Sunday, October 05, 2014


((In the spirit of Halloween, I'll be reposting some stories of the strange
and unusual from New England folklore. This post originally appeared
here in 2009.))  

Back earlier this year when I was researching accounts of my ancestors' experiences
in the New England Indian wars I came across an interesting story about some of
my Sawyer relatives. It concerned, of all things, a legend about a disappearing
stone! I bookmarked it to come back to later, or so I thought, because when I
was ready to post about it here I found I'd not saved the site location.

I began googling for the story once more but had no luck. Periodically
I'd renew the search but failed and I'd finally almost come to believe that the
story about a disappearing stone had disappeared itself! But tonight I finally
got lucky!

So here's a story of brothers John and Benjamin Sawyer, my fellow descendants
from Thomas Sawyer and Mary(Marie) Prescott:

"John was a builder, and when he was putting up a house for Charles Buck asked
Benjamin to help him find a big flat stone for the hearth, probably. They found a
stone which by splitting would serve, but left it for another that served without
splitting. Soon afterward, when another such stone was needed for another new
house. John searched for the stone and to his surprise it had disappeared.
Benjamin was sure he could find it, but he also failed in his search. Soon the
stone reappeared, however, in the very spot where it had been first discovered.
The superstitious explained the mystery of the stone that came and went, and the
public came to believe that the stone marked hidden treasure. It was supposed
that the ghostly guards who had to watch over the treasure got tired of their job
occasionally and hid away the stone. At any rate, enough credence was given to
the story of enchantment to cause many parties to dig for the fabled treasure,
and the stories of their experiences add an interesting chapter to the town history."

- Cutter, William Richard, ed. Historic Homes and Places and Genealogical
and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Middlesex County,
Massachusetts, Vol3 (New York, New York, Lewis Historical Publishing Co.
1908) p.1377

Benjamin Sawyer lived from 1762 to 1843 and this is the only mention I've
found anywhere of hidden treasure and a magical disappearing stone in Reading.
Middlesex, Ma. It is strongly reminiscent of the folktales of England, I think.

If you're up around Reading some day, look for a stone suddenly appearing in
a field and you might find some buried treasure!

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