Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Haunted Powder House

This story is a well-known New England ghost folktale.

Powder House
An old windmill called the Powder House is located in Somerville, Massachusetts in Tufts Park in Powder House Square.

It was built in the early 1700s and was used during the Revolutionary War to store gunpowder—hence its name. It was isolated from the general population so it was ideal for keeping explosives.

Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, confiscated the powder being stored in the mill by American rebels. Later when the Americans laid siege to Boston they used the building once more to store their powder.

This old mill, the tower still stands today, has been the site of a haunting for decades. But it is not a ghost from the Revolutionary War era that lingers. Instead, it is the ghost of an angry father.

Before the war a poor farmer used the windmill as a secret place to meet his beloved. He was in love with a wealthy man’s daughter and the couple knew the father would strongly disapprove of their relationship.

For a time they managed to keep their rendezvous secret but idle gossip finally reached the father. He had become suspicious when he noticed his daughter was spending many nights at the mill but now he knew why.

He devised a plan to surprise the lovers at the windmill to embarrass and punish them. But his plan backfired when the couple watched him approach one night.

The daughter convinced her young farmer to hide as she climbed into the mill’s loft. As she did this the movement from her dress caught her father’s eye.

He stormed into the mill and groped about as his eyes adjusted to the dark. He cursed everything around him.

His daughter backed off from the stairs hoping to evade her father. But she tripped on a loose floorboard. She threw out her arm and grasped a rope in an attempt to steady her fall.

The weight of her body tugged on this rope and it set the mill’s fan blades in motion. She heard her father cry out in agony. She rushed down the stairs as her lover left his hiding place.

The young couple found the father writhing about upon the floor. When the blades started he had been standing on one of the millstones. The sudden jerk had thrown him down.

His arm was caught between the grinding surfaces and crushed to a pulp.

The two lovers picked him up and carried him home. He had the best medical care possible but he did not live long. Before he died he saw how foolish his behavior had been and he gave his permission to his daughter to marry the farmer.

She however, delayed her wedding day for months filled with guilt and regret over her father’s death. It is said she never went near the mill again—especially after she heard her father’s ghost was there.

Somerville Powder House today.
Despite his change of heart the father’s spirit appears to linger at the site of his accident. On windy nights the locals state a man’s angry curses can still be heard coming from the tower.

Even more eerie, in more recent times people report seeing a blue light or spark dancing about inside the old mill.

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