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Haunted Pubs of New England: Raising Spirits of the Past

Haunted Pubs of New England: Raising Spirits of the Past

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Haunted Pubs of New England: Raising Spirits of the Past

3.5/5 (3 peringkat)
167 pages
1 hour
Sep 30, 2007


The taverns of colonial New England were gathering places for Revolutionary Patriots, nerve centers for spreading vital news and sanctuaries for outlawed organizations. Perhaps inevitably, certain pubs bore witness to ghastly deeds and sorrowful tragedies. Some of them became tinged with the aura of the supernatural. Through firsthand interviews with dozens of pub owners and employees, author Roxie J. Zwicker has discovered tales of hauntings in which bartenders have their drinks mysteriously upended, waitresses find dining room objects scattered about bizarrely and other staff and patrons catch sudden glimpses of ghostly figures. Read Haunted Pubs of New England to uncover the spine-tingling lore lurking within New England's oldest taverns.
Sep 30, 2007

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Roxie J. Zwicker is a bestselling local author and television personality. She has been featured on the Travel Channel and History Channel and has hosted the inspirational television series The Power of One. Her company, New England Curiosities, features tours and events based on ghost stories of New England's forgotten past.

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Haunted Pubs of New England - Roxie Zwicker



You are about to take a journey into the fascinating history and legacy of New England’s historic taverns and pubs. To understand the significance and role of these taverns and pubs, I thought it was important for you to learn a little about each community and its residents, so I have provided brief background on the history of each city and town. Each location is truly unique, and every tavern or pub leaves an impression on visitors and locals alike.

Visiting these locations has made for many memorable road trips throughout New England. No matter the season, the scenery was always beautiful, in seaport towns or quaint little villages. No matter the number of miles driven or hours spent driving, it was a real treat to arrive with camera and notebook in hand, knowing I was about to document intriguing history. Some places I visited for the very first time while others were regular haunts of mine, places where I dropped by as frequently as the ghosts did. It was wonderful to see how the communities evolved over the years and to see how the taverns have been part of that evolution. From affluent communities to working-class towns, there were some taverns still operating after countless years and others that have been transformed into lovely inns or private homes. A few taverns have seen dark days where lives were lost or locations were neglected and nearly forgotten for a period of time.

There have been varying attitudes about the legacies of the taverns covered in this book. Some people I’ve met have been happy to share their stories and encounters—many for the first time—while others have been less than forthcoming about their haunted histories. However, I feel that it doesn’t matter if you’re being served your dinner on a white linen tablecloth or a well-worn wooden table. There is no denying the fascinating history that has been established at each place over the years. Certainly I don’t expect everyone to believe in paranormal activity or the existence of ghosts, but each of these locations has a background that lends itself to the telling of haunted tales.

I have tried to include food and drink recommendations whenever possible, because I know that picking up a menu at a place you’ve never tried can sometimes be a little bit daunting, especially when there are a large number of selections available. Signature dishes and drinks have been sampled to provide you with a few ideas. Local points of interest have been carefully selected for inclusion in some chapters.

My hope for you, reader, is that you will let this book be your guide through the mysteries of each of these taverns. Whether you decide to jump in your car and use this book as your traveling itinerary or whether you let the words and images in this book transport your mind, be prepared for your journey. I’ve written this book to show the true character—and characters—of New England’s historic pubs and taverns, their ghosts and their captivating histories. You will soon see that some stories are deeply emotional and others are lighthearted and playful, but all are memorable and need to be told.

Find a comfortable chair, a frosty beverage and an illuminating light and the stories will work their charms. By reading these stories you are taking a role in keeping the history and the legends of New England’s remarkable taverns alive, and these taverns have spirited tales to share with you. Enjoy!


Taverns in early New England were part of everyday life for the growing cities and towns. They served not only as a place to regulate the sale of alcohol to the community, but also as meetinghouses and country stores. Some accounts state that taverns were just as important to the community as they were to travelers. Taverns were also called public houses and ordinaries. In 1644, the Colonial Records of Connecticut ordered one sufficient inhabitant in each town to keep an ordinary. In 1656, the General Court of Massachusetts made towns liable to a fine for not sustaining an ordinary.

The taverns offered the opportunity to hear news from other communities, as the latest newspapers and notices were posted in the taverns. In addition, stage drivers often brought news and stories from some of the larger cities in the growing nation.

Many taverns had ballrooms or dance halls for socializing, while others cleared chairs away for music and merriment. Music was very important in taverns. In some New England taverns you would find a fiddler’s throne, a raised platform where the performer could be seen by the audience. If a professional musician was not available, visitors performed their own music and stories for their amusement.

Meals at taverns were family affairs. Entire families were responsible for the operation and maintenance of these busy places. The tavern keeper and his family typically lived on site and all members of the family were assigned tasks that were vital in keeping the tavern operational. The tavern keeper’s wife was typically the cook and had the overall responsibility for food preparation and housekeeping. Most taverns also manufactured their own varieties of ale. If children were old enough, sons managed the stable and cared for the horses while daughters waited on tables and made the beds. Otherwise, tavern keepers had to find help and bring workers to live in the household.

Grog was a common and cheap eighteenth-century drink served at some taverns. It was made of rum and water and was invented by a ship’s captain to water down sailors’ daily liquor ration in hopes of ending drunken brawls. Grog has actually translated to a common saying today. One who consumes too many spirits may appear groggy, or mildly intoxicated. Also, a rule of thumb is a way to accomplish a task based on experience, rather than by theory or careful calculation. A Colonial brewer (without a thermometer) would dip his thumb into the brew to determine when the liquid was the right temperature for serving.

The rooms in taverns were just basic sleeping areas. In the interest of space, several strangers often slept in the same room. Some rooms were divided into several small chambers for travelers. The rooms were mostly empty and there were simple beds. Some of the more upscale taverns offered a small table with basin, pitcher and towel for washing.

Tavern barrooms were very basic. The walls often displayed an assortment of messages, advertisements and legal notices—placards of stage routes, woodcuts of enormous stallions in prancing attitudes and notices of sheriff’s sales. For modern-day travelers and diners, a stay at a New England tavern could be an experience both fascinating and distinctly uncomfortable. There are often interesting people traveling from location to location, including traveling phrenologists (who read the bumps on the skull to tell the future), magicians or the occasional snake oil salesman. In some taverns there were cramped quarters, scanty furnishings upstairs, dim illumination at night, (depending on how many candles were on hand), smoky fireplaces and sometimes a rowdy crowd in the taproom.

Views of drinking were quite different in early America. Tavern owners enjoyed higher social status than did the clergy during part of the Colonial period. During the Colonial period, alcohol abstainers had to pay life insurance company rates 10 percent higher than those of drinkers. Religious services and court sessions were often held in the major taverns of Colonial American towns. In fact, the Colonial army supplied its troops with a daily ration of four ounces of either rum or whiskey, some of which was obtained from the local tavern.

The role that taverns played in the American Revolution is undeniable, both on the side of the Revolutionaries and the British Loyalists. Many important decisions were made over mugs of ale, and many famous people in history visited and stayed at New England taverns.

With the variety of people passing through the doors and the unique histories of each location, it should come as no surprise that these taverns have yielded quite a number of ghost stories. Some of the spirits relate directly to the tavern owners while others are of frequent patrons, and still some have yet to be identified. From the scenic shores of Cape Cod to the mountain valleys of Vermont, let us open the doors to the past and see what we can find.



Just a short drive northwest of Hartford, Connecticut, is the town of Simsbury. Originally called the Massacoh Plantation, named after the Massacoe, the settlement was incorporated in 1670 as Simsbury. In 1676, a Native American named Metacom, known to the English as King Philip, led a group of his warriors into the village and burned everything to the ground. It is said that he sat in the large cave on Talcott Mountain to watch the total destruction of the town. Today this mountain range is known as the Metacomet Range.

In 1705, a copper mine was discovered in Simsbury. It later served as the infamous New Gate Prison during the American Revolution, at which time one thousand Simsbury residents served on the side of the Revolutionaries, and one hundred of those fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill.

I visited the Pettibone Tavern on an early spring day, and it was more than I could have possibly expected. The tavern wasn’t open for about another two hours when I arrived, but I decided to knock on the locked door and was greeted by two very friendly general managers, Richard Korfel and Eamonn Murphy, who offered to give me the grand tour and the definitive history.

Literally located at a crossroads, the tavern’s significance during stagecoach days is easily imagined. Built in 1780, the tavern was the first stop outside of Hartford on the Boston to Albany Turnpike. Built for Jonathon Pettibone Jr., who was a son of a patriot killed in New York in 1776, the

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