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c.1919 Handyman Special w/1 Rural Acre and Views in Esperance NY Under $46K ~ Sold
January 17, 2020
827 State Route 30A, Esperance, NY 12066 $45,900~ Sold
This handyman special on one rural acre is located in Esperance (the French word for hope), a tiny village (pop 345) west of Schenectady. I have a story related to Esperance.
In the 1980s, down the road from this fixer upper, we had a gravestone in our driveway. We owned a 15-acre farmette, not to be confused with a 15-acre farm which raises actual animals or crops. We just raised a gaggle of seven wonderful children, who at rare times, could be, I guess, considered little animals. The farmette was located on top of a foothill in beautiful Schoharie County, New York, arguably the most beautiful county in the state. We planted an herb garden around the stone, oregano, basil, catnip. Whenever we’d hold a yard sale, customers would no doubt ask, “Is there a body under there?” Then I’d have to go into my spiel. You see the marker was said to be that of The Witch of Esperance!
As I wrote in a local newspaper at the time, “Legend has it that after her husband died, a widow who lived in Esperance was left to run the farm with her only child, a son. As he got older, the son wished for a more exciting life and decided he would enlist in the army. In those days the postmaster acted as recruitment officer. Elizabeth marched right down to the village of Esperance and under threat of a town-wide hex, warned the postmaster not to allow her son to sign up. Well, long story short, the son joined up and died during his tour of duty.
Elizabeth put Esperance on hex alert and strange things began to happen. First, the post office had a fire. Then locals’ wells ran dry, animals fell sick, and barns burned down. What was the town to do? At a solemn conclave in the stone church, her neighbors voted to put her to her death. To kill the witch, her executioners fired a silver bullet, melted down from a spoon, and shot her through the window of her cabin as she stood over her cook stove. They then buried her upside down, under an evergreen tree whose roots would keep her from rising to seek vengeance. The tree stands on the north side of the Village of Esperance to this day.
A second version of the story puts the widow as a young French woman with children. Unable to speak English and mingle with the townsfolk, she became the object of suspicion. They shot her through her window as she cooked dinner over an open fire, her little ones playing beside her. Different beginning, same sad end.
In 2017 a roadside “Legends & Lore” sign, similar to state historical markers was put on state land on the Duanesburg side of the Route 20 bridge over Schoharie Creek. See below.