By Pat Martin
Home Farm Antiques at the Antiques Market Place
A Fun Vacation Pastime: Ghosts in the Adirondacks
Looking for ghosts? You’ve come to the right place. Peaceful and serene, the Adirondack region proves that looks can be deceiving. With over six million acres of land and a long history of adventure, war and tragedy, we are a rich patchwork quilt of history, legend and lore. Since the earliest days of settlement around here, the obstacles that challenged the settlers have provided material for Fact and Fiction and Tales of the Strange and Eerie.
North of Lake George Village in Bolton, 18th century New England settlers moved here to establish farms. They faced the menace of rough wilderness travel, hostile Indians, fearsome bears, wolves and rattlesnakes. And ghosts. Farmers sat at hearthside on winter nights, listening to stories like that of the lovely Indian girl captured by Mohicans. One of the Mohican braves fell in love with her. When he went off to fight in battle, the elders left behind burned the girl at the stake. A ghost, a warrior spirit, flew into the fire from out of nowhere and carried the girl’s body away, leaping from the flames onto a large, flat stone and disappearing behind the mountains. The Mohican brave never returned from battle, but every year, a Mohican man was found slain, his body draped over that same stone. The stone is the Sacrificial Stone at Mohican Point on Lake George.
Further north on a farm in the Lake Placid area, the small son of the family died from a lightning strike. His ghost can be seen if you are lucky (or unlucky), standing at the bottom of the cellar stairway, looking up. The ghost is surrounded by a red light.
This land has seen blood-soaked battles of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. Excavations at Lake George’s Fort William Henry unearthed skeletal remains. The bones of the skeletons had been switched in antiquity. Some skeletons had their feet removed and there was the skeleton of a teen-aged boy whose leg bones where not his own. A mass grave was found from a massacre that happened in 1757. Study of the bones leaves us evidence of the most grisly goings-on, things that would leave a soul no choice but to haunt the place where its body died.
Prior to the French and Indian War, Scotsman Duncan Campbell was woken one night by a friend who came to his door seeking sanctuary from men pursuing him. He swore Duncan to silence. Campbell came from a society whose code of ethics necessitated giving refuge to any man who had touched one’s hearthstone. Duncan hid the man. When the pursuers came to Duncan’s door, they told him that man had killed Duncan’s cousin. Duncan could not go back on his promise, so he denied knowing anything of the man. Afterward, the ghost of Duncan’s cousin visited him and foretold his death at Ticonderoga. Years later, Duncan and his son marched in a brigade fighting in the French and Indian War, toward Ticonderoga. He and his son were two of the three casualties that day.
TV’s GHOST HUNTERS explored Fort Ticonderoga and recorded voices and thumps and bumps in the night. They interviewed personnel who saw a soldier in eighteenth century uniform in the barracks, who saw globes of light moving through the air, who heard hoof beats where no horses were, the creaking of doors that remained stationary, and who saw door latches moving on their own.
Even in the late 19th century, in the thick of the Adirondack woods, lights of villages have been spotted where lights and villages no longer existed.
Want to meet an Adirondack ghost? Come to an antique shop. There is no better way to find evidence of those who have “crossed over” (or maybe did not “cross over” entirely.) To find excellent secondary sources with which to study history (and the development of ghosts), visit a military dealer who will have letters, documents, photographs, bullets and muskets and powder horns. Visit a local-book and antiquarian-book dealer for books on the area, and for diaries, ledgers and logs from the early days. Any mirror you pass hanging on the wall in an antique shop reflects traces of the past. In any mirror you pass hanging on the wall in an antique shop, you may see a ghost.