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Village of the Damned

Updated on May 17, 2016

There are many houses, objects and places said to be haunted, but an entire town isn’t something one hears about every day. Dudleytown was such a place and said to be cursed. It was sometimes called “The Village of the Damned.”

Located in the northwestern woods of Cornwall, Connecticut, the isolated settlement was founded around the mid 1750s. Many who lived in the village were said to have gone mad or died violent, unexplained deaths. Visitors to the area today find it silent and strangely void of wildlife. There have been many reports of ghosts, demons and other unexplainable occurrences over the last few centuries.

The tale of Dudleytown, or curse as some refer to it, began in England during the very early 1500s. In one version of the legend Governor Thomas Dudley is depicted as a sadistic man who puts everyone not a Puritan to death. One of the victims was said to curse the entire town. After serving four terms as governor, he was found hacked to death in the area that would later come to be known as Dudleytown." The murderer was never found.

There are several versions, but this is the one most commonly heard. King Henry VIII had his court administrator Edmund Dudley beheaded. History tells us Dudley had used his position for financial gain and tried to overthrow the King. According to legend all of his descendants were cursed because of his crimes. One of those was William Dudley who came to America in 1630 and had a son, Joseph.

In 1748 Gideon and Abiel Dudley, along with another brother began buying farm land in what became Dudleytown. The Dudley brothers gave the area its name and also their curse. The town’s curse seemed to start shortly after the village became to flourish.

By 1759 Abiel had gone insane. A man called Nathaniel Carter bought his house, but within four years he and his family moved to Binghamton, New York. Soon afterwards Nathaniel, his wife and a young child were massacred by Indians. Their cabin was burnt to the ground and the rest of their children were kidnapped and taken to Canada. The rest of the Carter clan in Dudleytown died from a cholera epidemic.

In 1804 General Herman Swift, also had his share of tragedy in Dudleytown. His wife, Sarah, was fatally struck by lightning while sitting on their porch. Afterwards it was said the General lost his mind. By the turn of the century most residents in the area had moved out.

One of the last remaining inhabitants was the John Brophy family. John’s wife died of consumption and his two children mysteriously vanished into the surrounding woods and were never seen again. In 1901 nearby residents began to notice Brophy coming into town with torn clothes and a wild look about him. He wouldn’t speak to anyone but was heard to mutter something about demons. Then just as mysteriously, his house burned down. He also was never seen again. The last remaining citizens had had enough and moved out, leaving the town deserted.

Dr. William Clarke came to Cornwell in 1903, purchased some land and built a cabin as a weekend retreat for his wife. The story goes his wife became chronically sick in 1917. And while the doctor was away on business she was attacked by an unseen entity and went insane. She later committed suicide in their New York residence. Dr. Clarke still returned to Dudleytown on weekend trips, along with friends and business partners.

Paranormal investigators and other say strange images show up on photographs and they have been slapped and scratched by unseen forces. Some investigators have speculated that a high concentration of lead in the drinking water may have been responsible for numerous cases of insanity in the population.

Today, not much is left of the town except for a few stone foundations and a chimney or two. Since 2000 the area has been off limits to the public, however a few curious visitors still manage to slip in once in a while…and the stories continue.


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Oh yeh! Well a curse on ya, may 1,000 fleas infest your hair. He he.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      I tend to poo-poo curses on whole towns, but I do believe some areas are totally devoid of positive energy, and negative events like madness, epidemics, and murders in such places get blamed on some legend or curse instead.

      Lead in the drinking water would definitely explain some of the insanity and health conditions in Dudleytown. Tainted grain fashioned into bread would account for others, as happened in Salem after a particularly wet summer that resulted in the Witch Trials.

      Legends and "curses" of long standing often blind victims to more logical and less other-worldly explanations. It's a curse of human nature. (Sorry, couldn't resist that last remark.) ;D

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      The fascination is definitely there. I enjoyed this immensely. I never heard of this legend before.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Fascinating history of Dudleytown, JY, but if you don't mind, I'll forego a visit in person and just take your word for it. :)

    • lj gonya profile image

      lj gonya 5 years ago

      Very interesting. I have never heard of this before, and I can't really say I have any real plans to go there!