Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Legends that Surround Charles Island

Charles Island
Charles Island is located just off the coast of Milford, Connecticut. This small 14-acre island has a large array of myths and legends surrounding it.

It is said nothing ever lasts very long on this island because of a curse placed on it by its original inhabitants the Wepoawag Native Americans who were driven off the island in 1639 by Europeans.

Some point to the island’s history as proof this curse actually exists.

Other legends that are told about Charles Island include buried treasure and some scary ghosts.

Charles Deal was the first European to try and inhabit the island. He established a small tobacco plantation but it quickly failed and he left the island.

The island was at one point used briefly as a small pox colony.

In 1699, it is said the infamous pirate Captain William Kidd sailed through Long Island Sound on his way to Boston. Rumors spread that he buried some of his treasure on Charles Island under a rock named Hog Rock.

Some believe he choose the small island because he knew about the curse and hoped this would keep people away. When he reached Boston he was arrested so he never returned to Charles Island.

Yet another treasure is supposedly buried on the island. A band of sailors in 1721 found Guatmozin’s hidden treasure and hid it on Charles Island. These sailors also never returned to claim this treasure.

Quite a few fortune hunters have searched the island for these treasures with no success. However, one legend states a group of hunters actually found something only to lose it as they were chased off the island by a “burning skeleton specter.”

In 1935 yet another anglo, John Harris tried to establish a seasonal residence on the island--he abandoned his house within a short time. Others who came after and tried to stay in the Harris home also left quickly.

In 1852, Elizur Pritchard turned the old Harris home into a summer resort called Ansantawae House. This resort lasted the longest of the attempts to inhabit the island--around 15 years.

High tide moving in and two of the
few rock structures that remain on island.
Click to enlarge

After this, a company that made fertilizer from fish used the island briefly. Then a group of monks established the Aquinas Retreat in the 1930s on Charles Island. They built several buildings and paths but stayed for less than 10 years.

Rumors began to spread that the island must be cursed for why did everyone abandon it so quickly.

Then there are the ghosts. Visitors to Charles Island often report strange sights and sounds. Unexplained moans are heard and many have seen odd lights that flash about the island even during the day.

Several witnesses have reported seeing a human apparition. This figure is said to wear outdated clothing.

Sandbar bridge at low tide.
A rocky sandbar bridge that appears during low tides allows visitors to walk across to Charles Island. During high tides this sandbar becomes dangerous. Even though the water is only ankle deep in some places Long Island Sound has vicious currents, riptides and undertows.

Visitors are warned to cross before the tides change. Unfortunately, several people have been lost to these currents. Yet another myth is their bodies have never been found.

One final legend about the island is that it has a herd of “inbred” deer. This is not true. These deer actually swim across from Silver Sands Park. Today the island is used as a wildlife and bird sanctuary.

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