Mrs. Johnson’s Harp
By Thomas D’Agostino
If one follows the old road for about one mile, traces of the ghost town begin to emerge. After a little over onehalf mile more, Dana Common comes into view with a plaque commemorating the former residents and families who once lived and worked there.
Around the common, foundations of a church, hotel, store and homes still fight the vestiges of time and nature. Behind the church foundation is a field that once contained the town’s deceased but when the reservoir project began, the dead were exhumed and relocated with their stones to the Quabbin Park Cemetery in Ware.
The field may now lay silent but the remains of the buildings still have stories to tell of the life and death of this once bucolic little hamlet.
There is one foundation in particular where ethereal music seems to still echo in the breeze that gently wisps across the common. This particular cellar hole was once the home of Mrs. Marion Johnson. Mrs. Johnson was known for baking cookies for the children of the common. On beautiful summer days, she would sit on her porch with her harp, playing the most majestic music. The sound brought neighbors to the common to listen to her porchside concerts.
By 1930, the town was slated to be part of the Metropolitan District Water Supply Commission project to bring more water to Boston for its growing needs. Although the town was doomed for extinction, Mrs. Johnson, along with others, remained until the last days of 1938, playing her beloved harp for her neighbors. The guests at the hotel would set themselves on the front porch with a cool glass of lemonade while relishing in the angelic sounds that filled the area. Patrons of the local store would halt their shopping to take in a moment and absorb the music that drifted through the afternoon breeze.
Every so often, Mrs. Johnson would take a break from her concerts to serve lemonade and cookies to the youth who gathered in the grass across the street to hear her music. So were the days of Dana Common.
Now, the only sounds left are the local wildlife that live among the overgrowth brush where homes and yards once graced. Occasional hikers take in the scenery where the trees and bramble cover much of what was once a typical little New England village.
Then there is the strange sound of music. The ghostly sound of harp strings being plucked begin to permeate the air around the little village green. Where it originates is a mystery to those who hear it, as no inhabited home is anywhere within miles of the common. It may remain curious to many, but there are those who know who is responsible for the phantom performance. Those who were there when Mrs. Johnson gave her daily serenades to the neighbors on the harp that filled the air then as it does to this day before trickling off into the void.
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.