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The Coventry Society runs a museum which is housed in a large two-story family mansion in South Coventry, Connecticut. Today it is the Nathan Hale Homestead Museum and on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was built in 1746 when Deacon Richard Hale bought a large farm and married Elizabeth Strong. Together they had 12 children one of whom was Revolutionary war hero Captain Nathan Hale. When Captain Hale was but 21 years old he was sent on a dangerous mission by the Militia. The British captured him and hung him as a spy. His famous words are still known today “I regret that I have only one life to give for my country.”
Mrs. Hale died in 1767 after the birth of her 12th child at which time Nathan was only 12 years old. Deacon Richard then married a widow Abigail Cobb who had 7 daughters. As the years went by the children having grown up some moved away and others with their families continued to live in the mansion. Deacon Richard died there in 1802. By 1914 the mansion was left isolated, dilapidated, unpainted and vacant.
Finally, George Dudley Seymour who was an admirer of Captain Nathan Hale rescued the mansion and decided to make Captain Hale famous and started writing down stories and legends about the Hale family.
The Coventry Society for the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society runs the museum at this site. Museum employees dressed as various members of the Hale family give tours and tell about life in the 1700s. During Halloween and on selected weekends the Nathan Hale Fife and Drums perform even doing battle reenactments.
When George Seymour first purchased the property he drove up there with a friend. The friend ran up to the house and peeked in at the front, schoolroom window. He came face to face with a detailed apparition of Deacon Richard who no doubt was wondering who was coming for a visit. The apparition retreated to the far end of the room and disappeared. He was not seen again.
A servant of the Hale family Lydia Carpenter has been seen sweeping the upstairs hallway in the early morning hours and busying herself in the kitchen area.
Joseph Hale one of the six Hale boys who served with the Militia against the British was captured and spent time on a British prison ship until he was traded for a British soldier. At the end of his days he died at the Hale mansion from TB. George Seymour was told that Joseph Hale haunted the huge cellar clanking his chains from the prison ship.
Since the spirits haunt during the night and in the wee hours of the morning staff members have not witnessed any apparitions during museum hours.
Strange Occurrences on Elm Street
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The Phelps Mansion in Stratford, Connecticut was built in the first half of the 19th century. It has three floors, an attic, and a basement. The mansion had once belonged to a sea captain named George R. Dowell. The captain had built the main hallway of the house to resemble the layout of his clipper ship it was 70 feet long and 12 feet wide, with twin staircases that met at each end of the second-floor landing. Later ownership passed to a Presbyterian minister Dr. Eliakim Phelps and his family. They had moved from Philadelphia to Stratford. Dr. Phelps new bride had three children of her own Anna, 12, Harry, 4 and another girl, who was 16 and together, they had a son, who was three years old when the strange happenings on Elm Street began.
When Dr. Eliakim Phelps lived there he had become interested in the occult holding séances to get in touch with spirits. Not a hobby for the amateur. In March of 1850, he supposedly made contact with a witch who was angry for being hanged. It was supposed that the witch may have been Goody Bassett who was hanged in 1661.
Then bad things began to happen. On Sunday, March 10, 1850, the family returned home from church to find the doors of the house wide open both inside and out. Every door had been flung open and with the maid away and Dr. Phelps having secured the house and having the only keys they thought for sure that burglars had done the job. Inside the house, chaos reigned. Belongings and books were scattered about, dishes were broken and furniture knocked over. Clearly a sign of a robbery however Phelps gold watch, the family silver and loose change which had been left in plain sight were not taken. Perhaps the burglars had been taken by surprise when the family returned. They went to inspect the bedrooms. There on one of the beds, one of Mrs. Phelps nightgowns had been placed. Stockings strategically placed at the bottom to resemble feet and the arms of the gown folded over the chest as if someone were lying in a coffin.
When it was time to return to church for afternoon service Dr. Phelps remained at home in his study with a pistol waiting to see if the burglars returned. The house was quiet and still. He eventually left his study to inspect the house. Opening the dining room door he was surprised by a crowd of women. Some of the women were standing still while others were kneeling in religious devotion. Several held Bibles and they all seemed to be in a sort of circle in the center of the room. Then Dr. Phelps realized that these were life-size dolls made and stuffed from the family’s various articles of clothing. But how? And in such a short time. There were eleven so-called “women” altogether but in the coming months, these would be joined by nearly twenty more. The next day objects began to move by themselves. An umbrella flew into the air and traveled nearly 25 feet. Assorted small objects went from place to place. Bed linen was pulled from beds. This occurred throughout the day finally ceasing by evening.
Strange knocking sounds were heard throughout the house. A good deal of the events were centered around two of the Phelps children 12-year-old Harry and 4-year-old Anna. The children were thrown from their beds and physically abused by the spirits. Finally, all activity ceased when the children went off to boarding school.
Then in 1947 Carl Caserta and his wife bought the home on Elm Street and converted it into a convalescence home. At this time the haunting began again. Buzzers had been installed throughout the house in case any resident needed assistance. One evening Mrs. Caserta was downstairs in the basement when she heard a buzzer sound. Going up to the third floor she smelled smoke. In her infant son’s bedroom, she found that his blanket was ablaze. She quickly extinguished the flames and then it occurred to her. Who had sounded the buzzer? The residents were asleep and her infant son could not possibly have reached the buzzer. Some years later when her son was sleepwalking he attempted to jump from the third-floor landing and would have succeeded if once again the buzzer had not sounded. So twice this buzzer had saved her son’s life.
In 1971 the house stood abandoned. While police were investigating reports of vandalism they saw a little girl and ran after her up the stairs. She entered a third-floor bedroom and when the police got there she was gone.
Unfortunately around 1974 despite efforts to save it the house was demolished and where it once stood there is now a parking lot. Perhaps ghostly spirits park cars.