SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Unexplained phenomena continue to haunt the historic village of South Kingstown, the area once known as Little Rest Hill. Among the anecdotes from living residents are books flying from shelves, the eerie sounds of rattling chains, and loud voices in empty attic rooms.
Spooky stories as well as the history of Kingston Village are included in The Haunts of Little Rest Hill, a walking tour led by the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society (PHS). Beginning at the pillory in the jail yard of the Old Washington County Jail, the tour continues toward village sites and two burial grounds, and ends inside the dark, cold stone cells where notorious Washington County criminals were once imprisoned.
The lamp-lit evening walk includes historical places where renowned citizens lived, died, and seemingly still dwell. These “haunts” were frequented by residents of colonial times and are the places where they allegedly return to haunt today.
“There are three theories as to how Little Rest Hill got its name.” said Eleanor Langham, PHS Museum Assistant and tour co-leader.
The first theory, according to Langham, is that soldiers on their way to the Great Swamp Fight took “a little rest” on this hill. The second theory is that South Kingston'a many inns and taverns provided travelers to Boston, Newport, and Providence with a place to have a “little rest.”
“The third theory is more comical,” Langham said, “Due to a notorious group of gentlemen in town, judges, lawyers, shopkeepers, and even the local hatter, who in their spare time, would pull pranks on the local residents and travelers – giving them 'little rest.'”
Much of the village's history began in 1752, when the courthouse and jail were brought from Tower Hill to Kingston at the insistence of Elisha Reynolds, a local lawyer and businessman. He was the first of the “three Elisha's” of Kingston, one of whom, it is said, continues to haunt the Kingstown Free Library.
The tour includes the intersection of Old North Road, South Road, and Main Street, know as the “four corners,” which is one of the oldest traveled routes in Rhode Island.
“These roads were built on old Native American traveling routes. They led from the ummer camp of the Narragansetts in the salt flats to North Kingstown where the Narragansetts had their winter camp,” said Patricia Ahl, PHS Librarian and Archivist and tour co-leader.
“Perhaps the most haunted area in all of Kingston Village is the four corners... so let us know if you see anything,” she added.
Told under the cover of darkness, the tour comprises chilling tales of a mysterious faith healer who was run out of town, a counterfeiting silversmith whose spirit continues to haunt local venues, and many local criminals and their grisly executions,. Go, and be prepared to get scared.
The Haunts of Little Rest Hill runs tonight and tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 27. The 75-minute lamp-lit walking tours cover approximately one mile. Tickets are $15 per adult, $10 per child 12 and under. Tours are at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. All proceeds benefit the PHS. Space is limited, and reservations (strongly recommended) are now open. Call 401-783-1328. Old Washington County Jail, 2636 Kingstown Road, South Kingstown, RI. For more info visit www.washingtoncountyhistory.com .