January 22, 2017

A Spectral Flying Dwarf In Connecticut

My friend Simon Young at the Fairy Investigation Society sent me the following story via an old newspaper clipping. Unfortunately the year of publication is missing, but it seems to be from a paper called The Globe-Democrat and is probably from the late 19th or early 20th century.

The date is January 11 (of whatever year), and the byline is New Haven, Connecticut. The headline reads:

A Massachusetts Dwarf Who Appears or Disappears In Night or Day - He Is Cut In Two By A Workman's Spade

Who can resist a headline like that? The article goes on to describe how for the last thirty years the people of North Haven have reported seeing a spectral dwarf in the vicinity of Shear's Brickyard.

Many men and women who have been riding and walking along the highway after nightfall have seen the strange figure of a dwarf about three feet high. Sometimes he would be dressed in one color of clothing and then of another. When people told of what they had seen they were received with incredulity by some, and other would put faith in the stories. 

On the night of January 9, five men employed at the brickyard had a vivid encounter with the mysterious dwarf. Owen McNulty, Oscar Jansen, Septa Maganzo, Pasco Servisco, and Lorenzo Partico were walking home from the brickyard at about 7:00 pm when the dwarf appeared in the road in front of them. He was about three feet tall, and wore a black velvet coat trimmed with fur and a "cocked hat" (a tricorn or perhaps bicorn hat). His clothes looked like they were fashionable 100 years ago, and he carried a lantern in his hand.

Owen McNulty was carrying a spade home from the brickyard, and swung it at the dwarf. It passed through the entity's body, and the dwarf disappeared. The men panicked and ran off, crossing themselves for protection.

I just want to interject and ask why do so many people attack supernatural beings when they encounter them? From shooting at Bigfoot to attacking dwarfs with spades, people in these accounts often react violently. And you know what? It never works.

Anyway, back to the story. The next day the five men went back to the spot where they had seen the dwarf. McNulty once again had his trusty spade. The black-clad dwarf appeared again, even though it was daytime, and without his lantern. Not learning his lesson from the previous night's encounter, McNulty swung his spade again at the dwarf. He succeeded in cutting the dwarf into two pieces, but he was probably not prepared for what came next.

Rather than fall over and die, the two halves of the dwarf's body floated forty feet up into the air and rejoined together. Then, with a blinding flash of light, the dwarf disappeared.

The men went back to boarding house where they all lived and described to their landlady what they had just witnessed. In response, she told them that many people had seen the same thing and that it wasn't really that unusual. I guess flying ghost dwarfs were just a common occurrence in the neighborhood!

The article ends by noting that there is a tradition in the neighborhood that "many years ago a sailor of dwarfish stature sailed up the Quinebec river (sic), his boat was capsized, and he drowned." I am assuming that Quinebic is a variant spelling of Quinnipiac, the large river that flows through North Haven. Connecticut readers, let me know if this is correct.

American newspapers in the 19th century often ran stories about ghosts, monsters, and other strange occurrences. They were a good way to increase readership, and people didn't have access to the almost unlimited weird news we now have via the internet and shows like Ancient Aliens or Finding Bigfoot. Newspapers had to do it all.

I suppose this story could be a hoax, but the article does include names and a verifiable location, so perhaps these men really did encounter something. And maybe that something really did have a long tradition of appearing to people in the neighborhood.

The people of North Haven explained the dwarf as a ghost (who was apparently once from Massachusetts), but he also sounds suspiciously like a fairy. Although quite powerful, fairies are often small in stature and often appear in the garb of an earlier era. But the distinction between fairies and ghosts are blurry. Whether by living under ancient burial mounds or including deceased humans in their company, fairies are often associated with the dead. This may also be why fairies often appear in antiquated clothing - they're just wearing what they wore while alive.

Ghost or fairy? It's really impossible to say. I think at some point it just becomes futile to categorize or define paranormal occurrences. All we really have are the strange stories people tell and our inclination to categorize what is inherently disorderly.

I've included the full article below in case you want to read the original:

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