Hello and welcome to our page!
We are the writing/producing team of the stage play “The Ghost & Gussie Roy.” We are fortunate to be working with Mrs. Beth Spaulding, the teacher who heads the Henniker Community School Drama Club, to bring our story to the stage this spring. But we need your help in funding the production.
What is “The Ghost & Gussie Roy” about?
The play is a recreation of the legend of Ocean Born Mary as she was portrayed by Louis Maurice Augustus “Gussie” Roy, originally of Wisconsin. Roy moved with his widowed mother to Henniker, NH, and lived in what is now known as the Ocean Born Mary house—even though Mary never resided there. He gave elaborately fabricated ghost tours, claiming that Mary haunted the home. He put Henniker and Mary on the map—and even in newspapers across the country and in the National Geographic magazine. The play takes a humorous look at this period in our town’s history and attempts to set the record straight.
Who is Ocean Born Mary?
Mary Wilson was born on a ship of Scotch-Irish immigrants bound for New England. The ship was boarded by pirates sometime around Mary’s birth, July 28, 1720. Legend holds that the pirate captain spared the lives of the passengers in exchange for Mary’s parents naming their newborn after either his wife or his mother (the details are hazy at best). He also left a bolt of light green brocaded silk for them to use as Mary’s wedding dress. Today, pieces of that fabric are held in libraries and museums from Washington, D.C. to Henniker, NH.
Mary grew up in Londonderry, where the town celebrated an annual Thanksgiving for the lives saved at sea by “Ocean Born Mary.” She married James Wallace and raised their five children in the town. Seven years after her husband died, Mary, who was 78, moved to Henniker to live with her son William; however, it is Robert’s home, which was about a mile away, that today is recognized as the Ocean Born Mary house. She died February 13, 1814, and is buried in William’s lot in the cemetery behind the Henniker Town Hall.
The evolution of our play:
During a mentoring session, we stumbled upon the Ocean Born Mary legend. That began a web search for more information, which grew into a library trip, followed by a research day at the Henniker Historical Society.
When we uncovered the Gussie Roy embellishments to the Ocean Born Mary story, we couldn’t let it go. Eventually we realized we had to write a play. That led to a staged reading at the Congregational Church of Henniker last winter.
Who are we?
Trinette Hunter – An eighth grader at Henniker Community School, Trinette has been studying writing outside of school with her mentor, Dana Biscotti Myskowski for the past four years. Together they’ve worked on films, prose, essay writing, novels, and other projects.
Dana Biscotti Myskowski – A community resident and adjunct professor at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester, Dana has been helping Trinette and other student writers as a mentor whenever the opportunity arises.
Thank you for your time and contribution!
- D'Entremont, Jeremy. Ocean-Born Mary, The Truth Behind a New Hampshire Legend. The History Press. Charleston, SC. 2011.
- Flanders, Alice V. & Taylor, Martha C. Ocean Born Mary and Mr. Roy: Linked by Legend. Booklet Number 7, Henniker Historical Society, Nov. 2000. www. hennikerhistory. org
- Henniker Historical Society tour and interviews of docents. Henniker, NH. Spring 2013.