BURRILLVILLE – Many know Bathsheba Sherman as the demonic witch depicted in the 2013 horror film “The Conjuring” who terrorized a local family living in their home in Burrillville.
According to writer and historical investigator J’aime Rubio, Sherman was never accused of witchcraft, and there were never any records of her being mentioned in a bad light. In fact, said Rubio, she was just a normal woman.
“Billions of dollars have been made from this ‘Conjuring’ franchise, which all started with lies. And who suffers from it? Bathsheba Sherman,” Rubio told The Breeze.
Rubio says that’s the reason she started a GoFundMe to repair Sherman’s tombstone, which sits in the Harrisville Cemetery. She said she hopes Sherman’s legacy will be respected and honored the way it’s supposed to be. So far, the GoFundMe, “Replacing Bathsheba Sherman’s headstone,” has raised $840 of a $2,000 goal.
Rumors have long been that Sherman murdered her infant son with a sewing needle and committed suicide after committing herself to the devil. Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators, visited the home of the Perron family in the 1970s to help them rid their property of any demonic entities that were present. Warren, who was also depicted in the film, claimed that Sherman was the one responsible for haunting the family.
Rubio, who lives in California and says she began researching Sherman after the movie came out, says she started discovering many discrepancies about who Sherman really was and what was depicted in the movie. If one looks up #BathshebaSherman online, they will cringe at the photos of her that are shown, which portray her as an evil monster, she said.
“During the movie I found myself questioning many of the things that were being stated as fact regarding Bathsheba, and also the stories being claimed to have taken place at the farmhouse,” said Rubio.
In 2014, Rubio wrote a blog post that caught the attention of a Rhode Island historian, Kent Spotswood. With the help of Norma Sutcliffe, (former owner of the farmhouse), the three dove into the history of the house and also the history of Bathsheba even more, and Rubio published a chapter, “Bathsheba Sherman’s Vindication,” in her book, “Stories of the Forgotten: Infamous, Famous & Unremembered,” in 2016.
Sherman’s child ended up living out a full life, according to census records. Sherman died in the late 1800s in her bed due to a case of paralysis. Rubio says she has been in contact with Sherman’s distant relatives who have been grateful for the work that has been done to honor her.
“No one has a right to take her name and pluck it out of history and create an over-the-top story to permanently stain her memory for posterity,” said Rubio.
Since the book came out, Rubio says she got in contact with Burrillville Historical & Preservation Society members Betty Mencucci and her husband Carlo who have been trying to repair Sherman’s headstone for years. The last time it was repaired, which was in 2017, the Mencuccis repaired the stone only for it to be vandalized yet again.
“This poor woman who never had a problem until the movie came out is being visited by everyone in the country,” Mencucci told The Breeze. “She’s got nothing to do with nothing that happened in the house. Suppose it was your grandmother there.”
According to Mencucci, the new stone will be made out of granite. She and her husband have learned how to repair and reset old gravestones from attending workshops and classes by the Association for Gravestone Studies. They also received the Oakley Award in recognition for some of their work to conserve gravestones.
Rubio says it’s Hollywood’s fault and the fault of countless paranormal investigators who continue to profit off of lies instead of actually doing the correct research when it comes to history.
“We must remember though, Hollywood made the movie, but they got their story from somewhere, and those people involved in creating this story and perpetuating and pushing such a horrific and slanderous lie are also to blame for this,” said Rubio.
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