The Ghost Ship of Brown’s Hill




David Hosking put this photo up on the People from the Eastern Townships Facebook page yesterday and I had to do something with it. His caption was:

“It’s not well known, but this ship is situated between Fitch Bay and Ayers Cliff, Quebec. Not far from Brown’s Hill. There was a bit of a drought when the photo was taken”.

So anyone that knows me knows I enjoy a challenge– so here is my fictional story I wrote about this fictitious lost ship in the photo.


                                                The Ghost Ship of Brown’s Hill

Captain Ebenezer Hovey was a native of Connecticut, and was one of the earliest pioneers of the settlement of Hatley, Quebec. The freewill Baptist sustained the office of Captain of Militia for many years, and was actively employed in public affairs. In March of 1794 he set out for Magog with an ox team carrying his wife and eight children, bedding, and provisions searching for their new home.

They went by way of Missiquoi Bay and it took seven days to get through the woods from Freighlisburg to Lake/Lac Memphremagog. The snow was deep and the women and children suffered from the cold and fatigue. Captain Hovey ended up discovering Massawippi Lake with a party of explorers and they camped out on the east side of the outlet near the point of its issue from the lake.

In Stanstead county-there are miles and miles of breathtaking countryside, and the view is said to be spectacular–whether along the banks of the Niger River, or up on the heights of Brown’s Hill.  Not only are there anecdotes and historical notes about the area’s hidden corners, landmarks, and first settlers, there is one story however that some seldom discuss.

Captain Hovey may have died on the 24th of April 1836 in Stanstead County at the age of 83, but his legend lives on years later. It has been said that one of Hovey’s son’s (Horace) later descendants gave life to a  story about a ghost ship that sat not far from Brown’s Hill.

Hovey had kept the ship in a undisclosed area in a Lake/Lac Memphremagog cove.  No one knows how that ship remained hidden from prying eyes, and little has been said about the skeleton of a ship that some say still rests somewhere between Fitch Bay and Ayer’s Cliff.

Generations of locals have heard the stories about the ship that tried to make it through the rain, forest and humidity of one Quebec summer. Folks say that a steel cable towing the ship ruptured because the tension and pressure had gotten so incredibly high that the pressure inside the cable became incandescent. Inside the enormous pulley system hauling the ship the cables continued to heat up, and they had to down the cables with buckets of water. This is something they didn’t expect, but they had to do it.

The ship was from a former expedition and 129 men had tragically vanished. The mystery surrounding the failed expedition haunted historians and explorers alike. There was no definite answer to the reason of their deaths: some of the evidence suggests that they died of pneumonia, while other clearly indicated it was from lead and food poisoning.

They say there were cut marks on human bones that were interpreted as signs of cannibalism. No one has been able to put all the puzzles of this tragedy together, yet a descendant of Captain Ebenezer Hovey and his son Horace was determined to get this ship to Brown’s Hill for its final resting ground.

Moving through endlessly rolling valleys, receding to a distant range of mountains and sky, Brown’s Hill was the final goal. To say the ship was being moved by ‘engineering’ down Brown’s Road is a little bit far fetched. They had 800 lumbermen and Caterpillar drivers moving multiple winch systems, and they were very disciplined, had a good rapport, and all worked professionally.

The ship was completely battered at this point, and it was headed to a river near Brown’s Hill.  The journey became very precarious and the ghost of Captain Hovey  was there in the upper right hand part of the ship’s deck leading the procession. It wasn’t natural to move that ship to Brown’s Hill and they were imposing themselves against the laws of nature.

You didn’t need that much force going down the undulating gravel road–it was more of finding a delicate balance. If they pushed the ship too much, it was going to slide and all hell would break loose. They knew it would go down like an avalanche–that was the major complication in all of this.

When they finally found the river, they had to take a six-month hiatus, because the river was only a trickle of water due to a dry season. They left the boat at the top of a hill and hired a large family to live on the ship until they were ready to move again. Fighting the vines and the rust was the least of it, as they had to protect it from being disassembled  by the locals for the iron and the wood.

The ship stayed at the peak of a hill overhanging ominous skies closing up a tiny opening in-between the vista. What was awaiting this curious ship if the river finally regained its strength?  It was never to be discovered, and the photo sent in by David Hosking is the only photo in existence of Horace Hovey’s ghost ship.

They said you could only shoot that photo once—there were no second takes. There was only one chance to do it, and understand just what the camera saw. Some say the ghost ship vanished-never to be seen again.

But if you look closely on a clear day on top of Brown’s Hill–you’ll feel part of every mountain sea and shore. You can hear from far and near–a world you’ve never, never seen before-the ghost ship of Horace Hovey.



Related reading:

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – Minecraft Story of the Lake Memphremagog Monster



The story of Captain Ebenezer Hovey is true-the boat not so much:)

Old North Church Cemetery
Estrie Region
Quebec, Canada




Brown’s Hill Cemetery-click here By Leslie Nutbrown ( don;t know if she is related to my Nutbrown family connection in Sherbrooke- but this is one #superhistoricalwoman

Directions to the cemetery:

Browns Hill Cemetery is on top of the hill overlooking Ayer’s Cliff,probably less than 5 minutes away. From the town of Ayer’s Cliff, head west on Main Street (Rte 141). At the edge of town before you get to Lake Massawippi, take Dustin Road (on your left) and stay on this road for a couple of kilometers until you reach Brown’s Hill Road.  Turn right and go up over the hill past a couple of farms. Be watching as you come over the hill as the cemetery is on the left side of the road.

This is one of the oldest Stanstead County burial grounds, with stones dating from 1803. Many of the earliest settlers came here from Vermont and New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Some stones are difficult to read and some stones are sunk in the ground.  There are  numerous unmarked graves as evidenced from church records. (Indicated by CR) in the listing.

The cemetery is maintained by the Brown’s Hill Cemetery Corporation, made up of Dustin descendants. If you have relatives interred here or you are interested in helping to maintain this cemetery, please let me know.

I visit this cemetery frequently and have photographs of all monuments.  

Leslie Nutbrown   []

Total records = 187

Legend: CR= church record

Last updated: October 29, 2016

??, ??, d. 4 Feb 1894, aged 70y 8m 4d, top of stone missing,”Gone to her rest”
??, Homer B., d. 12 Mar 1846, aged 6m 5d, son of John A. & P
Ayer, Gardner M., b. 16 Oct 1808, d. 10 Dec 1879
Ayer, Louisa; d. 19 Jul 1840, aged 26 yrs, wife of Ira Wright
Ayer, Mary; d. 15 Feb 1853, wife of William Ayer
Ayer, Matilda; d. 11 Apr 1843, aged 32 yrs, wife of Gardner Ayer
Ayer, Miranda; d. 9 Aug 1837, aged 35 yrs, wife of Noah Glidden
Ayer, Myrtie L.; b. 13 Aug 1867, d. 13 May 1876
Ayer, Osgood; d. 10 Sep 1883
Ayer, Thomas; d. 8 May 1842, aged 68 yrs
Ayer, Wildar; d. 1 Jan 1851, aged 32 yrs, husband of Sylvia Wright
Ayer, William A., d. 10 Jan 1858, aged 81y 1m
Ayer, William L.; b. 7 Apr 1837, d. 28 Aug 1873
Bachelder, Sophia;  no headstone
Brown, ?, d. March 1821, aged ? Months 15 days
Brown, Abigail K., d. 30 Aug 1863, aged 45y 3m, wife of John Q. Brown
Brown, Abigail; d. 23 Jul 1850, aged ?y 6 d 4m
Brown, Alfred W., b. 9 Sep 1883, d. 7 Feb 1911, husband of Evelyn Rexford
Brown, Alvira;  no headstone
Brown, Ann; d. 2 Aug 18?5, daughter of Sherburn & Hannah
Brown, Ann; d. 30 Sep 1835, daughter of Theo & Polly
Brown, Asa W., b. 20 Sep 1833, d. 21 Jan 1918
Brown, Carroll; infant twin son of Charles & Ida
Brown, Catherine; d, 17 Jul 1825, aged 40 yrs, wife of Sherburn Brown
Brown, Charles A., b. 14 Oct 1888, d. 2 Aug 1950
Brown, Charles Robie; b. 1859, d. 1948, husband of Ida May Reed
Brown, Elizabeth Ann; b. 1847, d. 1929, wife of William M. Clark
Brown, Ella G., d. 7 Sep 1879, aged 19y 6m 6d, wife of Charles H. Towle
Brown, F. Pearl; b. 1888, d. 1975, wife of Gordon Temple
Brown, Florence H., d. 26 Aug 1889, aged 33y 8m, wife of C.A. Brown
Brown, Hannah Matilda; d. 6 Apr 1875, aged 39 yrs
Brown, Harold, infant twin son of Charles & Ida
Brown, James; d. 23 May 1808, son of Theo & Polly
Brown, John;  s/w Mehitable Brown
Brown, Josiah G., d. 25 Aug 1847, aged 2y 6m, son of J.Q. & A. Brown
Brown, Julia Ann; d. 21 Oct 1852, aged 51y 1m 10d, daughter of John Q. & Abigail
Brown, Louisa; d. 12 Jan, daughter of Sherburn
Brown, Mehitable; d. 11 Dec 1829, aged 19 yrs
Brown, Mehitable;  s/w John Brown
Brown, Minnie A., no dates, daughter of E..D. & M.J.
Brown, Nancy A., b. 24 Jan 1845, d. 26 Sep 1915, widow of William L. Ayer & wife of E.R. Webster
Brown, Nancy; d. 9 Mar 1837, age 57y 3m 14d, wife of Amos Shirtliff
Brown, Nelson;  no headstone
Brown, Ozro Harvey; b. 16 Jul 1887, d. 20 May 1957, husband of Ethel Vaughan
Brown, Robie G., b. 1883, d. 1897
Brown, Robie, d. 11 Jan 1862
Brown, Robie; b. 22 Mar 1808, d. 22 Oct 1903, husband of Flavilla Hopkins
Brown, Sanborn;
Brown, Sarah A., b. 12 Aug 1830, d. 25 Feb 1917, wife of Harvey Libby
Brown, Sarah L., d. 9 Jul 1891, aged 45 yrs, wife of Edward Hill
Brown, Sarah; d. 1861, wife of Eleazer Clark
Brown, Sewall; d. 1 Aug 1888, son of Sherburn & Susan
Brown, Sherburn S., d. 17 Apr 1892, aged 88 yrs
Brown, Sherburn; husband of Catherine
Brown, Susan;
Brown, Theophilus;
Brown, Velma I., d. 19 Mar 1937, aged 86 yrs, wife of L. P. Adams Jr.
Brown, Wilder; b. 2 Apr 1832, d. 27 Nov 1911, husband of Sula Smith
Burdett, Fannie A., d. 6 Feb 1897, aged 24y 5m, wife of Fred E. Wells
Buzzell, Homer;  no headstone
Buzzell, John;  no headstone
Clark, Charlotte; d. 19 Jul 1854, agedd 63y 6m, 3rd wife of Jonathan Dustin
Clark, Eleazer; d. 1830, husband of Sarah Brown
Clark, Gordon B., b. 7 Nov 1875, d. 22 Nov 1948
Clark, Nathaniel; d. 26 Nov 1849, aged 42 yrs
Clark, Osborn; b. 15 Feb 1820, d. 5 Nov 1893
Clark, Sewell; b. 8 Jan 1805, d. 3 May 1886, husband of Harriet Dresser
Clark, William M., b. 22 Jul 1848, d. 12 Jan 1896, husband of Elizabeth Ann Brown
Coburn, Alexander; d. 1 Jun 1877, aged 82y 6m, husband of Ruhamah Parker
Cole, Alvin; d. 13 May 1846, aged 27y 9m
Cole, Asa Wellman; d. 26 Sep 1830, aged 1m 18d, son of Asa & Lovisa
Cole, Asa; d. 26 Jan 1833, aged 42 yrs
Cole, Maranda E., d. 9 Sep 1852, aged 21y 1m 15d
Cole, Thomas; d. 9 Apr 1836, aged 49y 20d
Coulombe, Pierre; 1948-2016, époux de Louise Hurtubise
Cox, Jennie, d. 30 May 1887, aged 18y 11m, wife of H. H. Getty
Cox, Joseph;  no headstone
Cox, Oliver; d. 10 May, 1921, no headstone
Coxen, Statira; d. 2 Nov 1851, aged 57 yrs, wife of Joseph
Davis, Artemus; d. 17 Mar 1881, aged 76y 9m
Davis, Augusta M., d. 2 Feb 1904, aged 53 yrs, wife of V.W. Eaton
Davis, Mattie Wade; d. 31 May 1912, no headstone
Davis, Rozina; b. 27 Jun 1821, d. 19 Jul 1903, wife of Gardner Ayer
Davis, Sabrina; d. 27 Mar 1863, wife of Artemus
Davis, Walter;
Dodge, Lovisa; wife of  Asa Cole
Dresser, Harriet; b. 2 Sep 1818, d. 29 Sep 1896, wife of Sewell Clark
Dunn, Frederick; b. 1857, d. 1940, husband of Melvina Huckins
Dustin, Florinda; d. 28 Jan 1901, aged 68 yrs, wife of Rodney Towle (no stone)
Dustin, Hannah; d. 13 Dec 1855, aged 49 yrs, wife of Sherburn Brown
Dustin, Jonathan; d. 1 Oct 1848, aged 80y 9m, husband of Charlotte Clark
Dustin, Lizzie M., d. 4 Jul 1878, daughter of William S. & Mary B. Dustin
Dustin, Ozro; b. 1864, d. 1955, husband of Nettie Hartwell
Dustin, William S., d. 6 Aug 1896, aged 75y 8m, husband of Mary Bullock Dyer
Dyer, Mary Bullock; b. 1826, d. 1905, wife of William Sargent Dustin
Dyer, Mehetabel P., d. 7 Nov 1871, aged 46y 6m, sister of Mary B. Dyer
Eaton, Augusta J., d. 2 May 1871, aged 21y 8m, wife of Howard K. Wells
Eaton, Rosetta L., d. 1865, daughter of of V.W. & M.
Eaton, V. W., b. 1821, d. 1914
Gladden, Mary O., d. 17 Oct 1881, daughter of W.H. & A.
Glidden, Noah; d. 12 Feb 1873, aged 76 yrs, husband of Miranda Ayer
Glidden, Orpha; wife of Winthrop Fox
Hartwell, Nettie; b. 1877, d. 1903, wife of Ozro Dustin
Heath, Gilman; b. 1794, d. 1873, husband of Lydia Lovering
Heath, Philip; d. 9 Dec 1836, aged 30 yrs
Heath, Ruth A., d. 26 Jan 1858, aged 30y 9m, wife of Marshall Lincoln
Hopkins, Flavilla S., b. 18 May 1818, d. 19 Aug 1903, wife of Robie Brown
House, James; d. 22 Nov 1853, aged 39 yrs
Hovey, Mary A., b. 1818, d. 1897, wife of J.B. Shirtliff
Huckins, Melvina; b. 1852, d. 1934, wife of Frederick Dunn
Jewell, Albert H., b. 3 Apr 1820 in Tamworth, NH, d. 14 Jun 1901, husband of Mary Morse, (no stone)
Lee, Almira E., d. 11 Aug 1870, agedd 27 yrs, wife of William M. Lee
Libby, Edwin;  d. 30 Aug 1865, infant son of Harvey & Sarah, (no stone)
Libby, Erwin H., d. 18 Oct 1865, infant son of Hervey & Sarah, (no stone)
Libby, Harvey H., b. 5 Jun 1834, d. 9 May 1908, husband of Sarah A. Brown
Libby, Katie;  no headstone
Litch, Hannah; d. 29 Dec 1867, aged 81 yrs, wife of Bracket Towle
Locke, Peter; b. 14 Apr 1800, d. 2 Apr 1862
Lovering, Lydia; b. 1795, d. 3 Mar 1862, aged 66y 11m, wife of Gilman Heath
McPherson, Betsey;
McPherson; Elsie,  no headstone
Morrill, Abigail C., b. 12 May 1824, d. 28 Sep 1910, wife of Osborn Clark
Morse, Mary; d. 14 Jun 1896, aged 82 yrs, wife of Albert Jewell (no stone)
Moulton, Mary, d. 31 Jan 1870, wife of John B. Towle, mother of Mary Achsah Towle Thurston
Moulton, Ora H.,  daughter of F. A. & H. G.
Nevers, Alexander;  no headstone
Nevers, Elsie; d. 28 Dec 1863, aged 19 yrs, daughter of Alex & Elsie
Nevers, George S., d. 23 Aug 1866, aged 19y 23d, son of Alex and Elsie
Nevers, Harriet;  no stone
Nevers, Mary;
Nevers, William;  no stone
Norton, Nehemiah R., d. 4 Apr 1849, aged 2yrs, son of Joseph & Mary
Norton, Sarah A., d. 26 Mar 1903, aged 75 yrs, wife of Johnathan Towle
Parker, Ruhamah; d. 19 Jun 1885, aged 68 yrs, wife of Alexander Coburn
Pool, Achsah B., d. 6 Jul 1866, wife of John B. Towle
Reed, Ida May; b. 1861, d. 1940, wife of Charles Robie Brown
Rexford, Evelyn; b. 29 Apr 1882, d. 29 Jul 1978, wife of Alfred Brown
Richerson, Sylvia; d. 23 Dec 1891, aged 82 yrs, wife of Sherburn Brown
Rider, Elizabeth; d. 10 Apr 1911, aged 67 yrs
Roby, Priscilla; stone sunken
Ruiter, Katherine Brown; b. 4 Apr 1874, d. 19 Nov 1943
Sharon, Verna; b. 1881, d. 1972, wife of Briggs Waite
Sherman, Elizabeth; b. 2 Mar 1755 Woodbury, Conn., d. 2 Dec 1835, wife of Simeon Cole
Shirtliff, Amos; d. 3 Mar 1837, aged 62y 1m 12d
Shirtliff, Flavilla; d. 11 Nov 1815, aged 1y 4m 14d
Shirtliff, J.B., d. 3 Oct 1888, aged 81y 2m 25d, husband of Mary Hovey
Shirtliff, John; d. 30 Jul 1815, aged 4y 4m
Shirtliff, Lathrop; d. 23 Feb 1842, aged 37y 7m 1d
Shirtliff, Sanborn; d. 7 Dec 1803, aged 1y 3m 8d
Small, Isaac; d. 28 Oct 1892, aged 91y 7m
Smith, Sula A., b. 27 Feb 1840, d. 2 May 1916, wife of Wilder Brown
St. Marie, Harry; no headstone
St. Marie, Robie G., 1883-1897
Temple, Gordon L., b. 1888, d. 1966, husband of F. Pearl Brown
Towle, Ada F.,  no stone
Towle, Anthony; d. 19 Apr 1843, aged 59 yrs
Towle, Bracket; d. 2 Feb 1851
Towle, Charles Henry; d. 5 May 1932 (no stone)
Towle, Dustin Ai; b. 18 Jan 1865, d. 20 Aug 1866, son of Rodney & Florinda (no stone)
Towle, Ernest Alfred; d. 1 Mar 1909, aged 39 yrs, (no stone)
Towle, Fred; no stone
Towle, Hannah;  daughter of Anthony & Priscilla
Towle, John B., d. 6 Jan 1883, aged 62y 8m
Towle, Johnathan; d. 10 Feb 1881, aged 65y 11m 5d husband of Sarah Norton
Towle, Lyman E., b. 24 Nov 1854, d. 6 Jul 1913
Towle, Mary; d. 29 Jan 1844, daughter of Bracket & Hannah
Towle, Mehitable N., d. 13 Oct 1888, aged 71 yrs, wife of Henry
Towle, Rodney; d. 13 Apr 1898, aged 69 yrs, husband of Florinda Dustin (no stone)
Tryon, Emily Caroline; b. 1 Jul 1826, d. 9 May 1912, wife of Enoch Wait
Varnum, James; d. 1 Nov 1897, aged 82 yrs
Varnum, Mary; d. 16 Sep 1847, aged 63 yrs, wife of Theophilus Brown
Vaughan, Ethel; b. 3 Apr 1879, d. 1 May 1862, wife of Ozro Brown
Waid, Mary Jane; d.  31 May 1921, aged 72 yrs, wife of Elmer Hartwell, (no headstone)
Waid, Philander;  d. 18 Oct 1902, aged 69 yrs, (no stone)
Wait, Eddie; b. 8 Feb 1860, d. 5 Dec 1862, son of Enoch & Emily
Wait, Emaline; d. 10 May 1885, aged 55y 9m, daughter of E. & H.
Wait, Enoch, d. 24 Oct 1869, husband of Emily Tryon
Waite, Alonzo; d. 2 Feb 1912, aged 64 yrs
Waite, Briggs; b. 1857, d. 1926, husband of Verna Sharon
Waite, Emily;  no stone
Waite, Hiram H., b. 7 Mar 1850, d. 8 Apr 1898
Waite, James E., b. 23 Apr 1852, d. 18 Oct 1916
Wellman, Rose Ann;b. Jul 1852, d. 24 Oct 1939, wife of Lyman Towle (no stone)
Wells, Mary; d. 26 Aug 1873, aged 72y 1m, wife of Willard Ayer
Wheeler, Edmond;  d. 17 Feb 1882, aged 27 yrs, (no stone)
Wright, Deborah; b. 30 Apr 1834, d. 30 Apr 1897
Wright, Sylvia; d. 18 Mar 1860, aged 82 yrs, wife of Thomas Ayer



Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun




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