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Haddam Enchantments


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

When witchcraft went rampant through New England the Connecticut town of
Haddam owned its share of ugly old women, whom it tried to reform by
lectures and ducking, instead of killing. It was averred that Goody
So-and-So had a black cat for a familiar, that Dame Thus-and-Thus rode on
a broomstick on stormy nights and screeched and gibbered down the
farm-house chimneys, and there were dances of old crones at Devils' Hop
Yard, Witch Woods, Witch Meadows, Giant's Chair, Devil's Footprint, and
Dragon's Rock. Farmers were especially fearful of a bent old hag in a red
hood, who seldom appeared before dusk, but who was apt to be found
crouched on their door-steps if they reached home late, her mole-covered
cheeks wrinkled with a grin, two yellow fangs projecting between her
lips, and a light shining from her eyes that numbed all on whom she
looked. On stormy nights she would drum and rattle at windows, and by
firelight and candle-light her face was seen peering through the panes.

At Chapman Falls, where the attrition of a stream had worn pot-holes in
the rocks, there were meetings of Haddam witches, to the number of a
dozen. They brewed poisons in those holes, cast spells, and talked in
harsh tongues with the arch fiend, who sat on the brink of the ravine
with his tail laid against his shoulder, like a sceptre, and a red glow
emanating from his body.

In Devils' Hop Yard was a massive oak that never bears leaves or acorns,
for it has been enchanted since the time that one of the witches, in the
form of a crow, perched on the topmost branch, looked to the four points
of the compass, and flew away. That night the leaves fell off, the twigs
shrivelled, sap ceased to run, and moss began to beard its skeleton

The appearance of witches in the guise of birds was no unusual thing,
indeed, and a farmer named Blakesley shot one of them in that form. He
was hunting in a meadow when a rush of wings was heard and he saw pass
overhead a bird with long neck, blue feathers, and feet like scrawny
hands. It uttered a cry so weird, so shrill, so like mocking laughter
that it made him shudder. This bird alighted on a dead tree and he shot
at it. With another laughing yell it circled around his head. Three times
he fired with the same result. Then he resolved to see if it were
uncanny, for nothing evil can withstand silver--except Congress. Having
no bullets of that metal he cut two silver buttons from his shirt and
rammed them home with a piece of cloth and a prayer. This time the bird
screamed in terror, and tried, but vainly, to rise from the limb. He
fired. The creature dropped, with a button in its body, and fell on its
right side. At that moment an old woman living in a cabin five miles
distant arose from her spinning-wheel, gasped, and fell on her right

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