The Ultimate Guide to Pukwudgies! – Part 1 – Hockomock Swamp
The Ultimate Guide to Pukwudgies! - Part 1 - Hockomock Swamp
|Pictured: Not Dagobah
Just mention the name “Hockomock Swamp” in New England and you’re going to conjure images of ghosts, monsters, and lots and lots of mosquito bites. Those things are just on the surface, though. If you really know what’s going on then the person you’re talking to is going to be immediately reminded of the Pukwudgie. You don’t even have to be talking to someone to make it happen! Just say it to yourself, we’ll wait. See?
|This guy gets it!
The Pukwudgie is as much a part of New England as potholes and road construction. You can’t go more than a few minutes without running into one and your reaction is always the same. It’s usually bland, slight surprise and a sighing acceptance.
The only real surprise here is that it’s actually kind of difficult to find one place to supply all of your Pukwudgie needs. Sure, you can find stories about them in some places and historical information in others, but they’re all so disparate and spread out that it’s tough to actually figure out what they are. That’s because the Pukwudgie comes from many different sources and even more different time periods. Scratch the surface just a little bit and you’ll see that this is one folklore creature that owes its existence to more people than there are construction workers on the side of the highway.
|Your commute is no match for my roller thingy!
Getting it all together in one place is what we're going to try and do right now. Once you figure out the true nature of the Pukwudgie, you may just never go into the swamp again! Or, you know, it will have no effect on your life in the least. That’s the most likely outcome, but you’ve already read this far, so you’re in for the long haul.
In order to figure out what the Pukwudgie is, you first have to understand the place that they call home. That’s why we’re starting off with:
A Brief Geography of Hockomock Swamp
|"I just wanted to be a wetland when I grew up, but then I had a forest."
First off, Hockomock Swamp has the honor of being the largest freshwater swamp in Massachusetts. It’s almost 17,000 acres and that’s crazy! Let’s think about that in football fields. One damn football field is one damn acre! That means this swamp is the size of 17,000 damn football fields! Now let’s talk about that in miles because, well, why not?
One square mile is equal to 640 acres. Doing that math, we come to 26.56 miles. That’s how big this one swamp happens to be. It’s the length of the Boston Marathon squared and you don't get water stations set up along the paths. It’s just you and almost one full Worcester of bugs, predators, and marshy ground that takes two or three times as much effort to walk over than dry ground. That’s the Hockomock swamp!
It sits in the northern part of Southeastern Massachusetts and is filled with mink, fisher cats, and bobcats. It’s also part of six different cities and towns, Bridgewater, Easton, Norton, Raynham, Taunton, and West Bridgewater. Speaking of which, it’s also part of the infamous Bridgewater Triangle, but that’s a whole post for another day.
|Helpfully marked here by... well, a triangle. Story checks out.
A Brief History of Hockomock Swamp
That’s not to say the entire area has always been devoid of people, though. It’s quite the opposite of that. It’s been inhabited by native populations going all the way back to 7,050 BCE, so let’s do the math on that, as well. It takes a typical athletic person 10 seconds to run one football field. Converting 9,072 years into seconds and adjusting for inflation, that means that Hockomock swamp is 28,629,054,720 football fields old!
Anyway, it was also worshiped as a sort of deity by the various native groups in the area. The Algonquin gave it its name of “Hockomock” which translates to “place where spirits dwell.” It was used for hunting, fishing, gathering, and even as a burial ground, but it doesn’t end there.
Just because it was used as a grocery store and cemetery, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t feared by these people. The name Hockomock was often interchangeable with the name “Hobomock.” What’s the difference? Well, change those two letters and you go from a place of spirits to the native deity of death and disease!
|He didn't have a sweet horse, like in European cultures, though.
He was made out of the souls of the dead and was thought to hang out at the Hockomock whenever he needed to get out of the house for a few hours. That’s how you end up with a swamp that both gives and takes life and it’s no wonder why these natives feared and revered it at the same time.
Then came the Whites
All of this was fine and good while the Wampanoag and Algonquin were the only families on the block, but the neighborhood went to hell as soon as The Man moved in down the street. English settlers started showing up en masse in the early 17th century and they immediately started to redecorate.
|Welp, there go the property values.
With so many other things going on, like trying not to freeze to death or allowing fish to be a thanksgiving tradition after the first one, these settlers saw the Hockomock swamp as a complete waste of time and land. It couldn’t be settled, so they either ignored it or tried to destroy it.
Efforts to drain the swamp began in the 18th century and went all the way into the 19th century. Luckily, none of these attempts ever went anywhere, because it turns out that the swamp works as natural flood control for the entire region. It sucks up all of the water that would otherwise flood the whole of southeastern Massachusetts so, you know, good thing they never got it right. If you enjoy walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night, rather than just going in bed because you’re sleeping in flood waters, you have ineptitude to thank for it.
|Massachusetts was one good idea away from being New Orleans.
All of that is relatively recent, though. If you want to think about Hockomock (or Hobomock in this instance) swamp in terms of its greatest contribution to American history then you have to go back to June 20, 1675. That’s the start date of King Philip’s War and the swamp was a really big part of the reason that it lasted until April 12, 1678.
Now, King Philip’s War goes by many different names. It’s been called the First Indian War, Metacom’s War, Pometacomet’s Rebellion, and a few others. Make no mistake that this thing can fill more than a few dedicated posts all on its own. That’s why we’re not going to get into a massive amount of detail here. You’ll just have to wait until we get a chance to talk about it by itself. For now, let’s just say that Metacomet and King Philip are the same exact person. One is his Wampanoag name and the other is his English name. Got it? Good. Let’s continue.
So, Metacomet’s father, Massasoit, created an alliance with the English colonists that came over both on and after the Mayflower. Then, in 1662, Massasoit died and his son, King Philip (remember, same guy) took over and he was all like “Screw your alliance, recently deceased dad!”
Yes, there were a lot of different reasons that he broke the alliance, but again, different post, different day. All that matters right now is that the Wampanoag went to war with the colonists and they needed a place to hole up where those pesky Englishmen wouldn’t be able to attack them. I think you know where that place was, unless you’ve been just scrolling and thinking about pie this whole time without actually paying attention.
|That's what I've been doing, anyway.
King Philip built a massive fortress in the Hobomock swamp and used it as a staging point for raids against the colonists. These Wampanoag warriors were able to strike their enemy with the ferocity of a full frontal assault and then simply disappear into the grand swamp where spirits abound and the native dead were laid to rest. Ain’t nobody running after them when there are scary ghosts in the way! That’s just warfare 101!
So, anyway, it was a big deal. I promise to do all the research and write all about the war and King Philip if you just take the time to consider joining us on Patreon! We’ve gone a full 1,400 words without mentioning it, so you’ll have to read about our future plans for Slightly Odd Fitchburg, and why we want you to be a part of it, if you want to get to the really good stuff about Hockomock, like the monsters! Seriously, the site needs you and you get to be a part of it in just a few clicks!
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|These totally sweet stickers are only the beginning!
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The Monsters and Oddities around Hockomock Swamp
Okay, we’re back! I really hope you decided to become a part of Slightly Odd Fitchburg and add your own knowledge and ideas! You’ll see your name on the site very shortly, so everyone else knows that you’re a better person that they are! Anyway, now it’s time for monsters! Some of these occurrences leak out into the Bridgewater Triangle, but they’re going to be close enough to consider them as Hockomock swamp paranormal happenings.
|Otherwise it's just another dumb, thriving ecosystem that hosts endangered and unique species and makes it possible to even live in Massachusetts. Dumb swamp.
The entirety of the Bridgewater Triangle is thought to be a paranormal vortex. That means that all the paranormal encounters you can think of can be found here, and that vortex comes down squarely on Hockomock swamp. It’s really no surprise when you consider just how long it’s been inhabited and all of the death associated with it. If there’s one place where the veil between this world and the next gets lifted, it would have to be here.
|Like this, only... not... for some reason.
First off, let’s start with a Bigfoot-like creature that’s been seen several times. This isn’t Bigfoot, though. It’s an unknown creature like him that was first seen in 1978 by a man named Joe DeAndrade. He was 24 years old and standing on the shore of Clay Banks, which is a pond by the swamp when:
“…[F]or some reason I had to turn around, it was a chill or something inside me, and I turned around, and there, off to the right, maybe 200 yards away, there was this, well, I don't know what it was. It was a creature that was all brown and hairy, like a big apish-and-man thing. It was making its way for the woods, but I didn't stick around to watch where it was going. I ran for the street.”
He would go on to lead expeditions into the swamp to find the creature again. DeAndrade would never come across the thing again, but he’s not the only one to see it.
About five years later, a fur trapper by the name of John Baker had his own experience while traveling in his canoe one night:
“I knew it wasn't a human because when it passed by me I could smell it. It smelled like a skunk: musty and dirty."
He could never explain what he saw, and this was a fur trapper who was used to seeing animals all the time. Once again, he would never see this skunk smelling, Bigfoot-like animal ever again.
|I want to believe, but mostly just to normalize anal probing.
It’s not just about Earthbound creatures, though. There are also enough Hockomock UFO sightings to make a mid to late 90s Fox TV show about them. For instance, there was the sighting by two undertakers back in 1908.
There’s no telling whether or not these two had some less than alive cargo with them, but they were traveling from West Bridgewater to, well, not-west Bridgewater on Halloween night. They saw what looked to them like a giant lantern in the sky. It hovered over them for almost 40 minutes before disappearing.
As a side note, if you’re a regular reader of Slightly Odd Fitchburg (which you should be), that year will stand out to you. 1908 was just before The Great Worcester Airship Hoax of 1909, and who knows, maybe they’re related!
|"No one ever suspects Wallace E. Tillinghast! Bwahahaha!"
Then there was the sighting by Courtney Cullen in 1999. She was at a cookout in Bridgewater and almost certainly listening to “1999” by Prince on a loop when the entire universe changed for her:
“Suddenly there was noise, wicked loud, and next there were lights in the sky; no color but just bright lights. They were descending fast, like coming straight at the house behind where we were at the cookout. And just as it seemed that the lights were going to crash into the house, they darted sideways at this unbelievable speed and soon they just disappeared. But what I also remembered is that soon after we saw the lights, more than one helicopter appeared in the sky, in the area of where the lights were."
You know it’s a big deal when you get supposed military helicopters chasing weird lights. You also know it’s a life-altering event when a New Englander uses the term “wicked” as a modifier.
Speaking of which, what’s all these commercials using “wicked” the wrong way? You have that commercial from a few years ago where Rachel Dratch calls a self-parking automobile a “wicked car”.
Then you have the new Army recruitment spot with the Boston guy calling this pool shot a “wicked shot”.
That’s not how the word works, dammit! It’s an intensifier for God’s sake! You can’t intensify the word “car” or the word “shot”! You intensify the word before it, like “wicked GOOD car” or “wicked NICE shot”! Get it, right, advertisers! I’m insulted by the way you screw it up! Don’t try to sell me something when you can’t get the colloquialisms right! Come on!
Anyway, sorry, I just had to get that out. It’s been keeping me awake at night for years and I can’t let it go. I’m just that petty.
There was another sighting in 1968, when five people say they saw a ball of light in the trees of Rehoboth. 1994 saw a Bridgewater police officer reporting a triangular craft with red and white lights flying over his cruiser.
The longer you look, the more UFO sightings you come across. That should tell you that, if you see something in the skies of Hockomock swamp, say something! Preferably to me, so we can talk about it here! Send me a message on Facebook because I’d love to hear about it!
|Huffing paint is optional.
It’s not just about monsters and aliens, though. One of the most famous paranormal spots of Hobomock swamp is the Assonet Ledge. This is a man made ledge created by the Fall River Granite Company back in the 1700s. Men and women are said to feel the sudden urge to jump off the ledge, to their deaths, whenever they stand on it. It’s also been host to disembodied spirits, satanic and cult practices, as well as even more UFO sightings. If you ever come across it, maybe don’t walk all the way to the edge. You may end up at a much lower altitude than you wanted.
|Like all graffiti no one ever wants to take responsibility for it. Not even Banksy,
Dighton Rock is a cool one. This is, well, it’s a rock. It’s a 40 ton boulder that’s the size of 1/27 of a football field. That translates to 11 feet long, if you’re a coward.
What sets this rock apart is the fact that it’s covered in lots and lots of hieroglyphs. They were first discovered in 1680 when English colonist Reverend John Danforth shared a drawing of it with his church bros. It was also described by another reverend in 1690, this one by the name of Cotton Mather.
If you don’t know Mather by his name, then consider yourself lucky. He was an O.G. bad guy who was responsible for no small amount of misery and torture. We’ll talk about him in a future post (if you can help make happen). For now just think of him as the literal incarnation of a self-serving, bible thumping ass. He started the Salem Witch Trials, and profited off of damn near every prison sentence and death sentence that got handed down, so he was a fun fellow.
|"Your Honor, I'd like to accuse this woman of turning me into a newt!"
Anyway, the point I was getting at is that no one in the world knows where these hieroglyphs came from. There are people who think they’re from Native Americans, people who think they’re from the Vikings, people who think they’re from the Chinese, people who think they’re from the Phoenicians, and people who think they’re from the Portuguese.
|Feel free to decipher them yourself.
All of these options have at least a little basis in historical fact, so it’s not as crazy as you think it is. Once again, the subject of pre-Columbian exploration by these populations is yet another future post on its own (Please?) Right now, the only thing that everyone can agree on is the fact that they can’t agree on anything. That’s Dighton Rock for you!
Ghosts, Ghosts, and more Ghosts
|I know a great way to contact them!
Finally, we get to the ghosts. There’s seriously no shortage of them and the ghosts of the Hockomock swamp could fill reams. We’re already at double the length of most Slightly Odd Fitchburg posts, though, so we have to keep it brief. Maybe we can write a Patreon exclusive post about these subjects and REALLY get into some detail. If that’s something you’d like, just sign up and let us know. I think it would be fun as all get out!
So, you remember that King Philip, AKA Metacomet had a fortress in Hockomock swamp, right? Well, that also means that there was a whole lot of bloodshed all around it. There were numerous battles fought both in and around the swamp, and where you have people dying in battle, you also have angry souls!
|Knock, knock! Who's there? Rolling fire cart! Rolling fire cart wh-AAAHHHH!
There are claims that the Wampanoag people just straight up cursed the land to be haunted for eternity. You have to keep in mind that King Philip’s War cost the lives of 3,000 Wampanoag people and many more were sold off into slavery. That’s way too much misery to just have a swamp that’s not haunted. On top of that, it wasn’t just the warriors who got killed. The war was fought where they lived. That means that no small number of women and children were also slaughtered around, and in, the swamp. Just remember that the next time you want to feel good about yourself and where you live.
Then there are the people who have gone missing in the swamp. Once again, it happens a lot. There are tales upon tales of missing persons turning into spirits to lead men and women to their corpses, and that’s not even considering the extreme number of murder victims to be found within Hobomock. It turns out that an empty swamp is just the bee’s knees when it comes to places to bury your victims!
|"We don't know nuttin' 'bout no shallow swamp graves, and neider do you, capeesh?"
Pukwudgies are Next!
So that’s part 1! Despite all of the information, it’s still just an overview of Hockomock swamp and the Bridgewater Triangle. This is an environment that’s perfect for Pukwudgies and we’ll get right in on them next time, which we did, and you can read it here! Make sure you like us on Facebook and follow us on Tik Tok and Twitter so you know the second it comes out! You don’t want to miss it and there’s no way that it won't be fun!
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