In 1767, Abel Beach built the first house and barn on Stratford Point. It stood about twenty rods west of the lighthouse. Legrand Cannon, a merchant from New York City, bought the house and estate of Abel Beach at Stratford Point, about 1768. In 1785, Edward DeForest married Jerusha Cannon, a daughter of Legrand Cannon and to this daughter the father gave the house and land at the Point. Mr. DeForest lived there several years until he killed his wifes slave woman by stabbing her with a pitchfork, which created much talk, but nothing was done about it. The name of the murdered woman has been lost to the pages of time, but about 100 years later gave rise to the Hidden Door story.


The Hidden Door story was first told by a Colonel Judson who was the lighthouse keeper at Lordship Park. Judsons tale was about an old red farmhouse known as Mintos Bar and concerned death, ghosts and the hidden door. The story was reprinted from a paper read at a Saturday night meeting of the Stratford Grange by Mrs. J. Lobdell about 1910 or 1911. It seems that Mintos Bar was the site of some low moanings which usually could be heard during times of distress and stormy weather. The house was located on a long point of land which extended out into the water not far from the lighthouse. One summer, Mrs. Lobdells family rented the house to escape the bustle of the city. Shortly after their arrival, the moanings and gaspings began. Periodically from April through September, the family would hear the unearthly sounds, but could locate no spirit. Mrs. Lobdells father, a practical man explained away the phenomenon in reasonable terms. One morning in September, as the family prepared to move out, Maude the youngest of the family found a key in the hole in the baseboard of the store room next to the dining room. As the family waited for fathers return to show him the key, a storm blew up and loud groans and gurgling sounds emanated throughout the house. Just then, father and Colonel Judson entered also witnessing the strange sounds. At this point Judson related to the family that a slave had been murdered in the very room that they were standing. The owners of the slave later died in the room and had been assisted by the keeper of the lighthouse at that time who heard the last words of the owner which were disconnected and about a key that was hidden. The family began a search for the hidden door and soon found one in a hollow behind panels of beautiful relief work. At the bottom of the door was the lock which gave in after some effort. Behind the door was a small moldy room in which sat a manuscript. It contained a confession concerning the murder of the slave Minto while the owner was under the influence of a fever. With his dying breath, Minto begged to be buried with his people in Virginia. If this did not happen, Mintos spirit would forever haunt the spot if left its body. The owner did not honor the wish and buried the slave in the floor of the small room. Ten years have passed and I am lying in the very room with the hidden door and know by my failing pulse I soon shall enter another door, the door of death. Thus the owner died and Mintos fate was secret till the day the manuscript was found. Digging in the room, Lobdells father found the remains of the slave. He removed them to a burial ground somewhere in Stratford. From that time on, no moans were heard though several storms visited the area. According to Mrs. Lobdell after nearly 50 years of wandering and unrest Minto gained a part of his souls desire and moved about no more.

This story seems to be a combination of 2 stories. The first is covered under the Pirates section and the second has the details of the murder committed by Edward DeForest.


Minto Ghost 1915


Merwin Farm


Warehouse ruins


Minto Point


October 27, 1905 - FOUGHT A MADMAN: Lighthouse Keepers Two Days Struggle With Crazy Assistant. The Man Became Insane After a Spree and Sought to Murder His friend and Kill Himself: Rising a lone sentinel of the deep in the sound between Port Jefferson, N. Y., and Bridgeport, Conn., the Stratford Shoals lighthouse was the scene for two days of one of the most desperate conflicts ever waged between men, says a Port Jefferson correspondent of the New York Press. One man fought for the destruction of himself and of his companion and of all that kept him safe from the lapping sea. The other struggled for the safety of himself and of his insane friend and that a light might be sent far out over the waves to warn ships of the dangerous low lying shoals. Only when official report was made to the government officials in Tompkinsville, N. Y., did the facts of the thrilling duel become known. The fight over, the victor now goes about his work of setting the light for the roaming mariners as if the monotony of life on the bare speck of an Island never had been broken. His frenzied companion has had time to regain his senses and is off to parts unknown, dismissed from the government service, and that to the regret of the man who saved him from murder and suicide and a worse crime in refusing a guiding signal to mariners trusting in him for a line through the turbulent waters. Julius Coster, of whom little is known save his name, was the second assistant at the Stratford light. Assistant Keeper Merrill Hulse was his superior, and both were subject to the command of Keeper Gilbert H. Ruhland. In the summer season the men exchange hours of duty and thereby obtain as much freedom as possible against the forced imprisonment of the storms of the fall and the gales and the drifting ice floes of the bleak mid winter. It came Coster's turn for several days ashore. He spent most of the time in a saloon. It is said that the night before he was due to return to the light he and a friend drank three quarts of whisky. A heavy swell was running when Coster put out for the light. By some trick of his alcohol laden wits he managed to reach the lighthouse in safety and to report to Ruhland without arousing suspicion. Hulse and Ruhland had reached an agreement whereby Ruhland was to have two full days ashore, and when Coster climbed up the rope ladder into the tower, Ruhland dropped into the boat and rowed to the shore. Coster hung over the iron railing, watching the tiny craft until Ruhland turned a corner of the bay and was lost to sight. Then Coster sprang up the iron stairs and in the small apartment where the lights burn seized Hulse around the neck. "Hello, my boy!" he exclaimed. "I'm going to break the lights, and then we'll jump off and drown together!" "You've been drinking, Julius," Hulse said, "Go below and sleep it off." "Yes, I will," said Coster, and releasing his hold, he attempted to drive his foot through one of the lenses. Hulse caught him and by main strength forced him down the stairs into the living rooms. Then began the struggle which lasted for forty-eight hours and resulted in Coster being overpowered when Hulse was on the point of complete exhaustion. Two days and two nights the struggle went on, Coster, with maniacal shrewdness, plotting to circumvent and slay the cool, determined man who opposed him. His frenzy took the form of rage against the revolving lights, "They're flashing devils to the four winds!" he cried hour after hour. I'll break them; I'll break them, for the devils are coining out of them in hundreds!" The first night Coster succeeded in creeping to the lights and in stopping them for several minutes. Then Hulse landed on his back and bore him down again to the living room. The second day Coster became worse and raved that the lights were shining full in his eyes and blinding him. When night began to fall he quieted down and then creeping up the stairs, attacked Hulse again. The two grappled and fought all around the tiny circular room. Three times Hulse was caught underneath and as often he struggled on top. He was fighting for his life and putting all his strength in a final effort, succeeded in hurling the maddened man bodily down the stairs. For the rest of the night Coster lay quiet. When day broke Hulse saw that the maddened man was washing the blood from his face and hands. Then, taking a razor, he began to hack the wall. Presently he took a cold chisel an hammer and began to dig out the bricks. He hammered at the masonry of a cross wall until he had made a hole big enough to crawl through. Then, when he found he had not cut into the open, he tried to kill himself. He drew the razor across his throat but it had so far lost its edge on the bricks that he only cut himself slightly. He was trying to break his skull with the hammer when Hulse again threw himself upon him. The men fought for an hour and finally Hulse succeeded in wrenching a knife from Coster and in throwing all the tools in the room through the window into the sea. The men were still struggling when Ruhland returned. Hulse explained the situation in a few words and Coster was bound hand and foot. He was held prisoner, until he showed signs of recovering his reason, when he was taken ashore at his request and placed on a train which bore him westward.