by Hans DePold, Bolton Town Historian
(Published in Bolton Horizons, February 2010)
Bolton militia Captain Thomas Pitkin was a brother to author David Pitkin's direct ancestor, Colonel Joseph Pitkin of East Hartford. David Pitkin is writing a book of New England ghost stories and will be included in our Bolton stories. He asked for details about the Jared Cone house and shared some new stories he had just heard. Brian and Eileen Jennings have owned the house since 2005 and they have given permission to tell you the story. It should be noted that the Jennings and many others we know have never experienced anything like this story, and those in this story were not disturbed by anything they saw. So you need not worry. It is safe to read this story alone in your house without putting on all the lights or checking under your bed.
Samuel Morgan Alvord was the Bolton historian at the Bolton Bicentennial Celebration on September 4, 1920. He gave a short history of the birth of Bolton on the lawn of the Jared Cone house saying, "Deacon Charles N. Loomis, under whose shade trees we are gathered, and his brother William H. Loomis are descendants of the proprietor Thomas Loomis." And so the story begins. Jared Cone Sr. and Christiana Loomis of Bolton were wed on September 19, 1754. The Jared Cone we all know was born to them in 1756. By 1768 Jared Cone Sr. bought the original Loomis farm. The house is just south of the center of Bolton on Hebron Road, somewhat closer to Bolton Center Cemetery than it is to the Congregational Church.
The Lexington alarm of April 19, 1775, is considered the beginning of the Revolutionary War. It started with the ride of Paul Revere and the British attacks on Lexington and Concord. Connecticut records show that 63 men from Bolton marched on the Revolutionary Route to the relief of the Massachusetts Minutemen. That compares with 45 from the much larger city of Hartford. From Bolton, Jonathan Birge (the next door neighbor of Jared Cone) was a captain and 17-year-old Jared Cone was then a lieutenant. The British quickly withdrew to Boston as a wave of 4,000 armed Minutemen swarmed across the Massachusetts countryside and took the heights overlooking Boston and ignited the skies with bonfires.
After American independence was won, young Jared Cone returned to the farm. On January 15, 1784, he married Elisabeth Wells of the prominent Wethersfield family. In 1790 he acquired the farm from his father. In 1800, at age 34, he had the current Jared Cone house built but apparently kept part of the original house because the rear, or ell, of the house appears to be from a much earlier date. It is said that the house was so beautiful and expensive for its time that they could only live in it for four years before they had to sell the farm to pay their debts. The Jared Cone House was the first house in Bolton to be registered on the National Register of Historic Places and not long ago was a bed and breakfast.
Recently Doris Perkins, a genealogist from Saratoga Springs, New York, described her experience at the Jared Cone house to author David Pitkin at one of his book signings. In 1996, she came to Bolton to do research on her ancestors. One of them had married a Cone 200 years ago. Hearing that the Jared Cone house was a nice bed and breakfast, Doris called and made a reservation with proprietor Cinde Smith for herself and her husband. Doris would spend that very night in the house of her distant ancestor. She and her husband were the only guests that night and were given the Blue Room, near the large Palladian window on the front of the house. She remembers, "I dropped off to sleep soon afterward, but awakened after an hour because light was shining in my face. Sitting up, I noticed the bedroom door was open. Apparently, I hadn't fastened the lock securely enough, so I got up, closed the door, inserting the locking pin tightly. Then, back to bed. A few hours later, I sensed the light again, and awoke to see the door was once more open. A bit more puzzled than angry, I got up again to close and lock the door. I returned to bed only after tugging on the latch to be sure the door was firmly secured. Nevertheless, sometime later, the hallway light shining in my face again roused me. Whoever or whatever wanted that door open was welcome to have it their way, I decided. Nobody else was staying over, so I knew we'd have our privacy and dropped off to sleep again. My husband never did wake up to see the strange phenomenon."
Doris did not share her tale with Cinde Smith at breakfast the next day and recalled only making a general query about the room. "I recall Mrs. Smith saying offhand that the family had had some kind of difficulty with the door. So, maybe that's all it was, I decided, and didn't pursue the matter."
With the assistance of the Bolton Town Clerk's office, Author David Pitkin was able to locate Cinde Smith, who had closed the B & B in 2003. David shared Doris's tale with her and Cinde Smith thought a moment and replied, "Strangers and out-of-towners only frequented the place for about eight years, and I had only one other guest who ever shared such a story with me. Curiously, that woman's experiences had taken place in the Blue Room also. The woman guest had come to breakfast with raised eyebrows, asking me if I had a ghost. Never having heard such anecdotes before, I asked her why she would ask. 'Well, there's a rocking chair in my room, as you know. I awoke during the night to see it rocking all by itself. I was stunned and pulled the covers over my head, but then went back to sleep. But I know what I saw!' I didn't doubt her, I said, but no other guest had ever mentioned such an incident. I guess Doris hadn't told me of her experiences. But, now that you mention ghosts," she went on, "I recall that my daughter came into the house one evening when she was 17. She wasn't scared, but was more mystified, telling me that she had just seen a woman in white leaning against our signpost out front. Then the figure vanished."
But none of Bolton's official records contain mention of the woman who enjoyed rocking peacefully each night before retiring, who left the bedroom door open to be awakened by dawn's light shining in the beautiful Palladian window, and who would sometimes venture into the front yard at night during the 1990s, curious as to who had placed a Bed & Breakfast signpost in the lawn.