Abandoned castles, buildings, and other such structures are believed to act as a magnet for negative energy. The same happened to the cursed “Village of Voices”. In 1778, two English colonists named Johnathan Randall Esq. and Obediah Higinbotham evacuated their homes on the coast of Cranston, Rhode Island, in anticipation of a British attack during the Battle of Rhode Island.
They settled in Pomfret, Connecticut, where they founded Higginbotham Linen Wheels, which supplied flax spinning to the surrounding areas. It became the nascent village of Bara-Hack, a Welsh name generally translated as “the breaking of bread.”
It was a small village, consisting of a few houses and farms, slave quarters, a community cemetery, and a water wheel-powered textile mill. It was more of a collection of a few homesteads than a complete village, with its inhabitants living a basic, quiet existence. However, gloomy days lay ahead for this tranquil hamlet, and it would earn a reputation as a highly haunted, possibly cursed, location.
Following the deaths of its founding family, the mill fell into disrepair and the village faded away, until it was fully abandoned sometime after the Civil War, becoming a feral, weed-infested collection of ruins suitable for scary stories. Nonetheless, legends of mysterious events in Bara-Hack circulated long before it became a decrepit husk.
It appears to have begun in the late 18th century, with whispered reports among the slaves on the property of shadow figures lurking around, as well as gremlin-like creatures the size of young children and a ghostly baby, but the legends really took off following the settlement’s abandonment.
With the inhabitants gone and nature coming to reclaim the property, all kinds of scary tales about the decaying relics of this creepy location began to emerge. Individuals exploring around the site would return with tales of shadowy apparitions, the ghost of a bearded man, and the spirit of a very little child, as well as orbs and unusual streaks of light dancing across the cemetery, but the most constant phenomenon is the sheer volume of noise.
Witnesses throughout history have recorded hearing disembodied speech, laughter, crying, and screaming, as well as the sound of waggon wheels scraping across the dirt, the creaking and turning of an ancient mill, and farm animals, among other less identifiable abnormal sounds.
On occasion, the ruins are said to spring to life with a cacophony of noises that create the illusion of a flourishing village, with the sounds of everyday life reverberating over the lifeless ruins and weeds, to the point where it has been dubbed the “Village of Voices.” Odell Shepard, a Harvard and Radcliffe College lecturer in 1927, took a look at this abandoned site and wrote about it:
Here they had their houses, represented today by a few gaping cellar holes out of which tall trees were growing; but here is the village of voices. For the place is peopled still although there is no habitation. Yet there is always a hum and stir of human life. They hear the laughter of children at play.
They hear the voices of mothers who have long been dust calling their children into their homes that are mere holes in the earth. They hear snatches of song… and the rumble of wagon wheels along the old road. It is as though sounds were able in this place to get around that incomprehensible corner to pierce that mysterious soundproof wall that we call time.
Naturally, such tales have piqued the interest of ghost hunters for centuries, and several of these trips stand out as exceptionally strange. Paul Eno, a paranormal researcher, conducted an investigation of the property in August and October 1971 and was not disappointed. According to Eno’s book Faces at the Window, this inquiry might be described as follows:
They made their way to the village, where they were immediately struck with several strange phenomena: They felt an overwhelming sense of depression in the area; they heard the constant barking of dogs, lowing of cows and the occasional human voice; and they noticed the complete absence of birds, which was rare for that time of year.
After two and a quarter hour of exploration, the group left and came back at 7:15 that evening. As they set up their recording equipment, they individually began to hear voices – voices coming from the Mashomoquet Brook, which ran through the village. The voices were of laughter – the laughter of children.
The team returned again on October 30th and 31st with new team members, to assure themselves that what they heard wasn’t a group delusion. It turned out to be a very eventful evening. At dusk, the group lost its way while walking towards the burying ground.
They all knew the way, but not one of them could find it. Exasperated, they turned to find one of their new team members frozen in place. He couldn’t move forward and to the left, and was sweating and breathing shallowly.
All of the members of the team tried to move him, but he would only move towards the right and backwards – what they later would learn was AWAY from the cemetery.
Other paranormal investigators have frequently reported similar incidents since then, and the ruins of Bara-Hack have achieved a near-legendary position in the area as a hotbed of paranormal activity. Regrettably for those daring enough to venture here, the remains soon became private property and were closed to the public, littered with “No Trespassing” signs to keep out would-be ghost hunters and curious visitors.
Due to the fact that no one has access to the site at the moment, it’s difficult to speculate on what might be going on here, and we’re left to ponder why this location attracts so many stories. Is this an urban legend or is there more to it? One theory is that this is because the area was cursed by the indigenous Nipmuc people, who originally occupied it before being driven out by white immigrants.
Another possibility is that this location acts as a type of dividing line between different worlds, with what is seen and heard taking place in a parallel realm in another location and time. Other theories refer to this as a time slip or a case of a residual haunting, in which events from the past are imprinted into a location in the same way that images on film are. Whatever is going on here, it’s fairly disturbing, and the location has been lost to time, lurking on the outskirts of the unknown.
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