The Haunting of Benton House: The Tragedy of Elijah Benton and Jemima Barrows
When I first heard about Jemima Barrows and Elijah Benton on "Haunted History," I couldn't get it out of my head. Okay, I admit some of the attraction had to do with the story being set not far from the place where my family lived for 200 years, and from where I was born. But more than that, it sparked my interest because it told a story that was fit for the ages, and embodied the lives of the people who fought to create out country. Out of their story came my novel "Haunting Jemima Brown," which is a fictional account of their story. It's part history, gothic, romance, and suspense.
Here's the true story of my inspiration:
It was 1776. His name was Elisha Benton. He lived in Tolland, Connecticut. Elisha fell in love with a girl who came from the Barrows family. Her name was Jemima. It is said that she was approximately twelve years younger than Elisha, but they had great affectionate for one another. A story of complication occurred between the Benton family and the family of the girl, and the marriage was not approved between the two. Elisha decided that it was best that he sign up to fight in the
War for Independence from England. It is believed that he thought that the two families could resolve their differences, and, upon his return, the marriage would be approved. Elisha Benton was captured. He was sent to a ship that served as a prison for Americans by the British that was in the New York harbor. These ships were considered to be notorious for American prisoners. Americans were allowed to use bedding, clothing, and other items that had been infected by the deadly smallpox disease of the time. Naturally, Elisha Benton caught the disease. Shortly thereafter, he was on the list of individuals in the prisoner exchange and was allowed to go home. Being sent home was probably the start of the reputation of the Daniel Benton home being considered one of the real haunted places in America. Naturally, the Benton family was excited to have Elisha home. Unfortunately, fear immediately followed as the smallpox disease was very contagious and was known to result in a relatively rapid death. No one really wanted to subject themselves to contracting the disease, yet they knew someone needed to care for the sick, weak soldier and loved one. This is when the Barrows girl, Jemima, came forward in her love and vowed to ensure to care for her one true love.
Daniel Benton House
A special room was included in the homestead. This room was used to house the sick, or individuals giving birth. Within a few weeks, despite the best efforts of caring for him, Jemima had to say goodbye to Elisha Benton, who died on the 21st day of January in the year of 1777. He was a mere twenty nine years old. He was buried near the driveway of the home, with a simple stone as remembrance. Five weeks later, on the 28th day of February, Jemima also died of the smallpox disease. The family buried her close to her true love because of her sacrifice, but a few yards away as they had not been married, could not be buried closely.
Original Grave of Jemima Barrows
Many believe because of the tragic nature of their deaths, Jemima's spirit has never settled.
There have been experiences in which crying that expresses deep mourning and loss has been heard. The girl that is heard crying is said to be Jemima Barrows. It is believed that this is a residual type of haunting, and seems to occur regularly.
An apparition of what is believed to be Jemima has been seen by numerous individuals throughout history. Many state that she is wearing a wedding dress, while others have noted her in typical dresses from the late 1700 era. It is believed that she is waiting, or searching for her one true love, Elisha Benton.
Modern Gravestone of Jemima and Elisha,
along with memorial plague.
You can purchase "Haunting Jemima Brown on Amazon.com or on this website