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Princeton, Massachusetts

Grave of Martha Keyes

The haunting history of a little girl lost. 

On April 14, 1755, Martha Keyes sent her two oldest daughters to collect sand from Wachusett Pond for cleaning their house. They were followed by 4 year old Lucy. Once they realized Lucy had followed them, they sent her back home. Lucy was never seen by her family again.

The disappearance of her daughter started driving her mother Martha insane. Until her death in 1786, neighbors could hear her calling for Lucy in the woods near her house. Legend has it, for 200+ years, people near Wachusett Mountain have claimed they can still hear her calling for Lucy. There have also been reports of her ghostly visage at her grave in Old Meetinghouse Cemetery weeping. Even stranger, some have claimed to see a young girl in the woods, or a chid’s bare footprints in the snow.

The ghost stories even inspired a Lifetime movie in 2005 titled The Legend of Lucy Keyes starring Julie Delpy. While no one is sure of Lucy Keyes’ fate, there are two main theories. Supposedly a neighbor, Tilly Littlejohn, confessed to her murder on his deathbed. The murder was in retaliation for a land dispute with the Keyes’ family. The only problem with this theory is Littlejohn was under the legal age to own property at the time of her disappearance.

Another theory is that two traders from Groton, MA were traveling near the Canadian border and came across a white woman living with the natives. She could only say that she had lived near “Chusett Hill.” Children being kidnapped by natives was common around the time, and Tilly Littlejohn  claimed to have seen natives in the area around the time of Lucy’s disappearance.

In addition to Martha Keyes’ grave, Lucy’s cradle is kept at the Princeton Historical Society. 

Know Before You Go

Look for the Meeting House Hill plaque in front of the cemetery.