What They Say in New England; A Book of Signs, Sayings and Superstitions/Tim Felt's Ghost

Tim Felt's Ghost

Connected with the Ireland Parish district of the city of Holyoke, Mass., is a famous ghost story, which runs as follows: In the old days there lived on "Back Street" a Mr. Felt. One fall he sowed a field of rye. The rye came up well, and in the spring was looking green and thrifty. He was therefore the more disturbed at the frequent visits of Neighbor Hummerston's geese to said field.

Mr. Felt had a quick temper, and this sort of thing was too much for him. He caught the whole flock one day, killed them, and then wended his way to Deacon Hummerston to inform him what he had done, and where his geese were to be found.

This and other acts showed his hasty temper and savage disposition, and brought him into disrepute among his neighbors. He often cruelly beat his horses and cattle, and there were times when he served the members of his family in the same way.

He had a son, Timothy by name, a dull-witted fellow who was slow of comprehension, and in his work made many mistakes. This was a frequent cause of anger to his father, who on such occasions would strike Tim to the earth with whatever implement he happened to have in hand,-- a hoe, a rake, or a pitchfork, perchance. These attacks sometimes drove Tim from home; but after a few days' absence, necessity would bring him back again. At last, however, he disappeared, and was seen no more; and a little later the Felts moved West.

In building the New Haven and Northampton canal, a great deal of limestone was used. On Mr. Felt's farm was a ledge of this rock, and the company soon had a quarry there. The overseer was a rough, ill-tempered fellow; and it was not long before he had trouble with his workmen, and they all left him. That brought work to a standstill, and the overseer was at his wit's end to find some way out of his difficulty.

One night, shortly after the men left, the overseer, on his way home from the corner store, quite late, saw a dark figure standing on the limestone ledge, outlined against the sky. The overseer stood still, his frightened gaze riveted on the stranger. Presently he broke the silence by asking, "Who are you? and what is your business?"

The spectre replied, "My name is Timothy Felt, and my bones are under where I now stand. I was killed by my father four years ago, and if you will blast this rock you will find my bones."

This story ran through all the country round, and created great excitement. Every day, for some time afterwards, loads of people, not only from Ireland Parish, but from towns quite distant, wended their way thither, inquiring the way to the "ghost place;" and when night came on people would make a long detour rather than pass the spot, and run the risk of meeting Tim's skeleton should [he] be bought to light, but no bones were found; and after the overseer had gotten out what stone he wanted, the work lagged and was discontinued.

Was this humbug or not? A certain old lady used to say:--

"Where folks believe in witches, witches air; But when they don't believe, there are none there."

In this case there was wide belief that Tim was murdered, and that his ghost did really appear.