Day 23: Interesting and Historical Structures

Trip Start Aug 02, 2009
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Trip End Sep 06, 2009


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Where I stayed
John's House

Flag of Canada  , Newfoundland and Labrador,
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We spent an interesting morning at Signal Hill which is the site of several historic events. It is the highest point in the St. John's area which is on the East Coast of Newfoundland, some 14 miles from Bay Bulls.  It was at this point where John Cabot,  representing the King of England staked his claim to new land for England in 1497.  Cabot’s Tower was built here to commemorate this event.  The tower is built on the site of a fort where the French were overwhelmed by the British in 1762.  It is also the site where Marconi received the first transatlantic signal from England in 1901.  This successful experiment was the beginning of commercial intercontinental communications.  Tom was especially pleased to find out it happened on his birthday, December 12, exactly 31 years earlier.  Building his own crystal radio at 12 years of age led to Tom's life work in voice and data communications.

After perusing a few shops on Water Street in St. John’s we made our way back to Bay Bulls, stopping at Bidgood’s Store in Gould which had been recommended to us as a market with a variety of grocery items as well as Newfoundland handcrafts.  We found interesting items
such as mooseburgers and caribou stew and codfish pie.

Annie Evans came by for a visit over tea and teacakes.  She was very interested in the house because her landlord, Irving, had told her about all the superstitions surrounding the house and the area in which it was built.  Mr. Crockwell built this house for his wife, Elvira, around 1900.  It
was built in an area of Bay Bulls known as Black’s Bottom.  Mrs. Crockwell was a widow when she died in 1940.  The house was vacant for a number of years and then a Dr. from New York bought it as a summer home.  Around 1980, the Dr. sold it to Jerry Deagen for $18,000. Mrs. Crockwell’s hat was still hanging by the back door when Jerry bought the house.

Now Jerry’s father was born and raised in Bay Bulls.  He left as a young man to find his fortune, first in Boston, but later settled in Detroit where he married and raised his family.  Bay Bulls was an Irish settlement and several Deagen families still reside here.  So it seemed a natural place for Jerry to buy a summer home.  Here he could enjoy his "roots" and paint the beautiful landscapes and seascapes in Newfoundland—especially Bay Bulls.  He also thought it was significant that the original mistress of the house died in the year he was born.  His cousins warned him the no local would go near the Black’s Bottom area, and would not even pass by Mrs.Crockwell’s house.  It was said she had been sighted roaming the area and those who had been in the house had heard her making sounds in the middle of the night. And further, if anyone disturbed her hat she became very angry and would make that person’s life miserable.  Jerry was certain the Mrs. Crockwell would be pleased with his restoring her home to its former Victorian glory and would be a benevolent spirit.  Out of respect, her hat remains by the back door with a small sign telling its story and why it should not be disturbed. Jerry painted a lovely oil of Mrs. Crockwell’s hat which hung in his Atlanta home and now hangs over John’s mantel next door to our condo.

Annie was quite fascinated with the house—as are all of us privileged to visit it--and the fact that her landlord still believes the tales told.  Maggie and Bill had a similar experience while they were here with a young waitress who found out where they were staying and expressed horror that anyone would ever go inside that house, much less stay there overnight.  Donald Deagen quizzed us after the first night and asked if we had heard any sounds during the night and if we were scared.  I think he was a bit disappointed that we think Mrs. Crockwell is a kindly ghost who doesn’t want us to be frightened.

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