In Episode 190, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger hike into the woods of Kent, Connecticut, in search of Molly Fisher Rock, a boulder with strange petroglyphs, with ties to an old folk healer from the late 1700s, and a possible connection to a cursed pirate treasure of Captain Kidd.
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[WALKING IN WOODS]
RAY: At least this isn’t the biggest hill we’ve had to climb to find a legend.
JEFF: No, this isn’t too bad, Ray. And it’s Spring, so it’s a nice day for a hike here in Kent, Connecticut.
RAY: What are we looking for?
JEFF: A rock.
RAY: SIGH… another rock. New England has no shortage of them, I guess. Of course, there are tons of them around here. What makes this one stand out?
JEFF: This rock is about the size of a compact car. It has a wide band of quartz running around it, and some strange petroglyph markings on one side.
RAY: Oooo that sounds a little more interesting…
JEFF: We’re in the woods on Spooner Hill, searching for Molly Fisher Rock, a rock outcrop with a connection to a witch, but also the buried and cursed treasure of the notorious pirate Captain Kidd.
JEFF: I’m Jeff Belanger.
RAY: And I’m Ray Auger. Welcome to episode 190 of the New England Legends podcast. If you give us about ten minutes, we’ll give you something strange to talk about today.
JEFF: Kent, Connecticut, is the next stop on our mission to chronicle every legend in New England one story at a time. So many of our story leads come from you! We love it when you reach out to us through our Web site, social media, our free smart phone app, or when you call or text our legend line at 617-444-9683. We’re a community of legend seekers exploring strange tales like this one.
RAY: Before we start digging for gold and searching for witches, we want to take just a minute to tell you about our sponsor, Nuwati Herbals.
JEFF: For a while now we’ve been telling you about so many of the great, all-natural products that Nuwati Herbals offers. Since we’re in the woods this week, we definitely have a bottle of their No-Ski-To Natural Insect repellent on-hand because warmer weather means the bugs are out.
RAY: And lately I’ve been drinking more Nuwati Herbals Buffalo Bone Tea. I’m getting more active in the warmer weather, and this tea is made to support my body and bones. And like all Nuwati Herbals products, this tea is made from all natural ingredients like: Marshmallow root, Plantain Leaf, Dandelion Root, Alfalfa Leaf, and other ingredients. These teas are herbal remedies from Mother Earth.
JEFF: We’ve got the tea to keep us strong, the No-Ski-To insect repellent to keep the bugs away, and of course some black and blue balm to sooth our muscles after the hike.
RAY: Please support the people who are supporting us. Check out the Nuwati Herbals Web site to see all of their great products AND you legendary listeners get 20% off your order when you use the promo code LEGENDS20 at checkout. Visit Nuwati Herbals dot com. That’s N-U-W-A-T-I Herbals with an S dot com.
JEFF: Okay, Ray. This rock in the woods isn’t going to be as easy to find as it once was. Back when it was first document by the president of Yale University in 1789, or back in 1930 when local historian Clifford C. Spooner wrote about the rock and legend we’re chasing. Back then, this was open farmland. This area is known as Spooner Hill – named after the same family as Clifford C.– but the forest has grown up quite a bit in the last century.
[WALKING IN WOODS]
RAY: There are many big rocks around here. This isn’t going to be easy.
JEFF: We have a couple of clues. It’s got a domed top, and that bright band of white quartz going through the middle.
RAY: Okay, that one over there seems to have a white strip of quartz going around it. But I don’t seen any markings on the rock.
JEFF: Let’s take a closer look. (PAUSE) See, look here and here!
RAY: Oh man, that’s tough to see. One symbol looks like the letter Y, there’s a triangle, a cross-shape, a dash. That one may be a diamond shape. These scratched out symbols are definitely strange.
JEFF: This place has a connection to a local healer woman, and possibly Captain Kidd’s buried treasure protected by a curse! To figure this out, let’s had back to 1780 and meet Molly Fisher.
JEFF: It’s the summer of 1780. Kent, Connecticut, is a quiet farming community here in the northwestern part of the state. Life here is pretty normal, but there is one colorful character who keeps things interesting. Enter Molly Fisher.
RAY: Molly Fisher was born here in Kent in 1750. She’s described by her grandparents as a good woman. A lovely girl. Yet, she never marries and doesn’t really have a home to call her own. There’s something a little different about Molly. A little bit off. Still, locals are happy to take her in their homes for days and even weeks at a time. Then she leaves, and no one sees her for weeks on end. Yet Molly has a habit of showing up at the most peculiar times.
RAY: If someone in Kent suddenly gets very sick, Molly has a way of turning up at their home. She moves in for a short while, she mixes herbs and roots she’s gathered into teas and tinctures, and the sick often get better.
JEFF: She’s a healer. She’s got a gift for it. As soon as her patients are on the mend. Poof! She vanishes again. When she shows up, people are glad to see her. She’ll stay at the home of a wealthy family and be gifted some expensive item, or maybe she’ll… appropriate said item as the home owners shrug their shoulders accepting that this is just her way. But she doesn’t hold on to the expensive items for very long. She’ll visit the home of a poor family and pass along anything she has of value.
RAY: She sounds a lot like a witch and Robin Hood mixed together.
JEFF: Ray! Shhhhh. Don’t use the W word around here. Folks don’t cotton to a word like that. Molly Fisher is well-liked, she practices folk remedies, and floats in an out of Kent life.
RAY: Okay, but her behavior is eccentric.
RAY: She has an almost magical understanding of plants and herbs.
RAY: She’s well outside of the mainstream for Kent.
JEFF: Also true.
RAY: Isn’t that a witch?
JEFF: There you go again! But yeah, I get it. The truth is, if she hasn’t been so helpful, if people in town didn’t like her, I’m sure that would be her label. But most people DO like her, so maybe they look the other way if she’s not in church, and only shows up to heal the sick, and even if her behavior is at times erratic, and she sometimes speaks of strange things she’s heard about.
RAY: What kind of strange things?
JEFF: I probably shouldn’t say.
RAY: Come on, it’s just us.
JEFF: Okay… sometimes Molly Fisher talks about buried pirate treasure.
RAY: Pirate treasure?!
JEFF: Shhhh keep your voice down!
RAY: Pirate treasure?! This far inland? In Connecticut?
JEFF: Look, Molly’s leaving town again… let’s follow her.
RAY: Okay, we’re heading south from the central part of Kent. We’re heading up into the foothills a place called Spooner Hill. I can hear Molly mumbling something to herself.
JEFF: It’s a pretty view up here as we head through these farm fields. I can see the Housatonic River right down there. And now we’re in a pasture.
RAY: And there’s that rock again! It looks so different now. It’s easier to spot without a forest around it. Molly is walking in circles around the big rock and mumbling to herself.
JEFF: But on the southeast side are those strange markings. Kent locals will tell you that Molly has mumbled more than a few times that there’s buried treasure here. A Chest of gold buried by none other than the famous pirate Captain Kidd.
RAY: Okay, we’re about 40 miles from Long Island Sound and the ocean. When pirates bury gold, the point is to go back and get it later, right?
RAY: So it has to be off the beaten path, but not too far off because they’re not going to have a lot of time to get it. How or why would Captain Kidd come this far inland?
JEFF: Captain William Kidd, was a Scottish sailor who sailed the seas. He was born in 1655 and did his plundering during the last few years of the 1600s. When you’re a pirate, you need to be where the ships are coming and going, so New England makes sense. A whole new country is being built, so that’s a lot of goods and gold heading in and out of the ports.
RAY: Captain Kidd got his start as a privateer.
JEFF: Which of course is a pirate who is authorized by a king to plunder ships from foreign countries.
RAY: Exactly. So it’s a razor-thin line between a privateer and pirate. Sometimes the prize is just too tempting. And once you take a ship you weren’t authorized to take, it’s time to fly the Jolly Roger and yo ho ho, a pirate’s life for you.
JEFF: Once Captain Kidd was on the run, we know he and his crew stashed some gold on various islands in Long Island sound. Charles Island off the coast of Milford is one such island rumored to hold Captain Kidd’s gold.
RAY: So how would his treasure make it this far in-land?
JEFF: There’s two theories. Take a look at this map.
JEFF: The Housatonic River is right over there behind us. If we follow it south, we can see it runs right to Long Island sound in the town of Stratford.
RAY: And look at that! Charles Island is maybe three miles from the mouth of the Housatonic.
JEFF: Right. So the theory is either Captain Kidd, or someone from his crew took a boat up the Housatonic, jumped out, found this interesting rock on the hill here in Kent, marked it with symbols, and buried their treasure right here so they could come back and get it another day when the heat dies down on Captain Kidd and his crew.
RAY: Captain Kidd was executed for piracy in May of 1701. So by the time Molly Fisher comes wandering around this rock about 80 years later, I think it’s safe to say the heat has died down.
JEFF: I’d agree.
RAY: But how would Molly Fisher hear about pirate gold unless someone said something, right?
JEFF: Okay, this is where it gets weirder. We’re going to jump ahead just nine years to 1789.
JEFF: The president of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, has heard about the strange markings on this rock on Spooner Hill in Kent, that locals call Molly Fisher Rock. When he arrives, he examines the carved petroglyphs.
JEFF: He’s astounded because he believe these markings to be almost identical to marks found on a rock of similar size discovered near the waters of Long Island Sound on the coast of Saybrook, Connecticut.
RAY: Okay, now this is starting to make sense. Considering there are multiple sites along the Connecticut coast with connections to Captain Kidd’s buried treasure, finding a rock with similar symbols might be all you need to connect coastal pirate treasure with this site here on Spooner Hill.
JEFF: Add to the fact that the area around the rock looks as it could have been excavated years ago, and a mumbling medicine woman or sorcerer talking about pirate treasure and suddenly…
RAY: And suddenly we’re looking for shovels to start digging for buried pirate treasure!
JEFF: Woah, woah, woah, Ray. Molly Fisher doesn’t just mumble about buried pirate treasure, she also speaks of a curse.
RAY: A curse?!
JEFF: Molly will tell you that the only way to dig up the treasure is by staying absolutely silent. You can’t utter a word, otherwise you’ll stir up the spirits who guard the gold.
RAY: Still, someone must have tried to find this treasure, right?
JEFF: They did. It’s 1805 when a treasure hunter from Vermont knocks on the door of Micah Spooner.
[KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK]
JEFF: This treasure hunter has heard the legends and is intrigued enough to travel here to Kent, Connecticut, and pay for a week’s worth of lodging with Micah Spooner.
RAY: The traveler obtains Micah’s permission to dig, he buys some shovels and others tools, then gets to work.
[DIG DIG DIG]
RAY: He doesn’t make a sound as he pulls shovelfuls of dirt away from the rock. As the hours pass by, the hole grows wider and deeper. He’s maybe three feet down when his shovel hits a metal box.
JEFF: Does that sound count?
RAY: No, as long as the digger remains silent. (BEAT) The Vermont man’s heart races as he clears enough dirt away to reveal a small metal chest – 15 inches square. He pulls and drags the heavy chest toward the surface. It’s almost out of the hole, when the man can’t contain his excitement any longer.
MAN: HA HAAAAA!
RAY: Suddenly, the chest is yanked from the man’s by an unseen force and sinks back into the earth as if it were dropping into water. Loud shrieks can be heard coming from the ground.
RAY: Blue, green, and red flames shoot out from the earth all around the hole, as sulphurous smoke fills the air. The sounds, the flames, and smoke, it’s more than the man can take.
RAY: He falls to the ground unconscious.
JEFF: It’s a few hours later when the treasure hunter comes to. He’s dazed, confused, and then gazes over at Molly Fisher’s Rock. The rock hasn’t moved, but the large hole he had dug is completely filled in. The treasure was so close! It was in his grasp! He reaches for his shovel once again, but suddenly it flies out of his hand and lands 20 feet away. That’s it! Our treasure hunter runs off. He doesn’t pick up his tools, he doesn’t collect his things at Micah Spooner’s house. He’ gone, and never comes back. And that brings us back to today.
RAY: What ever happened to Molly Fisher?
JEFF: We don’t know for certain. She sort of fades away into legend. But the rock is still named after her.
RAY: It’s interesting that she sounds very much like a witch, but I guess people around here would mostly call her a medicine woman or a folk healer.
JEFF: It’s a fine line, isn’t it? If people like you, you’re an eccentric healer. If they don’t like you, you’re a witch. Either way, sometimes we have a need for either one of them.
RAY: I love how this rock has everything. Strange symbols, and we still don’t know what they mean; tales of buried pirate treasure; and an eccentric witch or medicine woman who used to hang out around here.
JEFF: When you look around today, you see this forest – a forest that wasn’t here just a century ago. So Molly Fisher’s Rock is harder to find than it once was, and yet this legend still hangs around and led us to the same place that drew in a Yale University president, possibly a pirate with treasure to hide, and a witch who had a way of showing up just when she was needed.
RAY: You know who shows up when we need them?
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JEFF: Don’t forget to check out my new book, The Call of Kilimanjaro: Finding Hope Above the Clouds, and don’t forget to keep in contact with us! We love it when you guys share your stories. So many of our story leads come from you legendary listeners!
RAY: If you’d like to hear another New England Legends story of curses and Captain Kidd’s buried pirate treasure, check out Episode 37 of our podcast. It’s called: An Island Three Times Cursed. We’d like to thank our sponsor, Nuwati Herbals, and our theme music is by John Judd.
JEFF: Until next time remember… the bizarre is closer than you think.