In actuality, Bathsheba Sherman, the formidable threat that intimidated the Perron family in the movie, The Conjuring, was not a completely imaginary conception. Some thought that she was a witch who revered Satan and was associated with Mary Eastey, who was hanged in the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690s. Others believed she merely killed children.
Historical records establish that Bathsheba Thayer was born in 1812 and later married a farmer named Judson Sherman and gave birth to a boy named Herbert. Folklore, meanwhile, claimed that she was caught while sacrificing her son to Satan with a stitching needle. Cursing all who would dare live on her land, she allegedly climbed a tree and hung herself.
As supposedly observed by real-life (though possibly duplicitous) paranormal detectives Ed and Lorraine Warren, Bathsheba Sherman is alleged to have kept that vow from the grave. The couple was contacted by the Perron family who had shifted onto the property in 1971. Domestic items had begun to disappear and their children were visited every night by a malicious female spirit.
Their eldest daughter, Andrea Perron, has since described her painful childhood in House of Darkness: House of Light. While cynics have considered the Warrens to be mere exploiters of the inexplicable, Perron has yet to dither from her story. To isolate fact from fiction, it is important to go back to the real-life of Bathsheba Sherman.
The Legend of Bathsheba Sherman
By all descriptions, Bathsheba Thayer had a comparatively satisfactory childhood. She grew up into a coveted beauty and married at the age of 32 in 1844. Her husband managed a profitable harvest business from his 200-acre farm in Harrisville, Rhode Island. But the locality would soon see the new bride as a menace.
Bathsheba Sherman had been minding her neighbor’s son when the young boy inexplicably died. Local doctors confirmed that the child’s skull had been stabbed with a small but deadly tool. Even though Sherman was the last to tend to the boy, the case was never tried in court. This caused the local women to become incensed.
According to folklore, Bathsheba Sherman’s son never celebrated his first birthday as his mother stabbed him to death a week after he was born. Her perplexed husband is said to have caught her in the act and observed her swearing allegiance to the Devil before ascending the tree she would hang from in 1849.
While some stated they had three other children, no census accounts of this exist. Some continued to believe that none of these siblings lived past 7. Eventually, Bathsheba Sherman’s story remained mostly unsourced, while records testified that Judson Sherman died in 1881.
Bathsheba Sherman’s gravestone in downtown Harrisville revealed her date of death as May 25, 1885. With this, her suspected suicide in 1849 appeared utterly fabricated. Andrea Perron was skeptical that it was Sherman who terrified her as a child. Rather it was the neighboring Arnold Estate matriarch who hanged herself in the barn in 1797, instead who was responsible.
The Perron Family Haunting
A financially-strapped truck driver, Roger Perron was delighted to close on the modestly-priced 14-bedroom farmstead in 1970. The family moved into the building in January 1971. His wife Carolyn and their five daughters had adjusted into the new house well until abnormal sounds started originating from vacant rooms and items went missing.
The children began to speak of spirits visiting them in the night. One was a boy named Oliver Richardson, who befriended Andrea’s sister, April. Cindy saw them too and reminded a distraught April that these spirits couldn’t leave the house to play and were trapped inside.
Andrea said that her father just wanted them to go away, to pretend none of it was real, but just a figment of the children’s imaginations. However, it started happening to him, too, and he really couldn’t deny it anymore.
Carolyn Perron was discovering neatly-piled dirt in the middle of rooms which she had just completed cleaning, with no one at home. Meanwhile, Andrea was being distressed every night by a malicious female spirit with a bent neck she thought had been hanged. Andrea believed that it wanted to possess her mother to kill her and her sisters.
According to Andrea Perron, whoever the spirit was, she supposed herself to be the mistress of the house and she begrudged the competition her mother posed for that position.
When Carolyn Perron heard of this, she communicated with a local historian who told her of Bathsheba Sherman and that she liked starving and thrashing her farmworkers. The accounts
showed the Sherman Farm had been in the same household for eight centuries and that many who lived there died mysteriously by drowning, hanging, or murder.
Assured that Bathsheba Sherman was haunting them, the Perrons called in the Warrens. Ed and Lorrain, a self-taught demonologist and self-described psychic respectively, agreed to help. The couple conducted a seance in 1974, during which Carolyn Perron purportedly got haunted and nearly died.
Is The Conjuring Based on A True Story?
According to Andrea Perron, her mother’s body twisted into a ball. Her mother’s shriek led Andrea to believe she had died. She claimed that her mother was haunted for several minutes, and was banged against the floor with her head. Her mother briefly lost consciousness before returning to her former self.
Andrea said that she thought she was going to pass out. Her mother began to speak an unworldly language in a voice that wasn’t her own. Her chair floated in the air and she was hurled across the room.
As recorded in her book and the Bathsheba: Search for Evil documentary, Andrea Perron’s father removed the Warrens from the house after the incident. They came back only one more time to confirm Carolyn Perron had subsisted the seance. The Perron family was forced to live in the house until 1980 due to monetary reasons.
Eventually, the presence of Ed and Lorraine Warren became fodder for cynics who may have good reason to repudiate them as deceivers. The story in general became slick and larger-than-life in The Conjuring. The truth remained mysterious, while Andrea Perron claimed to reminisce about every frightening aspect.
According to Andrea, the things that occurred in the house were extremely frightening. It still affected her to speak about it even in the present. Both her mother and she would just as soon swallow their tongues rather than tell an untruth. People were free to believe whatever they wanted to believe. But Andrea knew what the Perron family had faced.
Andrea claimed that the film took liberties, like adding blood or substituting the seance with an exorcism. Eventually, it was likely that most would have never heard of Bathsheba Sherman without the movie, The Conjuring. As per legend, she turned into stone when she died. Others held responsible a rare form of paralysis, which, like most facets of Sherman’s story, appeared more likely than the paranormal.