A Visit to Dudleytown

Did you know that in a dark corner of Connecticut lies the “scariest place in New England?” Of all of the New England folklore about witches, hauntings and hangings, Connecticut’s own Dudleytown is the scariest!
Since the release of movies like the “Blair Witch Project,” the cursed forest has been closed to visitors. Fortunately, I had a chance to visit Dudleytown before doing so was considered trespassing.
There are many stories that surround the ancient New England town, and I can only pass on my version of what befell the tiny town.
In the year 1510 Edmund Dudley was beheaded for plotting to overthrow the King of England, King Henry VIII. It was then a curse was placed stating all Dudleys from Edmund Dudley’s lineage would be surrounded by horrors. Not to be outdone, Edmund’s son John Dudley also tried to overthrow the king by marrying his son to Lady Jane Grey. They were both beheaded. John Dudley’s third son decided to get the heck out of there and headed for America.
Descendents of these Dudleys eventually settled in a small part of Cornwall called Dudleytown. The entrance to Dudleytown is off Dark Entry Road, so named because of the bleak forest that surrounds it. The area is surrounded by three larger mountains, and the forest lies in the shadows of those mountains. The forest is high, about 1,100 feet, and the soil is filled with rocks. Isaac Stiles lived in the area and said: “Nature out of her boundless Store, Threw Rocks together and did no more.” Therefore cultivating the land took lots of work, as shown by the many stone walls built throughout the area. Early settlers felled timber which was used to make wood coal for the Litchfield County Iron Furnace. Most of the mills closed since it was so hard to get the timber down the hill and into town.
The families of Dudleytown were cursed, and many suffered bad luck or death. General Herman Smith was the most famous resident of Dudleytown. He served in the Revolutionary war under George Washington. In 1884 his wife was struck by lightning on their front porch. She died, and he reportedly went mad a short time later.
Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune and most famous for his quote “Go West Young Man,” married a former resident of Dudleytown. His wife took her life one week before he lost his bid for president.
Nathaniel Carter lived in Dudleytown for a short time then moved his family near Binghamton, New York. While he was out hunting, Indians came to his house, killed his wife, abducted his children and scalped him when he returned.
Crops failed, people went crazy or died unexplained deaths, and animals went missing. By 1880 everyone had left except John Brophy. His children disappeared (though some say they ran away after being accused of stealing), his wife went crazy, and he set fire to his home, walking away never to return to Dudleytown.
In 1920 the town was reborn when a cancer doctor from New York City purchased a summer home in Dudleytown. Dr. William Clark began the Dark Entry Forest Association. In the mid 1920’s Dr. Clark was called back to New York for an emergency. When he returned three days later, his wife had gone mad and spent the rest of her life in an institution. There are many explanations for the bad luck that befell the town. The rocky area was found to have a high lead content and may have contaminated the drinking water. The main crop for the town was rye; and when rye is left to decay, it becomes a hallucinogen. This would explain the stories of strange hoofed creatures in the night. “Demons due to bad bread” as one researcher said. Although these same tragedies in a larger population may have gone unnoticed, the fact that so many happened in such a small community is, at the least, odd. Coincidence or curse, we may never know.
One thing I noticed as I walked the long road uphill was the quiet. There was not a bird chirping, a squirrel scampering, or any other sign of life in the forest. I brought along a map of the old town, and as we walked along the old foundations read the stories of the demise of each family. Just as we crossed a small stream and followed a stone wall, there was a loud noise to my left. I hit the ground, scared to death, as a ring neck pheasant flew across the path. That’s the only thing that got my heart pounding in the haunted town.
We do know that Dudleytown is now closed to the public and may cost you a trespassing fine of $75.00 if you decide to try and enter. It is said that Satanists and black witches started having ceremonies in the area of Dudleytown, and cases of animal sacrifice have been cited.
You can’t travel to Dudleytown, but you can experience its lore through books. We have several books on ghosts and haunted places, so check out “Connecticut Ghosts,” “Ghost Hunting,” “Haunted New England” or “Ghost Tracks.”

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