Connecticut author says Litchfield County likely the scene of first mass murder in America
Litchfield County is known for its beauty, its changing of the leaves and the beautiful fall colors. But when settlers arrived in America, the wild areas were a place to be feared where they believed evil lurked.
News 12 teamed up with Naturalist Mark Fowler to explore the unnatural and spooky sites of Litchfield County.
He says the idea of a wicked Litchfield County came from settlers because it was so wild around them that it became a scary place to live.
The colonists believed that when the leaves and crops were dying, that there was a thin layer between good and evil and life and death.
Vermilyea says the settlers, mostly Puritans, were deeply religious people who tended to ascribe a lot of their fears of unusual things that they would encounter to the supernatural.
Fowler says there is a cemetery in Bethlehem that is a great example of how the settlers viewed the world, and it's here a great sickness took on to the land.
There are descriptions of so many people dying that they didn't have the labor to dig the graves, So they dug one grave and they just stacked the bodies in the single grave, Vermilyea says.
Gallows Hill at the end of Gallows Lane is where the infamous mass murderer Barnett Davenport was executed by hanging on the gallows.
Davenport is sometimes called the first mass murderer in America. In history. He was in Gen. George Washington's Continental Army, and he deserted when the Army marched through Connecticut.
Davenport hatched a plan that he would kill the Mallory family.
Vermilyea says Davenport brutally murdered the family before setting fire to their house.
He was eventually caught and arrested, and he was sent to jail in Litchfield where he confessed to a minister and was hanged.