Jr. and Elizabeth against her husband. later she would probably have such a fight with her brother after he inherited the family mansion on Derby Square which he soon squandered away.

In 1803 the scandal opened in court. Here is a few words from Rev. Bentley (diarist and friend of John Hancock):

Never could Johnson’s words better [be] applied, when a man marries a fortune it is not all he marries. The woman became all that is execrable in women from vanity, caprice, folly, & malignity…

He was an enterprising seaman with no uncommon advantages of education or nature, but his ambition led him to address the eldest daughter of the late E.H. Derby…The mother of Elizabeth was a Crowninshield and well known for vanity which she exposed to constant & deserved ridicule. E. possessed the rigid temper of her father, with all the weakness of her mother.”

and

“…after every quarrel with all her relatives she waged open war against her husband & this day, aided by the unfeeling perseverance of her malignant Br[other] Gen. E.H. D[erby] who has a private quarrel to avenge, she displayed in open court, to prove the incontinence of Capt. W[est], all the sweepings of the Brothels of Boston, & all the vile wretches of Salem, Marblehead, Cape Ann.

The mansion. It remained in Elizabeth’s hands during her life, but she was to die 10 years later. Then one of her daughters gave it to her father, against the wishes in the mother’s will… It was torn apart; a parlor is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, some rooms were on display at the Peabody Essex Museum a few years ago, a summer house is on the Glen Magna estate, and a portion is added to the Phillips House on Federal Street in Salem.  So Oak Hill remains no more, in its entirety, but you can visit the ghost of Captain West at the Salem Inn. Most of the time his spirit can be felt by his bottle of port which you are welcomed to share a glass with him. Plus if you are in the Christmas spirit…you can shop for many gifts at the North Shore Mall on the location of this once famous mansion.

To read more about how Salem shaped American history read Sub Rosa by Chris Dowgin published by Salem House Press.

www.salemhousepress.com

 

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Haunted Knapp House

How is this House Connected to the Clue Board Game

Haunted Knapp House from Salem Ma. Joseph Knapp Sr. lived here while his two sons were standing trial and later hanged for a murder they did not commit. This was the murder case that inspired Parker Brother’s version of Clue. The house is haunted. A previous owner actually moved the house back one lot hoping the ghost would stay on the property and not in the house, but the proposal failed and the house is still haunted.

For more great tales visit http://www.salemtunnel tour.com and book a tour with the Salem Smugglers’ Tour today. Book early for the Halloween season!

Sub Rosa Coming to Remember Salem!

Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Dr. Who, Ghosts, and Sub Rosa…

The book Sub Rosa is sold at Remember Salem the harry Potter Shop in Salem, MA

The new smash hit sequel to Salem Secret Underground, the book everyone digs, is coming to Remember Salem. Sub Rosa will be on the shelves of this magical themed store that showcases the products from Harry Potter, Dr. Who, and Game of Thrones in Salem MA. Many people come from all over the world to find the magic they expected to find in Disneyland, but were left disappointed.  After much hunting through the various witch shops in Salem, hopefully your feet will magically lead you here. The store is probably the only place in Salem that ties you directly into that feeling you’re looking for.  Because once you enter this attraction you walk right into a fairy tale. Death Eater hoods, a life size Dobby, a Goblet of Fire, Nimbus 2000, and many other Harry Potter props decorate the walls, which are all for sale! If you are real lucky you might be able to peek your head in and see the Great Hall in the backroom…

The Wizard Kevin Wynot in his wand shop.

Then next door is Wynott Wands. This is real magic. The shop is what Olivander’s was trying to capture. This is the real deal. In here you will find what Disney could never capture.

Wynot Wand shop's shelves of magical wandsWands are hand turned in the basement and some even have magical cores. A true Victorian wand emporium. And your benefactor is Mr. Wynott, who is from an ancient Salem family.

Nearby in Salem, on an ancient land came the magic powder to make the most famous wands of all, the original  #2 pencils! Joseph Dixon would get his black lead (graphite) from land on the ancient Wyman Mills property to make his famous pencils J.K. Rowling used while writing her Harry Potter series. Also the famous London banker George Peabody before moving across the pond would sell these magic wands for him. These wands were brandished to create Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and many other tales…

Wynott Mills and Salem Lead Works the property lead was obtained from to make the first Dixon #2 pencil.

Wynott’s Mill where magic graphite powder was obtained for Dixon’s #2 Pencils.

Plus both properties are haunted. The basement of the Wynott Wands holds two trapped souls.  The store owner tells tales about the two ghost. Siblings, siblings who died in a fire that ravaged parts of Essex and Liberty Streets. A Sister and her large autistic brother. The sister  has been the cause of a few women’s mental breakdowns and the brother has flipped a desk and thrown ceiling tiles to the floor. Then next door a kindly old man can be seen from time to time with his ghost cat just putzing through. If you’re lucky  you might catch Tim Maguire, the stores’ owner and guest on Ghost Hunters. Just ask him and he may bring you on a paranormal investigation of his properties…

Historic image of the building Wynott Wands is in.

Previous to the wand shop, the location serviced as the home of many businesses in Salem including a bakery and hair salon that would give corpses their last haircut before their internment.  Also running in front of the shop is one of the many tunnel extensions leading from the coast that leaks the energy of a water undine that is fed off the ghosts under the wand shop. The ghosts provoke the needed emotions that the Undine feeds off of from the living.

Joseph White bought this house in 1811 which would be the house he was murdered in during the year 1830. This is the mansion from the game Clue.

Then across the street is the mansion that is the inspiration for the board design for the game Clue. In 1830 Captain Joseph White planned an elaborate scheme to exact revenge on his two business partners through his own death.  He plotted for his nephew to implement the murder and to pin the crime on the old man’s business partner’s sons and heirs. After the success of this murder, the nephew teams up with one of the the most powerful senators, Daniel Webster, in the country to assassinate a president and get away with it!

The inspiration for the Miskatonic Institute.

To the left of Captain White’s mansion, a home he bought after being bribed by British agents to restore a new national bank, is the Essex Institute. H.P. lovecraft rewrote their history in many of his stories. He renamed the ancient museum the Miskatonic Institute.

Sub Rosa Book Cover

 

To find out more about the murder that inspire the game Clue, the #2 pencil, H.P. Lovecraft in Salem, our nation’s banking history, and unaccounted Presidential Murders; read Sub Rosa which will have Advance Reader Copies on sale at Remember Salem next week! Also on sale there is Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City. Pick up a copy as well; you won’t regret it!