The Unexplained, Unsettling, Freaky, and Strange in Our Town
As a late Baby Boomer (I was born in 1963) growing up in Easton, I was well acquainted with local stories of the paranormal and ghosts and strange occurrences, and all that. Southeastern Massachusetts has a rich history of the supposed extrasensory.
Easton itself and its history contain a trove of the strange and unexplained, and maybe unexplainable.
Even the physical disposition of our community supported and abetted weird tales: a town of about 30 square miles, incorporated in 1725, with long and winding roads through low-lying and swampy, wooded areas which issued fog that floated and twisted and configured into apparition-like bodies.
This time last year, I wrote a Halloween “Muscato’s Musings” column in which I touched on some of our spooky past.
If you are a townie of my age, or older, one of the stories you almost certainly heard is that of the Blue Mist, which is said to be the ghost of aviation pioneer, Fred Ames, who along with his wife, Mademoiselle Maurice Mozette, was killed in 1932 when the plane he was flying crashed in Randolph en route from Boston to the Ames family villa in Newport.
Fred Ames, only 29 when he died, often flew in and out of the Ames family airport located on property on which is now Stonehill College.
I remember one summer, when I was at basketball camp at Stonehill, we tried to create our own mist, and freak out an unsuspecting soul, by lighting a smoke bomb in one of the hallways of O’Hara Hall I don’t know if the smoke bomb we used put out blue smoke or not. It did emit a good billow of smoke, but it looked like smoke, not a ghost. No one was scared.
Maybe six years ago, I heard for the first time about a ghost – the ghost of little girl – who walks or glides over the area around Barrows Street, Frothingham Hall and the Schoolhouse Apartments.
Perhaps the busiest place for paranormal activity in town is up along Bay Road in front of the Wheaton Farm Barn, and in the fields across the street from the barn – and in the Daniel Wheaton House, which is that straight front colonial (yes, built in the colonial period), also across from the barn.
There has been more than one sighting of a ghost, or something ghostlike up there. One gentleman thought he saw the other-worldly image of a woman’s spirit crossing the street in front of him.
One evening I was talking to a woman, who had graduated from Oliver Ames High School in 1980, and who lived in Norton, and who I knew used to drive past Wheaton Farm at night on her way home. I told her that someone thought he had seen a ghost up there, and her face took on expression of mild astonishment, and she said, excitedly, “Ross, I saw something up there.” Whatever this woman saw she could not precisely categorize, but it was something with which she was not familiar.
As for the Daniel Wheaton House, I know the family that lived there in the 1960s through the late 1980s, and the stories family members told about the place could give you the willies. There was the time a family member was home alone on the first floor of the house, and she heard footsteps upstairs; there was the plate held down by an unseen force when one of the boys in the family tried to pick it up; there was the faucet which turned on by itself and water poured forth in a gusher.
On October 20, 2005, the Boston Globe published a story I wrote on the Hockomock Swamp, which is the largest freshwater swamp in Massachusetts, comprising almost 17,000 acres and which extends across parts of Easton, Bridgewater, Norton, Raynham, Taunton, and West Bridgewater. The story was a Halloween themed story, and it focused on the considerable heritage of stories of ghosts and the unexplained and unsettling and downright weird that are set in the swamp.
There are many who are in to the paranormal who believe that the Hockomock is a place saturated with the spiritual and ghostly energy. Indeed, the First People of our area, the Wampanoag, gave the swamp its name; in their language Hockomock means, “place where spirits dwell,” which can be taken at least a couple ways: good spirits manifest in the plentiful deer, pheasant, turkey, and fish which fed the Wampanoag; and bad spirits which could be unhappy and frightening.
If there is a source of unsettled spirits in the swamp, it may have been the bloody King Philip’s War which went down in areas around the Hockomock Swamp in 1675 into 1676. It was a real-life horror show that pitted recently arrived colonists against Native Americans. Both sides massacred, and both sides suffered greatly.
Among the comments and responses I have received on the Hockomock Swamp Halloween story, were those of a gentleman who sent me an email which included this remembrance:
Back between 1958-1960, I spent a week at my cousin's house on Sachem road in the Norton Grove area, which borders the Hockomock Swamp area and those towns mentioned in your article. I was either 10 or 11 and Norton was a country-like town and sparsely populated. Your article sent shivers up my spine and brought back vivid and distinctive memories. My cousin and I were deep in the woods behind his house on Sachem road when I saw and Indian squaw lady standing on a tree stump in the middle of the woods. My cousin remembers seeing something. We all got spooked and ran back to the house.
Another person wrote me an email in which he noted, “I have been in the Hockomock and have yet to see anything but I do feel a weird presence or something like that.”
(I wrote an Easton Patch column on the swamp which has a broader focus than just the paranormal stuff.)
Alyson (Sousa) Larrabee, an Easton native and OA grad, who has taught English in Easton since the mid 1970s, recently published a young adult horror ebook, a novel, The Ghost of Him, which is set in the “Hockomock Triangle" – a name which is a combination of the "Hockomock Swamp" and the "Bridgewater Triangle," an area that has had many ghost and UFO sightings and which contains the Hockomock Swamp.
To download Ms. Larabee’s book for free, please go here.
I’ve heard about other ghosts and hauntings and strange happenings in Easton. I will discuss them in a column down the road.
If you have any ghost or stories of the unexplained that have a tie to Easton, I encourage you to share them in the “comments” section below.