In the realm of fact based stories about ghosts, goblins, and UFO’s, there is usually one element that sets each story apart from the other. Sometimes however, the creepy details which make these stories great, can bleed together into one amazingly dark tale. Here is a story that has everything a good ghost story should, plus some. Rich in history, the story of the rise and fall of Dudleytown Connecticut is loaded with twisted curses, dark wooded passes, disappearing livestock, abusive ghosts, and descents into madness.
Bear with me on the history here, and trust me, this story may have you believing in curses. The story spans an over three century period, and picks up in 1509, in the English House of Commons. As Henry VII lay in his deathbed, dying from TB, his finance minister, Edmund Dudley was allegedly assembling arms in preparation for the King’s death. When the king did die, the newly crowned, always infamous Henry VIII had Dudley arrested and sentenced to death. Edmund Dudley was beheaded on August 17, 1510. At the time of his execution, a curse plaguing his descendants for all of eternity was put on Dudley’s head. It is unclear by who or for what reasons the curse was cast, but it has long been speculated that Devil worshipping members of the Royal Court cast it as punishment for Dudley’s controversial loyalty to the late King. The curse took hold immediately.
Edmund Dudley’s son, John Dudley served under Henry VIII’s teenaged son, King Edward VI. John Dudley himself had five sons, and married his fourth son Guildford to Lady Jane Grey, grand-niece to Henry. This was an attempted coup to establish his bloodline into the Royal bloodline, and position his sons to lead the country when Edward died. This of course did not happen, and Princess Mary took the throne instead, seizing and beheading John Dudley for his religiously divisive role under her father Henry. And so more Dudley’s began to tragically fall. Guildford and new wife Lady Jane were also arrested and beheaded as traitors. John’s eldest son, Henry Dudley died while serving in the Spanish Service during the Battle of St. Quentin. His fifth son Robert was a divisive character in the English Court whose influence led to numerous murders and executions to those he favored. John’s second son, Ambrose, is thought responsible for bringing the plague to London, from the battlefields in France. This led to the deaths of over 21,000 people, and 26 years later, Ambrose himself died from a gangrene infection.
Was it the Dudley curse that led to the plague? Were these non-Dudley family deaths collateral damage of the curse? The Dudley family deaths would continue over and over again, tragically, and somewhat unexpected. When the Dudley’s started moving overseas, the curse followed. In 1608, a Dudley son William Jr., was born on a ship sailing to Saybrook Connecticut. In Saybrook, William Jr. himself fathered twelve children, and three of his sons, Gideon, Abiel and Barzillai went on to establish the small town of Dudleytown Connecticut. In this namesake town, Gideon’s children would become the newest casualties of the curse, all three dying at a very young age. From then on, the town itself began to take on the qualities of the curse that had plagued its namesake family for over two-hundred years.
Set in the owl-infested dark woods on Northwestern CT, Dudleytown stood in the shadow of the Coltsfoot, Bald, and Woodbury Mountains. The town was not incorporated until 1740, and it wasn’t until 1792 that the first non-Dudley death was recorded. Gersham Hollister tragically fell to his death during a barn raising. Nathaniel Carter who took up residency in Abiel Dudley’s old house, moved his family away after having strange feelings about the town. He left one of his sons behind by mistake, but before they could reunite, Nathaniel, his wife, and baby were killed in an Indian attack, his other three children taken captive. His brother and family then died of a Cholera outbreak in Dudleytown. The trend of strange deaths continued for years, with lightening strikes, suicides, disease outbreaks, and even more Indian attacks. During the Civil War, the town began to struggle, and almost all of the trees along the hillsides were cut down and turned to charcoal. Without trees, the area was constantly flooded, ruining the soil, and creating “fairy caves” throughout the town. Fairy Caves are germinated mold spores which cover up large holes with moss, unsuspectingly swallowing up some of the livestock and townspeople in Dudleytown. Soon, crops started failing, animals began disappearing, and everyone started to leave the cursed town.
John Brophy moved into the empty town in 1892. His wife died suddenly, his two children went missing, and his sheep began dying off rapidly. He was reported in a nearby town spouting off sightings of demons, and unseen forces which he claimed ripped his clothing. John Brophy was never seen again, and his death was never reported. At the beginning of the 20th century, Dr. William Clarke moved into the vacant town, in love with the seclusion and nature of the area. While away on business, the doctor returned home to find his wife had gone completely insane, terrorized she claimed, by demons. Like others before her, she took her own life in Dudleytown. Eventually, Dudleytown crumbled away, and nature took the land back, leaving the curse hidden in the dark Connecticut woods.
The stories grew, as they often do, and Dudleytown became an attraction for ghost-hunters, and fanatics. The avenue which led into Dudleytown, Dark Entry Forest Road would become the legendary sight for claims of floating orbs, demonic contact, walled-in silence, strange illness, negative energy vortexes and even UFO sightings. These are the products of ghost hysteria, the concoctions of a desperate crowd, remnants these so called ghost-hunters hold onto as proof that they are not crazy, time-wasting fools. It’s the true tragedy behind the curse, and it’s historic context that really transforms the Dudleytown tale into a great Ghost Story. There’s no need for gimmicks here. The Dudley curse is a lot like the Kennedy curse, but filled with greater tragedy and a longer history. The Dudley family curse has been attributed to the deaths of many, the probable cause of a nation crippling plague, and the creation and downfall of a dark Connecticut town ripe with madness and death.