BUFFALO, NY - WNY is a hotbed of stories surrounding beasts that defy logic, that stretch our imaginations, and bring color to our traditions and tales. All this week we will be exploring some of those tales in this 5-part series of the Unknown Stories of WNY.
Part 1 focuses on a creature that made at least two appearances at Old Fort Niagara. The first occasion was 1804, involved a young company piper named John Carroll had a few too many cocktails and mouthed off to the commanding officer.
Carroll was thrown into the black hole, a pit within one of the structures at the fort, a form of solitary confinement.
Local historian Mason Winfield says, "In the wee hours, the piper's piteous wailing brought the guards, and he claimed to have seen this demon."
According to the legend, he not only saw the demon, or hobgoblin, he was instructed by him to write a song. He begged for paper and pencil and candle and he emerged with a song entitled "Carroll's Thoughts on Eternity."
The other sighting of the Hobgoblin occurred around 1812, by a soldier who was on sentry duty in the cemetery. He was approached by a being that he later described as a hobgoblin. After warning it to halt, he fired his rifle, turned and ran. He ran into a gate and knocked himself cold. The commotion caused soldiers to come from the barracks. It was later discovered the soldier's canteen was a quarter-filled with corn liquor.
Despite the connections that the stories of spirits have with other types of "spirits", they are part of the rich folklore of Fort Niagara, and another chapter in the Unknown Stories of WNY.