In 1720 the Daniel Benton Homestead was built in the quiet town of Tolland, Connecticut. During the Revolutionary war in 1777, the house was used as a stopover for twenty-four Hessian soldier prisoners on their way to Boston, where they would be shipped home. Graffiti can still be seen on the ceiling beams from their short stay and it is believed that the prisoners enjoyed their time so much that some did not leave the quaint little town at all and made Tolland their home.
Heartbreak is also part of the homestead’s history. Elisha Benton, grandson to Daniel Benton, served in the Revolutionary war. Prior to enlisting, Elisha and a young local girl, Jemima Barrows, had fallen in love and wanted to marry. The Benton family did not approve, causing a rift within the family. Some believe Elisha enlisted in the war, hoping the time away would change his family’s mind about the marriage.
After enlisting, Elisha was captured by the British and sent to a prison ship on the New York Harbor. While there, Elisha contracted small pox. He was sent home and the family, in fear of contracting the disease themselves, allowed Jemima to take care of Elisha. Jemima and Elisha were shut away in the “dying and borning room” until January 21, 1777 when Elisha died at the age of twenty-nine. His body was removed through a window and buried on one side of the carriage drive on the west side of the homestead, with a plain stone marker at his gravesite.
February 28, 1777, five weeks after Elisha’s death, Jemima died from small pox. The Benton family agreed to bury Jemima close to Elisha, in gratitude (as well as fear of contracting the disease themselves) of her taking care of him. Since Elisha and Jemima had yet to be married, the bodies were not allowed to lie next to each other. Jemima was buried a few yards away from Elisha, with the carriage road separating them.
It is unknown how long stories of the supernatural have been circulating about the homestead, but ghostly sighting were reported as far back as when Florrie Bishop Bowering owned the house from 1934-1969. Her maid saw a young girl wandering through the house, dressed as a bride and crying.
Members of the historical society have had numerous experiences of unexplained noises and what they call “vibrations”. Many people have heard footsteps throughout the house. Neighbors have seen lights flickering on and off, heard raised voices, and have seen a man dressed in a Revolutionary war uniform.
Paranormal investigators, as well as psychics, have visited the Daniel Benton Homestead but have been unable to provide solid proof if the homestead is haunted or not. One thing is for certain, the tragic story of Elisha Benton and Jemima Barrows will live on through the stories.