Local Haunts

New England is a region rich with the lore and legend of our ancestors. All it takes is a peek beneath the surface of the thrifty, hard working, and no-nonsense Yankee to see the superstition and wild imagination that, undoubtedly, has helped make our region so interesting and, occasionally, down right creepy.

 Without a doubt QuabbinValley has it’s share of local legend. Take the four towns of Dana, Prescott, Enfield, and Greenwich which are now just ghosts of their former selves. In 1938 when the State of Massachusetts disincorporated these towns 2,500 people were displaced from their homes, livelihoods, and ancestral homesteads. The towns were dismantled and the dead disinterred (well, some of them), but their history, some cellar holes, old roads, and possibly some ghosts remain.

Asa Snow
Probably the best known ghost story from this area is that of Asa Snow. Asa was born in 1797 and came to reside at the junction roads between Petersham and Dana as of 1840. He was an eccentric man who lived a life that was odd for his time. The locals nicknamed him “Popcorn” because he was a vegetarian and was believed to subsist on popcorn and milk. He was also a bit of a loan shark and it was rumored that he buried money on his property. His first wife, Isabelle, suffered from mental instabilities and committed suicide in August of 1844. His daughter, Minerva, died the next year.

It is easy to see why Snow developed a fixation on death. In 1865 he constructed a family tomb and disinterred his wife and daughter, allowing “those who cared to look at them” to have a peek, and then re-interred them in his tomb. After that he arranged for a sturdy metal casket with a 10 inch plate glass viewing window to be constructed for him.  Snow also made arrangements with the undertaker to go look in on his body for 7 days after his death to make sure he really was dead.

On November 29, 1872 Asa Snow died of heart failure while carrying home a pig carcass. The undertaker kept his promise to check on Snow’s body, but after three days Snow’s second wife, Eunice, dismissed him from his duties.

Snow’s tomb was broken into shortly after his death and local children would dare each other to sneak in and look at his corpse. In 1912 (forty years later) a local paper ran an article about Snow’s tomb and the uncanny preservation of his corpse which had, “features as nearly natural as the day he was laid to rest.” The article also recounted a tale of one man whom upon a bet was to spend the night in the tomb and leave a bottle of whiskey there as proof. When the man entered the tomb his horse who he had tied to a tree outside became horribly spooked, broke free, and ran off. The man recovered his horse who was trembling and sweating a mile down the road. He returned to the tomb the next day with his friend to find the bottle of whiskey, his proof for payment, smashed.

It was also reported that two men had gone to Snow’s tomb to photograph it. When they stepped inside the tomb the door slammed shut leaving the men in complete darkness. They tried to light their flashes to see, but one man got burnt and dropped his lamp. They had to grope around in the dark on the floor, terrified and disorientated, to find their way out.

Shortly after the publication of the article the tomb was vandaled and police were sent to seal it. It remained undisturbed until 1944 when the Metropolitan Water Commission destroyed it. Snow’s home was taken down in 1936. The cellarhole is still visible and the metal door of the tomb that he built was on site until the 1980’s. But, who’s to say the spirit of Asa Snow isn’t still roaming around Quabbin angry at the destruction of his final resting place or perhaps just protecting the place where he laid to rest his beloved family.

–  Moonchild

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Demons & Shadows

These are just a few of the many early ghostly experiences I had while living at my childhood home.

The first happened in the evening just a while after dark. In our house at the time the tv in the living room was in front of and to one side of a window across from where I was seated. It all started with what sounded like tapping on the window. At first I ignored it, but the tapping happened again. I didn’t think too much of it, but I was curious so I went over to the window and parted the curtains to peek out. What I saw next frightened me to the point of abject terror. I have never forgotten to this day what I saw. The most evil, almost demonic, face was staring back at me and smirking. I only looked for a moment and ran out of the room yelling. My father came running to see what was wrong. I told him everything and he went outside to check things out. It was winter and the ground was covered with snow. This is important because when he came back in he took me out to show me that there were no tracks in the snow.

A month or so after the last experience I went up to my bedroom; it was just after school and I had gone up to change my clothes. While I was starting to undress for some reason I looked across the room and saw what looked like the shadow of a very large spider running across the floor. I jumped onto my bed and it came to stand at the side of it. My brothers bed was close to mine so I jumped across to his bed. The shadow then ran over and sat by the side of his bed. Just then my brother came into the room and caught a glimpse of  the shadow as it disappeared.

I will share other experiences that I have had over the years at another time.

-Bran

Hilltown Haunting

While not all places are haunted and not all hauntings can be substantiated, all kinds of energies exist everywhere and some merit a closer look.  The Western Massachusetts area is rich in history and the people, places, and events that made that history have, in some instances, left a part of themselves in the process.

One of the earliest experiences I had that firmly planted my belief in the existence of the afterlife happened over 20 years ago in an old house in Williamsburg that had been standing during the Revolutionary War. It’s an old house that has been lovingly maintained over these many years.  The exact location will not be identified as the owners at the time have moved on and the present owners may not want the information or the interest in their property that could result.

In January many years ago my mother was asked by family friends to baby-sit their two children so they could take a week-long vacation.  One wintry night I got a call from mom asking me if I could come to the house and stay with the baby while she kept eye on the son.  The boy had gone skiing earlier in the day and fractured his leg. Having him sleep in the downstairs guest room on the first floor was the best solution to his limited mobility. This guest room was outfitted like an old fashioned sleeping room.  It had tab-top curtains and two single, iron beds with enough room for half a person and would be suitable unless you moved around a lot in your sleep.

The baby and I were to sleep in the upstairs master bedroom and after checking on her one last time I turned the lights off and went to bed.  Just as I was falling asleep I heard footfalls on the attic stairs.  These were not light treads, the sounds were heavy and were coming down the staircase.  I laid there with my eyes closed wondering what was going to happen.  The footfalls stopped and about a minute later, (that seemed like an eternity), there were three loud raps on the headboard just above where my head was.  The raps sounded as though they came from inside the wood.  I yanked the covers over my head and three more knocks ensued.  I yelled, “Go away.  I don’t want to see you.”  A few minutes later the heavy footfalls were making their way back up the attic stairs.

I flew out of the bedroom and downstairs into that skinny metal bed in the guest room and told my mother to move over.  She sat up and asked me what was wrong.  I recounted the story to her in detail.  She looked at me, smiled, and said, “The same thing happened to me last night and I just wanted to know if it would happen to you, too.”  Just what do you say to that?!

Whoever that was in the attic was not the only one in the house that lived on the other side.  There was an apparition of a woman in a long grey dress with a high collar.  She was about five foot five, medium build, and wore her hair pulled up into a bun.  She would walk from a small room across the living room floor and exit through the far wall.  And, she would stop and look at you on occasion.

We decided to do some automatic writing with a few of our friends who had an interest in these sorts of things.  A tall pile of large sheets of paper and a planchette were brought to the house.  People placed their hands on the planchette and it started to move.  Through this ‘conversation’ the woman told us her name.  She shared where she came from and her occupation.  She said she enjoyed being in the house and was just going about her business throughout the first floor.  Now, I’d like to mention the woman’s name and information, but don’t feel comfortable doing it for the reasons stated above.  I will say she expressed that she worked in Pittsfield as a teacher.  We researched and found a woman by the same name living in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and working as a teacher.  Pittsfield is not the same place the house is in, but she came from the town where the house is located.

– ashanta

By ashantaofthelema