Friday, August 9, 2013

Haunted Hamptons

Since it’s the summer and many Long Islanders are flocking to the Hamptons, I figured I’d mention some ghostly hot spots you may want to check out in your travels. 

Halsey House is the oldest dwelling still standing in the town of Southampton. Built in 1648, it has a wonderful history and some ghost tales to boot. Owned and maintained by the Southampton Historical Society, you can call ahead and see when the building is open. It remains today as a museum, and is a wonderful example of the houses and lifestyles of the early settlers.  

The house was lived in by Thomas and Elizabeth Wheeler Halsey and their family. A tragedy is said to have occurred on the property, although the exact date is unknown. According to local lore, Elizabeth was attacked and scalped by three Pequot Indians who came down from New England. The Pequots Indians were a very aggressive tribe. The incident was mentioned in “Chronicles of the Pequot Wars” written by Lion Gardiner in 1660. He wrote about “the three Indians involved in a cruel and treacherous murder of an English woman in Southampton.” After the attack, the local townspeople became quite alarmed, and it created great tension within the town as well as with the local Indian tribes of the Shinnecocks and Montauks. 

Because of the brutal attack, even today, many people assume the old building must be haunted by the ghost of Mrs. Halsey. Cold spots have been picked up in the house, along with an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) of a man’s voice saying “Out.” Another EVP was of an older woman’s voice saying “I’m tired.” Could this be the voice of Mrs. Halsey? 

Not too far away from Halsey House is the grand Greek Revival home known as the Rogers Mansion, which is currently the headquarters for the Southampton Historical Museum. Built in 1843, the Rogers Mansion was the home of whaling Captain Albert Rogers who lived there with his family until his death in 1854. The land the house was built on had been in the Rogers family since 1644, around the time when Southampton was founded. The Rogers family continued to live in the house until after Albert’s death until 1889. A Dr. John Nugent then purchased the house, added a carriage house, and lived there for ten years. In 1899, well-known philanthropist Samuel Parrish purchased it and began making additions in 1911.

Eventually the house became a Red Cross, a YMCA and then finally a historical museum. During this time, several employees experienced phenomena that could not be explained. Sounds of furniture being moved upstairs when no one was there was often heard, along with footsteps coming down the hall. Other strange sounds would come from the second floor, the attic and the widow’s peak. None of them could be explained. During our investigation there, the “ghost meter” (electromagnetic field indicator) picked up a lot of energy in the butler’s pantry. Cold spots were also felt.  

It is believed that one or more ghosts haunt the old mansion, possibly that of a Cordelia Rogers, Captains Rogers’ second wife, or even Mary Rogers, his first wife, who happens to be the sister of Cordelia. Whoever it is, the energy seems like it’s definitely feminine, according to museum employees.

On the old 135-acre college campus nearby, sits the haunted windmill of Southampton. Once referred to as the Mill Hill Windmill, and then later the College Mill, it is said to be haunted by the ghost of a little girl.

The windmill was built in 1713 in the English style, which differs greatly from the Dutch type, and it was used for grinding flour and feed. When the windmill was no longer needed it was going to be torn down. A local woman by the name of Mrs. William Hoyt couldn’t bear to see it destroyed, so she purchased it from Captain Warren, it’s owner, in 1890. A team of horses pulled it to where it now sits.

In 1896, Mrs. Hoyt sold her property to Arthur B. Claflin, a textile magnate from New York City who wanted to build an estate in Shinnecock Hills that would be used as a “summer cottage.” Construction on the new home began in 1898. He was thrilled with the old windmill that was located just a few hundred feet from the house. The windmill served as a playhouse for the Claflin’s daughter Beatrice. It was also used to entertain guests for afternoon tea, and it became a conversation piece because it was so unusual.  

According to legend, Beatrice fell down the steep windmill steps, broke her neck and died there. During my research, I could not find any evidence to prove this, but rumor has it that when the windmill became part of the college campus, students would often report seeing the face of a small girl peering out from its windows when nobody was there.  

So if you find yourself out and about in Southampton this month, check out these local historical sites. Maybe you too, will happen to find a ghost there.