October-ganza 30: The Mystery of Lucy Keyes

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October 30, 2014 by Bret Kramer (aka WinstonP)

The Grave of Martha Keyes

I thought I might use the penultimate entry in the October-ganza series to talk about a often told New England legend – the Lucy Keyes Mystery.

The details are these: in April of 1755 three Martha and Robert Keyes’ daughters went from the family house on the slopes of Mount Wachusett (in what is now Princeton, Massachusetts) to gather sand at a nearby pond.  The two older girls Patty (age 9) and Anna (age 7) returned in short order but the third child, Lucy (age 4 1/2) did not.  The family soon began searching for the missing girl, unsuccessfully.  They were soon joined by their closest neighbors (though in those days the nearest neighbors were quite distant) and the region was searched for weeks but there was no sign of the missing child, nor would their ever be.

The family continued to look for Lucy for years, the father following up on any number of false leads.  Some claimed the girl had been taken captive by natives and carried into wilderness or to Canada.  Others suggested the poor child had fallen into the pond and drowned.  Lucy’s mother Martha was extraordinarily distraught and, for years after, was heard calling for her missing child.  Even after her death some claimed that they could hear her cries of “Luuuuuccyyyyyy” among the trees on the mountain or even see a shadowy form of a woman just beyond the trees.  Others claim to have seen her spirit at her grave site in Princeton’s Meeting House Cemetery.

The mystery has never been solved.

For further reading, I recommend Lucy Keyes, the Lost Child of Wachusett Mountain (1893); it includes discussion of one supposed confession of Lucy’s murder as well as several other theories as to her fate.  Those looking to skip the reading can watch a rather overblown movie version – The Legend of Lucy Keyes.




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