Witchy Woman — Isabella Mary Rutherford Laidlaw

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Witchy Woman  — Isabella Mary Rutherford Laidlaw

Adrienne Jones— I see they missed Mary Rutherford the witch whose head was severed from her body so she didnt come back. Body in Bentink township guarded by 2 white spirit wolves and head up the peninsula around Tobermory.

Yesterday I saw this comment from Adrienne and decided to document it. On Google there are quite a few articles on her but scouring the newspapers sites. not a one.. Just this clipping below that in 1873 one L. Kyder from Montreal dressed up as Mary Rutherford- Witch.

The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
13 Feb 1893, Mon  •  Page 7

Buried: An Interactive Story on Steam

Grey County Cemetery– click here.. ( formerly known as Lamlash Cemtery)

The worst condition I have ever seen in any cemetery, appalling really. Such desecration is completely unwarranted and I wonder at the minds of some people. This sad little cemetery is found down an abandoned “No Maintenance” road, closed in the winter and very rough the remainder of the year. The only visitors are off-roaders, partyers and people dumping garbage. Also those who follow the ghostly legends of the paranormal may also be found visiting here, in curiosity of the Legend of Mary Rutherford. Cults and satanic rituals are common here, and apparitions have also been reported

Please see the link for more details of the legend, it is a sad story of a poor spinster, rumoured to be a witch, buried away from the rest of the departed, her grave continues to be desecrated and damaged.

What is easy to find are the other gravestones, all gathered together on a concrete slab, most damaged and in poor condition, all turned every which way and used as stools for partying idiots.

Mary Rutherford was reportedly the first burial in what was once the West Bentinck Presbyterian Cemetery. She died Christmas day of 1872. The last confirmed burial here was 1922. A visit here is spooky, deep within the forest setting, surrounded by the refuse of society and the uncertainty of the unknown.

The Legend of Isabella ‘Mary’ Rutherford

The legend of Mary Rutherford has always been vague and ambiguous. It tells of an old maid who was finally betrothed to be married, only to be duped at the alter by her husband-to-be. Left shameful and heartbroken, she committed suicide by hanging herself in her wedding dress. If this wasn’t enough, she has since been accused of being a witch, having her head buried separate from her body and her grave placed far from the rest in the cemetery where she now rests.Upon first hearing about this infamous, yet illogical legend, something didn’t seem to fit. The facts didn’t add up so the deeper I dug, the more things began to make sense. The purpose of this article is to help shed some light on the often talked about, yet rarely accurate legend based on a woman who has come to be known as Mary Rutherford.

The History

Bentinck Township, just outside of Hanover, Ontario in the West Grey area was one of the former townships that made up the original city. (the other’s being the Townships of Glenelg and Normanby, the former Village of Neustadt, and the former Town of Durham). During the early 1900’s, the Hanover area became a popular area for immigrants because of its wealth of farm land and hardwood bushes. Many of these immigrants came from Scotland, but for this story, one family stood out in particular.Robert Laidlaw, a farmer from the village of Bedrule in Roxburghshire, Scotland, married a woman from the same town named Isabella Rutherford (born 1800) on May 21 in 1826. Decades later in 1855 their son Walter left Scotland in his late teens with his fiancee Maryanne, and was the first of the clan to come over and settle in Canada, in the Bentinck Township.

Sometime in 1860, Robert and Isabella joined them, and the family lived in a 2-storey log home that had just been built in 1859.Walter and Maryanne married in 1870 and had five children. Walter became quite a prominent man within the Bentinck Township and was elected the deputy reeve. He died in 1895 and Maryanne in 1910. The family’s log home was sold and taken apart, log by log and moved to Lake Rosalind in Hanover to be used as a cottage in 1958.

Isabella ‘Mary’ Rutherford died in 1872 (LAIDLAW, Isabella (Rutherford)) on Christmas day at the age of 72. A few years later her husband Robert Laidlaw passed away in March of 1874. They were both buried in the now abandoned West Bentinck Presbyterian Cemetery (also known to be the Lamlash Cemetery) and Isabella was the very first, or one of the first, to be buried in the 1872 graveyard. According to the burial records in the Bentinck Township book, the last recorded burial was another Mr. Laidlaw in 1939. However, a stone at the graveyard contradicts this saying that the last burial was in 1922.

I think you might be better off not finding her grave and accidentally touching it, so they say. 

Facts and Mythshttps://www.ledicarusmedia.com/west_bentinck_pres_cem.html

MYTH
Isabella grew up to be a childless old maid who was duped at the alter by her fiancé who had taken her virginity the night before the wedding. Isabella committed suicide by hanging herself while in her wedding dress on her wedding day at the age of 26.

FACTS
At least three children (seven total) have been directly connected to Isabella, their names were Walter, Jean and Robert.
She was married, successfully, to Robert in 1826.

MYTH
Locals claimed she was a witch and so her head was decapitated from her body and both buried separately in the cemetery. Her grave(s) being placed separately from the rest of the group for this reason.

FACTS
There is no prevailing evidence to prove she was a witch or practised witchcraft. The “practise” of witchcraft was, in many communities, misconstrued to include everything from botany to herbology to astrology. A well tended gardener who took heed of the seasons and Mother Nature and respected both could be interpreted as practising a type of witchcraft. A confirmed witch would not have been permitted burial on consecrated grounds nor had the symbol of a handshake (a welcoming into the heavenly world) engraved on their gravestone. Both Robert and Isabella have the same symbol on their gravestones.

There are some interesting points to be made about her burial.

  1. As one of the first buried in the cemetery her plot was located over halfway back from the entry to the cemetery on a hillside. This could have simply been the location of a purchased family plot or intentional on the part of the deceased’s wishes or the church. There is no evidence available as to the intent.
  2. Her plot was alleged to have been located next to her husband but witnesses claim the two stones were not located immediately side by side (before, or after, being relocated).
  3. Her plot was separate from other graves, however, only a fraction of the total plots had surviving gravestones on them by the 1970s (when the bulk of rumours commenced). Following the clustering of stones, her stone remained separate on the hillside for some time until it was moved down next to the cluster. No effort was made to locate her stone together with the others in the past or since.

A clarification to what you may have read on websites like geocaching.com, the “clustering” of gravestones was not common practise in cemeteries when they were established or for centuries following. This clustering most likely occurred some time between 1950 to 1990 when this desecration of historical cemeteries, in the name of easy maintenance and alleged vandalism prevention, was performed. It was cheaper than requesting additional police patrols or better lighting. You will not find any untouched cemeteries containing a clustering of gravestones, even the most remote locations deep in forests and the back forty of family farms.

Kevin, Lead Investigator Notes: I know this for a fact because I personally witnessed the clustering of at least a half dozen local cemeteries during the 1980s for these reasons. Stones were being vandalized by drunken idiots and it was thought the only way to protect them was to cluster them closer together restricting access. Since then we have come up with better concrete and steel supports to protect and preserve freestanding stones, too late for the cemeteries already converted. In older cemeteries where records are lost, and stones have been vandalized the clustering of stones together was done out of a lack of information more than common practise. For example, no one wants to place to stone belonging to Mary on top of the grave belonging to John lest they be haunted by the dead or the descendants thereof.

MYTH
Anyone who touches the gravestone of Isabella ‘Mary’ Rutherford will befall an injury. Allegedly the ghost of Mary will reach out from the grave and break the arm of the daring individual. The bone may not break right away but will soon after in a mysterious freak accident.

FACTS
Obviously false without a need for much explanation. Many people have touched her gravestone and not become injured including our Lead investigator Kevin.

MYTH
If you wait near the gravestone or grave, unclear which, at the stroke of midnight it is alleged that the ghost, apparition in mist form, or the witch herself can be seen walking through the cemetery near the trees.

FACTS
No one sober has reported seeing this phenomenon that we have found during our research. Due to the conditions of the road back to the cemetery and the lack of nearby public space we have not located anyone who has been back there after sunset in recent years.

Discussion on the Haunting Folklore

Is Isabella’s spirit haunting the cemetery? Not likely.
Did Isabella die an unwed childless old maid? No.
Was Isabella a witch? Unknown but evidence supports that she was not.

17 Signs That You’d Qualify as a Witch in 1692 click here_–

Is there a spirit or spirits, other than Isabella, haunting the cemetery? Inconclusive
Is there a malevolent or demonic spirit, other than Isabella, haunting the cemetery? Inconclusive

Why are these two points inconclusive?

There has been evidence of witnesses feeling intense sorrow or discomfort while in the cemetery. This is most likely a psychological effect of hearing the rumours and legends concerning the location. However, our lead investigator, Kevin, reported that he felt a uniquely calming presence in the cemetery and noted the reduction of bird and animal sounds in the immediate area of the cemetery. He concluded, based on four visits over several years, that this was simply an anomaly of time of day and use of location versus a prevailing psychic energy in the area.

There is, however, the fact that several, albeit amateurish, rituals have been performed in the graveyard over the last several decades. Whether these rituals were the result of a impulse brought on by alcohol or intent to raise or conjure energies is too varied and undocumented to be dismissed. The toying with such dangerous activities may have created a rift or tear, a portal, allowing for the attraction or entry of inter-dimensional energies into this location. Further paranormal investigation into this location is needed.


All from –all from http://geneofun.on.ca/

Photos courtesy of Rev. Owen Juhlke [2012], additions from Brenda Calder
Indexed by Sherri Pettit

This index represents ALL visible headstones still in existence at the time this cemetery was visited-Grey County Cemetery– click here.

(unknown)  
ALLEN, Jane (Perrey)   1798 – 1878 (age: 80)
ALLEN, Samuel   spouse
BAILEY, Beatrice   parent
BAMFORD, Annie   1849 – 1917 (age: 68)
BURGESS, John   1877 – 1898 (age: 21)
CAMPBELL, Charles   1799 – 1871 (age: 72)
CAMPBELL, Isabella   1841 – 1919 (age: 78)
CAMPBELL, Margaret   1844 – 1904 (age: 60)
CURRIE, Cathrine   1797 – 1895 (age: 98)
CURRIE, Kate   1867 – 1892 (age: 25)
CURRIE, Margaret   parent
CURRIE, William   parent
DICKSON, Janet (Hudson)   1833 – 1899 (age: 66)
DICKSON, John   1863 – 1868 (age: 5)
DICKSON, Samuel   spouse
DICKSON, Samuel   1833 – 1909 (age: 76)
EVANS, (infant son)   1890 – 1890
EVANS, (infant son)   1891 – 1891
HASTIE, (infant sons)   ? ?
HASTIE, Andrew   1835 – 1915 (age: 80)
HASTIE, Margaret (Irvine)   1841 – 1904 (age: 63)
HASTIE, William   parent
HENDERSON, Isabella   1816 – 1893 (age: 77)
HUDSON, Janet   1833 – 1899 (age: 66)
IRVINE, Margaret   1841 – 1904 (age: 63)
JEFFKINS, Jane (Laidlaw)   1898 – 1898 (age: 31)
JEFFKINS, Jannet (Watt)   1892 – 1904 (age: 12)
JEFFKINS, Keziah   1892 – 1918 (age: 26)
JEFFKINS, William   1859 – 1881
KLAGES, (infant daughter)   ? ?
KLAGES, John   parent
KRAUTER, Aubrey   1917 – 1917
KRAUTER, Beatrice (Bailey)   parent
KRAUTER, Marjorie   1941 – 1941
KRAUTER, Willard   parent
LAIDLAW, Adam Robson   1880 – 1939
LAIDLAW, Isabella (Rutherford)   1800 – 1872 (age: 72)
LAIDLAW, Jane   1898 – 1898 (age: 31)
LAIDLAW, Jennet   parent
LAIDLAW, Margaret J.   1861 – 1877 (age: 16)
LAIDLAW, Mary Ann   1837 – 1910 (age: 73)
LAIDLAW, Robert   parent
LAIDLAW, Robert   spouse
LAIDLAW, Robert   ? – 1874
LAIDLAW, Walter   1833 – 1895 (age: 62)
LEESON  
LEESON, Annie   1880 – 1904 (age: 24)
LEESON, Annie (Bamford)   1849 – 1917 (age: 68)
LEESON, James   1807 – 1879 (age: 72)
LEESON, Jennie   1875 – 1905 (age: 30)
LEESON, John   1839 – 1919 (age: 80)
LEESON, Joseph   1870 – 1908 (age: 38)
LEESON, William J.   1867 – 1871 (age: 4)
McNICOL, Agnes   spouse
McNICOL, Agnes   1830 – 1901 (age: 71)
McNICOL, Annie   1838 – 1905 (age: 67)
McNICOL, Cathrine (Currie)   1797 – 1895 (age: 98)
McNICOL, Donald   1829 – 1890 (age: 61)
McNICOL, John   1798 – 1880
MILLIGAN, Margaret   ? – 1914
MILLIGAN, William   ? – 1887
OWENS, Euphemia   1886 – 1886
PERREY, Jane   1798 – 1878 (age: 80)
POLSON, Charlotte   1826 – 1898 (age: 72)
POLSON, William   spouse
POLSON, William   1823 – 1875 (age: 52)
RUTHERFORD, Isabella   1800 – 1872 (age: 72)
STORRAR, Andrew   1831 – 1872 (age: 41)
STORRAR, Andrew   ? – 1892
STORRAR, Annie (McNicol)   1838 – 1905 (age: 67)
TODD, Agnes   child of
TODD, Alice   child of
TODD, David   1815 – 1899 (age: 84)
TODD, Isabella   child of
TODD, Isabella (Henderson)   1816 – 1893 (age: 77)
TODD, William E.   child of
TODD, Willie   child of
WATT, Jannet   1892 – 1904 (age: 12)
WILKINSON, Catharine   1877 – 1879 (age: 2)
WILKINSON, Isabella   parent
WILKINSON, Isabella (Campbell)   1841 – 1919 (age: 78)
WILKINSON, James   parent
WILKINSON, James   1831 – 1901 (age: 70)
WILKINSON, Margaret   1873 – 1876 (age: 3)
WILKINSON, Margaret   1881 – 1909 (age: 28)

all from http://geneofun.on.ca/

Name:Isabella Rutherford
Gender:Female
Spouse:Robert Laidlaw
Child:Walter Laidlaw
Name:Robert Laidlaw
Gender:Male
Spouse:Isabella Rutherford
Child:Walter Laidlaw
Name:Walter Laidlaw
Age:36
Birth Year:abt 1835
Birth Place:Scotland
Marriage Date:18 Mar 1871
Marriage Place:Canada, Grey, Ontario
Father:Robert Laidlaw
Mother:Isabella Rutherford
Spouse:Mary Ann Laidlaw
Walter LAIDLAW-son from http://geneofun.on.ca/
1833-1895
Walter Laidlaw died October 22, 1895 at age 62; also Adam Robson Laidlaw (1890-1939); also Mary Ann Laidlaw (wife of Walter Laidlaw) died March 5, 1910 age 73 (b. Roxburghshire, Scotland) (1871 Census Division 3 Ref. #49)
West Bentinck Presbyterian Cemetery, Grey County, ON

Photos courtesy of Rev. Owen Juhlke [2012], additions from Brenda Calder
Indexed by Sherri Pettit

related reading:

The Plum Hollow Witch 101 – Mother Barnes

We Know About the Witch of Plum Hollow — But Have you Heard About Mother Lajeunesse?

Mother Barnes– The Colonel’s Daughter in Plum Hollow

An Interview with the Witch of Plum Hollow–Mother Barnes— The Ottawa Free Press 1891

The Witch of Plum Hollow and the Blacksmith

My Grandmother was Mother Barnes-The Witch of Plum Hollow

A Bewitched Bed in Odessa

The Witch of Plum Hollow – Carleton Place Grandmother

Plum Hollow Witch and The Mountain Man of Pakenham

Different Seasons of Witches in Lanark County

Local Miracle Story– Woken From a Ten Week Coma

The White Witch of Lanark County–Having the Sight

The Witches of Rochester Street

Hocus Pocus –Necromancy at Fitch Bay

The Witch of Plum Hollow – Carleton Place Grandmother

The Witch Hollow of Lanark County

When Mother Barnes Made a Mistake? Beckwith 6th Line

The Witch of Plum Hollow Files- An Evening in Smiths Falls

Mother Barnes and the Missing Money of South March

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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