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The Story of Molly Fisher and the Molly Fisher Rock

By Clifford C. Spooner - 1930


(The Molly Fisher Rock on Lane's Hill in Kent, CT)

To those of us who stop to think of the past in these years of hurry and rush of the present times, come memories, and incidents and tales of our younger days come up before us and crowd out the present. We pause and look back and some one thing perhaps comes out brighter than some of the rest. The story of old Molly Fisher has always been of great interest to the writer and he has many times wished that he could know more than just the tales and legends which have come down through the years to us about her. But the time is long since past when the truth can be found and we must be satisfied with the legends. There are none living now who can remember her as she used to go around the town, old and bent of form but always kind to all and always looking for a chance to do some kind deed. Born in the year 1750, she grew up to womanhood as the country grew, and was reported by our grandparents to have been beautiful as well as a good woman. She never married and never had a home of her own as far as was known around here. *She came into the community at times when no one expected her, and if anyone was sick, and especially among the poor, she might appear out of the unknown almost, and care for them with her uncanny skill with herbs, and on their recovery disappear as suddenly as she had come. She was kind to the needy especially and, like Robin Hood, gave to them not only care and attention but articles of substantial value that as she went from house to house she obtained from their more prosperous neighbors.

In the days long gone by, there were various theories about her. Some called her a witch and thought her to be endowed with powers somewhat supernatural. Some feared her and others regarded her as possibly lacking in mental ability. The last was probably correct. Whatever her story might have been the people of the community were all kind to her and took her into their homes for a time, always allowing her to come and go as she wished and never tried to stop her or inquired into her affairs more than enough to be neighborly.

This is the character that Molly Fisher bore according to the story of those who remembered her. To us it seems as if the people of today, in the rush of this life of hurry, might like to look back for a moment at least and think of someone who always had time to help others when they needed help.

About three miles south of the village of Kent, on the road to South Kent, lies a farm which in years gone by belonged to Barnabas Hatch. The land on the west side of the road and between it and the Housatonic River rises abruptly to form a mountain, now known as Lane's Hill on top of which, at an elevation of 650 feet above sea level we shall find, if we know how to locate it what is known as the Molly Fisher Rock.

If we were to go up there the easiest way, we would drive up the hill to the west from the Barnabas Hatch homestead to what was at the time of this narrative the home of Micah Spooner, but which went out of the Spooner name several years ago and is now owned by Willard D. Paddock, a sculptor of well known ability.

We might follow from here the old abandoned highway which leads from here to within a few rods of where we wish to go, keeping in the woods all the way and coming out on the top of the hill. At any rate we must walk as the way is steep for the next half mile. If we wish to go by the open pasture we will be careful not to leave any of the barways open to cause trouble by allowing cattle to escape.

Going almost due north up the steep pasture we come to a barway on the very top of the hill which will let us into the woods where an old wood road winds away to the north. But just before we enter the woods we will stop to rest after our hard climb, and as we look back at the hill we have just come up, we see one of the most beautiful of the many beautiful valleys of Kent. We see laid out before us Hatch Pond and it's surrounding hills. Away in the distance we can see South Kent almost covered with trees and farther still Long Mountain. These are on the left side of the picture. On the right we see the Housatonic River winding its way through a narrow valley. Still farther to the right. in the distance we look into New York State at Wingdale. Schaghticoke Mountain fills in the rest with the few houses of the Schaghticoke Indian Reservation nestled at it's foot. There are still a few part blood Indians left there. Many of the best farms of Kent lie in these two valleys and many of the oldest homesteads also. The view from this spot is worth the trip up here even if there was nothing else to look for.

From here we enter the woods to the north and it is time to be looking for what we started out to find. Just after we enter the woods we notice a peculiar level place near the old road. It seems to have been made that way on purpose and if we look carefully we find it to be about forty feet across and nearly circular. If we should dig up a bit of earth here we will find it very black and it will contain fine particles of charcoal. This is a coalpit bottom and there are several others within a few rods of each other. This is where the charcoal was made which was used in one of the several furnaces in Kent where the famous Kent Iron was made.

From here we can see several large boulders and wonder how we shall know which one it is we are Iooking for. These boulders here all lie right out on the top of the ground and on looking to see why. we find the whole is of solid rock. Doubtless these large boulders came here during the Glacial period as they are not the kind of rocks we see usually in the fields. How shall we find the one we want is the first thing that comes to mind when we see so many, but to one who knows it is easy.

Look at that one over there, the one with the strata of pure white quartz about four inches thick running all through it. There are no others like it and it is the one we are looking for. It is some twelve feet long and about nine feet wide and nearly six feet high. About one foot from the top we find this strata of pure white quartz which runs clear through the full size of the rock the largest way. It is rather an unusual formation and is quite sure to be noticed if one is looking for such things.

The stranger would walk around the rock and not see anything which would interest him. Perhaps he might notice that on one side the rock had been burned as if a fire had been built there some time. This is so, as it looks as if there had been a fireplace built out of small stones; built so as to use the large rock for the back of it. It is probable that some charcoal burner had a cabin by the side of the rock and his chimney was there.

But let us look closer as we go around the second time and see if we can find the inscription which is cut here. Yes, on the southeast side we find it. It is just above the quartz strata and if we look sharp we will find several characters quite deeply cut in the rock itself. These are not like the scratches which are always present on these boulders caused by being pushed across other rocks in the course of their trip here in the glacier, but are plainly the handiwork of man. Of what man and how long ago no one knows. And more than this they cannot or have not been deciphered. About a hundred years ago a party of professors and students came here just to see this rock and to study this writing on it, but they could make nothing out of it.

There is a rock similar in size and appearance and marked with the same strange characters on it's southeast side, near the Long Island Sound near Saybrook, Connecticut. These men said they were not able to get the least clue to the meaning of the unknown writings.

The ground around the place shows unmistakable signs of having been disturbed although not in late years. The name of the rock comes from association, as it was always said that Molly Fisher always visited it when she came here and that she had been heard to say that chests of gold had been buried near it by Captain Kidd. When questioned as to the means of obtaining the treasure, she always maintained that if it was unearthed it would be by someone who kept absolutely silent, as to utter a word while searching it would forever preclude all possibility of success.

One attempt at least has been made to obtain the Kidd gold. A hundred and twenty-five years ago, a man of good address and apparently of ordinary intelligence, who said he came from Vermont, appeared at the home of Micah Spooner and obtained board there, paid his board for a week in advance, purchased tools and after having received permission from the owner of the land on which the rock lay he began excavating for the treasure. He labored steadily until near the end of the third day, when he appeared very hurriedly and in a dazed condition at the home of Micah Spooner. He related a strange story of discovering after digging to the depth of several feet, an iron chest or box about fifteen inches square, and that carefully digging all he could around it, he proceeded with great exertion, as it was very heavy. to slowly raise it out of its bed and elevate it toward the surface. It was a long and hard job and when he had it nearly to the top of the hole he was very tired and stopped to rest and gain strength for one more trial which he hoped would enable him to roll it out of the hole and to firm ground and then the treasure would be his.

While holding it thus he said he spoke some word out loud. what happened he could scarcely tell. The chest was wrenched violently from his grasp and sunk at once from his sight into the earth. Loud groans and shrieks were heard. Blue, green and red flames appeared about him and he found himself enveloped in sulphurous smoke which nearly suffocated him and he felt himself thrown forcibly from the excavation. After a time he came back to consciousness. How long he was gone he had no idea, and he looked around. The big hole he had dug was nearly full of dirt and there was no sign of any chest. He took his bar and tired to see if he could hit against the treasure anywhere near the top of the chest, but the bar was thrown from his hands this time and he left his tools there and hurried away down the hill and told of this experience.

He would not be persuaded to go back but took his clothes and departed for Vermont or elsewhere as quietly and apparently as poor as he had come. His tools were found near the rock and the ground showed that he must have moved a large quantity of earth while there. Some people who went up there to look said that they could faintly smell brimstone but there was no sign of the chest or the gold. Perhaps it is forever out of the reach of common mortals.

Old Molly Fisher has long slept the sleep of the just but the old rock stands as it has stood for ages, moss-grown and gray, battered by the storms of winter and caressed by the sunshine of summer, ever the same till time shall be no more. Silent is the one who engraved the queer inscription upon it, silent as to the meaning of the unknown, untranslatable inscription itself and just as silent as to the untold wealth of the buried treasure which guards so long and well.

How much of this is legend and how much is truth cannot be known. It is a well known fact that at one time Captain Kidd made his headquarters around New London and Saybrook. It is known that he did bury treasure in some places because it has been found. The rock at Saybrook with its similar shape and inscription are sure. It was said that Molly Fisher used to go from one end of the state to the other and surely she lived at the time of Captain Kidd. If she knew there was treasure there she knew the meaning of the writing no doubt. There is no question that the man came from Vermont or some place else to dig and that in some way he knew that there was treasure there. Probably growing tired and naturally being of nervous and superstitious temperament perhaps, he imagined many things. But the fact remains that he came and dug and went away very hurriedly.

Back in the woods on the top of what is today known as Lane's Hill, within a few rods of one of the first highways in the western part of Connecticut, a main highway laid out six rods wide from the south end of the town in a nearly straight line toward the north, it runs over Spooner Hill and Lane's Hill to just east of the present village of Kent and straight on north to what is now known as Flanders. This is where the original settlement of Kent was made about 1738. From Flanders the highway continues to run to the north clear to the border of Canada.

To this little old village of Flanders, runs this old highway which comes directly from Norwalk, Connecticut on Long Island Sound and not so far by water from Saybrook and New London. Did Captain Kidd and his cut-throat band bring a chest of treasure up that highway and bury it upon the hills of Kent? Did some of that band cut an inscription so that it might be found again should occasion ever require? Was Molly Fisher one of that lawless band and did she ever come back here from time to time to see if it was safe?

Who knows?

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