With the celebration of Halloween this weekend, we turn to tales of things that go bump in the night — stories of the supernatural, the mysterious, and the unexplained. 

And with so much history in western Mass, there are many places with dark pasts and scary stories attached to them.  

One such place is Old New-Gate Prison in East Granby, Connecticut. Join veteran ghost hunter John Zaffis and former museum director Karin Peterson as they explore the history and supernatural tales of the Revolutionary War era prison.


Read the full transcript:

Josh Mantello, Berkshire Paranormal Group: I think everybody really has a ghost story, because it just it goes back to ancient tradition, even before there was TVs. Everybody would sit around and tell an old story.

Jeff Belanger, Author & Legend Hunter: We tell each other these stories because we find them interesting and at least believable enough to pass it on.

And the story may evolve, that’s the nature of folklore. It does evolve and change over time.

John Zaffis, Paranormal Investigator & Demonologist: Old New-Gate Prison. An intriguing place. I mean, it’s 60 feet underground. It’s all rock. It’s these caverns, which are old prisons.

In your old places like that, you’re going to have a lot of energy and you’re going to have a lot of different types of experiences in them.

Karin Peterson, Old New-Gate Prison: And there were bad people here, so I could see why we get a reputation as being a haunted place. The prisoners weren’t kept down here. This is where they slept, so I’m sure they explored all the tunnels.

There was a well, there was solitary, where as a punishment, prisoners were chained to the rock and left in total darkness with nobody near them for however long their sentence was.

In 1776, we had three inmates who thought they had found their way out. And they came to a big rock. So, they got this idea that if they heated the rock and then you throw water on it, the rock would break up. What they forgot, of course, is that fires use oxygen to burn.

And the fire used up all the oxygen in that little space. So in the morning, they found the three of them dead.

Another story a few years before that is David Humphreys and William Crawford. They also had the same idea that only in their case, the tunnel collapsed on them. And as the prison keeper John Veit said at the time, no one knew then, and no one knows today whether or not they’re still there.

Abel Starkey was sent here as someone for passing counterfeiting money, so presumably he had this idea that he was going to escape and use this money to bribe somebody. He asked whomever to let down the rope down the well.

Well, the rope broke, and so he plummeted back down and drowned in the well. And the rope had been cut through. So, did the person double cross him?

John Zaffis: Did an overnight investigation in there one night, many years back. And we heard different voices ,and we had different experiences that transformed in there.

Karin Peterson: One of the prisoners called this “Coming down to the Gates of Hell.” And I think you get a sense of that, really, coming here and your imagination can run full of the stories of the people whose — were full of despair.

John Zaffis: And I always recommend it to a lot of different people. You can go in there. Sometimes you’ll have an experience, sometimes you won’t, but it’s an intriguing place to investigate and check out.