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

A New Look at Mercy Brown, R.I.’s Vampire

Mercy Brown was not a vampire, but she is a ghost – and an active one.

For those not familiar with the story, Mercy Brown put Exeter, Rhode Island on the map. In the last half of the 1800’s consumption was on a rampage throughout the area. Death tore families apart and wiped out large populations of cities, towns, and small rural villages like Exeter. The Brown family was no exception.

Mary E. Brown, wife of prominent farmer George Brown, was the first in the family to die of this infectious illness. Twenty year old daughter Mary Olive soon followed. In 1892 younger daughter Mercy drew her last breath. Shortly after Mercy’s death her brother Edwin was diagnosed with the same disease as were many other townsfolk. This became too much for the local villagers to handle and with ill-equipped physicians and little known about medical issues, fears started to mount.

As panic set in rational thought went out. Rumors of vampires spread quickly throughout the community and a demand to find the vampire became an exigency. Since Mercy was the most recent to pass on, she was targeted by villagers. It’s not a positive, but it is believed that since Mercy died in January 1892 her body was kept in an above-ground crypt until warmer weather would make a ground interment easier.

George Brown didn’t believe much in vampires and especially didn’t think his daughter was one, but with the townsfolk unbridled fear and demands for proof, George agreed to an exhumation.

A short time after her death, Dr. Harold Metcalf assisted in the examination of Mercy’s body. It was found that she still looked very much alive and still had blood in her heart. The superstitious vampire hunters were convinced they had found the revenant attacking the living among them. Her heart and liver were removed from her body and burned on the spot.

Now, 128 years later, we think we know vampires don’t exist, but in 1892 people believed more in them than they did a doctor’s explanation of disease. So back then the people were relieved they had slain their monster. But, people in the years that have followed that vile mutilation of a person much loved by her family, know Mercy was not laid to rest. After such a desecration is it any wonder Mercy is still very much with the living?

Mercy’s, (I’d like to say resting spot, but that wouldn’t be true), grave is located in Chestnut Hill Cemetery behind the Baptist Church on Ten Rod Road in Exeter. If you visit the cemetery, the Brown plot lies near a pine tree about mid-way down. Mercy’s headstone is quite obvious – it’s the one with the steel reinforcement around the bottom to prevent souvenir hunters from once again going off with the famed marker.

A visit to Chestnut Hill could well introduce you to Mercy. On entering, there is a feeling of being watched and sometimes followed. Many people have reported seeing a woman walking around the grounds – an ethereal woman dressed in white. There have been observations of blue lights weaving their way around grave stones. White orbs are abundant, also, especially around the old crypt where her body may have been placed to await ground interment in the warmer spring months.

While Mercy Brown wont be waiting in Exeter to bite your neck, she most likely is waiting for you to know her real story. So many brutal acts have been committed as the result of superstitions and ignorance. And the sadder part is that many actions still happen today with the same illogical reasoning and stupidity.

– ashanta

Haunted Wachusett Dam & Reservoir

We hear about Quabbin Reservoir a lot, but little has been written about the Wachusett Dam and Reservoir.  That project was the first to confiscate land, homes, and properties to create a larger water supply for the thirsty residents of Boston.   Quabbin was the second and larger water supply, carried out by politicians, to give water, and themselves, the comfort they needed at the expense of others.

The Wachusett Dam and Reservoir Project was begun in 1897 and completed in 1905.  Four towns in Worcester County, MA became the target of the land grab.  Clinton, Spencer, Boylston, and West Boylston forfeited over 4000 acres to create a roughly eight mile by two mile water basin for people living on the east coast of the state.

Hundreds of people lost their homes, their livelihoods, churches, stores, their land, and their cemeteries.  Houses, churches, and factories were moved, but mostly they were razed.  It is said that over 4000 bodies were removed and some re-interred in St. John’s Cemetery in Lancaster.  There is an isle in the reservoir named Cemetery Island.  It’s the site of the initial St. John’s Cemetery where many residents were buried.  I wonder, though, if some that had passed on were perhaps laid to rest on a family property, as was sometimes the case back then – what happened to those remains?

These people being forced to move lost a way of life they were familiar with.  Many didn’t know where they were going. They didn’t know what to do.  They no longer had jobs and they had no way to provide for themselves.  There was no government assistance at that time. Residents could no longer go to their churches to seek solace.  Visiting those that had passed on may not have been as easy anymore, either.  After exhumation, coffins were stacked on wagons six high.  Tombstones were carried away, too, but some were lost or broken along the way.  And, how did they identify who went where?

This event has been mostly forgotten today, unless you live around that area.  The water for Boston laps the shores around Boylston, West Boylston, Clinton, Spencer, and Cemetery Island. It still harbors the energies of those who used to call it home and of the many who died working on the construction of the dam and reservoir.

Like Quabbin, this area seems to have a different energy.  It feels haunted by emotions of the past.  Black masses that cannot be explained are seen by some.  Lights have been observed meandering around the trees on Cemetery Island.  Shadows are seen walking in the area. Whistles that seem to come from the water can be heard.  It has been said that if you hear a whistle and return it,  you’ll get an answer.  This is not a residual energy….it’s an energy in the here and now.  Intelligent responses imply there is still active energy existing in the area.  Some have even heard disembodied voices.

It doesn’t seem fair.  Boston gets water and others get loss and hauntings.

– ashanta

Please see our other article on Quabbin  published as:

A Reservoir that Has Created More than Drinking Water

A Mystic Experience in CT

Mystic, CT draws hundreds of tourists each year to experience its many attractions.  The town is rich in history.  It’s home to Mystic Seaport, one of the best maritime museums in the country,  Mystic Aquarium, and numerous marinas and restaurants.  As in most early settlement locations, Mystic has its share of old cemeteries.  Two of them are quite interesting each in its own way.

Elm Grove on Greenmanville Avenue, (Rt. 27), was established in the mid-1800s by a board of leading families from the area. Their Victorian influence created a resting place that looks like a park bordering the Mystic River.  Streets were laid, plots were planned out, trees and flowers were planted, and benches dotted the area for people to relax during their walks around the grounds – a common weekend activity.

One of the last times we were there, we were on the west side of the cemetery.  The land slopes down to the water and you can look out and get a picturesque view of the Seaport Museum.  There are many boats traveling up and down the river, too.  As I was turning around I saw a woman dressed in a flowing white dress.  She seemed to come from somewhere near the middle of the area.  She floated to a spot on the shore and just stared out to the sea as if waiting for someone.  She remained visible for two or three minutes before fading away.

The woman looked to be in her mid-thirties.  She had long dark brown hair. She looked like a living person and if she hadn’t floated I probably wouldn’t have watched her.  I tried talking to her, but her gaze stayed riveted on what she was looking for.  She could have been residual energy, or just very focused on perhaps finding what she had lost.

Whitehall Burying Ground on Whitehall Avenue, close to the Whitehall Mansion Inn, is quite  stark in comparison to the gracious Elm Grove environment with its artistic monuments.  It dates back to the 1600s.  The stone markers are mostly rectangular and domed and seem to be made of sandstone, limestone, and/or slate.  Decorations run from willows, angels of death, scrollwork, skulls, and other earlier types of art generally reflecting the solemnity of death.

Whitehall seems to host early settlers, sea captains, veterans of wars gone by including the Revolutionary and I think, Civil Wars.  It’s a rather small spot, but larger than the older, widely used family burial plot usually established on the person’s property who once lived there.

You don’t seem to ever feel like you’re alone when walking around Whitehall.  Shadows can even be seen in broad daylight.  Shadows are apparent at night, too, as well as orbs.  Orbs are commonly thought to be circles of energy visible to the naked eye.  Some skeptics call them ‘dust’ or ‘bugs’ and this could be true in some instances, but I find it difficult to believe that in a place as dark as Whitehall is at night, you’ll be watching illuminated, dancing dust particles.  And if you happen to visit in the autumn when dried leaves have fallen, sometimes you can hear what sounds like footfalls crunching them behind you as you walk through that spot of eternal rest  —  or unrest as the case may be.

So maybe next time you’re in Mystic you can add a couple of more places to your ‘have to see’ list.  And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get to experience even more.

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

What is IT — or Who?

Up in the rolling foothills of the Berkshires are many small villages that fast-paced city life has left behind.  Here, life is lived much like it has been always.  Among the scattered homesteads, occasional country convenience store, and always present package stores are historical places that have been there since everyone can remember.  There aren’t many historical markers, just testaments to people living there  —  and dying.  Much of a town’s history can be read on old tombstones that tell something of the people who used to live there.  But, not all of them…

Middlefield MA is home to Mack Cemetery. It was the first burying ground in town started in the late 1700’s with members of the Mack family.  It’s identified by a small, humble, weathered wooden sign near 184 Skyline Trail.  A number of early residents are interred there.  Many are identified being members of related families.  Except one.

In a far back corner of the site, near the woods, a lone stone stands and appears to be an old hand-carved marker that shows age and wear.  The simple lettering identifies the dead as, “IT”.  While there is a lot of speculation as to who – or what – could be buried there, no one knows for sure.  On-line town records don’t identify it and it doesn’t seem to have any initials of anyone else resting there.  IT may not be resting, either.  On dark nights orbs have been seen around the stone and grey streaks have manifested in the area.  There’s a general feeling of uneasiness in that part of town even during daylight hours.  Is  IT watching us, too?

– –  Bran

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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