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Spring Heeled Jack
Start of the Nipmuck Trail. Somewhat hilly, bumpy trail. Can be wet in spots. No stream crossings. About 1 mile one way.
Turn off route 195 in Mansfield onto Pudding Lane. Coming from Willimantic it will be a left. Coming from Mansfield Center, it will be a right. Drive .6 of a mile to a pull off area next to a big rock on the right hand side of the road. You will see and follow the blue blazed trail. This is the start of the Nipmuck Trail. Keep following the blue blazes for about .75 mile until you will come to a large rock on the left that has split in two leaving a flat table. The other half is still standing and looks like a backboard. Click here to see a picture of this rock. You are getting close now. Just past this, you will see a wooden sign stating that this is the new route for the Nipmuck Trail. At this sign the trail veers right and starts to go downhill. Keep going until you come to the second tree that has two blue blazes facing you. This tree actually has two more blazes on the other side. It is not a large tree but is about 14 inches in circumference. It also has a sign on it facing the other direction that says "Nipmuck Trail" and has an arrow on it. If you miss this, you will know you are wrong if the trail starts a gradual uphill climb. From this tree, take a reading of 100 degrees and bushwhack 49 steps to a tree that is 42 inches in circumference. Look at the very base of the tree along the ground. Remove some sticks and a man made board to reveal a hollowed out area. In the cavity is the Spring Heeled Jack Letterbox. Stamp in and return the way you came.
Spring Heeled Jack
What may have been the first sighting of Spring Heeled Jack occurred in London, England in September of the year 1837. A businessman returning home late one night from work was suddenly shocked as a mysterious figure vaulted over the railings of a cemetery. The railings were at least 10 feet high but the figure leaped over the railing with ease and landed right in the businessmanís path. The creature was described as a human like figure with pointed ears, large glowing eyes, and a large pointed nose.
The next recorded incident took place shortly after the businessman saw the figure. The same figure leaped out of nowhere and attacked a group of three women. One of the girls had her coat ripped by him, but managed to get away, followed by one of her friends, but the terrified Polly Adams fell behind and was caught by Spring Heeled Jack. The unearthly looking creature viciously tore off the top of Pollyís blouse, grabbed at her and clawed her stomach with his claws. The police discovered her lying where she was attacked, unconscious, bloodied but alive.
The next month, Mary Stevens, after visiting her parents in Battersea, was walking to her employers home on Lavender Hill. She was working there as a servant. While passing through Cut Throat Lane in Clapham Common, Spring Heeled Jack leaped at her from an alley. He locked his arms tightly around her. Before she had a chance to scream, the strange creature kissed her face, put his hand down her blouse, and laughed hysterically. Mary screamed and Spring Heeled Jack ran from the scene of the assault. Local men hearing the screams quickly arrived on the scene. They searched for the assailant but did not find a thing. The very next day, Spring Heeled Jack struck again very near Mary Stevens home. He jumped out in front of a passing carriage causing the carriage to go out of control and crash. The man beast then seemed to defy the law of gravity as he escaped by jumping effortlessly over a nine-foot-high wall.
Very shortly after that incident. Spring Heeled Jack attacked another women near Clapham Church. This is one incident where actual physical evidence was found. At the scene of the attack, they found two footprints three inches deep. There were strange imprints within the impressions which suggested that the attacker had been wearing some kind of contraption on his shoes. Some thought it might have been some sort of spring mechanism. Thus the name Spring Heeled Jack. When the assaults became publicized Londonís Lord Mayor, Sir John Cowan was besieged by letters from other citizens who had suffered similar incidents but fearing ridicule did not make public reports.
In January 1838, London's Lord Mayor declared Spring Heeled Jack a public menace. A posse of men were formed to search for the notorious Spring Heeled Jack. Vigilante groups were formed. Even the great Duke of Wellington, the victor of Waterloo, 70 years old, joined in the search, armed with two pistols while riding his horse. Some sources say that the search parties did have several close encounters with Jack but no one was captured during this intense search due to his extreme agility.
On February 20, 1838, Lucy Scales, only 18 years old and her sister Margaret were returning home around 8:30 that night from their brother's house in the Limehouse area. Spring Heeled Jack sprung out in front of Lucy as she passed the entrance leading to Green Dragon Alley. The maniac spat blue flames from his mouth onto her face. Lucy fell to the ground, blinded, and in hysterics. Reports vary as to whether the blindness was temporary, permanent or a figure of speech. Jack jumped from the ground up over his victim and her sister and landed on a roof of a house. From there he leaped off into the night and escaped.
Two days later, on February 22, 1838, Jane Alsop also 18, was in her home on Bearhind Lane in the district of Bow, when she heard someone knocking at the door. Answering the door, a black cloaked man exclaimed "I'm a policeman. For Gods sake, bring me a light, for we have caught Spring-heeled Jack in the lane." Jane quickly went to get a light for the police. She returned with a candle and handed the light to the tall, thin man standing at the gate. The man wore a helmet and a cloak that resembled a police officers cloak. When he took the light, it shone on his face and she saw that it was not a policeman at all. Jane could see he was wearing tight white oilskin clothing and had glowing red eyes. He immediately spat a blue and white flame into her face. She tried to run back into the house but he held her in an iron grip as he began to tear at her face, neck, and clothing with his steely claws. One of her sisters came and pulled her out of his grasps. She was dragged back into the house. Spring Heeled Jack continued banging on the door for some time before leaving. Witnesses claim that Spring Heeled Jack left suddenly, dropping his coat in a field by Jane's home. Another person was seen picking up the coat and leaving the area. This led the police to believe that Spring Heeled Jack may have had an accomplice. According to a police statement given by Jane:
He wore a large helmet and a sort of tight-fitting costume that felt like oilskin. But the cape was just like the ones worn by the policemen. His hands were as cold as ice and like powerful claws. But the most frightening thing about him was his eyes. They shone like balls of fire.
The next day another incident occurred on Turner Street. Very much like the last incident, Spring Heeled Jack knocked on the door of a home. A servant boy answered the door and Spring Heeled Jack asked to speak to the master of the house, Mr. Ashworth. The boy turned to call Mr. Ashworth when he noticed that the man was actually Spring Heeled Jack. The creature stared at the boy with his glowing orange eyes, waved his clawed fist at the boy, ran and leapt over the tops of the houses on Commercial Road. The boy did see something which many believe was a key piece of evidence. Under Spring Heeled Jackís cloak, the boy noticed an embroidered letter 'W' on his shirt.
Police began to suspect Henry, the Marquis of Waterford. The Marquis was an Irish nobleman known for his sometimes cruel and unusual sense of humor and hatred of women. It was believed that the Marquis accomplished his leaping feats by some sort of springs hidden in his shoes. The flames may have been similar to a modern day circus fire eater. This suspicion was never proven and he was never caught. This theory was later abandoned when the Marquis of Waterford was thrown from his horse and died in 1859 while the attacks continued.
Attacks continued after the incident on Turner Street throughout 1839. They stopped for several years and continued again in 1843. Some sources say that in 1845, the only fatal attack attributed to Spring Heeled Jack took place. A young 13 year old prostitute named Maria Davis was grabbed and held by Jack as he spat fire into her face. The stunned girl was thrown into a drainage sewer alongside the road where she drowned.During the 1850's and 60's Spring-heeled Jack was seen all over England, particularly in the Midlands. In February 1855 the inhabitants of five south Devon towns awoke to find that there were mysterious footprints that had appeared overnight in the deep snow. The footsteps ran along the tops of walls, over rooftops, and across the countryside. The hoof like prints were attributed by some to have been made by the devil himself while others thought it was the work of Spring Heeled Jack.
The next reports of any incidents takes place in 1877 England. In Caistor, there were several reports of Spring Heeled Jack traveling across the town by jumping from rooftop to rooftop. In August of the same year, Spring Heeled Jack appeared at an army camp in Aldershot. He frightened army sentries by bounding out of the darkness and slapping their faces. with a cold, clammy hand before leaping onto the roofs of their sentry boxes. Other reports state that they were actually attacked with his blue flame. Some reports state that the sentry fired at the intruder and the bullets did not affect him although other reports state that the sentries had blanks. One month later, in Lincolnshire, Spring Heeled Jack was seen leaping over several houses as the residents fired at him with shotguns. The shots had no effect. Some said that it sounded like they were hitting a metallic object. In January of 1879 Spring Heeled Jack again jumped at a horse and carriage. The driver was crossing a bridge in Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Court, when Spring Heeled Jack, clothed in black and flashing menacing orange eyes, jumped onto one of the horses backs. The feel of the whip across his back did not bother Jack at all.
Not until 1904 in the South of Liverpool England did Spring Heeled Jack appear again. He was seen hanging on the steeple of St. Francis Xaviers church on Salisbury Street. He suddenly dropped from the steeple and fell to the ground. People rushed to the point where he had dropped expecting to find the man dead. What they found was a helmeted man, clothed in white, standing there waiting. He scuttled towards the crowd, raised his arms, and took to the air over William Henry Street.
Another recorded event occurred in 1920 at the Central Railway Station, London, where a man dressed in a radiant-white costume was seen by many witnesses in Warrington's Horsemarket Street, jumping back and forth from the pavement to the rooftops. He finally cleared the town's Central Railway Station in one mighty leap and was gone.In 1948 there was a recorded sighting of a sinister looking figure leaping over a stream near Watery Lane at Monmouth in the south of Wales. Could this have been Spring Heeled Jack? There are various reports of sightings and incidents that could be attributed to Spring Heeled Jack since 1948, but these are not confirmed or very well documented.
What is the real identity of Spring Heeled Jack? Who could have hopped around and carried out these attacks for over 80 years? Some say he may have been an alien stuck here on earth. That would account for his anti gravity actions, strange appearance and longevity. Maybe he was Henry, the Marquis of Waterford who with his friends made some device. Later on friends or copy cat assailants may have carried on. Was he a being from another dimension? Could it all have been overstated and exaggerated? Was it really only an ordinary man? The prints found were very similar to cloven hooves, this soon gave rise to the supposition that Jack was actually a manifestation of the devil. Some said he was an insane acrobatic fire-eater. We probably will never know for sure who or what this strange character was that bounded into history and is known as Spring Heeled Jack. Find out more about Spring Heeled Jack at the following websites:http://theshadowlands.net/jack.htm
http://www.mysteries.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/2,15.htm Before you set out, please read the waiver of responsibility and disclaimer.