Wednesday, October 15, 2008
At this time of year we always have visitors who are interested in the haunted history of the Bush House. A quick internet search for haunted places in Salem returns the following nugget (available on several different websites):
"The Bush House is now an Art Gallery that has a ghost from the turn of the century. She was a young woman who suffered from schizophrenia, and her family kept her in the basement in shame. She died there and now haunts the house. The owners have residents who live in the upstairs who say the ghost of a young girl plays with the thermostat."
Like many ghost stories this one has an element of truth to it: Eugenia Bush, the youngest daughter of Asahel Bush II and his wife Eugenia Zieber Bush, suffered from a mental illness; she fell ill when she was a college student living in Massachusetts, circa 1880.
But that's where the similarity ends. Rather than treating Eugenia with shame, the Bush family made sure she was cared for properly by East Coast specialists who operated private clinics for their wealthy patients. Family members wrote to her and visited her, making the arduous and expensive cross-country train trip to Boston on a regular basis. In 1914, when she was 52 years old, Eugenia returned to Salem to live in the family home under the care of her sister Sally and a full-time nurse. She died in 1932, at age 70.
So no young girl, no shame, no locked in the basement, no premature death. Admittedly, the heating system is erratic, but we blame that on the machinery and not on ghosts. We are happy to welcome visitors who come for any reason, but we would like to think that the true stories of the Bush family are more interesting, if less dramatic, than internet fictions. Come for a tour and find out for yourself.
Posted by SaraHS at 4:03 PM