Home Spirit Home, Part 5
Ray Feurstein, NY, USA
We have a cabin at a lake in the Adirondacks. We’ve owned the property since 1945. My father built the cabin with help from my godfather, uncle and a friend next door to us. This lake is called Greater Sacandaga Lake. We have a beautiful spot. Private beach right across from a nice island smack dab in the middle of the lake area. Absolutely beautiful. I submitted a story a while ago entitled ‘Elizabeth (Lizzy)’?. It described an encounter with a spirit of a young girl about 16 ‘" 17 years old who use to visit myself and my friend Ron a life long summer buddy I grew up with on the lake.
But that is not this story. This lake was a flooded valley. There were many small villages and hamlets in the valley before the flooding. They had to move everyone from their homes to the outer most banks of the lake area before they flooded the valley. This was around 1895 when this project was started. It took 5 to 6 years to complete the dam and the relocation of all the villages and hamlets. The residents weren’t the only people that needed to be relocated. Along with the town’s folk, the cemeteries also had to be dug up and replaced to higher ground. Our beach just happens to be right in front of one of these hamlets and a few hundred yards to the north of the hamlet was the cemetery.
The houses were not taken down and the foundations still sit just under the surface of the water. We would scuba dive down to them occasionally and find coins, old clay smoking pipes and assorted house hold bottles and farm tools. These little villages had been there since the early 1800’s and some before that. The age of the graves dated back to many of the early settlers. Indian artifacts had been found in and around the lake for years as well. These facts always lend to a rich spirit active area. So on with the encounters.
We have a fire pit down on the beach. Ron and I use to put a fire on late at night, sit on the beach and roast marshmallows, talk about girls and just plain relax. The canopy of stars made you feel like you were on top of the world. There were no city lights to drown out the star light so you could see very clearly the Milky Way. Just amazing. By now you are wondering what all this means. I am just setting the stage for what happens next. One night while Ron and I were sitting by the fire, there was a noise behind us in the woods. It was around 12 ‘" 12:30 am and before the noise in the woods the only sounds we heard was the lapping of small waves on the beach and an occasional slap of water from a fish jumping. Not much more.
We knew everyone who lived around us and there was no one out that night. The sound we heard was a shuffling of feet. It wasn’t unusual to have a bear or raccoon running around. But this was different. The shuffling was rhythmic, like some one walking and dragging their feet. Heavy plodding footsteps. Slow and with purpose. Like someone carrying a heavy load. We sat very quiet and listened. The sound got louder and louder and it appeared to be more than one person walking. We watched and waited to see who it was coming out of the woods. The foot steps changed as they hit the beach to a soft thud, thud, thud. They passed right by us about 20 feet or so.
The fire in the fireplace was dim because we didn’t dare move to put more wood on it to make it brighter there. Besides, we both pretty much knew that it wasn’t a neighbor. Along with the footsteps there was a breathing sound. A labored and stressed breathing. Like whoever they were had been walking a very long time getting here. A while before, I spoke of the first story I wrote about the girl Ron and I saw fairly frequently. We dug up old maps and layouts of the original placement of the villages and found that our property was a trail from the road to the hamlet just on the northern tip of the island directly in front of us.
This we knew while researching who the girl was. So we figured the footsteps must be of the villagers trying to make it back to their homes. It wasn’t the first time that this was heard. My brother and his girlfriend came up to the camp one night after having a fire on the beach complaining to my parents about me and Ron tramping around the woods. They told him that we were in bed all the while. We used to see lights that seemed to glow under the water out near the cemetery. We never knew what it was before. We had thought it was star light reflecting down on the water.
Remember I told you it was so clear and bright the stars look like pin holes in a black cloth in the sky. But star reflection is just that. These lights moved in a line from the shore to the area were the cemetery was then vanished. The lights were bluish white and left a streak like a tail behind them.
The next day Ron and I went down to the beach to make sure the fire was out. Ron was there first. He called to me before I stepped on the beach and told me to cross over to his property and climb over the rocks to him. I did just that. When I got to him he was looking down at the sand. Pointing out the marks in the sand. Like a troop of people moved through that same spot we heard the sound the night before. Sure, you’re going to say my Father, Mother or other siblings made the marks in the sand. But no! We were the first ones to the beach that morning. Again remember our property and the beach is private. At that time no one would trespass on other peoples land without asking first. A little different now.
The marks in the sand led down to the waters edge and disappeared. We noticed that only one pair of prints came back out and headed back up towards the road. We asked around town and found a couple of older people, sister and brother Anna and Seth Ulman. They told us that their parents lived during the flooding of the valley, and was one of the residents relocated. They told us that their father was a currier for the town. He would bring towns-people back and forth from Johnstown to the trail that led out to a village near the Island area. The village was called Scottstown. Seth remembered going with his Dad to bring shop goods to the village. His dads name was Everett Ulman.
I don’t know if it was Everett Ulman or not. I do know that I will never forget that sound and the breathing, not to mention the lights in the water. Oh I forgot to mention that not all the dead made it out of that valley before it was flooded. In the hast and the fact that contractors were hired to exhume the bodies and replace the headstones at the town of Day’s cemetery, some of the bodies never made it to their final resting place.
This fact was uncovered by a historian about 50 years ago while he was doing some research into the exodus prior to the flooding. Notes were uncovered about this project written by the people long since dead that worked for the contractor and the coordinators of the evacuation. The notes read that there wasn’t enough time to exhume all the graves so only the tombstones were moved.
One of the sites not moved was Scottsville Township. The same cemetery Seth’s father was buried. We never told the sister and brother about the encounter. We did ask if they knew of a young girl about 16 or 17 years old. They told us that Everett (their dad) had a younger sister who died of the fever the year before the flood. Her name was Elizabeth and she held the lantern that guided the people to and from the road.
It would appear now that Everett and Lizzy are still guiding the town’s people, still making the trip between Johnstown and the lake and still searching for a peace they may never find.