Maud's Grave, Voluntown & Sterling

November, 2010 by Ray Bendici
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The Damned Story: In the Hell Hollow area of the Pachaug State Forest, there are multiple local legends regarding Maud's (or Maude's) Grave. It has become a place shrouded in a bit of mystery and legend, and one that seems to draw ghost hunters and curiosity seekers, as well as a number of bored teenagers. So who was Maud, and why is her grave so troubled? Some claim she was a witch who was persecuted by the locals and then hanged, while others claim that she was the daughter of a witch who was tortured and killed. Another group will tell you that she was simply a child who got lost in the woods or died of smallpox. Then there are others who think she is related to the screaming spirit of a Native American woman slain by British soldiers. Or it could be all of the above. Or not. According to the best-researched account we can find (from The Day of New London), Maud Reynolds was almost 2 years old when she died in October of 1890. The death certificate states the cause of her death as diphtheria, a common and sometimes fatal ailment in the 19th century, but there some accounts suggesting that family members thought she may have choked on a piece of apple. For reasons only known to her family, she wasn’t buried with other deceased relatives in the Reynolds family cemetery, but instead was laid to rest in a spot closer to their home -- some speculate it was so that the 5-foot-tall cement cross that originally marked her grave could be seen from the house by her grieving parents. The cross has since been knocked down, and now Maud’s unmarked grave is now in the middle of woods; at the time of her death, it was at the edge of a field belonging to the family farm, but that has long since been reclaimed by the surrounding landscape. Apparently, there is another more popular grave site nearby in the Sterling end of Hell Hollow, marked with a broken head stone inscribed Maud. The dates (1647-1654) don’t match those of Maud Reynolds, and as it made of cement (unusual for grave markers), there’s speculation that it’s a hoax, or simply someone else named Maud. This one is better known, and seems to be the one most of the legends surrounds, and thus, draws more attention. We haven't been able to find any specific stories of witch persecution or execution in the area, but that certainly doesn't mean it didn't happen. In addition to these two stories, there’s also a legend of a Native American woman who was killed by early colonists in the late 18th century, and whose screams can still be heard in the forest today. (Fisher cat, anybody?) The Pachaug Forest is also allegedly home to a number of other ghostly entities, detailed in The Hauntings of Pachaug Forest by David Trifilo (which you can read about here). As you might imagine, a mysterious grave in the forest has inspired many legends and "friend of a friend"-type stories, the most popular of which is along the lines of “teenagers party on or desecrate the grave, and then soon meet tragic deaths.” Others suggest that by simply coming close to the grave is enough to upset Maud, and she will move the rocks on her grave in protest. Also, it's alleged that by simply saying her name aloud in the vicinity of her grave can bring about a curse that will follow you home. Of course, everything from ghosts and spirit mists to orbs and cold spots have been experienced here. The disembodied cries of a young girl have also been reported, and others have recorded EVPs. In addition to supposed feelings of dread, there are also urban legend-like accounts of a mysterious woman instantaneously appearing in the middle of the roadway, getting hit by a car, but not actually leaving a solid corpse behind. So although Maud may has long been laid to rest, many believe she's not resting peacefully. Our Damned Experience: We have yet to visit either site, so we haven't met either old compromising, enterprising, anything but tranquilizing, right-on Maud. If You Go: Little Maud Reynolds' unmarked grave is supposedly just off of Hell Hollow Road in Voluntown. It's marked by a pile of rocks. To get to the second, possibly fictional Maud's site -- apparently, also a pile of rocks -- take Hell Hollow Road into Sterling and cross Route 49 onto Cedar Swamp Road. On the right is a Cedar Swamp Cemetery; beyond that you will find a path into the woods and shortly past a stream, there’s a large gnarled dead tree and a small stone foundation -- the broken headstone is right in this area.

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Submitted by Dave (not verified) on
I was wondering when this would finally be up on your site (no means to criticize), just this place is definitely interesting. It is in the center of Pachaug State Forest. You can search on google, Hells Hollow in Voluntown, and it will pretty much guide you on how to get to this site. Personally I have been driving through the area around dusk and also been in the area at night. It definitely is a sight though, the state forest is beautiful during the day, and you wouldn't think much of the rocks if you didnt really look into them, but the site is interesting. Personally I think post-Blair Witch Era, you got a lot of people who were inspired by the movie to try and spook others. The so called story is that Maud was murdered by a bunch of indians, and her soul haunts the grounds. She scaveneged the land for a couple days after being held captive and then perished because she could not escape. Regardless of this being fact of fiction, it is an interesting story. After investigating the site, I will say it definitely eerie without a doubt. There was a mist/fog over the site that just stayed persistent when I went in the evening. It was dense to the fact it made it hard to actually see in front of you, but somehow we treked through the area. we came to a pile of rocks that seemed to be placed strategically. They were in like a circle and organized strangely, obviously not just natural. Then a few hundred feet away we found the "tombstone" inscribed "MAUD". If it was a hoax to scare people, its pretty well thought out because it is professionally inscribed. Nonethless, it is eerie. Rumor has it that during a storm you can see people chasing one another through the woods. I didn't hear any yells, I didn't really see much besides rocks, beer cans and some cigarette butts on the road. Other than that much else occurred here. I've read a lot about the myths of it, and sobbing taking place, but didnt hear it for myself. I suggest you walk the land during the day, then at night it will make things a lot simpler.

Submitted by Dave (not verified) on
Some of the stuff you have in your article has discrepancies, but nonethless they correlate pretty well. Who knows what's true anyways. I love your work though.

I've gone up there numerous time me and my group have had so much we have had the chance to talk with maude and one of her brothers. She is a wonderful kid she still loves to play and have fun. When we go we will set up a flashlight and ask her to turn it of and on answering questions for us we have also had contact from her on are recorders we have a recording of her singing to me. She is a pretty awsome child even many years after she is gone. Sincerly, Traptparanormal

Maud and the other story of the Indian girl ARE two DIFFERENT legends and not the the same, just to clarify. I've researched Maude for some time now and the popular belief as to where she is buried, is the "fictional" locale that you have here. I've found that her mother was so distraught by Maudes' passing that she wanted to see her all the time. The "stone foundation" you speak of is the foundation of the former home of the Reynolds. Where Maudes' grave is, you'd be able to see from looking from the house, hence her mother wanting to always see her. We have also learned that there is a family plot located on Hell Hollow Road and will be researching it further and attempting to actually locate it in 2012. As for the Indian girl, she was murdered by colonists. She supposedly witnessed a larger murder and attempted to flee but was caught and killed herself. Her screams are claimed to still be heard throughout the area. The "fisher cat?" claims can be true but at the same time, do we automatically disprove all forest screams to them? The stone that bore Maude's name is now gone. I went there repeatedly in 2010 and it was there but in 2011 during my few trips there, someone (most likely teens for a thrill) took it, leaving no trace of it. I can also verify to what traptparanormal is saying as we have joined them on a investigation there in 2011.

Submitted by Tim Wombolt (not verified) on
I grew up in the Griswold area and as a child heard many goast stoies of mauds grave. As a teen I visited the site on a couple occations the first time I remember going me and a friend road up Hell Hollow Rd. stoped the motorcycle at the suposed site of the grave then left. as we pulled away the bike stalled and we had to push it trying several times it would not start, as we aproached the end of the road it started rigfht up. On a different occation I was up there attending a weekend keg party. the more we drank the crazier we became we started cursing Maud and throwing beer bottles at the socalled grave. after leaving the party we did not make it more than half a mile away and ran head on to a large tree and three of us were lucky to servive. I am a true believer of the curse of Mauds grave.... Tim Wombolt class of 83

Submitted by Shawna Wainwright (not verified) on
When I was a teenager in 1999, I was with a girl who told me about the legend of Maud. Her story was that Maud was a witch and was murdered because of it, and that a group of 6-7 people in the 70s had peed on her grave and all met tragic deaths within a year. Anyhow I convinced her to bring me there. Her and I were walking along and it was a quiet no wind kind of day, she thought we were lost because we couldnt find it. We heard a rustle and looked over and there it was, she got scared and ran away. I walked over and was respectful towards the situation and didn't feel any negative vibes. Anyhow that night we were at a party and similar to Tims Wombolts story, a bunch of guys got rowdy and wanted to pee on the grave. I was against it but we ended up getting in the car and heading out there, me trying to convince them not to. When we got there we accidently passed the area and were about to turn around when suddenly the car just spun out of control and landed in a ditch. As we tried to start the car back up the leaves underneath us lit on fire and was burning the car. It was incredibly scary but luckily the guys managed to push the car off the leaves, put them out, and eventually push the car out of the ditch. However, everyone was way too freaked out to walk to her grave at that point. I definetly believe it happened from Maud, whichever legend is true.

Submitted by Randy (not verified) on
I have real pictures of her grave taken back in 1955 when it was still in one piece before everyone destroyed it. All she was was a two year old baby, so people need to leave the place alone and let her rest in peace.

I know this is over a year old but Randy, if you can email that picture of the grave site from 1955, that would be great! Many thanks!

Submitted by Chris (not verified) on
Is it the same path that goes around the pond? If so how long is it. I hear of 2 differentiate locations Email me Thanks

Submitted by Chris (not verified) on
Is it the same path that goes around the pond? If so how long is it. I hear of 2 differentiate locations Email me Thanks