The Damned Story: We all know that Revolutionary War captain and official Connecticut State Hero Nathan Hale supposedly uttered, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” just before being executed by the British for being a spy. Not everyone knows that his former homestead in Coventry is believed to be haunted.
Actually, not everyone knows that Nathan never even lived in this rambling farmhouse on a dozen bucolic acres in Coventry — his family moved into it in October 1776, a month after he was hanged in New York City. His father, the Deacon Richard Hale, had re-married two years after his first wife Elizabeth (Nathan’s mother) had died; she had expired shortly after giving birth to their 12th child — gee, wonder what killed her? Anyway, Deacon Hale and his new wife, Abigail Adams, who had seven kids of her own (The Hale Bunch?), had greatly renovated and expanded the original house to accommodate the extended family, so the structure that now stands would’ve been completely unknown to Nathan.
Deacon Hale lived there until his death in 1802, and generations of the Hale family occupied the premises for decades beyond that. At some point in the 19th century, the homestead was sold, passing through other hands before eventually falling into disrepair.
In 1914, the property was acquired by George Dudley Seymour, a patent attorney and Nathan Hale devotee who invested great time and care in refurbishing the homestead, including furnishing the house with as many genuine Hale family artifacts as he could obtain. When he was done with his painstaking restoration, he opened it to the public; upon his death in 1945, the homestead was given to the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society, who still owns and operates it.
As far as the haunting part of the story goes, it seems that starts with Seymour — shortly after his purchase, Seymour and a friend were visiting the homestead when the friend peered into a window and saw an elderly gent in Colonial-period garb who they later identified as Deacon Hale.
Over the years, various other long-deceased family members have allegedly been spotted roaming the halls of the homestead, as well as a lady in white who some believe to be Lydia Carpenter, a former servant — the ghost has been spotted sweeping the floors and generally cleaning up. (So housework never ends, even in the afterlife? Great.) Footsteps have been heard stomping down the back stairs, while the sounds of someone pacing have also been reported.
In addition to all that, the sounds of rattling chains have been claimed to have been heard coming from the basement — some believe it is the restless spirit of Joseph Hale, Nathan’s brother who also was captured by the British during the war and was incarcerated in the hold of a prison ship.
Considering Nathan Hale’s gruesome and tragic death at 21 years old, it’s interesting that his spirit has never been associated with the homestead. Then again, he was executed in New York and buried in an unmarked grave, so there really is no clear connection to the homestead at which he never lived. You know, other than the name.
Damned side note: There has been much debate whether Hale, did in fact, utter the phrase “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution has a nicely detailed biography of Hale that addresses the issue.
Our Damned Experience: We visited the Hale Homestead a few years back before we knew it was supposed to be haunted. As such, we can’t report on any sort of unusual apparitions or spirits because we weren’t looking for them.
Thus, we regret that we have only one visit to give for our website. For now.
If You Go: The Hale Homestead is located at 2299 South Street in Coventry. Owned and operated by Connecticut Landmarks, it is open for tours from Memorial Day through October.
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