Tag Archives: Connecticut

The Moodus Noises of Moodus, Connecticut

Main Piece:

“So this is a story about- nearby where I grew up in Connecticut there’s a little teeny town in the southern part of Connecticut called Moodus and its where my first cousins lived and we used to go visit around the holidays, Christmas in particular I remember visiting for Christmas Eve because we would trade on and off every year, one year we’d come visit them, one year they’d come visit us and they’d host a big dinner. And they had this big farmhouse and it backed up on this lake and this farmhouse had a hill, a grassy hill, sloping down to the lake and it was extremely old it had extremely dark wooden floors that were rough because it was a farmhouse. Anyways, so I remember the Moodus noises, I don’t really know if its true or a myth, but it’s basically in this town you can hear these noises coming out of the ground and, doesn’t always happen but it can happen and scientists have looked into this and the most likely explanation is that there are micro-earthquakes that are shallow in the ground and that’s the cause of the noise. That’s something everyone talks about in the town, the mascot for the high-school sports team is the Moodus noises and so I remember being with my cousins in this creepy farmhouse and them telling us the story about the noises and then trying to startle us with noises the entire night.”

Background:

My informant is a man in his early 50s originally from Hartford, Connecticut. He lived there through his teens and had extended family in the nearby areas. The cousins described here were present for a lot his childhood and they often shared scary stories. The Moodus Noises are well documented phenomena that remain ambiguous and have little physical ties but it serves to unite the town with a common legend. While my informant did not live there, his interaction with his cousins put him in conversation with this legend.

Context:

My informant told me about this story when I was asking a group of family and friends about scary stories or legends from their childhood. He told the story in front of the group and I recorded it during that telling. 

Thoughts:

What I find fascinating about the Moodus noises is the complete lack of any form of the topic from the folkloric perspective. This natural phenomenon serves the primary function of folklore, it unites the town with a common experience. However, there is no supernatural explanation of the noises. They are not tied to spirits or cryptids, they are just ambiguously there. This is fascinating to me, as more often than not, folklore takes some physical form but the Moodus noises are just noises. In my opinion, this is the result of the fact that the noises have a very clear explanation. Compared to other strange phenomena such as Will o’ Wisps, the Moodus noises have a clear explanation of why they occur. As such, they occupy a liminal space between science and folklore, wherein they have an explanation but they still count as community legend.

The Spiritualist Camp In Niantic, Connecticut

Main piece:

“The Pine Grove Spiritualist campground is where my dad lives in the summer and my grandma lived during summers when I was a little kid and its located in Niantic, Connecticut which is a small town kinda south-central on the water in Connecticut and the spiritualist campground is a small cluster of homes located on a point, so there’s only one road heading in or out of town, and it’s maybe 100 or 200 houses on this point and when you come in this one road from out of town, it says “Spiritualist Campground” and it looks like its from the 1800s or early 1900s so as soon as you come to this town you think what is this? And it’s a small enough town that a lot of times people just walk around for entertainment and I would walk around with my cousins and kinda tucked away in the corner of the woods is a building. That building is where the spiritualist still have meetings and I didn’t know much about spiritualism and what it meant when I was a kid but apparently it’s a religion and in that cluster of houses, there are maybe a dozen of families who practice spiritualism and they would meet periodically in this temple, which was this building, to have discussions. We didn’t know what they were meeting about so on a few of this walks, generally we would avoid the temple because it was kinda dark and it was creepy, but on some walks we’d go close to it and one night we dared my oldest cousin to look in the window of the temple because they were having a meeting so it was at night and he looked to the window and came running back and he said they were walking on the walls and ceiling sin there, it was crazy. I never went or looked or anything like that- I didn’t want to, but that’s the story of the Spiritualist campground.”

Background:

My informant is a man in his early 50s originally from Hartford, Connecticut. He lived there through his teens and had extended family in the nearby areas. As stated above, his father had a summer home in a former spiritualist camp now known as Pine Grove. Spiritualism is a religion that believes in a spiritual realm where the spirits of those have passed are located. Furthermore, it was practiced heavily in New England in the 1800s, which would make sense for the creation of this neighborhood.

Context:

My informant told me about this story when I was asking a group of family and friends about scary stories or legends from their childhood. He told the story in front of the group and I recorded it during that telling. 

Thoughts:

I think the inspiration for this story comes from the lack of in-depth understanding of the outside present in childhood. As mentioned in the piece, the informant got the information for this story from his cousins, and never explicitly saw any of the supposed supernatural. This shows that the story surrounding the spiritualist temple shows who is in the community created by these children and who is not. Another major factor for this story is the development of folklore to explain an unknown. As mentioned by the informant, as a child he did not comprehend what spiritualism was. Except, he saw the sign and the temple, both of which can be perceived as ominous. As such, the rationale for explaining something as complex as the religion of spiritualism, the informant invented this story of their strange ceremony using what knowledge he  did have about them to help himself better understand. I also think this piece is particularly interesting as it reflects the history of spiritualism in that area, and how it developed over time.

Little People’s Village

Context:

The informant – my dad, RS – is a white man in his early 50s, born and raised in Cheshire, Connecticut, but living in South Florida now. He was raised Catholic on a farm with two siblings. He’s skeptical of the supernatural for the most part, but is pretty familiar with a lot of the Connecticut’s many ghost stories. The following conversation took place in person during a larger conversation in which he told me a number of his favorite Connecticut ghost stories. It was, for the most, part a classic storytelling situation, but at times felt more like a sharing of childhood memories than the dramatic performance of a ghost story.

Piece:

RS: There are a lot of places famously considered haunted in Connecticut, but one that was always really interesting and really stood out to me is the Little People’s Village. If you hike out into this wooded area off the road in Middlebury, you’ll find all these crumbling concrete structures. There’s the foundation of what looks like a small house… there’s these structures built into a hill, one of them sort of looks like a throne, but mainly there are all of these little concrete dollhouse sized houses, scattered all around the area, maybe six or seven of them.

The story I always heard growing up was that there was a couple – a husband and wife I guess – who lived in this little house in the woods. One day, the wife started hearing voices. She claimed that little people – fairies, demons, whatever – were talking to her. She started going crazy and made her husband build all these little houses for the fairies.

She grew more and more obsessed with the little people – they were telling her that she was their queen, so she made her husband build her a throne so that she could properly… rule over the little people I suppose? (laughter). The little people began to feel threatened by the husband, so one day they told the wife to kill him. She did – I can’t remember how the story goes from there. I think she goes crazy and eventually kills herself. But the old legend is that if you go to Little People’s Village and sit in her throne, you’ll die in seven years

Me: Did you ever pay Little People’s Village a visit?

RS: Oh yeah, me and my buddies would go there a few times when we were teenagers. It’s a bit creepy, especially at night. No sign of any little people though. I wonder if any of it’s there anymore.

Me: Did you sit in the throne?

RS: Yeah I did… I’m still alive though!

Analysis:

Upon doing some research, I discovered that the structures behind the story of Little People’s Village were part of an amusement park that featured a trolley line that went out of business in the early 20th century. The “house” was likely a gift shop and the concrete dollhouses were part of a display. Ghost stories are very common in Connecticut, since much of the state isn’t in constant renovation like many other parts of the country, and old buildings and structures are often left to decay, making for both many creepy sights and a more direct connection to the past.

Given the appearance of the structures that inspired the story of Little People’s Village, it’s fairly obvious how the legend developed, since the strange structures out of context beg a more unique and specific explanation than an ordinary old house. I find it interesting that the story features specifically a woman going insane and murdering her husband, since the story could have easily gone a number of other ways while still featuring the little people. However, developing likely in the 1960s, it’s not surprising that stories would lean towards including this somewhat sexist stereotype/archetype of the hysterical woman.

 

 

Melon Heads of Connecticut

Context:

The informant – my dad, RS – is a white man in his early 50s, born and raised in Cheshire, Connecticut, but living in South Florida now. He was raised Catholic on a farm with two siblings. He’s skeptical of the supernatural for the most part, but is pretty familiar with a lot of the Connecticut’s many ghost stories. The following conversation took place in person during a larger conversation in which he told me a number of his favorite Connecticut ghost stories. It was, for the most, part a classic storytelling situation, but at times felt more like a sharing of childhood memories than the dramatic performance of a ghost story.

Me: Are there any other Connecticut legends that you can recall?

 

RS: Ummm… well, everyone always used to talk about the Melon Heads. There were a few roads we called the Melon Head Roads where they supposedly lived. I think people used to say that they were escaped mental patients who inbred with each other for generations, so now they have these big heads, too big for their bodies. Or maybe they were just mountain people who inbred, and the mental patients were from another story. I don’t know, there were a few stories about who they were, but they were all supposed to have these big melon heads and were supposed to violent, crazy cannibals.

Me: Do you remember who you heard this story from?

RS: Oh I’m not sure, everyone knew about the Melon Heads. It was probably my brother.

Me: What do you make of the story? Why did it stick with you?

RS: It didn’t stick with me that much. But when talking about Connecticut ghost stories, that’s one of the first ones that comes to mind. I don’t think much of the story… I’m sure it’s just something kids made up to spook each other out.

 

Analysis:

While I think that it’s likely that the story was made up for kids to scare each other, I find it interesting that this legend revolves around escaped mental patients and inbreeding. There are a number of large asylums in Connecticut, so it makes sense that the story would involve escaped mental patients. Further, it’s likely that this story originated around a time where these asylums were being shut down and mental illness was in its early stages of moderate de-stigmatization, resulting in rumors of escaped inbreeding mental patients among curious and scared children.

 

Dudleytown, Connecticut

Context:

The informant – my dad, RS – is a white man in his early 50s, born and raised in Cheshire, Connecticut, but living in South Florida now. He was raised Catholic on a farm with two siblings. He’s skeptical of the supernatural for the most part, but is pretty familiar with a lot of the Connecticut’s many ghost stories. The following conversation took place in person during a larger conversation in which he told me a number of his favorite Connecticut ghost stories. It was, for the most, part a classic storytelling situation, but at times felt more like a sharing of childhood memories than the dramatic performance of a ghost story.

Piece:

RS: Supposedly the most haunted place in all of Connecticut is Dudleytown in Cornwall. Dudleytown used to be a small town in early colonial times, founded by the Dudley family. There are many versions of the story, but the one I remember is that, I believe, a long time ago, one man in Dudleytown went insane and murdered everybody in the small town. Decades later, they built a new town where Dudleytown used to be, but the town was cursed with horrible misfortune. People either died from disease, or went insane, the population dwindling to nothing overtime, once again. Now, Dudleytown is just ruins, I few miles hike into the woods in Cornwall. Your mother dragged me out there once when we first met to go camping – it’s a big destination for lovers of the paranormal like your mother. Though I don’t believe this, she claims that she took photos of the ruins, and that when she looked at the photos later, strange markings and writing were on the rocks and rubble that weren’t there before.

 

Me: Who told you about Dudleytown?

RS: I believe it was your mother, though I may have heard about it from my friends back when I was a kid.

Me: What do you make of the story?

RS: I’m not sure… I don’t really believe that one man went crazy and murdered an entire town, but I guess I’d have to look into the history of it.

Analysis:

I think the legend of Dudleytown was most likely invented to provide a spooky reasoning for the town being abandoned. Unlike other places in America that are in constant renovation, Connecticut is filled with decaying old buildings, resulting in both a number of creepy sights that beg for spooky stories to explain them and a direct connection with the past. Insanity seems to often come up in Connecticut ghost stories, likely due to the large number of abandoned asylums in the state.

 

New England Ghost Story

Informant EB is a senior at the University of Southern California majoring in political science. EB is originally from Boston, Massachusetts, but he has spent the majority of his youth in Connecticut. Here, he shares a ghost story known to a town in Connecticut called Dudley Town.

EB: “So Dudley Town is a famous old colonial town in Cornwall, Connecticut, and most people who are from Connecticut know of it as a spooky, old ghost town. Back in the mid to late 1700’s, Dudley Town was mostly farmland and it was used for farming purposes only. But because other businesses were opening up and it was located on an area that was not ideal for farming, the agricultural production suffered and eventually closed down. So the story is that there was a doctor in this town who killed all of his patients when he would go visit them at their homes. He would poison his patients by giving them the wrong medication. This doctor was known to be a Satanist and that he believed that if he followed and did what the devil instructed him to do, he would be rewarded with a rich and fruitful afterlife. So he did this for years and years up until he hung himself in the middle of town. It has been known that his dark, evil spirit haunts the remains of this old town and that no one will really go near it because of all the strange things that have happened. I think it is even closed off to the public today.”

Where did you earn about this legend?

EB: “Um well I heard it while going to school when I was younger and it is a story that is talked about in school by our the older classmates. I have heard variations of the story over the years, but it is something that has been talked about among friends and schoolmates for generations.”

Does this legend have any significant meaning to you?

EB: “Uh kind of in that it is was talked about in school as a way to warn the students to not venture over to that town because of what happened, but it mostly freaked me out when I first heard in school.”

What context or setting would you share this story?

EB: “I have shared this legend to other people when it has been close to Halloween, but I feel like if I were to run into someone who is from Connecticut, they would have a better understanding of the whole ghost story thing and we would be able to relate to it better. I feel like most people who aren’t from Connecticut would look at me weird because they may not know the historical background of old colonial towns like Dudley and or they might now believe in the supernatural. But it’s also a fun story to share for entertainment purposes too.”

Analysis:

Connecticut is a New England state that is prominently known for its coastal cities and its mysterious rural areas. The remains of an old colonial settlement, Dudley Town is known to be cursed. Plagued by hundreds of unexplained deaths and tragedies, this town is now prohibited to the public and has been reclaimed by the surrounding forest. The remains of this eerie town are now fully covered by trees and wildlife. I found it interesting how the informant learned about this legend in school while he was a new student and how it is tradition each year to share this legend with the younger incoming students.