Calling all ghosts, ghouls and goblins in search of the mysterious legend known as the “Chandler Tomb”.
Rosemary Losso and I set out on a beautiful October morning intent on locating the infamous “Chandler Tomb” that up until today was just a legend I had heard about while growing up on the Hill. Donning our orange caps, we threw caution to the wind and headed past the Academy to what I remembered as Granny Hill Road. Well, much to my surprise Granny Hill Road had become a thicket of briars, blow downs and an over growth of thick brush. Disappointingly, my childhood path had disappeared and we were forced to turn around and head down the newly paved Paris Hill Road to the Mink Farm Road.
Armed with scant information and a rudimentary map found in my “Paris Cemeteries 1793-2004” book, we headed down the Mink Farm Rd. Growing up, the Mink Farm Rd was a desolate narrow dirt road that led to Granny Pond and my best friend Camelia’s family mink farm. I was surprised to find it a paved road flanked with modest homes and no sign of the mink farm. However, Granny Pond was just where I remembered it and the memories of catching giant frogs and skipping rocks came rushing back. As we shuffled through the beautiful fall leaves on the road, we heard acorns hitting the metal roofs and watched the busy chipmunks prepare to fill their larders for winter.
At the intersection of Mink Farm Rd and Granny Hill Rd we paused, and since I remembered no siting of a tomb near the pond we took a left and headed down the dirt road. Little did we realize this dirt road was the original ‘Old County Road’ to Paris Hill mentioned on our sketchy map. We came to what appeared to be a dead end and a “No Trespassing” sign. With no remnants of a tomb in sight we turned around, a bit disappointed, and headed back to the Mink Farm Rd. As luck would have it we came across an elderly woman mowing her lawn. We exchanged pleasantries and asked her if she knew where the tomb was located. She knew exactly where the tomb was located and sent us back from whence we had just come. She said to ignore the ‘No Trespassing’ sign and head further down the dirt road and the tomb would be blatantly obvious on the right hand side of the road. As the attached photos prove we did indeed find the “Chandler Tomb…right where the rudimentary map had shown had we realized the ‘Old County Rd’ was a dirt road and not what is considered Paris Hill Rd today.
Dr and Mrs. Benjamin Chandler are indeed entombed on the woodsy knoll over looking what used to be an apple orchard and a beautiful view of the White Mountains. The engraved marble slab remains as do the granite pillars holding it up. The engraving is still legible however the lichen has taken up considerable residence over the centuries. The iron gate has been replaced, the granite walls are intact and the dead elm is now just a mere hollowed out stump. The tomb is a fitting memorial to yet another courageous and generous Paris Hill resident with close ties to the First Baptist Church of Paris. Proceeds from his orchard were given to the Church to benefit the Sunday School.
Dr. Benjamin Chandler was born in Duxbury, MA in 1782…the son of Perez and Rhoda Chandler. Dr Chandler moved to Paris from Hebron in 1811 and continued his medical practice until he died in April of 1827. He wasappointed Assistant Surgeon in Col. Ryerson’s regiment during the war of 1812. He served as Representativeof the Legislature in Boston until Maine was granted statehood in 1820. He then was appointed Judge of Probate on June 6, 1820 and held that office until 1827. He was married twice but left no children. He was a deacon of the First Baptist Church of Paris and a community subscriber of the Revere bell that hangs in the First Baptist Church by donating $10.00 towards its purchase. He was described as a “moral, upright man, amiable in his dispostion, unobtrusive in his manners, respected and beloved as a physician, and honored as an able, intelligent and useful citizen by all his contemporaries.” He died at age 45 in 1827. His remains are entombed beside the old road to South Paris.
I encourage you to follow our footsteps down the ‘Old County Road’ and pay tribute to Dr. Benjamin Chandler and to become a little more immersed in the history of the town we call home.
And stay tuned for more strange and wonderful stories “On the HIll”.
(Provided by Linda Richardson)