Pachaug Forest home to ghostly sightings
Date 20/11/2003 | Topic: Short Story
| It was dark and he couldn't see anything, but he heard a strange rustling of leaves and then a loud screeching sound. |
Hunter Henry Tabor thought it might be a wild boar. Or maybe a bear or bobcat. But in the end, he could never really convince himself it was an animal.
But he did know one thing -- he wanted to get out of Pachaug State Forest as fast as he could.
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Most of the state's largest forest is in Voluntown, but parts of it stretch into North Stonington, Griswold, Sterling and Plainfield. The forest is vast and it is haunted.
Tabor has been hunting there for 30 years.
"You hear these like screaming noises," Tabor said. "You hear a lot of certain noises like that, that aren't typical. It gets you nervous in the woods."
He is not the only hunter paranoid about going into the forest. He said he has many friends who feel the same.
The scream Tabor heard might have been the cry of a lone Indian woman said to have been murdered in the forest in the 1600s.
It's a story included in "The Hauntings of Pachaug Forest," by David Trifilo.
According to Trifilo, an Indian girl was killed by English soldiers in the Hell Hollow section of the forest. Ever since, cries attributed to her have been heard there. Trifilo said Hell Hollow was never permanently settled because of its reputation as haunted.
Barry Gullickson has hunted the forest for 15 years and also has heard the odd screaming sounds.
"It's an eye opener, it's like a piercing sound," Gullickson said.
The ghost of a little girl named Maude has been appearing for 100 years on Hell Hollow Road near her gravesite. That legend is included on Web sites on Connecticut hauntings.
Trifilo also points out in his booklet that people driving through the forest are driving through a former village. Hundreds of people lived there from the 1600s until the Great Depression. The forest still contains many foundations and burial sites.
Other legends include a woman from the 1860s who threatened death to anyone who stole from her lilac bushes. Mrs. Gorton guarded the lilacs at her home on Bailey Pond Road, according to Trifilo's book. A young boy said to have stolen some lilacs disappeared one October day while fishing by Mrs. Gorton's pond.
Author Trifilo claimed he saw one of the forest's ghosts -- a Breakneck Hill guard who appears randomly walking back and forth at a bend in Breakneck Hill Road. This was the story that sparked Trifilo's interest in haunted tales from the forest.
Trifilo said the spirit he saw most likely was a soldier from the Narragansett wars of the late 1600s and early 1700s. In his pamphlet, he said the legend of the Breakneck Hill Guard can be traced back to 1742 when the first sighting occurred.
According to Trifilo, he was making a sharp turn on Breakneck Hill Road when he saw a tattered colonial soldier carrying a long musket over his right shoulder marching across theroad. When Trifilo slammed on his brakes, the man disappeared.
"I could not bring myself to tell anyone about what I had seen for many weeks," he wrote in his pamphlet. "I thought everyone would think I was crazy or something, but he's there as sure as the sun rises in the morning, that guard is still doing his job at that bend in Breakneck Hill Road."
Town Clerk Cheryl Sadowski said few people come to Town Hall inquiring about the legends or seeking directions to the so-called haunted sites.
And not everybody in town is convinced the forest is haunted.
"Maude's Grave -- that's all I can tell you," Preston resident Jerry Marjniak said. "I have heard of guys that went down there and disrupted her grave, brought them to a church in Griswold and within a few weeks they died."
Wally Hill, who has lived in town for more than 10 years, also knows about Maude's grave.
"Everybody and their brother talks about that," Hill said. "But I don't believe in ghosts."
Attempts to reach Trifilo for this story were unsuccessful.
By AMY BETH PREISS
Monday, February 24, 2003