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PARANORMAL PONDERINGS: The Harrisville Haunting

June 7th, 2013 by Rita Scott 19 Comments

FTN is proud to welcome our new Paranormal Ponderings weekly section, now being written by the very lovely Rita Scott…

In December 1970 Roger and Carolyn Perron purchased a farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island. Following events at their previous address, Carolyn decided she did not want to raise her children there and felt a house in the country would be a more suitable location for her five young girls to grow up. What Carolyn thought would be her dream home quickly turned into a living nightmare.

The house that they purchased was the old Arnold farm (above) which was over two centuries old. Eight generations of families had lived and died in that house and, it seems, some of these spirits never left.

Previous residents of the farmhouse included Mrs John Arnold who, at the age of 93, hung herself in the barn and Bathsheba Sherman who had an extremely hard life. She lost all of her children before any reached the age of four. When she was a young woman, Bathsheba had a young child in her care (it is uncertain if this was her child or if she was caring for the child for a friend) that died. Upon examination of the baby’s body it was found that a needle had been impaled into its skull and the baby had died from convulsions. Bathsheba was charged with manslaughter but due to lack of evidence the case was dropped. However, in the court of public opinion she was found guilty. She was a very beautiful woman whom men loved and women envied. Following the death of the baby rumours began to swirl that Bathsheba had sacrificed this baby as an offering to the devil for eternal beauty.

Due to the belief of the locals that she was a witch she lived a life of solitude. Eventually she married and it is unsure if she lived all her days at the Arnold farm or the adjacent Sherman farm. She died in 1885 and the coroner made a note in his report stating that he had never seen anything like it; that it was like her body had turned to stone. The Perron family spoke to a man who knew Bathsheba and he said she was a very angry and bitter woman who would beat and starve her farmhands.

From the very first day the Perron family moved into the farmhouse the paranormal activity began.

When the family first arrived at the house the old tenants were packing up the last of their things. As they did so a man stood in the corner watching them. Three of the five girls saw this man but the parents did not. It was an apparition. The family continued to see spirits, some of which did not even notice the family were there, they were the quiet ones who lived peacefully at the farmhouse and did not bother the family. One of the girls made friends with a spirit she called Manny. He was a sympathetic soul whom the Perrons believed was the spirit of Johnny Arnold who had committed suicide in the house in the 1700s. He would watch over the family. He would appear to the children but as soon as they made eye contact he would disappear.

Many peaceful souls resided at the farmhouse but there was also dark forces. Every time the father was home machinery in the house began to breakdown that he would have to go and fix. All of this machinery was located in the cellar and when he would go there he would be approached by a spirit who seemed very attracted to him. She would touch him on the neck and run her hands across his back. Over time he developed a kinship with this spirit and this was the spirit who caused most of the problems in the house. It is believed this was Bathsheba (although it is possible it could have been one of the many other spirits) and that she still saw herself as the mistress of the house and Roger and the kids were hers; this led her to put Carolyn Perron through what her daughter Andrea described as “Something no human being should endure”.

She wanted to drive Carolyn from the house and when this did not work she tried to claim her from within and this is when the true terror of Harrisville began.

One of the children, Cindy, one day decided with her friend that they would try to drive the spirits from the house which resulted in a brutal attack on the two children and  Cindy soon began to suffer regularly at the hands of the evil spirits.

After four years of living in the house a family friend decided that an intervention was needed and Ed and Lorraine Warren, the original paranormal investigators, were called in to help. Unfortunately this only made matters worse and even with all their experience they could not free the family of this haunting. In the end, the father kicked the Warrens out of the farmhouse. Their relationship did not end well. The Warrens have stated that, in their 50 years of paranormal investigations, this was the worst and most significant case they had come across.

The family remained in the house for ten years. Every time the mother would suggest leaving the children would get uncontrollably upset and would  beg her not to leave. Also during this time there was a recession and the family were not in a financial position to move to a new house. Everyone who has lived in this farmhouse, both before and after the Perrons, have reported paranormal activity  and the current residents claim there is always activity in the house but not to the extent the Perrons endured.

The eldest daughter Andrea always knew that one day she would tell this story and she waited 30 years to do so. Andrea has written a trilogy of books entitled ‘House of Darkness, House of Light’ volumes one, two and three.

When I asked Andrea why she waited so long she stated that there was a number of reasons. Her family had to process what they had been through and also she did not feel the world was ready yet for this tale of terror at a farmhouse in Harrisville. The books are a collective memoir of the family’s memories and reactions.

Hollywood also became interested in the story and New Line Cinema have made a movie named The Conjuring directed by James Wan (Insidious) which tells the tale of Harrisville from the point of view of Ed and Lorraine Warren, using their personal files. This movie opens in the states on July 19th and stars Lili Taylor, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. The movie was given an R rating, not because of sexual content or bad language but because it is that scary. Andrea stated in my interview with her that they are extremely happy with the way their story was conveyed and that the movie, although it has some fiction, is a quite accurate account of the haunting of the Harrisville Farmhouse.

Let us know your thoughts below, @NerdFollowing on Twitter or on Facebook

My name is Rita Scott and I was born in 1980. All my life I have been a massive horror movie fan and have been an avid follower of shows such as Buffy, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, American Gothic, there are literally too many to mention. I am obsessed with Friends and live in hope of a movie. I love to write and I hope you enjoy my articles.

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  • Agent Michael Scarn

    In December 1970 Roger and Carolyn Perron purchased a farmhouse….(Bathsheba) died in 1885….The Perron family spoke to a man who knew Bathsheba…

    So they spoke to a man who knew the woman who died 85 years before they bought the house? Riiiight. Just another Paranormal fraud/hoax to sell tickets to more half-baked Hollywood tripe. Don’t believe the hype and don’t be played the fool.

    • rita scott

      It was an old man who knew her when he was a child……but…everyone is entitled to their own opinion!!

      • Duh?

        Exactly… People live up to 95 years or is that a hoax too?

        • ES

          Well, let’s see… “Mr. McKutcheon,” huh? A fake name. And you try to imply that’s not a hoax?

  • Allan

    really good article, i enjoyed reading it.

    • NLS

      Bathsheba Sherman there are no records or historical information that connects her with a death she died of a stroke buried by a Baptist minister was a practicing Baptist no murder no suicides no hangings no drownings ever recorded at farm. Have proof Prudence died in Uxbridge Mass John Arnold dried in his home Tarlin Mrs. John Arnold died her house Harrisville Rd. many more facts if one like our group does research. Only Perrons claim house haunted Kenyon’s angered that their ancestor home has been so degraded by story.

  • aserwin
    • aserwin

      NM – I saw the dates were the same. Someone probably copied your stuff and put in that blog. But where did you pick up the history?

    • Rita Scott

      That is also my blog…it was shared on both sites!! Details came from an interview I did with a member of the Perron family

  • anonymous

    Thanks for the nice article, Rita, I’m from Singapore.

  • ashleigh

    Why were they the only ones to come forward eith these horrific events yet no other family who lived in the house has? N if it was so bad why didnt they mive out? N why want to watch a movie of something terrible that u lived thru. seems fake to me. Just like the amityville horror

    • ES

      The story is fake. Everyone who lived in the house before and after the Perrons say the place was and is a sunny, happy, distinctly un-haunted place. The people from whom the Perrons bought it, the Kenyons, are on record as being extremely upset at the nonsense about ghosts. The current owner has been speaking out debunking the story.

  • Real deal

    Come on, everybody: surrender your minds and believe…

  • NLS

    Research found Conjuring no evidence at all check reply Alan

  • ES

    Local historians are appalled at the incompetent treatment of history and genealogy in the movie and Andrea Perron’s books. Bathsheba Thayer Sherman was a real person who lived a blameless life, lost three children to disease, lovingly raised a fourth, never faced accusations of mistreatment or infanticide, wasn’t an Arnold, and did not have anyone from Salem in her ancestry. It’s too bad she can’t really come back from the dead. She could sue the Perrons and the Warrens for every penny they own.

    • Sherman Descendant

      Agreed. I am related to Bathsheba’s husband Judson Sherman. Bathsheba’s father-in-law and mother-in-law are my fifth great-grandparents. I’m highly appalled by the portrayal of Bathsheba in this movie.

      • http://www.followingthenerd.com followingthenerd

        Hi Sherman, we would love to chat with you sometime on our show about the portrayal. Let me know, if this would be of any interest, (Marc)

  • Better late than never

    A bit late in the day but there’s one thing that doesn’t gel…the relationship between the Persons and Warrens ended badly with the Warrens bering “kicked out” yet the Perrons are “extremelt happy” with a film that shows the Warrens saving the day and exorcising the house?

  • Better late than never

    Sorry auto correct was on “Perrons” not “persons”

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