The Village of Voices

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by Chris the Ghostbuster

Chris the Ghostbuster is back!  Join him on a trek into the old town of Bara-Hack in Pomfret, Connecticut.

by Chris the Ghostbuster

Bonfires burning bright, pumpkin faces in the night…damn right, it’s Halloween.  Ghostbusting is back with a vengeance, just in time for the greatest holiday of the year.  Coincidence?  I think not.  To celebrate All Hallows Eve, we’re going to be taking a midnight stroll through the forest to visit Dudleytown’s evil twin, located on the other side of the state.  Rumors credit this site as an influence for the premise of The Blair Witch Project.  Out in the Pomfret woods awaits the remnants of an old town where unseen forces guard the paths, spectral voices call out in the darkness and a ghost-baby watches over an ancient cemetery from up in a tree.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Bara-Hack, the Village of Voices.

The village of Bara-Hack was settled in the late 1700s, founded by the Higginbotham and Randall families.  The land has a haunted history that predates these settlers, as the first sightings were reported as soon as they set up shop in the northeastern corner of Connecticut.  In fact, the slaves (yep, the Bara-Hackers were scumbags) were the first to report seeing ghosts.  They claimed to see spirits in the area of the village cemetery, the most common being a baby that appeared reclining in the branch of an old elm tree bordering the burial ground.  Whatever is out there, it can’t be completely attributed to the Bara-Hack residents.  By the late 1800s, the town was completely deserted.  Left for the forest to reclaim it, the village was set on the path to becoming the paranormal paradise that exists today in the woods of Pomfret.

As stone structure in Bara-Hack.

Since its desertion, discovering the secrets of Bara-Hack has been every ghostbuster’s dream.  Well, that and having Peter Venkman show up with a gift-wrapped proton pack on Christmas.  In 1927, Odell Shepard dubbed it the “Village of Voices” in The Harvest of a Quiet Eye, appropriately named to describe the most common phenomenon people report in those woods.  Common spectral sounds include children laughing, women calling out and the sounds of distant music or horse-drawn wagons.  These reports are so common that other theories have arisen beyond the standard, “yep, it’s haunted.”  Some claim that the entire site is home to an entirely different phenomenon altogether.  They believe the walls of time are somehow thinner here, allowing us a peek at the other side of the wall–we’re not seeing ghosts, we’re seeing people from our past go about daily activities in their present.  It hurts my brain just thinking about it.  If that’s true, my only question is this–what the hell was wrong with these Bara-Hackers?  Who lets a baby recline in a tree branch?

“Standing perfectly still, aware of every tiny sound surrounding us, we slowly scanned the trees to our left with our flashlights.  The strange noises were definitely coming from right next to us.  The suspense was killing me.”

In the early 70s, Paul Eno led several famous investigations into the Pomfret Woods to learn more about the Village of Voices.  They reported seeing blue orbs and hearing strange sounds throughout the forest.  At the cemetery, they witnessed a ghostly bearded face hovering in the air and, of course, the famous baby in the tree.  On one of their trips, a team member was singled out as unseen forces held him back, preventing him from entering the cemetery.  Try as he might, he was unable to move forward.  After hearing these stories I was hooked.  It was time to follow in Eno’s footsteps and experience Bara-Hack firsthand.

It was a Saturday night and I was walking through a haunted pitch-black forest with my partner in crime, Mr. Colm Connor.  We were uneasy, stopping every few minutes to shut off our flashlights, convinced that we were hearing distant voices from the woods to our right.  At the same time, there are strange popping noises coming from up the hill to our left.  Standing perfectly still, aware of every tiny sound surrounding us, we slowly scanned the trees to our left with our flashlights.  The strange noises were definitely coming from right next to us.  The suspense was killing me.

Without warning, there was a loud crash in the branches coming from directly above us.  Jumping back, expecting some monster to be flying down upon us, we heard a very distinct, very recognizable sound.  Monsters go “gobble gobble”?  Yep, we had startled some wild turkeys up in their tree.  What, you didn’t know those porky little bastards could fly themselves up into a tree?  Well, I didn’t either until last year.  Believe me, it’s a sight to see.

When the path dead-ended at a corn field, Colm and I decided it was time to turn around.  It was pretty obvious we were on the wrong path.  Instead of wandering off and getting lost, we decided to return in sunlight so we could actually find the place.  Three hours of driving to get attacked by wild turkeys.  Fun stuff. 

The Bara-Hack sequel turned out to be a solo mission.  Basically, I couldn’t get anyone to tag along for the day.  The whole drive up, I imagined being caught alone in the woods, facing off a bear or a mountain lion with my ghostbusting gear.  Does anyone remember what I used to say about mountain lions?  Yeah, they scare the crap out of me.  Anyway, right up the road from wild turkey path, I found another path that fit the description as the way leading to Bara-Hack.  Man, this stuff is a lot easier to do in the daytime. 

Not far up the path, I ran into what must have been the village center.  There were several foundations scattered around, and some interesting stone pillars.  There was a huge pit about ten feet deep that was bordered by stone walls.  In the center of the pit, there was a 5’x5’ stone structure that reached up to the top of the pit.  Maybe this was support for a house?  I can’t see why they would dig so deep for a foundation.  Then again, what the hell do I know?  Check out the pictures and judge for yourself.

A side trail led me away from the village center and directly to the Bara-Hack cemetery.  Bordered by a stone wall, there were less than ten headstones still standing.  On the side of the wall, I saw what I figured to be the tree that the baby hangs out in.  It would help if I knew what an elm tree looked like.  Three stone steps led into the burial ground.  One stone was a bit loose, and made a thumping noise as I stepped on it.  I walked forward and examined the grave of Dorcas Higginbotham, apparently aged 100 years at the time of her death.  Suddenly, I heard the stone step thump, as if someone had followed me into the cemetery.  Spinning around, it seemed I was alone.

The cemetery in Bara-Hack.

That was when things started to get weird.  Down the hill from the cemetery, I heard a dog barking, followed by a strange clopping noise.  As the noise got closer, it finally registered in my brain.  It sounded exactly like a horse hooves clopping up a stone path.  That sound was suddenly replaced by a crash in the woods behind me.  Although I couldn’t see anything, it definitely sounded big.  Crap, it this hunting season?  Great, here I am in my tan hoodie looking all deer-like.  Worried Dick Cheney might appear at any second, I figured it was time to skedaddle. 

They say the village of Bara-Hack has been officially uninhabited since the late 1800s.  In my opinion, that’s a flat out lie.  After my experience in the cemetery, I was sure I’d have some good stuff to share with you.  However, nothing came up in the pictures and nothing out of the ordinary on the audio.  I hate when that happens.  Well, you know what this means–I’ll be back to get my proof.  They say the cemetery is particularly active between 10pm and 11pm.  I’ll just have to make sure to bring my partner in crime.  What, you think I’m scared to go alone at night?  You’re damn right I am.  Two words folks–mountain lions. 

Be safe, and happy hunting.

 

Chris the Ghostbuster can be reached at eblues31@aol.com.

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