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The Ghost Ship of New Haven

Blog 1a Ghost Ship of New Haven

New Haven is one of the most haunted cities in America.  There are many stories of ghosts, antique sites, scandalous tales, haunted places, mysterious sightings of apparitions, strange and unusual accounts of centuries past, legendary stories, folklore and ghostly experiences stranger than reality, haunted tales, ghostly encounters, phantom tales, and the supernatural.  Connecticut has its own version of the Flying Dutchman

The Ghost Ship of New Haven

The people of New Haven were go getters from the get go.  In 1637, they founded the town of New Haven, planned a town square, enjoyed peace and trade with the Indians, and waxed prosperously from farming.  They decided to spread their wings. They decided instead of waiting for merchants to come to them and get the profits as middlemen, they would stock and launch their own trade ship.

They commissioned an exceptionally large ship of 150 tons to be built in nearby Rhode Island.  They stocked the ship with various food products and especially furs they knew would appeal to the Europeans.  In their eagerness to do well, they picked a bad time of year to launch the ship—January 1647–in the midst of winter.  They had a hard time deicing the ship and breaking up the ice-clogged New Haven harbor before it could sail. The Reverend John Davenport, the cofounder of New Haven, prayed God’s blessing should benefit them all, especially the ship.  There was some foreboding when the ship sailed out tipping a little bit to one side.

As the months went by, the foreboding turned to fear and fearful speculation.  Whenever the townspeople spotted something unusual on the horizon, they would rush down to the harbor in hope the ship would return.  Other ships returning from abroad reported no news.

Finally, the Reverend John Davenport prayed for a sign from God to show the anxious people what happened to the ship.  More than a year later, their hearts leaped for joy.  The ship had returned.  They could see its sails in the far-off horizon.  Suddenly, the observers saw the ship engulfed in a storm or a whirlpool.  They could see the crew desperately fighting to steer the ship landward.  Then they could see the sails torn to tatters by the wind; then the masts blown off; even some of the sailors blown off. Then the ship began to break up and sink.

What made the scene even worse was realization was what they were witnessing was upside down in the atmosphere, not the ocean.  They had witnessed a mirage!  But they knew!  The ship had gone down.  Whether the dreadful event had taken place just now or months before, they knew they had witnessed what happened to the ship.

Even though this event took place more than three and a half centuries ago, eye witnesses see the mirage again and again. There is no telling when it will appear except this always take place after a major storm.  The crew is on eternal watch in hopes that they will see their loved ones once m ore.

The Phantom Ship by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow recounted the event:

  • A ship sailed from New Haven,
  • And the keen and frosty airs,
  • That filled her sails at parting,
  • Were heavy with good men’s prayers.
  • “O Lord! if it be thy pleasure”–
  • Thus prayed the old divine–
  • “To bury our friends in the ocean,
  • Take them, for they are thine!”
  • But Master Lamberton muttered,
  • And under his breath said he,
  • “This ship is so crank and walty
  • I fear our grave she will be!”
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