Perron, a Rhode Island native who now lives in Villa Rica, has written short stories and poetry most of her life, but it wasn’t until recently that she released her first lengthy published work, the first book in a three-volume set documenting her family’s true story of living in a farm house full of spirits in the Rhode Island countryside. It is a “collective memoir” of her family’s memories and reactions of that trying time.
“House of Darkness, House of Light: The True Story” was released in March and Perron said it gives all the harrowing details of the family’s existence living in what is known as the Arnold Estate from 1970 to 1980 before moving to Georgia. Though the tale may seem foreign to those living in Georgia, it was one that is well-documented in New England and was, and still is, considered one of the most significant hauntings in history by world-renowned paranormal investigators.
According to Perron, the home on 200 acres in Harrisville, R.I., was one of the original plantations in the area surveyed by colonist John Smith in 1680. A small home was built on the property in a style she referred to as a “salt box” with several later additions built around the original structure until it became the grand home the Perron family purchased in 1970.
“My mom just wanted to get a place in the country to raise her kids,” Perron said. “It is an extraordinary place and we started seeing spirits as soon as we moved into the house. Most of them were completely benign and some of them didn’t even seem to notice that we were there, but eight generations lived and died in that house prior to our arrival and some of them never left.”
One of the spirits who was far from benign was named Bathsheba Sherman, who the family describes as a “Godforsaken soul.” Bathsheba terrorized Perron’s mother while coveting Perron’s four sisters and her father because she perceived herself to be mistress of the house and didn’t appreciate the competition Perron’s mother represented.
“What she put my mother through, no human being should have to endure,” Perron said. “She appeared to several of us, but I never saw her. I saw many of the spirits, but I never saw her except in kind of a telepathic dream state. When she would appear to my mother, I would dream at the same time that she was appearing to my mother and tormenting her.”
Perron described Bathsheba as mostly appearing with a face similar to a desiccated bee hive covered in cobwebs with no real features other than crawling vermin, but there were other spirits she said who appeared unscathed by death who would appear with very distinct facial expressions.
“We had one my sister called ‘Manny’ who was a sympathetic soul. We think he was Johnny Arnold, who committed suicide in the eaves of the house in the 1700s,” Perron said. “He would appear in the house and kind of watch over us. He always appeared in pretty much the same place, in the front hallway between the dining room and the kitchen, and he would always lean up against the door and would have this crooked smile like he was amused by the children. As soon as you saw him and made eye contact he was gone.”
Each member of the family saw the spirits, as did those who lived in the house before them and those who have lived in the house since. The current owners have verbally agreed to let Perron write about their experiences over the last two decades when her three-volume series runs its course.
“Everyone who has lived in the house that we know of has experienced this,” Perron said. “Some have left screaming and running for their lives. The man who moved in to begin the restoration on the house when we sold it left screaming without his car, without his tools, without his clothing. He never went back to the house and consequently the people who owned it, the adjacent landowners, never moved in and it sat vacant for years.”
Perron described some of the spirits as appearing opaque and seemingly solid, while others were translucent. Though there was communication with members of the family it wasn’t through normal speech, but in a telepathic way in a sort of void, or bubble, in which all time seemed to stop until the message was received.
“All the communication was telepathic in nature,” Perron said. “When they would appear it was as if all time stopped. My sister described it, and I wrote at length about it, how it was like being in a bubble. Air is compressed around you and you’re unable to move or speak or anything else except hear what this spirit is trying to tell you.”
Perron knows there will be skeptics who will doubt the veracity of her family’s story, but the most important thing to her was uncovering what had been kept largely a secret over the last 30 years.
“If they read the book, they won’t believe that anymore, and if they do I don’t care,” Perron said. “Thirty years passed before this story was told and we kept it to ourselves for decades for a reason. There is nothing else like it in print anywhere in the world.”
Though she’d always known the story had to be told, Perron said she finally began to put the pieces together three years ago when Hollywood began to gain interest in the story. However, it wasn’t the Perron family’s story that was being portrayed, but that of Ed and Lorraine Warren, noted paranormal experts known as the “original ghost hunters.” The Warrens did an investigation on the activity at the house while the family lived there, but as of yet their film project has yet to come to fruition.
Perron said even though more than a dozen major publishers wanted to publish her book, she decided to self-publish it because she wanted to retain control of the work. She is also working on a children’s book and a stage play based on the family’s experience and through her agent is actively marketing the story to Hollywood executives.
“I never received a rejection letter for the manuscript,” she said. “However, every offer came with strings attached and frankly I didn’t care how much money they were offering me, they weren’t going to own this personal material and they weren’t going to manipulate it in any conceivable way. I wanted control over this labor of love and AuthorHouse gave me that.”
Even though the book is self-published it has already proven to be in high demand. Perron has done personal appearances from Florida to New England and is currently on a 10-day tour in Rhode Island, where she plans to make a return visit to the infamous house. She also hopes to have a book-signing at the Villa Rica Public Library later this year.
“House of Darkness, House of Light: The True Story” can be purchased directly from the publisher at www.authorhouse.com, as well as at amazon.com, Borders, Barnes&Noble and other online bookstores.