With Halloween fast approaching, you might be interested in visiting, or at least hearing about, some of the allegedly haunted locations throughout South County, Rhode Island. Even if you don’t believe in the paranormal or supernatural, these venues are full of history and worth checking out if you’re looking for something to do on an autumn day.
Rhode Island has a turbulent, yet fascinating, history that comes alive when you are able to visit these old buildings and read about what happened there in the past. Once you get settled into your new home in South County, make a point of learning more about what happened here over the years; you won’t be disappointed by what you find out.
Dan's Carriage Inn & Saloon
One of the more famous haunted sites in all of Rhode Island is Dan's Carriage Inn & Saloon in North Kingstown, which was once known as Hoof Fin Feathers and dates back to 1760. Countless apparitions have been noted here, including those of several women who appear to be working in a brothel, a girl with scars, and a young boy who is known to interact with visitors.
Other experiences in the building include hearing footsteps, being touched by something when no one is around, and noticing cold spots in various rooms. The saloon was featured on the television show Ghost Hunters, where members of The Atlantic Paranormal Society were able to corroborate some of these experiences.
The saloon is currently open, and although it has been thoroughly renovated, it retains much of its rustic charm and the history surrounding the building provides more than enough reason to give it a try.
The Ladd School
Exeter’s Ladd School has an extremely troubling past, which has led to rumors of the grounds being haunted. In the early 1900s, the building was used as a school for the feeble-minded, and later housed criminals, promiscuous women, and those who were mentally ill. Once in the building, these people were exposed to unspeakable horrors, including being abused by the staff and forced into sterilizations. These people were basically tortured after being forced to stay at the school, and it is estimated that over 5,000 people died there.
In 2012, the last building at the Ladd School was demolished, and the grounds have been completely abandoned. Those who visited the school in the past, however, would often hear screams coming from the various buildings. There were also reports of visitors hearing voices and saying the batteries of any electronic devices they were carrying drain almost immediately after entering.
Chestnut Hill Cemetery
Chestnut Hill Baptist Church Cemetery in Exeter is on this list for one reason: it hosts the grave of Mercy Brown. In 1892, 19-year-old Mercy Brown died of tuberculosis. Her mother and sister had also died of the disease years earlier and her brother, Edwin, became ill at the same time as Mercy.
During this period in New England, there was a local hysteria regarding vampires. People of this era truly believed that vampires existed and were terrified at the thought of the “undead” rising from their graves.
After Mercy's death, there were rumors that at least one member of the family was a vampire, leading to her father, George, giving his permission for villagers and a doctor to exhume the bodies. At this time, it was discovered that Mercy’s body hadn't started to decompose and, allegedly, her hair and fingernails had continued to grow after her burial, causing the townspeople to believe she was "undead."
Mercy's heart was burned to prevent her from rising from the grave in what is one of the most thoroughly documented cases of a body being exhumed during this time. Ever since her exhumation, her ghost has been spotted in the cemetery wearing ripped, dirty clothing, begging anyone who sees her to let her rest in peace.
You can currently visit Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Exeter, and it’s a very modest graveyard, making it easy to locate the tomb of Mercy Brown.
General Stanton Inn
The General Stanton Inn in Charlestown is over 200 years old, having been established in 1667, and is one of the oldest still-operating inns in the entire country. The Stanton family's history on the property is even older, as it goes back to 1655 when Thomas Stanton was gifted the land by Native American tribes after acting as an interpreter for them.
Ghost sightings at the inn are many, as a male apparition has been spotted throughout the property, particularly in the Washington Room, and has been known to touch people from time to time. Numerous visitors also report hearing noises and feeling uneasy throughout their time there. Ghost Hunters television show did an episode at the General Stanton Inn and found it to be a location with paranormal activity.
You can currently take a tour of the General Stanton Inn and have a look at the oldest parts of the building. It is also possible to spend a night there, if you dare...
Various Locations at the University of Rhode Island
The University of Rhode Island has a few haunted sites at its South Kingstown campus. First, there's the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity house, which is frequently visited by the ghost of a little girl named Abigail. Members also report seeing the words "Help Me" on the walls and "Welcome" on the mirror in the bathroom.
Also, a woman often appears at Chi Omega Sorority house, and those who frequent the building also report windows and doors opening and closing by themselves. Then there's the Sigma Pi house, which has lights and televisions turn on and off, in addition to figures appearing, and the Theta Delta Chi Fraternity house, where a woman and her child appear.
Getting inside these sites can be tricky because the houses are occupied, unless, of course, you befriend a member of the groups and ask for a tour.
Some Interesting Stories to Learn
While most of these stories are far-fetched or, in some cases, downright ludicrous, it’s always interesting to learn about the history of one of the first places in the United States to be settled by Europeans. Rhode Island is full of history, and it’s not always rosy, as these stories show.
After you buy a house in South County, you might find yourself wanting to learn more about the history of the various towns and villages that make up this area. Read up on the history of Rhode Island because there are many other sites just like these that you might want to explore.