Thursday, October 30, 2014

Haunted Hannah Jack’s Tavern

The Common Man Restaturant, formerly the Hannah Jack Tavern, in Merrimack, New Hampshire

This building was constructed by Edward Goldstone Lutwyche, a Tory whose property was seized during the American Revolution.  Dr. Matthew Thornton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, bought the property at auction and it was inherited by son James.  He named it Hannah Jack’s Tavern, after his mother.  She was born in Chester, New Hampshire in 1742.  Today this restaurant is known as The Common Man Restaurant on the Daniel Webster Highway in Merrimack, New Hampshire, but until 2004 it was known as Hannah Jack’s Tavern. 

Hannah and Dr. Thornton are buried across the street at the Matthew Thornton cemetery.  You can read all about their gravesite HERE at this blog post.

Hannah Jack Thornton's gravestone in Merrimack, New Hampshire

Over the years many restaurant workers have claimed to see ghosts in the building.  Some have reported seeing an Indian; some see servants in colonial clothing.  A few of the sightings have been in the basement, and some on the stairs.  I’ve been to this restaurant many times, and it seems bright and sunny, not at all dark and creepy, but I admit that I’ve never been down in the basement.   In October 2008 the Nocturnal Society of Paranormal research and Investigations surveyed the restaurant for "ghostly activity".  People believe that James Thornton hung himself off a rafter in the dining room, but I hadn’t seen proof of a suicide in any historical record.  Then reader and fellow genealogy blogger Janice Webster Brown sent me this item from the 5 July 1817 Farmer's Cabinet newspaper!

"DIED- .... - In Merrimack, 3d inst. Capt. James Thornton, aet. 53 - (suicide
from derangement.)"

Thanks, Janice!

For more information:

Ghosts and Legends of the Merrimack Valley, by C. C. Carole, published by Haunted America, A Division of The History Press, Charleston, SC, 2009, pages 66 -69.

Haunted Pubs of New England: Raising Spirits of the Past by Roxie J. Zwicker, published by Haunted America, A Division of the History Press, Charleston, SC, 2007, pages 73 – 77, and it is also readable online at Google Books.

“Ghost hunters look for proof Merrimack eatery is haunted”, on the website of the New Hampshire Business Review, published 10 October 2008, accessed 21 October 2014

Nutfield Note:

It is interesting to note that Edward Goldstone Lutwyche’s unusual surname was the middle name of Reverend Edward Lutwyche Parker, the Nutfield, New Hampshire historian and the author of The History of Londonderry in 1851.  Rev. Parker was a graduate of Dartmouth College and ordained in 1810.  He served as pastor at the First Church in Derry until his death in 1850, and his son published his history posthumously.  Rev. Parker's father was a great friend of Edward Goldstone Lutwyche, and named his son after him.  

Edward Goldstone Lutwyche was also one of the Loyalist men who assembled a posse to arrest the protesters at the “Pine Tree Riot” in Weare, New Hampshire.  This was one of the first acts of resistance to British authority in the American Colonies, taking place on 13 April 1772.  His loyalty to the crown must have made Lutwyche very unpopular with his neighbors.  Thornton and Lutwyche also had a long standing feud over the rights to a ferry across the Merrimack River to Litchfield.  This area was known as Lutwyche’s Ferry, but is now known as Thornton’s Ferry in Merrimack, New Hampshire.

Other ghostly haunted locations posted at this blog:

The Coach Stop Restaurant in Londonderry:

Pinkerton Tavern in Derry (no longer standing):

The Towne Burial Ground in Londonderry:

Fort Warren in Boston Harbor:

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Copyright © 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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