An old abandoned quarry located along a still traveled roadway was home to many industrious spirits. Those who passed by could hear the “clinking maul and wedge of some one splitting stone there on dark nights (131).” Frequently those who passed by would have small stones thrown in their direction. Dr. Frank Speck, an Anthropologist who recorded these ghostly encounters among the Mohegan (circa 1925), soon found himself not just listening to such lore but later becoming prey to the Native American supernatural happenings. A day of taking notes from a Mohegan couple was ending with dinner at their residence located at Mohegan Hill in Connecticut. Speck noticed a big, orange moon ascending into the sky and after commenting on such as sight, noticed his host and hostess not as pleasantly wowed by the beautiful sight. It had grown late in the evening and Speck made his good-byes only to be met with concern. “We think you had better stay with us tonight” said the woman (145). The couple explained that during full moons, the Indian stonecutter liked to work in the quarry next to the road he was to travel. Of course, Dr. Speck assumed a man putting in overtime under the light of moon was nothing to stop him from journeying back to his host house, but the man next explained that the stonecutter had been deceased for 30 years.
A college-trained man who gave no real worry to ghost stories, he explained (without trying to offend) that he didn’t want to worry the family he was staying with and he believed he would be just fine. With that, Dr. Speck started out, whistling as he walked. Feeling a little strange, he stopped just before the quarry. There he heard “chink, chink, chink.” Convincing himself it was just his imagination, he continued on up the road. As he reached the quarry, the chinking sound became louder. Coming upon the quarry, the sound stopped, and Speck figured it was indeed his own nerves. Suddenly the sound commenced again, but this time from behind him. He turned around to see no one and feeling as though he had move, he tried to leave the sound behind. He ran through the woods to only have the sound follow him until he reached the home of the couple he had just shared supper with. Entering the home, he found a note addressed to him on the table. It read “We knew that you would be back. Your bed is all turned down. See you in the morning (146).”
Dr. Speck went to bed and never did forget the sound that followed him. “From that moment on, whenever the Indian people gave him advice or told him about some haunted spot to stay away from, Dr. Frank G. Speck never made light of their superstitions (146).”
History of the Tale:
The story “The Old Mohegan Indian Stone Cutter” was published years after Dr. Speck’s passing. Most likely, Dr. Speck related his personal story to a Wampanoag sometime in the 1940’s. Dr. Speck collected the legend of the Stone Cutter in 1925, sometime when his own personal encounter must have taken place.
“Spirit of the New England Tribes” by William S. Simmons.