The One Town In America So Haunted That It's Illegal To Visit

The hauntings are a result of centuries of tragedy.

dudleytown, connecticut jayfish, maksicfoto / Getty Images via Canva, Magicpiano, CC BY-SA 4.0 & Alexrk2, CC BY 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

The United States is filled with mysterious, mystical, and terrifying places that avid adventurers would love to explore.

Some of them are accessible, like the Alaska Triangle, where people tend to disappear, the paranormal vortex known as the Bridgewater Triangle, the place where murder is thought to be completely legal, the "Zone of Death," or a place where dark figures are said to haunt the area.


But as frightening as all of those places are, there is one particular town in northwestern Connecticut that is so haunted and cryptic that it has been labeled off-limits to visitors and looky-loos.

Best known as a ghost town, Dudleytown, Connecticut is the subject of many strange theories.

What is Dudleytown, CT?

Dudleytown, Connecticut was never really a town, but a village located in a valley called the Dark Entry Forest a few miles south of the Cornwall Bridge.

The location was given the name Dudleytown early in the 1740s when Thomas Griffis, Gideon Dudley, Barzillai Dudley, Abiel Dudley, and Martin Dudley settled there, along with several other families.


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Dudleytown was converted to farmland and the Dudley family, as well as the others, worked the land. But because it sat atop a hill, the location was not the best for farming, so when more fertile land became available in the 19th century, the population quickly declined.

Since then, the public has been banned and Dudleytown has become dark and silent.




What is the Dudley curse?

Like most theories about the unknown, the Dudley curse gained traction as use of the internet grew.

A Flawed Ancestry

The Dudley curse is centered around Edmund Dudley, an English nobleman who hatched a plot to overthrow King Henry VIII. He ended up getting beheaded for treason but, according to legend, a curse of death and misfortune was placed on the Dudley descendants.

Edmund had a son, John Dudley, who, in an effort to seize control of the British throne, arranged for his son, Guilford, to marry Lady Jane Grey. She had become queen for a short time, but the plan failed, resulting in the execution of her, Guilford, and John.


But the bad luck didn’t stop there. When Guilford’s brother, a military officer, came home from France, he brought a plague with him. It spread rampantly and killed masses of soldiers before spreading through the country and leaving thousands dead.



It’s easy to understand why the Dudleys were presumed to be cursed. Unfortunately, the string of calamity they experienced gave way to the belief that the supposed "curse" had followed the family to America and haunted Dudleytown.

One huge hole in the theory is that while William Dudley, the ancestor of many of the people that settled there, was thought to be the descendant of Robert Dudley, son of the executed John, he was not. John had two children, one who died in adolescence and another who lived in Italy.


A Series of Unfortunate Events

Still, there were a number of strange things that happened at Dudleytown that seemed to make it more susceptible to deaths of inhabitants than other places.



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While some of the Dudleys moved on and had normal existences, Abiel stayed and ended up losing his fortune before he eventually lost his mind. His property was confiscated and sold. He became "insane" and suffered from senility.


A friend of Abiel’s, Gershon Hollister, was building a barn for his neighbor, William Tanner, when he was killed. Then Tanner himself became mentally impaired and senile. Rumor has it that he spoke of creatures coming out of the woods at night, but this has been attributed to dementia.

A man named Nathaniel Carter moved into Abiel’s repossessed home and soon found his relatives afflicted with a plague that killed many of them. The survivors moved to Delaware, but the curse apparently followed them.

Carter, his wife, and child were killed by Indigenous people whose land they had settled on. His other three children were taken to Canada and his two daughters were ransomed. His son, who remained captive, married an Indigenous woman before returning to the U.S. and eventually becoming a Supreme Court justice.

A String of Bizarre Deaths

In 1804, a general named Herman Swift’s wife, Sara Faye, was struck by lightning while on their front porch and died. Not long after, like others had before him, the general went "insane" and passed away.


Then there was Horace Greeley, editor and founder of "The New York Tribune." He was married to Mary Young Cheney, who was believed to have been born in Dudleytown. In 1872, Cheney died from an alleged suicide, followed just a month later by Greeley.

This incident has been debunked as part of the curse as it was uncovered that Cheney actually lived in Litchfield, not Dudleytown. It turned out that she died from lung disease and did not kill herself as rumored.

Theories Behind the Curse

Since the village of Dudleytown has grown in popularity, it has been closed off to the public. Connecticut State Police have warned that trespassers will be arrested.

But there are several theories that have been offered on the existence of the "curse."


The curse doesn’t really exist.

Dr. John F. Leich has been a Dark Entry Forest resident for over 50 years. He asserts that there is nothing paranormal or extraordinary about Dudleytown. He and his wife spend every summer there along with 50 other shareholders and have witnessed nothing strange.

The origin of the curse is flawed.

A Dudley family genealogist, Reverend Gary Dudley, points at the alleged origin or the curse and the fact that Edmund Dudley’s descendants are not the same Dudleys that settled in Connecticut later on.

The people of Dudleytown are under the influence.

Another assertion by Reverend Dudley is that the rye produced in the small town rotted, creating mold, a hallucinogen that caused them to see “ghosts” that never really existed. He thinks the entire curse is a result of “bad bread.”

The curse is rooted in witchcraft.

Another wild theory about the Dudleytown curse comes from ghosthunter and demonologist, Ed Warren. He believes that an ancestor of the Dudleys was an English judge who sentenced many to death for witchcraft, resulting in the family curse.


The stakeholders are engaging in a cover up.

Nancy Ziegler, who co-authored the book "Deadleytown," has attributed the skepticism about the curse to the stakeholders of Dudleytown. She claims they have a vested interest to cover up the strange happenings and even claims to have been slapped and scratched by ghosts.

Others have attributed the myth of the curse to men wanting to scare their girlfriends and inspire them to get closer on the Dark Entry Road. But others have shared their own accounts of "feeling a presence" in Dudleytown.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.