Ever since I began watching “Ghost Hunters” on Sci-Fi Channel, I’ve become more interested in haunted – – or supposedly haunted places. One that I stumbled upon recently is called Smith’s Castle. It is located in what many refer to as America’s New England area.
I’m not quite sure why they refer to the house as a “castle,” although it is much larger than many of the houses we are used to today. It does appear to have an mysterious look about it; almost making you believe the many stories that surround it.
Many of the castle’s visitors and employees certainly believe that one or more ghosts have taken up residence there although there seems to be some dissention regarding who they might be. As it turns out, it is possible that everyone is correct.
Richard Smith, Jr, built the castle in 1678. The property came with a built-in history since Smith purchased it from American orator Roger Williams. It also holds one of our country’s very first military burial grounds, which might explain at least some of the ghostly doings found on the castle property.
Smith’s Castle is a favorite haunt around Halloween time because of its rich history. One ghost that visitors hope to hear, if not see, is Elizabeth Singleton. As the story goes, Singleton was a well known lady who attended many parties at the castle. During one such celebration, however, she caught her dress when walking down the staircase, tripped and fell to her death. Rumors have circulated for years that she is buried somewhere on the property although no grave marker confirms that belief.
Some employees of the castle insist that they have heard the sound of soft footsteps on the stairs, followed by a sound that could be someone falling. Singleton’s portrait hangs in the front stairwell as a respectful nod to her believed presence. Some visitors and employees alike even wish her a “good day” when they enter.
Another ghost that some believe might haunt the estate is that of Phebe Congdon. She and her husband, Benjamin, purchased Smith’s Castle as a part of a property transaction with Wilkins Updike in 1812. By all accounts, Phebe was not known for her hospitality. In fact, just the opposite is believed to be true. She didn’t like to entertain at all and, in fact, preferred that visitors stay away.
That might explain why her scowling countenance has reportedly been seen peering out of the master bedroom window. In fact, an artist who was solicited to paint the castle some time back, refused to enter the house because she claimed to see Phebe’s unfriendly face glaring at her through the window. How did she know it was Phebe? She didn’t, but when asked to describe who she saw, she accurately described the castle’s former resident.
Probably the best-known ghostly encounter happened around thirty years ago. A policeman, responding to a complaint from the castle’s overseer about noises on the property, reports that he opened the door to see a colonial figure standing on the stairs. The policeman goes on to explain that when he asked the man to halt, the figure turned and aimed an ancient musket at him, firing a single shot. The officer dropped his gun and ran for his life.
However, lest you think that the castle’s various haunting might be fake or the figment of overactive imaginations, a 2004 event might just change your mind. It was during that time that a group of sensitives and psychics were invited to the castle without advanced knowledge of its history. While there they were asked to record their encounters, impressions, and feelings on paper.
After the visitors walked through the castle and around the estate, they gathered together to share their findings. While some of them differed, an amazing amount of them were both accurate and duplicate in nature. Some were able to retell stories of actual events that occurred on the property.
Virtually every psychic reported that a colonial soldier had apparently remained behind to protect the property over the years. They were able to describe his uniform and musket in fine detail. Some speculate that if could be Richard Updike, the only member of his family to die during The Great Swamp Attack.
Still other spirits are believed to roam the property just to visit the mass grave of some forty men buried there after the attack in 1675.
Others claimed to sense the presence of a beautiful young woman who had some kind of unhappy attachment to the estate. Speculation is that it might have been Hannah Robinson. She attended a party thrown by her aunt on the estate. But her real purpose for going was so that she could elope with a man that her parents didn’t approve of.
Unfortunately, the marriage proved to be less than happy and Hannah died on October 30, 1773, still trying to rekindle the fires of lost love. Some believe that it could be she and her husband that have been spotted roaming the second floor of the Castle of and on over the years. Perhaps they are happier in death than they were in life.
Another presence felt there was that of a young black man who might have once served as a slave on the property. The physics, like many before them, claimed to see him sitting on the stairs that led to the cellar, still reading his master’s books.
However, none of the spirits that are believed to haunt the castle, have more right to take up residence there than the ghost of Joshua Tefft. He met a grizzly end at the hands of troops led by the property’s owner, Captain Richard Smith, Jr.
As the story goes he was hung, but taken down before he was dead. Then he was disemboweled, drawn and quartered. Then to finish the job with as much distaste as possible, his head was cut off and put on a spike for all to view. It was said to be a warning to others who might think of turning traitor.
Similar stories exist regarding Indian captives who were captured on the property. Although, they can’t be verified, the method and mode of murder is similar enough in nature to the death of Tefft to cause one to believe that they might just be true.
Are any or all of these stories true? I have no idea. There are certainly a lot of people who believe in many of them, if not all. And one can’t deny that it makes for a good draw to the property, which is open to the public.
Guided tours are held every hour on the hour between noon and 3:00 p.m., every day during tourist season. The cost is $5. For more information, contact them at www.smithcastle.org.
Featured Image Credit: Mlanni98 via Wikimedia Commons