October 4, 2010


It just might be. I'll be there stating my case the night before Hallowe'en. At the History Center.
On Elm Street. Just the
place for nightmares.

Here's the Press Release:

Spooky Woodstock Will Highlight Town’s Darker Side

By Cassie Horner

Special To The Standard

Woodstock may not look like a particularly scary place, but scratch lightly the surface of its history, and behold: the burning of a vampire's heart, sightings of assorted ghosts, a public hanging on the Green, and the robbing of graves by medical students.

In honor of the spirit of Halloween and the darker side of local history, the Woodstock History Center has cooked up Spooky Woodstock, a witches' brew of events Saturday, October 30, beginning at 6 p.m.

Top billing goes to Joe Citro, Vermont legend teller and author of many books including his latest, The Vermont Monster Guide. He will be master of the campfire on the lawn behind the History Center on Elm Street, at 7:30 pm, recounting tales of the supernatural. Tickets for his show are $5; members free. The suggested age range is nine years old and up (Rain location is the John Cotton Dana Library).

The line-up of events for the evening also features a lantern tour to the Green for dramatic reenactments of the legendary burning of a vampire's heart and a public execution -- both from the early 1800s. Students from WUMS/HS will be the stars, following a script they created based on historical documents. There will be two 30-minute tours, leaving at 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. from the History Center.

From 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., the Dana House and Gallery will be open for visitors to explore a variety of spooky history connected to Woodstock. Spiritualism — communicating with the dead — was a common practice in 19th century Woodstock, as it was in many towns across the country. A docent in the voice of Betsey Pelton Soule, a South Woodstock resident and spiritualist, will be on hand.

Don't forget to look for the ghost expert on the stairs where the Dana House ghost has been seen over the years!

Another docent will portray the character of Woodstock female doctor, Marenda Briggs Randall. She was a spiritualist, feminist and doctor in the mid-1800s. One of the subjects will be the 1829 case of alleged grave robbing by two students who attended the medical school in Woodstock.

And don't miss the fascinating post-mortem photographs projected in the Gallery, representing the 19th century practice of having a loved one photographed after they died as a memorial. In addition, some “spirit photographs,” that supposedly showed the spirits of those who had previously departed from this world, will be projected in the Dana House.

In the Victorian parlor, where historical accounts place the laying out of the dead, a docent will discuss with visitors some of the history of mourning customs. Some of these old customs extended into the latter part of the 1900s.

The aim of the first Spooky Woodstock is to have fun with history. Expect some mild shivers as you catch a view of the past! All of the events are free (donations welcome), with the exception of the Joe Citro campfire talk; tickets will be on sale that evening, $5 each, members free.

If you would like to volunteer for this event, please contact Jennie Shurtleff at (802) 457-1822.