New England Legends Podcast
Each week, folklorist, author, and historian Jeff Belanger and radio host Ray Auger explore the ghosts, monsters, folklore, history, and legends of New England. If you give us about ten minutes, we’ll give you something strange to talk about today. The bizarre is closer than you think!
The Witch of Pepperell
In Episode 199, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger search for the lost village of North Pepperell, Massachusetts. Once a bustling center of commerce back in the early 1800s, all that’s left today are a few cellar holes and former foundations sinking into the woods. The reason the village disappeared is because of a witch’s curse placed on the town after the locals drove out a peculiar old woman by branding her face.
The Ghost Who Built a Bridge in Burlington
In Episode 198, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger take a drive up Lakeside Avenue in Burlington, Vermont, searching for a train bridge built by a ghost. In June of 1900, Mary Blair was killed crossing the train tracks in front of the Queen City Cotton Mill. The event triggered a haunting that made the newspapers, with reports coming from inside the mill late at night, and out on the tracks where the accident occurred.
The Strange Legends of Mt. Moosilauke
In Episode 197, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger hike the Appalachian Trail up to Mt. Moosilauke near Benton in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, in search of three hikers who went missing in a ravine long ago, and an immortal mad doctor who abducts the unsuspecting to perform ungodly experiments.
The Haunted Homestead of Daniel Benton
In Episode 196, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger check out the haunted Daniel Benton Homestead in Tolland, Connecticut. This three-centuries-old home has seen a lot of human activity, but it was a tragic event that took place in the winter of 1777 between two star-crossed lovers caught between a war and a deadly virus that still haunts us today.
Nerve Tonic that Launched a War
In Episode 195, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger explore Union, Maine, tracing the steps of Dr. Augustin Thompson, a local man who developed a nerve tonic in 1876 that would eventually launch a war that continues to this day. After moving to Lowell, Massachusetts, Dr. Thompson added a key ingredient that turned his medicine into a New England staple, and eventually introduced the world to a new word that’s synonymous with guts, spunk, grit, and determination.
A Haunted House in Portsmouth
In Episode 194, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger head to Union Street in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, to search for the long-lost location of a haunted farmhouse that made the newspapers back in 1887. Though it was reported to be haunted before a tragic event left a final scar, after a child was lost inside, the building rotted away to nothing except a spooky story almost lost to the ages.
A Boston Book Bound in Human Skin
In Episode 193, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger explore the Boston Athenaeum in search of a rare book -- the 1837 memoirs and deathbed confession of thief and highwayman James Allen, alias George Walton (among others). Allen’s dying wish was to have one copy of the book bound in leather made from the skin of his own back. That one copy is embossed with the Latin: Hic Liber Waltonis Cute Compactus Est. - This book is bound in the skin of Walton.
The Monsters and Mysteries of Lake Willoughby
In Episode 192, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger dive into the legends of Lake Willoughby in Westmore, Vermont. From Devil’s Rock, to a giant serpent, to a mysteries underwater tunnel that may connect to another nearby lake, Willoughby is home to many strange legends. Devil’s Rock is still here, and we found newspaper articles related to the killing of the giant serpent, but could a descendant of that giant beast still be lurking in these cold waters?
The Ghost of Nancy Barton
In Episode 191, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger explore the woods around the Notchland Inn in Hart’s Location, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, searching for the ghost of Nancy Barton. In the winter of 1788, Nancy left her boarding house in Jefferson, New Hampshire, to trek 30 miles through the snow to chase down her faithless lover who had stolen all of her money the previous morning. Not only are the nearby brook, pond, falls, and mountain named after her, but her ghost is still said to roam the area.
A Witch, a Rock, and a Pirate’s Treasure
In Episode 190, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger hike into the woods of Kent, Connecticut, in search of Molly Fisher Rock, a boulder with strange petroglyphs, with ties to an old folk healer from the late 1700s, and a possible connection to a cursed pirate treasure of Captain Kidd.
The Slaying of Old Bet
In Episode 189, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger visit a memorial off the side of the road in Alfred, Maine, that marks the site where America’s first elephant was gunned down in cold blood back in 1816. The elephant named Old Bet had toured throughout New England for eight years before a jealous farmer named Daniel Davis gunned her down as she approached the town of Alfred. Old Bet was part of one of America’s earliest circuses, and if not for the tiny memorial along Route 4, her legend may be lost forever.
The Druid’s Chair and Witch’s Altar
In Episode 188, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger explore the woods of Narragansett, Rhode Island, in search of a strange configuration of stone monuments locals call the Druid’s chair and Witch’s Altar. In the 1880s, these monuments and the house across the street were built by eccentric Spiritualist Joseph Peace Hazard. Though Hazard built these structures, he would tell you the design was dictated by spirits, but for what purpose? He never knew.
A Banned Beard in Massachusetts
In Episode 187, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger head to Leominster, Massachusetts, in search of Joseph Palmer and Silas Lampson, two men who were persecuted and even jailed for wearing a beard in the 1830s. Though they were both devout Christians, they were attacked, mocked, and even accused of being in league with the devil, all for sporting facial hair. Though both men would live to see the times change, these non-conformists suffered due to the ugliest and most judgmental aspects to society.
The Demon Vampire of Manchester
In Episode 186, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger lurk the streets of downtown Manchester, Vermont, searching for a demon vampire. In 1793, the body of Consumption victim Rachel Harris Burton was exhumed after three years in the ground. Her vital organs were cut from her chest and burned in a nearby forge. Those ashes were then fed to Isaac Burton’s second wife, Hulda, in an effort to break the vampire’s spell. When there’s a plague, monsters are never far behind.
The Deerfield Booms
In Episode 185, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger head to Deerfield, New Hampshire, in search of a 175-year-old mystery thundering from below ground. Between 1834 and 1846, a series of explosions emanating from below ground were reported in the southern part of town. The sounds were as loud as cannon fire, and the concussion could knock over a stone wall. The only problem is no source was ever found, and earthquakes don’t behave this way. The events made the local papers for years. Scared locals pleaded with the scientific community for answers, but none could be found. Some speculate it could be...
The Strongest Man in New England
In Episode 184, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger don their gym shorts and pump some iron in Voluntown, Connecticut, while they search for Elmer Bitgood: the strongest man in New England. Bitgood kept himself in the newspapers between 1909 and 1916 by performing various feats of strength, including lifting 2600 pounds in front of reporters! But when you make bold claims, others will come gunning for you. Enter Bartello the Great for a potential showdown.
The Haunting of Nordica Auditorium
In Episode 183, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger explore the haunted Nordica Auditorium on the campus of the University of Maine, Farmington. Lillian Nordica was an opera singer from Farmington who rose to international fame in the 1880s. Unlucky at love, but adored by millions, she’s considered the first American Diva. They say her ghost can still be heard warming up in the auditorium named after her.
Should Have Been the Wife of Simeon Palmer
In Episode 182, for Valentine’s Day, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger visit a Little Compton, Rhode Island, cemetery in search of the grave of Elizabeth, whose epitaph reads: Should have been the wife of Simeon Palmer. Elizabeth died in 1776. Was her epitaph an indication that she’s still pining for Simeon, the guy who got away? Or is there something else behind the strange message?
The Haunted Schoolhouse
In Episode 181, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger stroll down Charles Street in Newburyport, Massachusetts, searching for a haunted schoolhouse. Back in 1870, the schoolhouse ghosts kept this building in the newspapers for years to come, drawing in the curious and the skeptical. Much was published on the details of this on-going haunting that rattled the students and the poor teacher.
The Wreck of the Montreal Express
In Episode 180, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger travel to the banks of the White River in Hartford, Vermont, searching for ghostly legends that dates back to 1887, when the Montreal Express train jumped the track just before bridge. The event led to a horrific loss of life, it changed the way the rail system operates, and left a stain on this region that can never be washed away.
The Derry Fairy
In Episode 179, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger explore the shores of Beaver Lake in Derry, New Hampshire, searching for the Derry Fairy. In the 1600s, Tsienneto, came to the lake and built shelter on an enchanted island in the middle. While hunting near the lake, he had a run-in with the local Pawtucket people. The capture lead to prophecy and legend with later ties to colonists and even (possibly) the United States space program.
Franklin’s Cursed Apple
In Episode 178, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger head to Peck’s Hollow in Franklin, Connecticut, in search of Micah Rood’s former farm and a cursed apple tree that dates back to an alleged murder from the early 1700s. For many decades, folks in eastern Connecticut had to wonder when they bit into a Mike apple if those red specs were just pigmentation, or drops of blood from a murdered French peddler.
Harbor Master Andre the Seal
In Episode 177, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger explore the shores of Rockport Harbor in Maine, searching for the legend of a seal who stole the hearts of locals and tourists from 1961 to 1986. Andre the seal was adopted by Harry Goodridge when he was two days old, then became a local fixture. His story led to books, a statue, and even a Hollywood movie. But not everyone loved Andre.
The Haunted Sprague Mansion
In Episode 176, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger return to the scene of a New Year’s Eve murder in Cranston, Rhode Island, in search of the events that lead to the haunting of the Governor Sprague Mansion. The accused man was hanged in 1845, but posthumously pardoned in 2011. So who done it? And who haunts the Sprague Mansion today?
Boston’s Christmas Tree
In Episode 175, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger stroll Boston Common to see this year’s Christmas tree. The tree is an annual gift from the people of Halifax, Nova Scotia – a gift that traces its roots back to a horrible tragedy that took place December 6, 1917, when a French ship carrying munitions exploded, instantly killing hundreds of people, and injuring thousands more. Out of this dark day came a bright light of hope when neighbors reached out to help neighbors.
The Snowflake Man of Jericho
In Episode 174, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger head to Jericho, Vermont, in search of snow. In 1885, Wilson Bentley figured out a way to attach his camera to a microscope and capture the first close-up photograph of a snowflake. In the coming years he would photograph thousands of images showing the intricate beauty of these ice crystals. His images would be published around the world and even hang in art galleries proving no two flakes are alike and earning Bentley the title: Snowflake Man.
The Barefoot Farmer of Pawtuckaway
In Episode 173, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger hike up to an old cellar hole and cemetery in Pawtuckaway State Park in New Hampshire, in search of an eccentric photographer from the late 1800s named George Goodrich. However, folks around the nearby town of Raymond called him: The Barefoot Farmer. Though he looked like a disheveled vagabond to the untrained eye of tourists, locals knew he was one of the wealthiest men in town.
Slave Traders and Grave Robbers
In Episode 172, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger hike through a Bristol, Rhode Island, cemetery searching for a burial mound and crime scene. In the woods behind this small cemetery sits a mound of dirt containing the robbed crypt of Captain James DeWolf, a former slave trader who whose grave was desecrated in 1842. Today this crypt is a once-prominent family’s dirty secret.
Whitman’s Legendary Chocolate Chip Cookie
In Episode 171, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger spend Thanksgiving in a Whitman, Massachusetts, parking lot located between a fast food restaurant and a chain drug store in search of the sacred birthplace of the one of America’s most beloved holiday baked goods: the Toll House Chocolate Chip cookie. In 1938, Ruth Wakefield’s kitchen concoction turned from a happy accident into a nation-wide phenomenon. We’ll find out how!
The Vampires of Griswold, Connecticut
In Episode 170, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger drive through the suburbs of Griswold, Connecticut, in search of a vampire unearthed by state archaeologist Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni back in 1990. The vampire, dubbed J.B. 55, may have been Griswold’s first vampire, but he would not be the last. As we’ve seen before, vampires show up in times of plagues. We can’t help but wonder if they’re poised to return.
The Ghost Ship Dash of Casco Bay
In Episode 169, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger sail out from Freeport, Maine, in search of the ghost ship Dash, a merchant brig and privateer made famous during the War of 1812. In January of 1815, Dash sailed into a storm and into legend when she vanished. But that wasn’t the last of her. They say for years to come the ghost ship Dash would sail into Casco Bay when some loved one from the lost crew was ready to pass on.
General Ethan Allen’s Missing Corpse
In Episode 168, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger stroll the grounds of Green Mount Cemetery in Burlington, Vermont, searching for the mortal remains of war hero General Ethan Allen. A 42-foot-tall monument to Allen stands as the tallest structure in the cemetery, however, his bones are NOT buried there. So where IS the body of Ethan Allen today?
Halloween at the Lizzie Borden House
In Episode 167, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger go trick-or-treating at the haunted Lizzie Borden House and Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts. In this Halloween special, we explore the infamous case from August 4, 1892, and the haunt the double-murder left behind. We walk room-by-room with tour guide Sue as we take in the house, examine crime scene photos, and sit where Andrew Borden’s skull was crushed in while he napped. Happy Halloween!
The Devil Baked Beans at Purgatory Falls
In Episode 166, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger hike up to Purgatory Falls in Lyndeborough, New Hampshire, searching for the Devil’s Footprint and the Devil’s Bean Pot. How were these unique stone features formed? They say Old Scratch came calling one day, and tried to cook lunch for some local ministers.
Aunt Lonnie of Tucker Hollow Road
In Episode 165, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger stroll down Tucker Hollow Road in Foster, Rhode Island, in search of the ghost of Aunt Lonnie – a hermit of a woman who placed a curse on her house. Her wish upon her death was that her home be dismantled so no one else could ever live there. Today she still haunts the old dirt road.
Bank Street’s Haunted Stove
In Episode 164, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger head back to 1930 to Bank Street in New Milford, Connecticut, to explore the legend of a haunted stove. For two weeks, the strange phenomenon of the talking stove behind a Bank Street restaurant drew in thousands of witnesses and made international news. Where were those ghostly voices coming from?
Rockland’s Ghostly Severed Head
In Episode 163, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger travel back to October of 1940 in Rockland, Maine, to explore the gruesome Halloween murder of Alzada Pauline Young by her stepfather, John Phelps. This true crime has haunted this small town for generations and left residents with a mystery and the ghost of a severed head. A warning to parents listening with their kids, this episode is a little more graphic than our usual offerings. You may want to preview first.
The Bootlegger Queen of Vermont
In Episode 162, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger travel back to 1925 in West Halifax, Vermont – the height of prohibition – to ride shotgun with Hilda Stone, the Bootlegger Queen of Vermont, on one of her many runs to Canada. Stone was drawn into a life of crime after her husband came into financial difficulties, but she stayed for the love of the chase. Stone became an icon in the newspapers, and got arrested more times than you can count on one hand. But she kept coming back to deliver illegal booze to New Englanders.
Sarah Whitcher and the Bear
In Episode 161, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger trek through the woods of Warren, New Hampshire, searching for the legend of a lost little girl named Sarah Whitcher. In 1873, Sarah wandered into the woods by her forest home and was gone an entire day before her family realized she was missing. Folks came from several towns away to help search for days. When a child’s footprints were found near bear tracks, Sarah’s mother almost broke down.
In Episode 160, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger walk up to a tiny pond in Millis, Massachusetts, they say is bottomless, they also say the devil meets with his minions in this spot as a headless ghost circles the pond after being summoned by hobgoblins. They call this mysterious place now nestled into an unassuming neighborhood: The Dinglehole.