PLYMOUTH - As a teenager, Judith Giguere used to ride her horse around Chippeny Hill, as the rural northeast corner of Bristol and nearby parts of Plymouth and Harwinton was known.
“Decades ago the older people would only talk about Chippeny Hill in whispers. They were afraid of disturbing the ghosts,” she recalled.
“I thought it was funny and I would whisper back ‘It’s all right, they’re all dead!’” she said with a laugh. “Typical smart ass teenager. The more they said ‘Don’t go there,’ the more I had to do it. I was on my horse. I figured I could outrun anything!”
As an adult, Giguere wrote down the old stories and collected them in her new book, “The Ghosts of Chippeny Hill: Myths, Legends, Ghosts, Indians, Witches and Orbs from the Old Chippeny Hill Area,” part of the America Through Time series published by Fonthill Media LLC.
Born and raised in Terryville, she holds two associate degrees from Tunxis Community College and a bachelor’s in history from Charter Oak State College. As the Plymouth town historian, she has many local history articles posted on the town website www.plymouthct.us .
Giguere is also the author of “Plymouth Revisited,” as well as “The Four Gentlemen: The Art of Chinese Brush Painting,” recently released by Lefora Publishing of Bristol.
“The Ghosts of Chippeny Hill” is dedicated to her late uncle, Norman D. Giguere, who encouraged her writing and inspired her with his adventurous spirit, she said. “He gave me my peek at the outside world, that there is more to life than Terryville.”
The book covers such stories as “The White Wolf of Peacedale,” “The Monster of the Marsh,” the Tories Den, and the Leatherman - the mysterious 19th Century wanderer who trod a regular path between Connecticut and New York.
“The young people in Plymouth don’t know these stories, so I thought it was important for them to be retold,” Giguere said. “If I did a history book the kids would never read it, but some were ghost stories and mysteries so I thought, ‘Well let’s have some fun with them.’”
One story that stands out for her is that of Moses Dunbar, the only Tory executed in Connecticut for treason during the Revolutionary War, with his own father said to have offered the rope to hang him.
“It really is a tragic story, and supposedly his wife was cast out of the town, because she was the wife of a traitor and she was pregnant at the time,” Giguere said.
And then there’s the Green Lady, said to haunt a small abandoned 19th century cemetery in nearby Burlington wearing a green ball gown, or taking form of a green mist, or an angry spirit who chases trespassers with a hatchet.
“As soon as I told people I’m doing a book on local ghost stories they would say ‘Did you do the Green Lady?’” Giguere said. She noted that Burlington town historian Len Alderman believes the spook tales may have originated with counselors at a camp located nearby in the 1920s.
“The cemetery is in a great, spooky place, in the middle of nowhere. You have to drive down this really long dirt road and it’s a good place to make legends,” she said.
So does Giguere actually believe in ghosts?
“I think there are many things in this world we don’t understand,” she said. “Is there a possibility of spirits? Sure, why not. When I was doing some research on gravestones at a cemetery in Goshen, I was fiddling with a new camera and someone behind me says ‘What you doing?’ It felt like a tall person, the voice came from over my head. I looked around and there was nobody there. That was weird.”
At Burlington’s Lamson Corners Cemetery, “you sometimes get an overwhelming creepy feeling, like you’re being squished in a vice,” she said. “It’s like someone doesn’t want you there.”
She recently took a crew from Nutmeg Television on a walk through Lamson Corners, as part of a program on paranormal investigation the public access station is producing.
At West Cemetery in Plymouth, “one icky, misty December day,” she swears she saw some shapes by a group of trees 20 to 30 feet away that looked like “two ghosts fighting.”
“I thought ‘It’s time to leave,’” she recalled. “Then this jogger came along and I talked to her for a few minutes and when I turned around again she was gone. Did I miss her? Was I not paying attention? I have no idea.”
“I’ve had some, shall we say, unique experiences,” she added.
“The Ghosts of Chippeny Hill” is available at Antiques on the Green, 703 Main St. All of Giguere’s books are also for sale on Amazon.com, where she has an author’s page.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.