Abandoned But Still Inhabited Factory Hollow (CT)

Factory Hollow isn’t a high profile place anyone would go to investigate the paranormal, but don’t let that benign facade fool you….. where there are cellar holes and lone standing chimneys – there’s a story.

In 1796 a small village sprang up along the Blackledge River in the towns of Hebron and Bolton CT. It seems Hartford, at the time, was home to a number of both Methodists and Congregationalists who couldn’t get along with one another. The contention was over booze – the Methodist Church members out-drank the Congregational Church members and the latter assumed an ‘holier than thou’ attitude against them. Tired of the dissension, Pastor Elijah Andrus led his people out of Hartford to a secluded spot of their own south of the city in what is now Tolland County.

About 25 families followed Andrus. John Gay was one of the founding fathers of the settlement as were most of his family members. Andrus left the group after about four years for unknown reasons and Pastor Henry Sumner took over ministerial duties. He also brought a lot of family with him.

In an effort to sustain themselves, the group built a sawmill. Lumber was needed for homes and workplaces and contributed to the village’s economy. It was also beneficial in building the distillery that kept residents content. But, that really wasn’t the case.

A large part of daily life in this community consisted in drinking. Even the twice-weekly mandatory church attendance was a venue for imbibing in one’s favorite quaff. Ultimately, as it can turn out, many fights ensued, vulgar language was common, and any culture that had existed soon degenerated.

The little community witnessed two murders, but no one was ever accused of the crimes. A frequent peddler made his last stop in Furnace Hollow. He was relieved of his wares and money. His body was found in a charcoal burning pit – not quite cooked. And although the village charcoal-burner was investigated, no charges were ever brought against him.

Maybe seeing that homicide was tolerated in town, the blacksmith who became overly angry with his quite young apprentice for being a little late one morning decided to slice him up. Not only did the boy die – he was beheaded. This horrendous act also went unpunished.

Having had enough, many people started leaving the hamlet. The Civil War was also on-going and many men and boys from Factory Hollow went off to war and died on the battlefields reducing the population even further.

Over the years, the lumber mill burned down, a woolen mill replaced it which a few years later also went up in smoke. A third mill, a paper factory, wasn’t a charm, either – it also ended in ashes. After about 80 years the small community that could – couldn’t.

Factory Hollow is now known as Gay City State Park and sits along Rt. 85 where Hebron meets Bolton. It’s named after the Gay family who founded the area. Old cellar holes, lonely chimneys, stone foundations, the burned rock structure where so many fires took place, a wheel pit that held the overshot water wheel, and stone walls once used for gardens and pastures all remain to tell the tale of what was. There’s even a small cemetery. And – there are unsettling vibes and hauntings.

While during the day hiking trails, Still Pond swimming beach, and remains of the community seem calm and quiet, once the hint of dusk starts – old residents wake up.

Over the years – and still happening, many people report hearing disembodied voices that sound like townsfolk are still enjoying their inebriation. Orbs have been seen and shadowy wisps of shades meandering through the trees are witnessed. Near the area of the old charcoal pit a ghostly figure has been spotted. Perhaps it’s the old peddler wanting his killer to be brought to justice. Some people have noticed a boy running through the woods holding his head in his hands.

This place has a distinct feeling of heaviness. Wherever you go, you are being watched. You can hear rustling through the brush where no one is walking. Something is moving and you catch a glimpse out the corner of your eye. The breeze seems to murmur. And dark figures definitely walk among the trees.

Furnace Hollow or Gay City, if you prefer, may be abandoned, but it still lives on.

     – ashanta

White Church Cemetery – West Springfield MA

Western Massachusetts has its fair share of old cemeteries purported to be haunted, but that doesn’t mean that those without that reputation don’t have ghostly activity.

The old White Church, as it has become known, is an old place. For just over 200 years it has occupied a spot on the corner of Elm Street and Witch Path. It was originally built as a Meeting House for a burgeoning community just west and across the river from Springfield. As was the custom, meeting houses were used for church services and a Congregational religion sprung up and used the place for Sunday services…..which were mandatory for the population to attend. Over time the place became the Congregational Church on Meeting House Hill.

As West Springfield grew life went on, people lived their lives and died. A churchyard cemetery started to grow adjacent to the church. A Mrs. Ashley from one of the founding families was the first to be buried there. Her grave can be found to the left of the chain gate that can cross the road entrance right behind the church. There used to be a huge ancient tree just in front of it, but I think that’s gone now.

There are no remarkable stones in this graveyard, but there’s still a lot of history and interesting stories on the stones. They still speak. Townspeople use the small street circumscribing the place to jog, walk their dogs, and sometimes on moonlit nights sit on a bench and steal a kiss from a loved one.

This quiet spot doesn’t seem to come alive until most of the townspeople are at home and perhaps sleeping their own sleep. On occasions, small bright lights that some might call “orbs” can be seen dancing around the outlines of the stones. A dark figure of a man walks slowly from south to north across the middle heading toward what seems to be a potter’s field. Just forward of that there are two headstones that touch. One is of a young woman and the other an infant. Did she die in childbirth along with her child? Her shadow can sometimes be seen just above the grave…. is she looking for her baby? And on some nights when things aren’t seen you can still hear the rhythmic leaves and twigs crunching as invisible feet seem to walk over them.

And what about Witch Path on the South side of the church? That’s another story….

– ashanta