There comes a time in many people’s lives when they have a paranormal experience that either makes them question the existence of ghosts, or become staunch believers. That moment became solidified for me when I witnessed my first full body apparition at twelve years old while fishing with my father at Hopkins Mill Pond Fishing Area in Foster, Rhode Island.
There is a pool just under the bridge of Old Danielson Pike (now a walking bridge) in Dolly Cole Brook which flows out of Hopkins Mill Pond. It was at this pool where we decided to try our luck. My father meandered down a ways, crossed the brook, and disappeared down an overgrown path. I tossed my line in the pool just north of the bridge.
A few moments later a barefoot woman dressed in a shabby long white “sack” dress came from the opposite direction on the path and stood across from me at the pool. She seemed oblivious to my presence as she leaned over with an old wooden bucket to fetch some water from the flowing current. My first impression was that I was somehow looking back in time at this woman. I remember thinking how eerie the whole incident felt. Why would someone be drawing water from the stream and why was she dressed so plain and primitive? She also had a strange aura about her, almost as if she was an image being projected onto the scene. This did not register so much in my mind at the time, as I was taken aback by the looks of such a person in the modern age. She then rose from her mission and glided silently down the path she first appeared on.
My father emerged from the brush moments later and I asked him if he had seen that peculiar woman pass by him, but much to my astonishment, he had seen no one. There was no way she could have gone off the path, as the brier and brush was much too thick to cut through.
One year later I was reading a local newspaper and one of the Halloween stories recounted the ghost of Dolly Cole. Cole allegedly drowned in the brook in the 1800s and has haunted the area ever since. That was when I realized that I had actually seen a ghost. In later years, returned to the site numerous times in hopes of seeing the spirit again, and was fortunate to witness her one more time. This time I could see her almost floating along the path, passing through solid objects along the way. The brush was too thick to follow her successfully and I soon lost sight of the ghost of Hopkins Mill.
I heard many accounts by people who resided in the area of how the ghost of Dolly Cole wandered the edge of the brook, or how she was often spied near the bridge that bears her name. The local folk still tell tales of her ghost appearing by the watercourse that runs through what was once Dolly and Hugh Cole’s property. Many, like myself, have seen her near the pool with her ethereal wooden bucket in hand.
Research would soon lead to the true identity of the ghost. It is not Dolly Cole that eternally wanders the brook, but instead, a woman named Betsey Grayson. Foster records indicate that Grayson drowned in 1860 when she dipped her wooden bucket into the water and the swift current somehow pulled her in. Margery Matthews recollected the tragic event in her booklet, Peleg’s Last Word.
People have heard voices near the pool, yet there is no other human being around to produce them. Photos have shown strange anomalies in the area that may be connected to the woman in white.
The ghost of Hopkins Mill District is one of the most celebrated otherworldly accounts from the area. My first sighting of the eerie ghost stands out as one of my greatest moments in my paranormal history. It remains as vivid in my mind today as it was so many years ago because, after all, you never forget your first…ghost.