The ghosts of Hopkins Mills
Historic cemetery in Foster, RI.
By Thomas D’Agostino
Hopkins Mills off Route 6 in Foster, Rhode Island, is a place where time and progress have yet to invade. Each structure is a living museum of the past with a rich history and interesting story to match. There are also some of the past residents still residing in the historic district.
I actually witnessed my first full body apparition when I was twelve years old while fishing with my father at Hopkins Mills in Foster, Rhode Island. There is a small pool at Dolly Cole Brook that was perfect for casting a line. My father meandered down the path and out of sight. A few moments later a barefoot woman dressed in a shabby long white dress came from the same direction on the path, leaned over with an old wooden bucket and drew some water from the pool. She 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 in a bit of a start by the looks of such a person in the modern age. She then rose from her mission and glided silently down the path from where she came.
My father emerged from the brush moments after, and I asked him if he had seen that peculiar woman pass by him, but much to my astonishment, he had seen no one. I later read an article on the ghost of Dolly Cole of Hopkins Mills. Research would soon lead to the true identity of the ghost. It was not Dolly Cole but a woman named Betsey Grayson. Foster records indicated that she drowned in 1860 when she dipped her wooden bucket into the pool and the swift current somehow pulled her in. Her ghost has been seen many times over the centuries wandering the perimeter of the brook.
Another ghost is that of a woman who could actually be Dorothy Cole. She is often seen next to the bridge on Route 6 where the Dolly Cole Brook flows. This was the Cole property, and she would often keep watch for the stage that ran through Hopkins Mills. Her ghost is also seen quite frequently in the area.
The ghost of a man is seen near Hopkins Mill Pond. William Potter once owned the property and is buried on a rise above the mill pond. The mill was taken down years ago but remnants of it still lace through the woods near the water. It could easily be one of the Potter family, Burdick family, as some of them are buried in the small cemetery, or Peleg Walker. Walker, who married Mary Potter is buried in the same lot. He is the subject of the next paragraph.
Peleg Walker was one of the partners of the Foster Woolen Manufactory founded on the edge of Hopkins Mills. William Potter and his son Olney E., along with another son-in-law and brother-in-law founded the enterprise. All went well until, according to legend, some sort of falling out caused Peleg Walker to commit suicide. His ghost taunted the mill owners soon after and in time, the mill closed and was burned to the ground. His ghost, along with a few others are still witnessed at the site of the Ramtail Factory and village remains. Orra Cole-Potter is also one of the spirits that remain. Richard Salisbury (who used to hide in the ramshackle homes to imbibe in his favorite drink) may still frequent the area and perhaps Jonathan Bucklin, who also committed suicide in the mill in 1817 are among the ghosts of Hopkins Mills. There are several more, but unfortunately they do not make a habit of stating their name before making an appearance, so who they are will remain a matter of conjecture until.
Thomas D’Agostino and his wife Arlene Nicholson are seasoned paranormal investigators, authors, and co-organizers of Paranormal United Research Society. You can find out more about them by visiting www.tomdagostino.com.