Dudleytown, sometimes referred to as the "Village of the Damned", was founded as a small settlement in Cornwall, Connecticut in the mid-1740s and was abandoned in the 1800s. It is not a true ghost town because there are few visible remains of it. The site, now overgrown with trees, is on private land and access is forbidden.
Dudleytown was never an actual town. The name was given at an unknown date to a portion of Cornwall that included several members of the Dudley family. The area that became known as Dudleytown was settled in the early 1740s by Thomas Griffis, followed by Gideon Dudley and, by 1753, Barzillai Dudley and Abiel Dudley; Martin Dudley joined them a few years later. Other families also settled there.
As with every other part of Cornwall, Dudleytown was converted from forest to farm land. Families tilled the land for generations. Located on top of a high hill, Dudleytown was not ideally suited for farming. When more fertile and spacious land opened up in the Midwest in the mid-19th century, and as the local iron industry wound down, Cornwall's population declined.
During the early 20th century, old farms in Cornwall were sold to New Yorkers seeking a better life in the countryside. Much of the Dudleytown area land was acquired by the Dark Entry Forest Association, which planted thousands of trees. During the 1930s, New York's Skidreiverein Club spent their winter weekends skiing on trails they built in the area; in the summers, they canoed down the Housatonic River.
According to local legend, the founders of Dudleytown were descended from Edmund Dudley, an English nobleman who was beheaded for treason during the reign of Henry VII. From that moment on, the Dudley family was placed under a curse, which followed them across the Atlantic to America. Several residents of Dudleytown are said to have gone insane, and two local women, Mary Cheney and Harriet Clarke, are said to have committed suicide, the latter having reported visions of demons prior to her death.
However, this version of events is much disputed, and a number of factual inaccuracies have been highlighted by local authors and historians. For instance, there is no evidence of a genealogical link between the founders of Dudleytown and the nobleman Edmund Dudley; Mary Cheney, who had in fact never set foot in Dudleytown, did not kill herself but died of lung disease; Harriet Clarke did commit suicide, but in New York, not Dudleytown; and most of the cases of "insanity" were more likely senility brought on by old age. The real reason for the town's desertion may be that it was built too far from a source of clean water and on land that was not suited to cultivation. It has also been speculated that the groundwater in the area may have been contamined with lead.
In 2010, the TV program "Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files" decided not to follow up on a tape shot on the Dudleytown site. Hikers have reported seeing orbs in the area. Visitors claim that the area is unusually quiet and without wildlife, although in 2002, a writer for the National Geographic reported seeing plenty of bird life in the area.
- Campbell, Susan; Bendici, Ray; Heald, Bill (2010). Connecticut Curiosities, 3rd: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff. Globe Pequot. pp. 3–4. ISBN 978-0-7627-5988-0.
- Cheung, Theresa (2006). The Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World. Harper Element. pp. 174–175. ISBN 978-0-00-721148-7.
- Harriet Lydia Clark (1989). True Facts About Dudleytown. Cornwall Historical Society.
- Guest, Raechel. "Skidreiverein Club". Retrieved 27 August 2012.
- Chamberlain, Samuel (1962). The New England Image. Hastings House.
- Winkler, Robert (30 October 2002). "Birder's Journal: Old Curse Haunts New England Forest". National Geographic News.
- Dudley, Gary P. "The Deaths at Dudleytown?". LegendOfDudleytown.com. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
- Catlin, Roger (July 15, 2010). "On Tonight: No Dudleytown for 'Paranormal Files'". TV Eye. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- Edward Comfort Starr (1926). A History of Cornwall, Connecticut. Tuttle, Morehouse and Taylor. pp. 26–27. This book relates the story of the Dudleytown curse, and may have been the inspiration behind later accounts.
- Barlow, Bart (October 26, 1980). "A Lost Town Populated By Legends". New York Times. (subscription required)
- Weekly World News (11 June 1991). Deadly curse turned New England village into a ghost town!. Weekly World News. p. 43. ISSN 0199-574X.