Note: This article is written primarily for entertainment purposes. There is no way to verify this data. It's presented in the spirit of Halloween, and is based on "urban legend". Furthermore, I've embellished them to make them more interesing. I guess you could consider them "fiction". Many years ago, I remember seeing an article in the Greenwich Time about Halloween legends in Town. Since Halloween is now upon us, I decided to research some of these local tales. I was surprised to find so much information. Here I present a few of the ghostly tales!
As the story goes, there was an Irish girl (an immigrant) who worked in a mansion in Belle Haven in the late 1800s. She met and fell in love with a piper. He worked as a servant in another Belle Haven residence, and loved to serenade people with his flute - especially his love interest. They spent a lot of time together in the area near the Bruce mansion. The two were very much in love, and planned to marry. However, the man mysteriously disappeared and was never to be seen again. The girl was heartbroken, and became very homesick. She decided to return to her family in Ireland. So she booked passage on a ship out of New York, and returned to her native homeland. Unfortunately, she contracted Consumption (Tuberculosis) and died.
Years later (early 1900s), people began reporting that they had spotted two ghostly apparitions outside of what is now the Bruce Museum. A man would be playing a small flute for a young girl, who listened very attentively. On occassion an evil voice could be herad, beckoning the two to come into the mansion to play the flute and sing; but the couple refused to go inside because they said they knew they would never be able to come out! They would then suddenly disapper into thin air.
In 1996, a young girl claims she was driving through Bruce Park at night, when suddenly a line of approximately 10 cars cut her off. She had to slam on her brakes to avoid a collision. Several passengers appeared to have a terrified look on their faces as they looked back into the dark woods. She also tried to look in that general direction, but spotted nothing. Once all the traffic had gone, she continued on her way.
As it so happened, the next day the young lady pulled into a gas station to fill up her car. When she went in to the station to pay for her gas, she overheard several men talking about an incident in Bruce Park durihg the previous night. Seveal teenagers were drinikng beer and raising Cain in one of the park's picnic areas. When they became very rowdy, a ghost suddenly appeared! The body was that of a woman, but the head was a collection of snakes, which twisted and hissed at the teenagers! Needless to say, the teens jumped in their cars and fled the scene! The girl makes a point to avoid Bruce Park when she drives at night.
Local author Anya Seton - who wrote The Winthrop Woman and other historic novels - was a strong believer in ghosts. She swore there was a ghost of a slave girl living in an old wash house on the Bush-Holley property. As many people know, the owners of the inn had slaves living in the attic. These men and women were servants and kitchen help. Living in such tight qurters, they could very easily contract any number of diseases. It's very possible that the young girl died while living at Bush-Holley. Anya even reported that the apparition of the young child would scream from time to time. Perhaps there is some truth to the story.
One of the most popular (and historical) hotels in town is the Homestead Inn of Belle Haven. Indians and settlers first used the land for horse pasture and farmland. It's situated on land purchased by the Mead family in 1799. Over the years, it was passed down from generation to generation. A circular summer house was built, and became an Inn and restaurant for travelers and summer guests. One of the attractions of the Inn was a ship's figurehead, which was located on the proch. It had rosy cheeks, black eyes and a flowing white robe over a hoop skirt. Originally, this was mounted on the bow of the Lady Lancashire. A Captain, who lived next door to the Inn, had carved the piece in 1830. It had been removed from the ship for maintenance one time before the ship set sail. Eerily, the ship subsequently sank and the figurehead had no home. So it was given to the Mead family, who placed it on the front porch.
Over the years, there were reports of strange noises by guests who stayed at the Inn. One guest claimed she heard unexplained footsteps in the second floor Bride's Room. It sounded like someone was pacing all night long! In another bedroom - the Groom's Room - a woman claims she saw the figure of a ghostly woman dressed in an old fashioned white dress. The woman appeared to be looking out the window, as if waiting for a sailor to return. Coincidently, the figurehead was directly below this window. Perhaps it's the ghostly figure of a woman waiting for the return of someone from the Lady Lancashire.
Another story involves a woman who was walking into a local church one Sunday morning. The young girl is met in the lobby by a man who asks her if she is alright. Although she finds this to be a strange question, she says she is alright and continues into the sanctuary. Just as she is going to sit in a pew, the man touches her on the shoulder, and asks her again if she is alright! She again states that she's fine. The man disappeared, and she didn't see him anymore.
That night, she is looking through her deceased grandmother's photo album. The young girl is startled to see the image of a man who is wearing the same clothes as the man who talked to her in the church. She asks her mother who the man is in the photo. Her mother explains that this is her grandmother's husband - her grandfather that she had never met! He had met an untimely death, right around the time that the girl was born. A horse and buggy had accidently struck him while he was crossing the street. His spirit was apparently attempting to make contact from the spirit world.
A family in Cos Cob - which will remain anonymous - experienced a strange occurence several years ago. One night, a young boy woke up from a sound sleep in his bedroom on the second floor. He was screaming and crying. The boy was all scratched up and was shaking like a leaf - as if he had seen a ghost! He claimed a man had come into the room, and was trying to drag him somewhere. The man kept on repeating the words "Johnson Maddey". Furthermore, the man's face appeared to be on fire!
There's also the story of a girl in Riversville, who experienced contact with a ghostly spirit in the 1990s. She decided to take a shortcut through some woods near the intersection of Riversville Road and John Street. It was dusk, and there were many piles of leaves on the ground. As she walked uphill on a curving trail, she heard the sound of leaves rustling behind her as if someone was following. When she stopped, it stopped. When she walked, it walked. So she decided to stop suddenly. The leaves rustled about 50-feet behind her until it suddenly stopped. She started to walk again, then heard something (or someone) stop. This time she stopped and cried out "Who's there?" The rustling started again, and it seemed as if something had come within 10-feet of her. She screamed and ran up the hill. It felt as though something was very close to her! The young lady ran frightened all the way home. She never walked in those woods at dusk ever again!
Happy Halloween, everybody!