In keeping with the spirit of Halloween, here are some ghost tales that are bound to send a shiver up your spine! The first three are strictly historical fiction – stories I made up to entertain you. There is some truth in the background information, but not 100%. The last one, however, is based on an Oral History Project interview. This one really got my attention, and I think you’ll really like it. Let me know if you have a ghost tale or two to share!
General Israel Putnam Ghost Tale
Dan Morrissey was a mechanic, who worked the graveyard shift at Pitney Bowes in Stamford. He lived in Glenville, and took the Boston Post Road through Riverside, Cos Cob and Greenwich. On October 30, 1954, he was driving up Putnam Hill at about 6:30 am when something in the woods caught his eye. He stopped and got out of his car. He started walking down a dirt path just below the top of the hill when he spotted a riderless horse. After a few seconds, a man dressed in colonial garb with a tri-cornered hat mounted the horse and rode away toward Stamford
The Sugar Boat Ghost TaleMorrissey was visibly shaken. He drove to the Police Station to report what he had seen. After he had given his report, the Police officer told him it sounded like he had seen the apparition of old General Israel Putnam – the officer who had escaped the British, and rode to Stamford to get reinforcements in 1799. No other sightings were reported, but this story definitely falls in to our ghost story category.
On April 29, 1930, the vessel Thames caught fire and sank about 100 yards off Greenwich Point. She was carrying 100 tons of sugar, 20 bales of wool shavings and 25 barrels of oil. She caught fire and sank about 100-yards off Greenwich Point, killing 16 of the 24 member crew. Some believe she was also running illegal liquor to one of the islands off the coast of Greenwich.
Several days later, one of the men called the Historical Society and asked if they knew anything about a vessel named the “Thames”. The historical researcher related the story about how the vessel had caught fire and sank off Greenwich Point. Most of the crew died from the explosion, but a few survived. It was believed the boat was delivering supplies to some “rum runners” on one of the islands off Greenwich. It was rumored that a group of men had a still, and was making alcohol illegally. Hardly anyone went out to the islands in those days, so it was an ideal location for such an enterprise.One foggy day near dusk on Halloween 1946, three friends were fishing off Greenwich Point. The water was eerily calm, and there was hardly any wind. Several other boats had been in the area, but had left as dark approached. As the three were quietly waiting for a bite on their fishing rods, the sound of several oars dipping in the water got closer and closer. Suddenly, out of the fog, they saw two men standing on separate planks of wood paddling toward the shore. One of the planks had the word “Thames” painted on it. They didn’t say a word, but stared straight ahead and kept on paddling. The images disappeared into the fog.
The man decided not to say anything about what he had seen because the researcher might think he was crazy!
Perrot Library Ghost Tale
If you’ve ever visited Perrot Library in Old Greenwich, you’ve no doubt seen the bust of Annie de Camp Hegeman Porter (1836 to 1925) on the second floor. It was her great-grandfather, schoolmaster John Perrot, who started the first school in Old Greenwich. His family started the first library in 1903. It was subsequently moved to its present location in 1930.
Annie loved the library. She donated $1000 to get the library started. She also pressed the Perrot Library Association to copy the architecture of the Carnegie Library and Library of Congress. Her daughter, Annie May Porter, had a bust sculpted of Mrs. Porter, and had it placed prominently in the library.
One Halloween Eve in 1948, a Librarian was getting ready to close the library, when she heard something in the book stacks. This startled her because most of the patrons and staff had already left. She heard a soft rustling, like a gown brushing along the floor. Eventually, the clerk came to the bust of Annie Perrot, and there, standing next to the sculpture was a ghostly apparition! It was just standing there. She appeared to be a middle-aged woman. The Librarian suddenly noticed that the face of the ghost was the similar to the bust on the table! This startled the librarian, and she ran to the phone to call the Library Director, who was at home.
The Director told her to call the Greenwich Police. When a policeman arrived, the two began a search of the library. They searched the entire building but found nothing. The Librarian insisted that she had seen something, but the policeman told her that her eyes may have been playing tricks on her. After all, it was late October, and it was very dark.
The Conyers Farm Ghost
In doing research for this blog, I came across an Oral History Project transcript of Gary Pishkur. He was interviewed in December of 1974. It’s titled “The Conyers Farm Legend”. This piqued my interest, so I decided to read it.
Gary grew up on Lower Cross Road in backcountry Greenwich near Conyers Farm. This was before the land was subdivided and developed. He and his friends played on the land, and they could see the Manor House and stables. When Gary saw the house for the first time, he had a “déjà vu” experience; the houses and barns seemed vaguely familiar. He seemed to know his way around the whole farm. One day when he was still a young boy, his father – who knew the foreman who oversaw the property – took him to see the Manor House. When he walked inside, he knew where he was going, as well as how to get in and get out of all the rooms. What’s more, he felt right at home in the building. Gary felt like he had been there a thousand times.
Several years later, when he was in his early twenties and the Manor House had been closed up, Gary decided to take two of his female friends for a tour of the building. The house was cold and damp inside. Most of it was boarded up to prevent vandalism, and there was no light. There were no furnishings. Most of the hardware had been stripped. The three went up a circular stairway to the second floor. Part way down the hallway, the corridor was boarded up. The flashlight Gary was carrying suddenly went out. An eerie light was coming from the other side of the barrier. Gary looked through a crack in the wood, and saw a round light, reflected on one of the side doors. A huge, gigantic spider was sitting in the middle of the light! When the girls looked through the crack, they both screamed and ran back to the stairway. Gary followed, and they returned to the first floor.
The explorers felt compelled to walk down a dark hall. They had no light since the flashlight had died. At first, Gary held his friends’ hands; but the girls had freaked out and were about 20 feet behind him. Suddenly, a cool breeze came out of nowhere. A sickeningly sweet, sweaty odor permeated the hallway. It made Gary think of darkness. The girls screamed and ran back to the small stairway. Gary felt something pressing against the front of his body. He turned around, and started to run, but he fell. After getting up, he ran back to the stairs. The girls were halfway up when he started his ascent. He felt something grab him and pull him. As he looked at the ceiling, he saw stalactites beginning to form! This was enough for the trio. They fled the house as fast as they could!Gary felt the house had a feeling, a spirit, a force. He felt that draw that he always experienced. This made him want to explore further. So he and his companions decided to search the first floor. They came upon another, smaller stairway. Gary thought this might be a servants’ stairway. It led to the basement. White tile covered the walls and floor. This gave the room a wet, sleek feel. Gary thought it remined him of a mortuary. Light was entering from outside. The ceiling was cantilevered, with inlaid glass, giving the light a watery effect. A counter was covered with boxes and canning jars. It smelled very dank and musty.
One evening, when there was a full moon, Gary and some friends went back to the house. It was very eerie inside, and there was a lot of creaking due to the wind. The group refused to go upstairs and immediately left the house. On their way down the bluestone driveway, they thought they heard someone walking behind them. They also heard loud noises coming from the house. There were “pricker” bushes on both sides of the driveway, and Gary thought he heard rustling, and branches breaking, as if someone was walking through the bushes. They even thought they heard a voice very similar to Gary’s laughing!
Several people have tried to take pictures, but report that the negatives have scratches all over them. This would be understandable if the people used the same camera with the same film, but this was not the case. The cameras were different and the film was purchased in two different cities. Is someone, or something, trying to sabotage picture taking at Conyers Farm?
There have been other instances of strange happenings at Conyers Farm. Read the Oral History Project transcript “The Conyers Farm Legend” to learn more. One more ghost tale for your holiday pleasure.
MacDonald, A. ; “Perrot: The Story of a Library”, Perrot Press, Old Greenwich CT 06870, 2005.
Pishkur, G: “The Conyers Farm Legend”, Greenwich Library, CT; 1974