Skip to main content

Ghost returns on 100th anniversary

By Thomas D’Agostino

This account came to me in a rather strange way. My wife Arlene and I lived in Burrillville, Rhode Island in 2004. We were very active in the history of the town and knew a lot of prominent citizens. It was in May of that year I received a phone call from someone on the fire department asking for the phone number of Historical Society president Betty Mencucci.

The heavy rains in early May of that year caused the rivers to flow over their boundaries into streets. In the center of Harrisville, a village of Burrillville, the Clear River raged rapidly but never flooded the streets of the village. The major concern became apparent when, at about 10:30 a.m., a man watched a woman descend the stairs near the bridge that crossed the river and disappear. The police and rescue were immediately notified.

The rescue personnel claimed to have seen the woman in the water when they arrived but then she mysteriously vanished. None of them ever got a good look at the woman. Divers were called to the scene while police boats searched downstream. Searchers waded waist deep in the river while divers scoured the bottom. Others searched the banks, all in the driving rain. Police knocked on doors hoping to find clues to the woman’s identity but nothing conclusive turned up in either search.

About 4:00 p.m. the search was concluded, yet no body had been discovered. That was when I received the call, as someone thought the woman may have been Mrs. Mencucci. When she called me back I was relieved but who was the mysterious woman? Was it a ghost? This is where it becomes supernatural. A few days later I was at the historical society looking through old newspapers and that is where I found it. “The Sad Fate Of Annie Trask.”

On May 6, 1904, two youths passing over the bridge that spans the Clear River near the Laurel Hill Yarn Co. found a lady’s pocketbook and umbrella on the side of the highway. Investigators determined they were the property of Annie Trask. The possessions were taken to the home of her brother-in-law and a search began for the missing woman. It was discovered that she had left the home of her employer, William A. Inman, to visit Dr. Bruce as she had been under his care for some weeks.

The river and pond were dragged late into the night and resumed the next day. When no body had been found, the pond was drawn off. When but a stream remained of the pond, her body was discovered about 40 feet from the bridge. Although several theories were brought forth as to how Miss Trask met her fate, none were ever proven and her death has remained a mystery since.

It appears Annie Trask may have been reliving the moment she met her unfortunate demise; or was it just a residual, a remnant recorded in time to be played precisely 100 years later on the anniversary of her death. No woman was found in 2004, neither were there any reports of missing persons that may have fit the description. I have a copy of both articles and they seem very similar. Let’s let you decide for yourself.