Apparitions, and “beastie” creatures, as well as other mysterious or scary events capture the attention. Possibly we are awaiting the ultimate proof of the existence of things out of the range of normal. According to Mason Winfield a “Supernatural Historian” who has a Master’s Degree in English literature from Boston College, Cattaraugus County is ripe with sightings and activity of the unknown or unproven. In Mason’s book, The Paranormal Almanac of Western New York, paranormal is said to be“anything that presents a puzzle to the generally accepted picture of reality”. Further stated, although “Ancient mysteries and curiosities are not supernatural, but some people who have little patience for ghosts find them fascinating, and they fit into the categories of this book as subject of general wonder.
Mason tells us that these stories of unusual happenings pile up in certain places. When there is an “outbreak of paranormal activity” it is called a flap. Such a location exits in the Township of Hinsdale.
Winfield in the Paranormal Almanac lists “The Devil’s Elbow” as such a place. Here is his description from page 132: This was a hazardous Cattaraugus County coach trail. It may be pretty long, and it may go within half a mile of the legendarily haunted Hinsdale House on the hill. That troubled domicile could even have been a waystation.
In another book titled, Shadows of the Western Door, Winfield has devoted two pages to telling the tale of the haunted house in Hinsdale. Tales of effects or happenings are given such as,“ the oil heat system would shut off precisely when a new owner returned from work. This happened for weeks. The fuel company could not figure it out. A wood stove converted to propane often geysered foot-high flames. A hanging picture slanted awry of its own accord. Flies swarmed a room near the attic. A strange small moving light seemingly timed to the flaring stove set off two smoke alarms as it neared them... At times the house was permeated by an overpowering, unexplained perfume, widely taken as a sign of the murdered mother (whose daughter was often spotted in old dresses, in nearby fields). The woman of the house repeatedly heard a little girl calling from outside.” Finally a minister said that, “Some ground is just bad, no one knows why. Just leave as soon as you can, and take only your own things with you. Don’t discuss your plans inside the house. This place is just a hole to Hell.” The story Mason tells continues.
Another author has a tale to tell of this haunted house. William P. Robertson , a writer of historical fiction includes a story of this building. He has titled this writing, “The Hinsdale Horror” found on pages 104 to 110 in his book, Seasons of Doom. Robert Dark Owl, a Seneca is traveling to the location. He had previously visited a shaman in Hinsdale while doing research on his ancestry. The shaman has told Robert that the Senecas living in the area had “committed and unnamed transgression that led to their extermination”. Robertson’s story tells of animal apparitions and children living in the house waking with burn marks. Dark Owl sees “shadow people” peering from the windows. All had haunted eyes. Their voices rose in a chant, “Segoewa’t’ha Segoewa’t’ha Segoewa’t’ha”.
The haunted house in Hinsdale, perhaps the most famous haunted house in the area, has all the elements of a good ghost story: a mysterious history, strange sightings, unexplainable events and even an exorcism. Here are two books about the house, Echo's of a Haunting by Clara Miller and You know They're Here by Paul Kenyon. The house gained further notoriety when the Discovery Channel made an episode for their "A Haunting" television series, "Dark Forest," which first aired in September 2006.
Mason Winfield offers many more stories from Cattaraugus County and other regional books. He has written ten books for readers enjoyment. Check out his website at: www.masonwinfield.com His books may be purchased at http://www.buffalobooks.com/winfield.html
William P. Robertson offers historical fiction and horror writing. For more information about Robertson’s horror writing visit http://www.thehorrorhaven.com His books may be purchased at www.buybooksontheweb.com Just click on search for author, Robertson