Trap in Tree

trap in tree.jpg


Trap in Tree


Molly Ockett had a reputation, especially among the white settlers, as a talented storyteller. Because of her ability to relate stories of the past in great detail, her listeners became convinced that she was present during the events she described. For instance, Samuel Read Hall, an early resident of Rumford, Maine, believed Molly Ockett was born as early as 1685 based on her "recollection" of the Lovewell skirmish at Fryeburg in 1725. In truth, Molly Ockett was simply acting as an Indian "rememberer" or oral historian, transmitting past events she had heard from her elders and others around her. Molly Ockett also told her white friends other tales, some of which played into the settlers' superstitions and fears, and gained her a reputation as possessing destructive magical powers. She achieved this repute by punctuating her good works with occasional curses or warnings, some of which spawned legends that have been handed down through the generations. Three stories told by or about Molly Ockett, and featured in a booklet published by the Bethel Historical Society in 1991, are given below:

She maintained that when area Indians departed for Canada in 1755, at the start of the French and Indian War, they buried a quantity of gold in Paris, marking the spot by hanging two traps in a tree. This story took on added zest when, in 1860, a length of chain was found enmeshed in a tree on George Berry's farm in West Paris [near present-day "Trap Corner" on Route 26]. The treasure did not come to light at that time, which has allowed the legend to maintain its appeal for subsequent generations, especially school children in the area.

Another "buried treasure" tale associated with Molly Ockett is traditional in East Bethel families. . . . Molly Ockett had buried some of her possessions in a cache on Hemlock Island in the Androscoggin River off East Bethel. A settler stole them and when Molly later recognized her hatchet in his cabin, she placed a curse on the family which is said to have had an adverse effect on their prosperity from then on. A variation of this story identifies the buried treasure as gold, but the Hemlock Island locale is the same.

Stories told by Molly Ockett were not exclusively pleasant or historical, as she once predicted to people in West Poland [Maine] that the 18th of July would be so hot that water would boil in the wells and glass melt in the windows. This prophecy was told in a weird and vehement manner, disturbing those who heard it, and probably fostering the "witch" reputation Molly Ockett is reported to have had in Poland.



Still Image Record