Most Creepy Place in Connecticut
Approximate reading time 7 minutes.
The Dudleytown curse is well-known to the ghost hunters of New England. Dudleytown is an abandoned 18th-century village hidden in the woods of Cornwall, Connecticut. It’s still considered as one of the most intriguing haunted sites in America.
A dark and eerie place full of Indian legends of monsters, the first settler in Dudleytown was Thomas Griffis, who acquired the first plot of land in 1738. Others soon came, including the Dudley family, who bought land around Griffis’ in the 1740s. Why people bought land there is a mystery. It turned out that the soil was rocky and acidic. More significantly, being in the shadows of the mountains, the land there received little sun. Consequently, most settlers supported themselves by cutting lumber to fuel the iron production in a nearby town.
A Family Brings a Curse to Dudleytown
Not much different from other settlements in New England, Dudleytown was unique as it seemed to have invited a curse. When the Dudley’s arrived, some believed they were from the very same family of damned and cursed people in in England. The first infamous Dudley was thought to be a primary carrier of the Bubonic Plague that ravaged England beginning in the spring of 1665.
The Dudleytown Curse Had Ties to Royalty
A more aristocratic Dudley, Guildford Dudley, was part of the plot to place Lady Jane Gray on the throne of England after the boy, King Edward’s death. A devout protestant, Jane was the Granddaughter of Henry VIII. After her marriage to Lord Guildford Dudley, Lady Jane Dudley is most known in English history as the 9 Days Queen.
Under pressure from her father and others, Jane claimed England and Ireland’s throne and ruled from 10 July until 19 July 1553. Unfortunately for Jane, the plot failed after her supporters deserted her, and she was summarily beheaded along with her husband and others involved in the plot.
The Dudley Family Leaves England
Other stories circulated that the Dudley’s had run afoul of certain aristocrats that had arranged for a curse to be placed on them. It’s hard to fathom, but people still believed in curses then, and it hadn’t been that long since the mass hysteria Witch Burnings. But, some believe it’s what caused the Dudley family to leave England.
In 1748, Gideon Dudley purchased land from Griffis. His brothers Barzillai and Abiel Dudley soon followed him. Another Dudley, Martin Dudley, also bought land nearby. The Dudley clan, it seems, was growing. Iron had been discovered nearby, and farming tree cutting was now a secondary worry.
Strange Deaths and Bizarre Occurrences
Abiel Dudley was the first to apparently suffer from the curse in the New World. Tax records show that he somehow lost his entire fortune. But sadly, he also lost his mind and ended his days as an insane pauper begging in the streets for money.
The next strange occurrence involved a good friend of Abiel’s, Gershon Hollister. There are two versions of the story; the first being Hollister was murdered in the home of William Tanner. The second version says that Gershon Hollister actually fell to his death while repairing a barn for William Tanner. Villagers whispered real story was that Tanner had killed Hollister. Tanner also went insane, seemingly due to the unfounded rumors and his destroyed reputation.
Like a Sickness, Strangers Seem Affected by the Dudleytown Curse
In 1759, the Nathaniel Carter family moved into a house once owned by the demented Abiel Dudley. Almost immediately, Nathaniel received word that a mysterious sickness had wiped out his relatives in New York.
Nathaniel moved his family to Binghampton because he needed to be back in New York. However, it’s claimed that the Dudley curse followed them and two years later, Nathaniel, his wife, and infant child were slaughtered by Indians. The other children were sold to Indians in Canada. Only Daniel, who remained with his captors, later returned to the United States. Evidently, he’d escaped the curse and eventually became a Supreme Court Judge.
The Dudleytown Curse Goes on and On
General Herman Swift was a veteran of the Revolutionary War serving under Washington. In a freak incident, his wife, Sarah Faye Swift, was fatally struck by lightning while standing on their porch. By all accounts, the General, unable to recover from his loss, went crazy.
Famous Publisher Horace Greeley and the Dudleytown Curse
In a strange twist of fate, Horace Greeley, soon to be a famous editor and publisher, met and married Mary Young Cheney. It seems plausible that Greeley was unaware of the notorious curse of Dudleytown, Connecticut even though he was a devout Spiritualist.
Although not much else is known of her early life, Cheney had been born in Dudleytown. Sadly, unhappy in her marriage and suffering from ill health and mental problems, Mary Cheney Greeley hung herself in 1872 (although this fact is not widely mentioned in many of Greeley’s biographies). Regardless, Horace Greeley died soon after.
The Population of Dudleytown Dwindles to Almost Nothing
Today, the land near the Dudleytown site looks much as it did when Griffis first settled it in 1738. Deep forests are thick with trees, and rocks dot the landscape. Not only that, it’s virtually uninhabited. But, how could such a small community elicit so much tragedy and oft-times associated deaths? Were they all somehow connected? Only the ghosts of Dudleytown can tell us that.
For many, there’s no doubt that something odd and deadly kept happening in this little town. The stories of insanity and bizarre deaths, even if remotely, put Dudleytown on the map as one of America’s most haunted towns.
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