image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
From the exterior, this Nova Scotia home in Canada appears to be nothing more than an unassuming vernacular farmhouse.
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
But a reader wrote to tell me about the sensational story behind the historic owners of this home – a family named the Ruggles.
photo courtesy of: Mark Wilson
historic photo courtesy of: Mark Wilson
Mind you, we’re talking about the family who lived here in the 1790′s so I mean no disrespect to modern-day descendants when I say they were one of the craziest families to come out of the Revolutionary war.
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
This old place is currently listed for sale at $299,000 (Canadian dollars). The listing has no mention of the bizarre history associated with the house, but luckily, a House Crazy reader had the skinny. Mark recounts the story so well, I’m just going to quote his words. Here’s what he wrote about the house:
Sarah,
I’ve got a WICKED story for you, with a connection to an old house in Nova Scotia that’s now for sale. Back at the American Revolution, the Loyalists were forced to flee the States. One of those Loyalists was General Timothy Ruggles, who was, by all accounts, a nutcase. Anyway, his equally nutty daughter was getting married at this approximate time to one of the locals in Massachusetts.  But things went badly in this relationship, and she quickly concocted a scheme with 2 or 3 others to murder her husband.
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
The husband’s dead body was dumped down a well. The whole plot was exposed and she was charged along with the others for murder. Bathsheba Ruggles Spooner became the first woman in the newly formed U.S. to be hanged. Before the hanging, she wrote many letters to her father begging for help but he never responded to her. Oh, and she was 5 months pregnant when the colonists hung her in 1778 !! It is highly suspected that her hanging was political, as her father was a very well-known, despised Loyalist.
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com

Her father fled to Nova Scotia sometime during the war. He settled into an initial property and prospered, before meeting his own weird demise in 1795. He bought the house presently for sale back in 1795, so it must have been bought just months before his death. The first Nova Scotia property he had settled into is now said to be seriously haunted by the people who now own that property (per newspaper article).

image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com

In 1778, it was considered “the most extraordinary crime ever perpetrated in New England”.  According to what I read, there was an entire panel of midwives and medical professionals who examined her [Bathsheba Ruggles Spooner] to make sure she was indeed pregnant, as she claimed, and all denied she was !!!  Her death was purely motivated by hatred against the Loyalists.

image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com/
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com/
 Also, the one who signed the death warrant was the step-brother of the husband who was murdered !!!  It involves a “who’s who” of early Americana – the trial was prosecuted by a fairly close relative of the famous Thomas Paine. I believe that Isaiah Thomas, the famous newspaper printer also covered the story.
[read more about Bathsheba Spooner and the brutal crime that rocked the Eastern seaboard.]
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
House Crazy Sarah speaking again: I love a good, crazy story behind an old house but I think this one takes the cake.
The listing description gives no indication of the historic connection to the Ruggles, but there is plenty on-line to document the life and follies of Bathsheba Ruggles Spooner [click on the underlined links embedded in the text above to learn more].
image from: vimeo.com
image from: vimeo.com
Then there’s the picture of the house’s basement cellar door:
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
image from: http://www.tradewindsrealty.com
Perhaps the ominous door is one of the few remaining remnants of the time when the crazy Ruggles lived here. The listing does mention that the house features “much of the original trim and doors”. See the complete listing at Trade Winds Realty.
[Sources, story and black & white photo of the Ruggles house courtesy of Mark Wilson]