The Harrisville Haunting: The True Story Behind The Conjuring Movie

In the winter of 1970, Roger and Carolyn Perron purchased their dream home, the Old Arnold Estate located on Round Top Road in Harrisville, Rhode Island. The 14-room country house was built in 1736 and they decided to raise their five children (Andrea (Annie), Nancy, Christine, Cindy, and April) in that old house. However, shortly after Roger and Carolyn Perron moved their family into the 18th-century farmhouse in 1971, the evil spirits started to haunt them and so began the "Harrisville Haunting" which inspiring the 2013 box office horror movie entitled "The Conjuring".

The Perrons’ witnessed many other ghost sightings and unexplained phenomena in that old farmhouse. It did not take long before the Perrons’ understood why the previous seller advised them: “leave the lights on at night,” when they moved into the house.

The Old Arnold Estate farmhouse

In the story which was published in August 1977 by The Providence Journal: “Mrs. Perron said she awoke before dawn one morning to find an apparition by her bed: the head of an old woman hanging off to one side over an old gray dress." Also there was a voice reverberating, ‘Get out. Get out. I’ll drive you out with death and gloom.’ Beds would levitate several inches off of the floor, telephone handsets would hover in the air and slam down onto the phone base when someone entered the room, and various household objects would glide about the house on their own. Often chairs would be pulled suddenly from beneath an unsuspecting guest and pictures would tumble from the walls. The Perrons’ once reported seeing an orange ooze blood and a wall dissolve into nothingness.

Later it would be learned that eight generations of families had lived, and died, in the Old Arnold Estate including Mrs. John Arnold who at the age of 93, hung herself from the rafters of the barn. Other unfortunate losses of life on the estate included several suicides (hangings, poisonings), the rape and unsolved murder of eleven-year-old girl Prudence Arnold (later presumed to have been murdered by a farm hand), two sudden drownings in the creek located near the house, and four men who mysteriously froze to death on the land.

Also there was one evil spirit known as Bathsheba which haunt and later possessed Mrs. Perron. The entity was thought to have been the ghost of Bathsheba Sherman, a 19th century witch and a Satanist who had lived in the home and died there after hanging herself from a tree behind the barn.

Bathsheba Thayer was born in Rhode Island in 1812 and on March 10, 1844 she married a Rhode Islander named Judson Sherman. During her lifetime, she had lived a life of solitude, an outcast of the community after being accused of killing her young baby as a sacrifice to Satan. The baby’s body was found to have been impaled in the head with a sharp object. Because of lacking evidence, eventually the case was dropped by the law enforcer at that time. Bathsheba was believed to have had three other children, none of whom survived past the age of four. Her children may not have been her only victims. Bathsheba was also known to have tortured her house-staff and beating them for minor infractions. When Bathsheba committed suicide on May 25, 1885, the coroner wrote that he had never seen anything like it – her emaciated body had eerily solidified, seemingly turned into stone.

At first, Carolyn would be pinched, slapped, or have objects thrown at her. Her greatest fear, fire, was soon discovered by the Bathsheba's spirit and used repeatedly to strike terror in her as Bathsheba banged torches against her bed while demanding that she leave the home immediately.

As time progressed, the attacks grew harsher. In one instance, Carolyn was lying on the couch when she felt a sharp pain in the calf of her leg. She examined her leg and found a large, bleeding puncture wound that looked “as if a large sewing needle had impaled her skin”. Later, after threats failed to motivate Carolyn to leave, Bathsheba took a different tack and attempted to invade Carolyn from within.

In the movie (the Conjuring), Carolyn seeks the help of the Warrens. But Andrea Perron said the Warrens were brought in by a paranormal group in Rhode Island and one day just arrived at the front door.

“Mrs. Warren came into the house knowing nothing,” Andrea said, But, she added, “She stepped into the kitchen and said, ‘I feel a dark presence, and her name is Bathsheba.’ ”

The Warrens later concluded the Harrisville house was haunted by Bathsheba Sherman. She had been a practicing Satanist, according to the Warrens’ account in The Journal, “who had murdered her young daughter as a sacrifice to Lucifer. So that she might remain on the premises to haunt the house for ever more, the woman followed established black rituals and took her own life. She hanged herself — hence her apparition to Mrs. Perron, according to the Warrens.” She had also cursed anyone who subsequently lived on the property. Mrs. Warren said that one of her biggest concerns about the Harrisville haunting was the family’s lack of religious faith. “At that particular time, the people did not have religion,” she said. “It was very dangerous.”

The Warrens (Ed and Lorraine Warren) made frequent trips to the house in 1974 to investigate, but Lorraine insists she and her husband would never try an exorcism, which must be performed by a Catholic priest. However, a seance allegedly caused Carolyn Perron to be temporarily possessed, which Andrea claims she secretly watched:

“The night I thought I saw my mother die was the most terrifying night of all. She spoke in a voice we had never heard before and a power not of this world threw her twenty feet into another room.”

Unfortunately, the true story of the Perron family’s haunting ended differently than the movie portrayed. In reality, the Warrens were not successful in ridding the Perron family of their demonic tormentors. Carolyn Perron described the events that night as “dreadful,” and added that “the Warrens tried to help, but we essentially found things got worse around them.” Andrea Perron said her father was so upset by the events of that night that he asked the Warrens to leave.

The Perron family had no other choice but to stay in that 18th century old farmhouse for nearly 10 years because of financial problems. They endured the inconvenience and the torture of malevolent ghosts bestowed upon them. Until finally, in 1980, at the insistence of Carolyn, the Perrons’ were financially able to vacate the home. They moved to Georgia.

The broken grave marker of Bathsheba Sherman
On August 2013, the vandalism done by unknown person to the grave of Bathsheba Sherman believed to be a spirit that haunted the Harrisville farmhouse. The gravestone has been pieced back together but there is still one piece missing. Andrea Perron who once lived in the house said: "I can't tell you how disgusted and disturbed I am by recent events in my hometown of Harrisville, Rhode Island".

A firefighter with the Harrisville fire station, across the street from the historical cemetery, told NBC 10 that his chief and some members of the fire department fixed the gravestone and said the spot had been busy with curious onlookers.

Now Andrea Perron (54) has self-published two volumes of a trilogy about the Harrisville Hauntings, entitled “House of Darkness, House of Light.”


1 comment

Unknown said...

To be perfectly honest, I would like a refund from Andrea Perron. I purchased her 2 stories based on the fact that the story was true. Well, Bathsheba never lived on the Arnold Estate. No one hung themselves at the Arnold Estate, no suicides, no drownings etc. A lot of the information was false.

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