Unlucky Hannah of the Narragansett Pier

hannah
“Whom the Angels Name Lenore” -Gustave Dore

The Robinson family was a notable Rhode Island family in the 1800s. Rowland Robinson was the hardheaded patriarch and his daughter, Hannah, was just as strong-willed as he was. Unfortunately, Hannah was also involved in events that would leave her forever-branded “Unlucky Hannah.”

 

A Tryst

Rowland Robinson had a string of prospective beaus lined up for Hannah. He handpicked the wealthiest young men who were from the best families. Hannah was renowned for her beauty and gentility, and as a result, many young men vied for her attentions.

Rowland heard her murmuring in her room one night. He peeked out the front door to see who it was wooing his beloved girl. He watched her toss a white handkerchief to the individual and felt alarm. None of the young men he had in mind would dare hide in the bushes, or visit with his daughter without due ceremony.

He threw open the door and beat the bush with his cane. A family friend’s music instructor, Mr. Simons, came out from hiding. Rowland was enraged. He’d chosen the finest young men for his daughter to choose from, and she was “throwing herself away,” over a “French dancing master.”

To ensure such potential disgrace never happened again, he assigned several of his most trusted servants to keep guard on his daughter, at all times. The rigid practice continued for months. Friends and relatives all pitied Hannah. Many of them also thought highly of Mr. Simons. They helped her plan an escape. Hannah began manifesting signs of a lingering physical sickness, but friends and family assumed she would heal when the stressful times had passed. Before too much negative thought is given her father, it should also be stated that if his wishes had been respected, Hannah wouldn’t have became so unlucky.

 

The Escape

Eventually, plans were arranged for the couple to meet and elope to Providence. All went according to plan, until after the ceremony. Poor Hannah had listened to her heart and not her head. After the marriage, the young couple moved in with Mr. Simons’s father, Peter. They lived outside of the city for months until he finally secured employment in Providence. Legend states that Rowland shot the man who told him his daughter eloped, but nothing can be found to support the claim.

The couple moved into the city and lived there for two years. It was a hard life. Mr. Simons was careless with his money and dishonest in his business affairs. He changed towards Hannah, most noticeably when he realized she would likely be disinherited and disowned from the Robinson family. He became cruel and neglectful. He became an alcoholic who was suspected of having a string of affairs. Hannah’s ailment worsened as Simons’s behavior did. She eventually became bedridden and he left her. Tragically, despite abuse and abandonment, Hannah continued to love him.

 

Help Arrives

Her mother finally found her and sent her money to help her live independently. Her father wanted to bring her home, but first demanded she reveal the names of the conspirators who helped her elope with the fiend who ruined his daughter. She wouldn’t. He visited her house four times in Providence with the same request, but felt she couldn’t betray her friends each time.

The friends who helped her elope heard how Rowland wouldn’t relent without their names, but had visited his daughter repeatedly. All of those who helped her elope came forward and revealed themselves. By the time Rowland went to bring his daughter home, his wrath was gone. He was genuinely frightened as only a parent can be. His once beautiful daughter looked like a ghost. She was frail, sickly, and her beautiful complexion was thin and gray. He wept while he carried her out to the carriage, and during the long journey home. Hannah died soon after, but it wasn’t the end.

 

She Lives

Hannah returned as a helpful spirit, particularly along the coast between Newport and New York State. She wanders in a long white robe. She was also known to visit the dreams of young men and women who are the victim of deceptive lovers and to target the unfaithful with vengeance.

 

 

 

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