Ghosts at the Isles of Shoals- Happy Halloween!

Caswell Cemetery on Star Island

As it’s Halloween, I thought you all might want to hear a little about the ghosts at the Isles of Shoals.  I was prompted to write about it as I saw this article in Gossiportsmouth‘s twitter feed.  At the very bottom they mention Isles of Shoals ghosts:

Since the 1800s the nine islands ten miles off of Portsmouth have been haunted. Hawthorne even wrote about “Old Bab,” a ghost who lived between the hotel and the sea. At the Oceanic Hotel on Star Island people have heard sounds as if someone is rummaging through drawers and moving furniture on the fourth floor – only there’s nothing but Continue reading


Racy Retelling of Smuttynose Murders – seeking its author and year written

Seeing as it’s just about Halloween, seems like it’s time for this post!  Careful… some of this is NSFW (not safe for work)…!

Along with a box of donations from the 1950s- 1980s was this racy retelling of the Smuttynose Murders- can anyone tell me who wrote it, when, and for what purpose?  Was it for a Pelican Coffeehouse or something?  Maybe a Pel Pages?  I can’t imagine this was appropriate for a Pel Show for a conference.  Let me know if you have any leads! Continue reading

Louis Wagner added to list of American Psycho Killers- Innocent or Guilty?

Louis Wagner was recently featured in the Huffington Post article here titled 10 Killers That America Forgot.  

We on Star Island have not forgotten the Smuttynose Murders, and there is also evidence that Louis Wagner may have been innocent!  I have compiled some of the resources on the Vaughn Website under

One of the other rumored suspects was Karl Thaxter, Celia Thaxter’s oldest son.  She would have been especially motivated to become involved to make sure her son was safe.  She wrote a letter about the murder available here, and also wrote A Memorable Murder on Smuttynose about the tragic event.

Just last night Ann Beattie presented Murder on Smuttynose Island at the Historic Star conference on island this week- the theme this year is Mystery & Mayhem! She presented a good case for Louis’ guilt, so perhaps it was him after all.

At the Discover Center there is currently on display the murder ax, shown above, on loan from the collection with a note that says there is definitive proof that Louis was indeed the murderer.  There is more information available at Anatomy of an Ax Murder and other books and resources at so you can decide for yourself!

White Island named for Capt. Joseph White who was brutally murdered in Salem, MA!

On my historical tour of Star Island I stop to talk about all nine islands at the summerhouse- you can see them all from that vantage point, and I mention a little bit about each.

At least once or twice when I mention that White Island was named for Captain Joseph White who was brutally murdered in Salem, MA in 1830 they ask how, and sometimes if it was in conjunction with witches.  (folks always think witches when they hear murder and Salem, MA).

Continue reading