Skip to main content

The Yankee Express

The ghostly heads of the Kickemuit River

By Thomas D’Agostino
Here is a true haunt from New England’s long gone past, just in time for Hallowee’en. 
   Along the misty banks of the Kickemuit River in Warren, Rhode Island, a hideous scene unfolded, setting off what would become King Philip’s War. This event left a permanent scar on the land both historically and psychically. Though the historical fact is all but forgotten, the psychic scar left on the land continues to haunt the area to this day.
   The origin of this ghostly activity dates back to June, 1675. Tension had grown between the colonists and the local Pokanoket tribe living in the area. Uneasiness between the colonists and natives grew to a point where neither felt any sympathy or regard for the other. 
Conditions between the two exploded on June 20, 1675 when a band of Pokanoket warriors attacked the English settlement along the banks of the Kickemuit River. They looted and vandalized several homes. Two homes were set fire in the attack and the settlement left in fear and near ruin. Three days later, the Pokanoket returned to ransack and burn more houses. 
John Salisbury shot and wounded one of the warriors as they retreated. The following day they returned to exact revenge for the shooting. The renegade band killed John Salisbury and six other colonists near Swazey Corner during the bloody struggle. Two other men were ambushed and killed as they ran to the nearby settlements for help.
A week after the incident the severed heads of eight murdered colonists were seen on the banks of the river mounted on long poles with gruesome smiles pulled across their faces. This was a clear message to the colonists. Leave the Pokanoket area, or meet the same fate. 
The attack on the settlement sparked the brutal and bloody conflict known as King Philip’s War between the local tribes and colonists. The violent conflict would eventually take its toll on the people of the region before subsiding into a peace treaty. The innocent colonists who died that day, however, have never found peace.
Several times a year people claim witness to eight floating heads above the shore of the river. Most often they are seen about the trees glowing in the twilight hours of early evening. They drift almost aimlessly but with purpose, as if searching for something. Perhaps they are trying to reunite with the rest of their bodies that were never recovered.  
Sometimes they are witnessed on poles in the ground on the edge of the Kickemuit near the bridge that crosses the river at Route 136. Either way it is a ghastly sight to behold. Some witnesses who have seen them say the faces seem to look distressed or forlorn. Others have stood aghast as the repulsive apparitions wear the same horrific grins that were given them by those who brutally murdered the eight men. 
When you visit the Kickemuit River take a stroll along the banks. If you get the feeling you are being watched, look to the trees and you might see eight glowing faces staring down at you wondering if you are friend or foe.
   The Kickemuit River runs through the center of Warren. Take Interstate Route 195 East to Route 114 East. Bear left where Routes 114 and 103 split. Take Route 136 South off of Route 103. 
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