Haunted Mill Site (Keith Johnson)

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For many years in the rural town of Foster, Rhode Island, the long abandoned Ram Tail Mill site has been said to be haunted by the night watchman, whose name was Peleg Walker.

In the year 1799, industrious William Potter founded the Foster Woolen Manufactory…more appropriately known as the Ram Tail Mill, because of the woolen products which were processed there. A small community of mill workers was eventually formed, which was also appropriately known by the quaint name of Ram Tail.

By the 1820’s, the mill business was thriving, and William took on several business partners, including his eldest son Olney E. Potter, and his son-in-law, Peleg Walker. As agreed, Olney would assist his father and the other business partners by overseeing the mill operation during the day, while Peleg would tend to the mill overnight.

On May 19, 1822, Peleg quarreled with William and Olney Potter. Although the exact nature of the disagreement remains unclear, it is generally assumed to have been over finances. Before leaving the mill that day, Peleg issued an ominous warning to his two business partners, telling them: “one of these days, you’ll have to take the keys to this mill from a dead man’s pocket!”

In his position as night watchman, one of Peleg’s duties was to ring the mill bell at dawn each morning, which would summon the local workers to the mill. However, when the mill bell failed to ring the morning following Peleg’s confrontation with the Potter’s, employees arrived to find the building securely locked from the inside. When one of the workers gained access into the mill through a window, he discovered the lifeless body of 35-year old Peleg Walker hanging from the bell rope! True to his promise, the keys to the mill were found in his pocket.

Shortly after Peleg’s Walkers burial in the Potter family cemetery, a number of terrifying events began to occur. The bell to the Ram Tail Mill would begin ringing furiously at all hours of the night inside the apparently empty mill, finally causing William Potter to order that the pull rope be removed. When this failed to stop the bell from ringing during the night, the bell itself was finally removed…but this would prove to be only just the beginning.

Twice, the complete mill operations started up spontaneously sometime after midnight, forcing mill workers to gain access inside the securely locked building just to shut things down. On one occasion, the large waterwheel which powered the mill was observed to be running backwards against the current of the Ponaganset River! Passersby at night even reported having glimpsed the eerie, recognizable apparition of Peleg Walker himself, attired completely in white, with lantern in hand, patrolling the mill grounds just as he had in life.

One by one, workers left their positions at the mill and moved away, until the business eventually failed, and the abandoned mill building was left to fall into ruin. The building itself caught fire and burned to the ground in the 1870’s…and an 1885 census officially lists the Ram tail Mill as ‘haunted’.

Even today, strange bluish globules of light have been reported floating at night in the area where the mill once stood. The creaking of an unseen lantern has also been audibly heard, and even recorded…and the faint peal of a bell can sometimes be heard ringing from somewhere in the darkness and distance.

The Old Testament name of “Peleg” literally means “divided”. Because of Peleg Walker, the once prosperous era of the Ram Tail Mill and Community was forever divided asunder.

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