History for a Haunting

Due to the remote and secure nature of Quabbin it would make a wonderful place to hide out if you could. There have been numerous reports of unidentified animal sightings. We are all aware of the reports of mountain lions, or cougars, but, what else could be wandering around in the woods? Some believe that there are Yeti, “Bigfoot” who have made Quabbin their home. Although no-one has managed to photograph one here, or almost anywhere else, it would be a haven for a rare and elusive creature we have yet to “discover”.

Among the documented accounts of life in the Swift River Valley there is much fodder for ghost stories. I will now tell you two sad accounts that may explain some of the vibes that people experience in the seemingly serene settings of QuabbinValley.

In Dana in 1809 on the 23rd of November Joseph and John Lindsey, who were brothers, burnt to death in a coal pit (used to make charcoal). It was a cold night and they kept their fire burning. As it got late and they got warm and tired they fell asleep. In the early morning their father found what was left of their remains in the debris that was their shed. They were buried together, as there was no other way, in one coffin.

Also in Dana there lived the blacksmith Moses Marcille. In 1899 his house and place of business burnt to the ground. The family, devastated, moved to New Salem to start life anew. Marcille had some trouble adjusting to their loss and spent some time in an asylum. In 1904 they moved back to Dana and resumed their places there. On March 21, 1907 Moses Marcille was going to bed. Then he decided on something else. He got back up and put on his clothes, went out to his shop and grabbed his gun. He went back into the house, cornered his wife and shot her twice. He then shot himself in the head. His wife lived. The cornerstone of their old house can still be seen on the south side of the road to Dana. It is inscribed “O Marcille 1899” and has a bolt protruding from it’s top.

Even the Victorian period author H.P. Lovecraft was captivated by the darker side of this region. It is fairly well agreed upon that his classic tale of horror and necromantic rites, “The Dunwich Horror”  and his story “The Color of Space” are set in the town of Greenwich (before the flooding) and the surrounding areas. Today people claim to hear voices and see ghostly apparitions in Greenwich Village (Hardwick, MA).

Today many visitors to Quabbin still report strange experiences: seeing people walking who just disappear, having the feeling of being watched, hearing ghostly voices, seeing shadows moving through the woods. Some even claim to find odd shapes and lights in their photographs. Fog or mist that they didn’t see when they took the picture. Who is to say that there isn’t something otherworldly out there in the woods and clearings lingering and waiting for a chance to interact with someone once again?  Could it be you?

Other Local Activity
Local Reports: Haunted apartment in Ware near railroad track and lumber yard. Allegedly elderly woman died in 1st floor apartment. An internet post on Ghostsofamerica.com claims tenants heard moaning, scratching, smelled the “smell of death”, and saw the figure of a woman standing over them while they were in bed sleeping. Post says the 2nd floor tenants  heard footsteps and an unexplained  voice that seemed to come from another room. The poster identified themselves as “Naomi”.

Also, listed were a 300 year old house on South St. in Ware with slamming doors. Submitted by “Lynn” and an anonymous posting by a person claiming to have lived on Spring, Otis, and Dale Streets and experiencing *poltergeist* activity at all of them, as well as being pushed down stairs, feelings of being watched, and auditory phenomenon.

Aspen Grove Cemetery:  Reports list “misty” images in photos, humanoid images, auditive phenomena, and sensation of being “pushed”. (ghostsofamerica.com) Also, reports of *orbs*, feeling of being touched, apparition of a girl, “black images” or possibly *shadow people*, voice heard. (texashauntsociety.com)

Rutland State Prison Camp and Hospital: This facility operated between 1903 & 1934. It was a home for prisoners with tuberculosis operated in the Western area of Rutland. In 1907 a 30 bed hospital for prisoners was constructed for the prisoners. The detention center and hospital were shut down in 1934 to make way for the Quabbin Watershed and the property sold to the Metropolitan District Water Supply. Today the property and remains of the facility remain in the Rutland State Forest. The grounds are reputed to be haunted by the wife of the Superintendant. There is also a cemetery holding the remains of 59 prisoners in 3 rows. All the graves are unmarked and for all purposes the cemetery is abandoned. (neparanormalresearch.com)

Shad Factory (The Palmer River Manufacturing Co.): This plant was built in 1811 and manufactured cotton yarn until 1826 when it expanded and renamed to “Orleans Manufacturing Company”. In 1831 the mill burnt down. It was was rebuilt in 1832 and remained active until the Civil War. After the war the mill quickly re-opened, but burnt down again in 1884. The corporation was this time abandoned and never re-built. There have been reports of non-existent fires being spotted inside the ruins, *orbs* have been spotted in the wooded area surrounding the site, also the figure of a shadow “man” has been seen walking the premises. (neparanormalresearch.com)

Belchertown State School: The Belchertown State School was in operation from 1922-1992 and was comprised of ten major buildings. It was not actually a school, but an institution built to house the mentally handicapped. It was shut down due to gross negligence, unsanitary inhumane living conditions, and patient cruelty. According to the Site Development Feasibility Assessment prepared for the Town of Belchertown, “The school was nearly self-sufficient, with its own water system, sewage treatment system, power plant, fire department, and telephone system. Other services provided on the campus were hospital, dental, kitchens, laundry, print shop, shoe repair, etc”. One of the “etc.”‘s includes it’s own cemetery. Until 2004 at the Warner-PineGroveCemetery the interred were only identified my numbered markers. Screaming , crying, and mysterious lights are some of the most frequent reports. Other alleged activity includes slamming doors, running footsteps, extreme fluctuations in temperature, apparitions seen on the grounds, a ghostly man spotted in the woods, moaning, lights in the tunnel system, and swings swinging by themselves. Specifically reported at the Tagdell Primary School (which was re-purposed from an original BSS building) are mirrors vibrating and falling from walls, blood trails found in basement bathrooms, feelings of being watched, pencils and other objects being moved around, objects falling off walls or appearing to have been ripped from the walls, and bathroom stall doors slamming and locking. (realhaunted.com & theshadowlands.net) Interestingly, in some of the reports filed during litigation against the state school it is mentioned that the residents bathrooms were lacking doors.

– moonchild

Advertisements

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