The Legend of Laura Sherman
By Thomas D’Agostino
New England is full of incredible legends and stories that add to the magic of the region. There is one certain legend that resides near the Tri-State border of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
At the crossroads of Wakefield and Croff in Burrillville, Rhode island, one will find the remains of a small burial lot. If it were not for the sign that marks it as Rhode Island Historical Cemetery # 1, visitors may never know it is actually the Sherman family burial lot.
Raised up from the road by a stone wall, the unmarked plot holds the remains of five members of the Sherman family and what looks like the remains of a cellar hole where perhaps their cabin once graced. Buried in this lot are Caroline Sherman, born 1837-death unknown, Clark Sherman, born 1831-death unknown, Ellen Sherman, birth and death dates unknown, Laura Marsh Sherman, born September 24, 1803-died 1870, and Squire Crandell Sherman, born July 1828 and died April 21, 1879.
The only trace of gravestones is the base of Laura Sherman’s monument. The others have nothing left but mounds rising from the earth to show of their being buried there.
Legend states the rest of the stones were stolen to perform some sort of rituals. This would seem easy to do as the lot is located in an isolated area along the woods of Buck Hill.
The lack of death dates on record would indicate that the Clark family buried their own and never bothered to record exact dates of death with the town. Some claim that Caroline and Ellen may have been the wives of Clark Sherman, but it is the grave of Laura Sherman, the oldest of them all, that is of interest in this narrative. Laura may have been the matriarch of the family and still watches over her loved ones.
It has been passed down from generation to generation that Laura haunts the lot. If you visit on a full moon and dance around her grave thirteen times, she will appear and answer your questions. It is a local legend that has been attempted many times. Some have fled in fear as Laura Sherman materialized out of a wisp of smoke, keeping her part of the bargain for their toil, while others swore the whole story is nothing more than an urban legend created by the local boy scout camp at Buck Hill.
There are other stories of people who swore Laura Sherman watches over the graveyard. Many of the Burrillville residents say that they have been startled or even frightened by what they believe is the ghost of Laura standing at the edge of the plot looking at the road as they drove by. When they would look back, the ghost would be gone.
One account relates to a small group of high school students who decided to call forth the spirit of Laura. One of the girls circled the grave thirteen times while the small throng waited anxiously for the ghost to appear. After a while, they felt deceived by the spirit and left the lot. While driving away, the people in the other car noticed an old woman sitting in the back seat of the car driven by the girl who tried to summon Laura from her eternal rest.
If you decide to visit the cemetery be thoughtful and courteous to both the living and the dead.
Thomas D’Agostino and his wife Arlene Nicholson are seasoned paranormal investigators, authors, and co-organizers of Paranormal United Research Society.
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