New headstone set to mark Bathsheba Sherman’s grave following successful fundraising effort

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BURRILLVILLE – It has been absent from the Harrisville Cemetery for nearly four years, a fact sadly symbolic of the poor treatment one Burrillville woman has received in death – although historians say she did nothing to inspire such ire in her lifetime.

Now, Bathsheba Sherman’s headstone is finally on track to be replaced.

Historian J’aime Rubio has succeeded in her mission of raising funds to replace Sherman’s headstone, last destroyed by vandals in 2019. Sherman was accused of witchcraft posthumously, and blamed for the demonic hauntings of the Perron family portrayed in the 2013 hit horror movie The Conjuring.

But Rubio and others with an interest in true Burrillville history have long noted that Sherman had no involvement with the Round Top Road property on which the story was based.

“Bathsheba was never accused of any wrongdoing in her lifetime. She was not a witch, not a murderer, not a bad person,” Rubio noted. “She did not hang herself on the property either, as the film portrays.”

“That bad publicity influenced others to deface and vandalize Bathsheba’s final resting place because they believed the lies perpetuated in the movie,” said Rubio.

It has been an ongoing struggle for those hoping to protect the dignity of Sherman’s final resting place since the release of the movie some ten years ago, according to locals involved in the effort. The stone has been knocked down and broken several times over the years, and was removed from the cemetery indefinitely after it was last vandalized.

Before the incident, husband and wife team Betty and Carlo Mencucci, members of the Burrillville Historical & Preservation Society as well as the Association for Graveyard Studies, spent more than 30 hours repairing the broken stone.

Now, they say, it will not only be replaced, but kept safe with new security measures.  

Rubio, a California-based writer who began the fundraiser in 2021, has often noted the irony that those who made a fortune off the movie and the franchise that followed did nothing to restore the stone – or to correct the historical record. That, it seems, has finally changed with the sale of the house that first inspired the story.

Jacqueline Nunez, who purchased the allegedly haunted 300-year-old farmhouse for $1.2 million last July, made a post about Sherman on social media, noting that there is zero evidence she was guilty of any wrongdoing – and asking others to leave her gravesite alone.

And it was Nunez who also made the largest donation of $1,200 to Rubio’s fundraiser, helping to propel the effort beyond its original $2,000 goal.

“Her very generous donation helped us reach and surpass the amount needed to fulfill this goal,” said Rubio.

The woman who first set out to right the injustice notes that the world may never know how or why Sherman’s name got involved with the house. But now, at least, she hopes that Bathsheba’s name can finally be cleared – and that she can truly rest in peace.

“I hope that moving forward this begins the new chapter, with the tide turning in favor of spreading the truth about Bathsheba far and wide, so that she will no longer be portrayed in a bad light,” Rubio said. “She was a decent human being and deserves to be respected in death, as she was in life. She deserves that much and so much more.” 

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