The ghost of Phillip Babb
By Thomas D’Agostino
The Isles of Shoals runs rampant with tales of shipwrecks, pirates, murder and ghosts. One of the island’s most famous ghosts is that of Phillip Babb.
Babb lived on Appledore Island where he was constable, butcher, and innkeeper. Legends say he was a retired pirate who chose the largest of the shoals for his home but there is no real proof of such tales.
Appledore is one half mile wide and long. In the early 17th century, Maine imposed a tax on the island and the autonomous islanders rebelled by dismantling their homes and rowing them to Star Island. After that the island became its own sovereign body.
Phillip Babb was born in England around 1634. He married and had children with his wife, Mary. Some claim he was Don Pedro of “Ocean Born Mary” fame but neither he nor his son’s mortality dates coincide with that legend. If he was a privateer, it was well before Mary Fulton was born. None the less, he left a legacy of free booting and phantom sightings that the Isles of Shoals shall forever endure.
Babb’s manners were rudely fashioned and kindled much disgust in his fellow islanders. He was said to be a wicked, loathsome man, always wearing a heavy butcher’s frock with a great knife sheathed on a thick belt. He lived on the south side of the island in a cottage near the cove that now bears his name. It is documented that for some reason or another he and a fellow islander dug a massive hole near that cove. It was rumored that he may have come across some lost buried loot and either dug it up or was burying it for safe keeping.
Phillip Babb died on March 3, 1671 and was buried in the family plot on Appledore, but he has not rested. He still roams the cove watching over his long gone possessions. One night an islander was emerging from his workshop when he spied a wild form running towards him. At first he thought it to be an unsavory jest by one of his close friends. As the figure drew within arms reach, the man saw the face of a corpse with hideous sunken eyes. The angry wraith then heaved the giant knife from his belt and brandished it in the frightened man’s face. The terrified Shoaler fled to the safety of his home, barely touching the ground along the way.
Another dweller of the island saw a figure meandering about in the moonlight at Babb’s Cove. He could not make out the form as anyone he knew on the island. The dark shade began to approach the apprehensive islander. The man thought it odd that he heard no footsteps on the gravel path as the silhouette approached. He then recognized the figure as that of Phillip Babb. He could see the black eye sockets and glowing butcher’s frock reflecting in the gibbous moon. He shouted at the ghost who then made its way down the path before vanishing into the darkness in front of the petrified islander.
There are many more accounts of the alleged pirate-turned-butcher phantom roaming the island in the dead of night. Many have encountered the heinous spirit who wields a ghostly knife in their faces. Apparently he was so wicked and despicable in life, he cannot seem to let his attributes rest in death. The great storm of 1851 filled the remains of the hole where Babb and his companion dug for lost treasure. A Coast Guard house now sits where the hole once was. Whether or not there was treasure found or buried, no one knows for sure except the restless ghost of Phillip Babb.
Thomas D’Agostino and his wife Arlene Nicholson are seasoned paranormal investigators, authors, and co-organizers of Paranormal United Research Society. You can find out more about them by visiting www.tomdagostino.com.