There is one fantastic old ghost story from Cornwall. I will not attempt to retell this story in my own words. It is already very well written by Frank MacArthur in his book Legends of Prince Edward Island. The following story is pulled word-for-word from his book.
The Legend of Kellow’s Hollow
Travelling west on the T.C.H. motorists must cross the bridge spanning Kellow’s Hollow, through which flows a small stream, and where tradition says many strange and startling events took place in an earlier era.
The following legend has to do with a giant pine tree and a group of spooks that lived in the hollowed out trunk of this forest monarch.
It was here that one of the early settlers to Cornwall, met his death when he was thrown from his horse while crossing the stream.
The rider’s name was Jack Connaway, one of three brothers that lived near the present East Wiltshire school, and about half a mile from the spot where he was killed.
Turning back to other days and to a night in late November, we find young Connaway mounting his steed after emerging from Noah’s Ark, a tavern in the village of Cornwall. Like Tam O’Shanter, Connaway rode away in high spirits for he’d had his fill of John Barleycorn. The whole world looked good to the young rider as he headed for Kellow’s Hollow.
As Jack neared the famous hollow he observed that the horse seemed uneasy and a bit frightened, so to quiet the animal, he leaned forward in the saddle to pat its neck and sooth its fears by such honeyed words as: “Easy there, old girl, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Easy does it. Easy old girl.”
They were half way over the bridge when a terrible, blood curling scream rent the air, causing the mare to rear up on her hind legs and Connaway to fall headlong against the bridge rail.
The only witness to the tragedy was James Kellow who happened to be in the vicinity at the time and for whom the hollow was named, being that the brook already mentioned passed through part of the Kellow farm.
Legend tells us that from that time on the spirit of Connaway haunted the spot, that it frequently was seen in the presence of other creatures from the Land of Mist, and that all of them took up residence within the great tree’s hollow heart.
But the strangest event of all took place several months after Connaway’s death, when one night his brother, Michael, rode the same trail and on horseback too. When they drew near the hollow Jack couldn’t help getting a first hand picture of the weird event as a full moon rode a cloudless sky.
Suddenly the horse came to a full stop, snorted, twitched its ears back and forth.
Michael looked about and then for the first time he observed the cause of the beast’s behavior. The old pine tree was lit up with lights of many sizes and colors. He rubbed his eyes and scratched his beard in amazement. Never before had he ever seen such a sight. He was well aware of the Hollow’s reputation and like others in the district he entertained a certain fear of the spell it seem to cast over all who entered the place.
While he gazed at the strange sight before him, somebody or something hit the tree a powerful blow that sent all the lights showering to the ground like a fall of meteorites. For an instant there was absolute silence. Then hoof beats came to his ears followed by such endearing words as “Easy there, old girl, … nothing to be afraid of…”
Connaway recognized the voice of his dead brother and was about to address him when he saw the fence rails at the side of the stream rise up and change into 20 white clad figures all wearing the same crazy little skull caps.
He counted them twice to convince himself that the scene before him was not some kind of an illusion. Twenty figures there were and driving them forward was his brother’s ghost also robed in white and wearing a skull cap.
The whole troupe marched across the Bridge right under Michael’s nose, so to speak, and the last he saw of them was just before they disappeared within the old tree.
The old pine tree has long since passed away, along with the people who used to look upon it with awe. But Kellow’s brook and the legend still runs on.1
- Frank MacArthur
Cornwall resident George Lowther remembers the tree from the legend. It was George’s grandfather, Percival Lowther who bought the land from the Kellows. The tree stood around the same area where St. Francis of Assisi Church now sits. George also claims that there was a man who hung himself from that tree. It was a very large tree, one which he remembers working around when he was younger. He believes his father cut it down and used it for fire wood.
What Kellow Brook looks like today (summer 2011)