Upon first glance at the Daniel Benton Homestead, it would appear a quaint, colonial home in a quiet setting. But there is a very tragic story held within its walls—a love affair involving two young people whose lives were cut short. However, whether any living person is around or not, the house is alive with paranormal activity.
The Benton Homestead is a Colonial cape that was built in 1720. The original owner and builder of the house, Daniel Benton, had three grandsons who went off to fight in the Revolutionary War. Two died during the war while the third, Elisha Benton, contracted smallpox while being held as a prisoner of war.
He was released and sent back home to Connecticut. Before he left for war, he had promised his heart to a young girl, Jemima Barrows. So, after waiting for her beloved to return, Jemima offered to care for him. Unfortunately, all of her love and nurturing could not cure him, and in 1777 Elisha died at the age of 29.
As Jemima was the one to care for the ailing Elisha, she contracted the dreadful disease and subsequently died shortly before her 18th birthday, alone and with no one to care for her. As the young lovers were never married, it would not have been proper to bury them side by side. Therefore, a carriage road divided their graves, which are located on the property.
Some speculate that this separation caused their spirits to remain restless in the afterlife and that they continue to search the house for each other. The house remained in the Benton family for six generations. In 1969, the Tolland Historical Society acquired it, and shortly thereafter it was opened as a museum. People who have toured the house have reported a gray shadow moving across the front bedroom (notably the room where Jemima and Elisha both died).
Various guests staying in the house have reported seeing the apparition of a man—a soldier—and hearing rapping noises and unexplained weeping. Members of war encampments who have camped out on the property have seen lights flickering on and off in the house when no one was there. Another interesting note is that the basement of the house served to hold Hessian soldiers during the war after they were surrendered to the United States during the victory at the Battle of Saratoga.
It is said that the soldiers so enjoyed staying at the home that many did not leave the Tolland area as others moved on to Boston. Perhaps some enjoyed it so much that they have returned in spirit. There is speculation as to whether Elisha or Jemima may be searching the house for each other in hopes of reuniting. Or, perhaps, a Hessian soldier has returned to the place where he found peace in life. —Sarah Robinson
DANIEL BENTON HOMESTEAD 160 METCALF ROAD TOLLAND, CONNECTICUT 06084 TEL: 1 (860) 974-1875 WEBSITE: http://pages.cthome.net/ tollandhistorical/ benton museum.htm
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