Lying abandoned in the valley of the Dark Entry Forest in northwestern Connecticut is the very creepy Dudleytown. Or, more accurately, a portion of Cornwall that gained a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in the U.S.
Settled as a village in the 1740s, Dudleytown supposedly got its name from the Dudley family. However, research and records show that the land was once considered sacred and occupied by the Mohawk Nation. These facts haven’t deterred would-be ghost-hunters and paranormal enthusiasts from building a chilling legend around the history of the town that never really existed.
Believed to be the ultimate site of strange occurrences, untimely deaths, and restless spirits, this abandoned settlement is now popularly known as “the village of the damned.” Keep reading as we explore ten creepy secrets about the so-called Dudleytown and peel back the layers of this persistent and unsettling urban legend.
10 The Vanishing Village
Dudleytown flourished for a time, but its decline was swift. Settled as an agricultural community, its location in the Dark Entry Forest came with many challenges. This included rocky, infertile soil. Tired of struggling to grow food, people moved away to more fertile lands.
A darker version of the story says that the Dudley family brought a curse with them when they traveled from England to Connecticut. Legend has it that one of the Dudley ancestors had a hand in the trial and execution of King Charles I. Others say King Henry VI was the one executed. Either way, afterward, the family and anyone close to them apparently began experiencing not only terrible misfortune but terrifying paranormal activity. These experiences included disease, crop failures, and mysterious deaths. This was also apparently the real reason behind the abandonment of Dudleytown.
Another version of the legend says that English noblemen who lost their heads for treason are behind the curse that plagued the settlement. It is even said that Ed Warran believed the curse started when a Dudley ancestor, who happened to be a judge, started sentencing people to death for witchcraft.
Of course, there is no proof of any curse or even that the Dudley family was in any way connected to the part of Cornwall that some people stubbornly refer to as Dudleytown. But still, the rumors persist.
9 The Unexplained Madness
As more and more inhabitants left the settlement, strange things began to happen to the ones who chose to stay. Locals apparently spoke in hushed tones of seeing their neighbors descending into a state of insanity. Some saw unexplained visions and experienced horrifying hallucinations. Many believe that the alleged curse and the negative energy surrounding it played a huge role in the mental deterioration of those who stayed.
A man named Abiel also chose to remain in the village. First, he lost his fortune. Then, he lost his mind. Because his neighbors believed he was insane, his property was sold right out from under him. Then, Abiel’s friend, Gershon Hollister, suddenly died while building a barn for his neighbor, William Tanner. Shortly after Hollister’s death, Tanner began speaking of creatures that would come out of the surrounding woods at night. No one believed him, thinking he had dementia.
A man called Nathaniel Carter then moved into what used to be Abiel’s home. He’d hardly had time to settle in before several of his relatives died from a so-called plague. The remaining family members, including Carter himself, fled to Delaware, but rumor has it that the curse followed them. Carter, his wife, and one of his children died when an indigenous tribe whose land they’d decided to build on attacked them.
But since this is just another ghost story, none of that happened, right? Or, as some still believe, maybe rotting rye created mold, which led to Tanner’s hallucinations, which means the entire curse is just a case of bad bread and embellished stories.
8 The Silence of the Dark Entry Forest
Let’s move on to the enigma that is the Dark Entry Forest. The forest was incorporated in 1924, and by 1927, around 10,000 trees had been planted, mostly red pine. However, by 1936, the pine shoot moth badly damaged the red pine trees, and the following summer, devasting fires destroyed most of the walnut seedlings in the forest.
Norway pines replaced the destroyed trees. In 1940, Japanese chestnut trees and hybrid poplars thrived here. At that time, the forest was already a popular spot for sports and horseback riding.
Despite the beauty of its setting, the forest gained and retained a reputation for being haunted. This was mainly because of the abandoned Dudleytown settlement. Some who dared set foot here after dark reported experiencing an oppressive silence. It is said that the silence is so thick it feels nearly suffocating. Birds and animals become strangely absent when the silence engulfs the forest.
Those who live in the vicinity of the forest today have no patience with these rumors and say that there is nothing haunted about their woods. Yet, there is more to the story.
7 The Ghosts of Dudleytown
One version of the Carter tale says that the family fled Dudleytown and settled in a rural area in Binghamton, New York. However, the curse wouldn’t let go of them. Natives slaughtered every last family member. Yet another legend says the family was murdered in Dudleytown while their father was away on business. Those who believe Dudleytown is haunted whisper about the Carter family ghosts and their screams that still echo in the ruins of their house.
The ghosts of Dudleytown apparently also include that of Gershon Hollister, who appears as a shadowy figure or a distressed voice calling out for help.
Even though residents in the nearby area want nothing to do with the ghost stories, they won’t stop. One story tells of a group of teenagers who tried to explore Dudleytown late one evening and ended up being chased by a shadow. Initially sighing in relief as they got to their car, they couldn’t help but scream when they turned around to find the shadow right behind them.
One man reported seeing the ghost of Abiel Dudley on the porch of his ruined house. The man also said he could see right through the figure on the porch and that he looked sad. Residents in the area continue to watch out for trespassers on the private property that is Dudleytown. But this hasn’t stopped the rumors or the alleged mysterious disappearances linked to this ghost town.
6 Mysterious Disappearances
It is believed that the last resident of Dudleytown, John Patrick Brophy, spent the rest of his life searching for his wife and children after they disappeared without a trace in the early 1900s. Some believed that they were kidnapped and tortured by the Dudleytown ghosts, while others were of the opinion that they fell into the clutches of a serial killer. Either way, they were never seen again.
There have also been a number of more recent disappearances in Dudleytown. In 1945, a group of teenagers went into the woods here and never returned. In 1975, Susan Denham decided to hike in the woods and disappeared. She never returned. And, as recently as 2019, a group of ghost hunters went to Dudleytown to see if they could capture footage of the rumored paranormal activity. While there, one of the group members, David, seemingly vanished into thin air. Fortunately, David resurfaced a few days later but had no memory of what had happened to him.
This is where things get tricky. Residents nearby believe that because the area is a popular hiking and camping destination, there would be more disappearances if the rumors of ghosts and such were true. The Connecticut State Police have even investigated the alleged disappearances but found nothing to support them. A journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act request in 2019, but police responded by saying there had been no missing persons cases reported in the area believed to be Dudleytown in the last twenty years.
Yet, the intrigue, hearsay, and reports of strange anomalies continue. a href=”https://www.americanhauntingsink.com/dudleytown#:~:text=For%20many%20years%2C%20ghost%20hunters,family%20to%20the%20New%20World.” rel=”noopener noreferrer” target=”_blank”>
5 Animal Anomalies
These anomalies include unexpected animal behavior. For instance, some visitors to Dudleytown have claimed that their dogs refuse to enter the woods here. Others become aggressive and agitated when approaching the place. Some people have reported stumbling across wounded animals in Dudleytown. They said that the animals’ injuries couldn’t have been caused by predators or traps. Some have even reported seeing deer and other wild animals standing perfectly still for hours on end.
Just like human disappearances, several pets have allegedly gone missing in the Dark Entry Forest, too. Some are still missing, and others returned home weeks later, appearing stressed or traumatized. Rumors still abound that an otherworldly phenomenon, such as a dimensional portal or magnetic deviation, may be to blame for the weird animal behavior.
4 Nocturnal Sounds
In defiance of those who refuse to believe that any part of Dudleytown is paranormal, the reports of terrifying sights and sounds continue. In addition to weird animal behavior, there are reports of blood-curdling screams emanating from the woods or whispers traveling through the trees in the dark. Those brave enough to enter the forest at night have heard heavy footsteps behind them only to turn around and find nothing there. Others say they heard loud, clanking chains rattling and menacing animal growls like that of a wolf. Perhaps most eerie of all are the reports of haunting music drifting through the misty woods at night.
Again, opinions are mixed. While some visitors to the area remain convinced that Dudleytown was a real place and built on the site of an ancient burial ground, others roll their eyes at what they deem to be just another urban legend. And still, the reports continue. Some hear strange noises, others see weird lights flickering in the trees, and then some believe that when the Devil’s Breath settles over the forest, the ghouls come out to play.
3 The Devil’s Breath
The Devil’s Breath is the creepy nickname given to a supposed mist that rises up from the Dark Entry Forest floor. Those who buy into the legends surrounding Dudleytown believe the mist is poisonous and will kill anyone who inhales it instantly.
This rumor originated in the early 1800s when Dudleytown thrived as a mining community. The number of accidents in the iron mines rose sharply, and many miners were killed. Some mining families believed that the Devil’s Breath was to blame for the accidents and a punishment from God for the town’s sins. To this day, some believe that toxic gas is released from the forest floor when the sun sets.
Here’s the kicker, though: In 2016, a group of ghost hunters set up a camera and microphone in the Dark Entry Forest, leaving them running overnight. The eventual footage showed a mist appearing in the forest and moving erratically. The microphone caught noises that sounded like whispers and footsteps.
Naturally, the ghost hunters were elated at their “proof,” but still, naysayers refused to believe that anything supernatural happened. Instead, they believed that the footage was either faked or a trick of the light combined with animal or wind noises.
2 The Veil between Worlds
Another urban legend scoffed at by locals is the one that says Dudleytown is the place where a tear in the veil between our world and the spirit realm exists. This metaphysical barrier is at its thinnest in Dudleytown, and the tear makes it easy for spirits to cross over. It is said the remote and isolated location of Dudleytown makes it the perfect place for the barrier to stay hidden. Paranormal investigators have long hoped to find solid evidence of this veil but have had no luck so far.
So, why, then, if the evidence is so scant and, in many instances, unbelievable, would Dudleytown be off-limits to the general public?
1 Closed for Your Protection
The official reason for the abandoned Dudleytown being closed to the public is because of excessive trespassing and vandalism. Also, the place lies within the boundaries of private property, and the owners are not interested in having ghost-hunting parties crisscrossing their land.
However, there are also darker reasons, according to those who believe Dudleytown is the personification of evil. They are of the opinion that the public is banned from Dudleytown for their own protection. This means the ghosts of the miners and cursed families can’t wreak havoc on the living, and weird mist and growling animals won’t come near them either.
In reality, the most likely explanation is that Dudleytown, or this particular part of Cornwall in Connecticut, is only accessible by a few narrow roads. It is a dangerous place to visit, seeing as how it is surrounded by dense forests, which makes it easy to get lost. Moreover, there are several environmental hazards, including flooding, landslides, and the safety hazards that are the town’s abandoned iron mines.
Even so, the scary legends about the town that never existed refuse to die down. Does that mean there’s some truth to them? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.