Greetings all! Well, it certainly feels like fall around here now. That wonderful orange maple tree has lost most of it's leaves, and we even had a slight frost the other night. Brrrr!
I spent last night with Boy Scout Troop 193 in the gym behind the Immaculate Conception Church on Main Street telling ghost stories to an excited group of young people. Easton is rife with ghost stories, and it is hard to find some that haven't been heard before. So, in the spirit of the season, below is one of our more recent stories. Sorry for the length, but I hope it is worth reading. I was there for this one!
The former Morse factory at 7 Central Street has a fascinating history. Originally built in the 1870’s as one of the Morse Thread Mill factories, it later housed a few other small businesses before being sold to the Brockton Tool Company around the end of World War II.
I worked there right after trade school in April of 1977 until January of 1985, then part-time evenings until the factory closed in the early 1990’s. Like many old mills with shadowy lighting, creaking floors, and drafty windows, it could be a spooky place at times.
There was an old freight elevator that was original to the 1870’s building at the west end of the factory. The old-timers told me on several occasions that someone had been killed in that elevator, being struck as it passed between floors (there weren’t many safety features on that old thing!). But our story isn’t about that accident, but rather one much more recent and that I can attest to.
Henry Karol of Taunton worked at Brockton Tool for a number of years, arriving early each day to open up the shop. He was a bench worker and polisher whose workbench was on the second floor right in the center of the factory, along the north wall overlooking Morse Pond. Rarely a day went by without Henry making his presence known. And he was quite a presence indeed, with a large physical frame and an infectious laugh. As a part of his job, Henry made regular use of some old steel-wheeled wooden platform trucks that were used to transport heavy loads around the inside of the factory. You could always tell when they rumbled on the old wooden floor above the heads of those working on the first floor. The sound of those steel wheels running over the old wood was quite distinctive. Some might call Henry a “company man” and I suppose that would be right. Besides being a steady worker, a good person, and a cheerful fun loving guy, he took the company work seriously. Henry was the person who was on call to answer any alarms that came in. He was also the person who came in on Sunday nights to make sure the old boiler was working properly so we had heat on Monday mornings. Henry was dependable, trustworthy, and always there. He knew that what was good for the company was good for him!
Each July, the company had a two-week shutdown. During the summer of 1981 the company was doing some work inside the building, and some oversized items had to be moved to the second floor. There were two ways to get things upstairs: use the old elevator if possible, or open up two old trap doors in the second floor and use an overhead hoist to raise machinery and other things upstairs. This particular shutdown, a few of the guys were asked to stay on so some moving could be done while the factory was not running. Henry was one of them. At some time during those two weeks, as the old trap doors were opened, one of them fell to the first floor and landed on Henry injuring his leg quite severely. He went to the hospital for a few days, and then from there home to recover. Most of us did not here about this until we returned to work the first Monday in August. Henry was conspicuously absent and word about his injury soon got around. We thought he would be back in another week or so. However, on August 7, 1981, a blood clot from the injury caused his sudden death. Many of his co-workers attended his funeral a few days later. By the following week we were all back to work trying to do business as usual absent Henry’s large presence. Or so we thought.
Soon after returning to work, people who worked overtime in the building began to hear footsteps on the second floor when no one was working up there. At first we all laughed it off, making fun of whomever was working late as having made too many trips to Hennessey’s Package Store at the other end of the parking lot when the boss wasn’t around. But as the weeks passed, more reports from workers began to circulate. A few brave souls went upstairs to take a look around when they heard someone walking. No one ever reported seeing anything. A few months later workers began hearing that very distinctive sound of steel wheels rolling across the old wooden floor. Upon reaching the second floor, nothing seemed to be out of place. But the sounds of footsteps and rolling trucks continued a few nights each week.
When Henry died, the job of answering the alarms and checking the boiler was given to me as I lived closest to the factory. That meant a trip to the old building each Sunday to check the big old boiler. Usually I would go at night, since most Sundays were busy days. I didn’t take much stock in the stories of the place being haunted, even though I found them interesting. But as time went on, I found myself turning on all the lights I could on Sunday nights while I was there alone. Many times I felt very chilly as well. I sure was glad to get out of there and get home. Eventually I thought it wise to check the building before dark. Still, at times I felt that I was not the only one there.
A few years later I had to work an overnight shift at the old factory. For two weeks I worked from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. by myself, although the owner slept in the office so there would be someone else in the building if there were an emergency. Things went pretty well at first. My only real problem was trying to stay awake all night. But soon the all too familiar sound of steel wheels rolling on the floor above me took care of that!