The Murder of Mary Knight
Every year at about this same time a flurry of stories arise from the Poland, Maine area regarding a supposed specter wandering the highway and back roads of this sleepy little community of just a few thousand living souls. Hard telling how many dead souls are wandering around, but some folks say there are quite a few. A poor woman by the name of Mary Knight is just one of these denizens of the otherworld.
The story generally states that a woman in what appears to be a wedding dress is seen wandering down the road, staring vacantly into the distance. Usually this occurs along route 26 in the wee hours of the morning. She has been seen on other roads in the area, and sometimes near a local cemetery, of which there are several scattered around, as there usually are in these older communities.
Who was Mary Knight, and how did she die? Going by some of the more or less current newspaper articles, I’d say there is a tremendous amount of conjecture, but little research being done to tell the story as it really happened. That’s OK though, I’m working on a piece that will set the story straight.
Here are a few points in fact that pertain to the real story, though.
Mary Knight was murdered by her Husband, George, (who was twenty years younger than Mary, by the way) on October 6th of 1856. In reading over the available works on this case, several facts come to light which can be used to summarize the story.
Mary Knight had been ill for some time before her murder, as a local doctor (a Dr. Stedman of mechanic Falls) had testified to her being seen by him as early as the first part of June. It can be surmised at this point that Mr. Knight had been administering poison to his wife, but there is no evidence to prove this point. Her complaints had included weakness, headaches and stomach pains with vomiting. Several poisons could produce these symptoms, but again, there was no evidence that Mrs. Knight was being poisoned.
A Dr. Carr, who had been treating Mrs. Knight for about six weeks had visited the Knight home on October 6th and commented on how Mrs. Knight had been improving, and that she should be well again in short time. He had commented on this to George Knight, who had loaded his wagon with shingles and had planned to take them that night to a buyer in Dry Mills.
Later that night, pandemonium would break loose in the Knight household as Mary Knight was murdered in cold blood while in bed with George’s mother, Lydia, age 83. Apparently, earlier in the evening Mary had some reason for not wanting to sleep in her own bed and had crawled into Lydia Knights bed. Perhaps she had a premonition that some evil was to befall her on that night. The window to the outside was opened and the sash was hanging at an angle. Later, after neighbors had been sent for by a boy that was staying at the Knight farm, 10-year-old Sidney Verrill. It was initially thought by those first observing the crime scene that Mary Knight had killed herself, but it was quickly decided that she had been murdered.
George Knight was away, delivering the wagonload of shingles to a Mr. Hancock. He was gone after, and brought home after conducting his business.
There was a coroner’s inquest, where it was determined that Mary Knight was in fact murdered. A few days later George Knight was arrested for the murder of his wife, and subsequently found guilty, and sentenced to a term of life in the state prison. The story in its entirety is full of juicy tidbits, but I’ll let you wait until the full story comes out for now. Suffice it to say that old George was prone to chatting up the ladies of the village and was looking for a replacement even while Mary Knight was suffering from her ailments of that summer.
Mary Knight was indeed murdered by her husband, and he paid the price for his crime. The Knight homestead has changed ownership many times, and the home has long since vanished, with just the remains of the foundation left for those looking to find this link to the past. Perhaps Mary wanders the backroads of Poland looking for the home she once called her own? I cannot say that Mary knight is indeed a restless spirit, but there are things that go bump in the night. Stay tuned for the whole story!