Sheffield – Frontier Town

By Lillian E Preiss, 1976, Chapter 11, Pgs 144-146

Transcribed by Michele Valenzano






“In the southwest corner of the town the ancestral home of the Sage family extended over nearly four hundred acres, half of which were arable and the other half mostly wild and rocky. The picturesque Sage’s Ravine, the local point of which was a magnificent seventy-foot waterfall, was a resort for hundreds of people every year. It attracted the attention of Henry Ward Beecher, who asserted in his “State Papers” published in the 1850’s that it was worth coming from New York once a week to visit. Until the 1880’s an old stone mill with a huge water wheel stood beside the small dream which flowed through the ravine.


Rodney Sage, third of the eleven children of Captain Simeon Sage, was squire of the estate from 1840 until he died in 1885. His married to Emily Jane, daughter of Derrick I and Harriet Willoughby Spurr, produced only one hair, Alice, whose name has been perpetuated by her bequest to the library fund. Following the death of her mother in 1843 at the age of twenty-six, Alice devoted her attention to her father and never married, cheerfully attending to home responsibilities throughout her life. An accident in 1873 nearly took her life when she was driving toward Joyceville with her cousin, Mary Sage. Frightened by the railroad cars, her horse rounded a corner at high speed, overturning the sleigh and injuring her seriously. In reporting the incident, the Connecticut Western correspondent lamented, “There seems to be little safety in traveling now-a-days.”


It was near the Sage farm in 1802 that poltergeists appeared, as Barber relates the story from facts given him by members of the Sage family. The mysterious affair began late in the evening of November 8 at a clothier’s shop in Salisbury, Connecticut. Through the window came a block of wood, then pieces of mortar. The alarmed occupants, a man and two boys, roused their sleeping neighbor, Mr. Sage, who immediately went to the shop to assist in the investigation. All four heard glass breaking but, although the evening was clear and bright, no one could detect the source of the flying objects. Continuing until day break, the disturbance ceased until dusk, then began again. For two more evenings pieces of wood, charcoal, stone, and mortar continued to fly into the shop, breaking thirty- eight panes of glass. On the third evening the scene of action moved north about one hundred rods to the home of Ezekiel Landon in Sheffield. Here only stones were thrown by the unseen assailants. In every instance nothing could be seen until the glass broke, and then the objects dropped directly down upon the window sill as though they were placed there by hand. Many pieces of mortar and coal came through the same hole in the glass, one after another. Of all the hundreds of witnesses, no one could find a credible solution to the mystery. Some believed it to be witchcraft, but the more prosaic decided that clever pranksters had successfully confused a multitude of people.”


Source: Sheffield - Frontier Town, Lillian E Preiss, 1976, Published: Excelsior Printing Company, North Adams, Mass. Chapter 11, Pgs 144-146. Lib of Cong Cat Card Num 76-24316