New England Myths & Legends: The Ruins Of Hanton City, Rhode Island

Not far from present day Smithfield, Rhode Island lie the remains of a mysterious village known as Hanton City. The isolated inhabitants disappeared sometime before the turn of the century, leaving nothing behind but a few stone foundations, a burial site and a dam.

Nearby Rhode Island residents often refer to Hanton City as the Lost City. Much like the mystery of Roanoke, Virginia – albeit on a much smaller scale – no one knows for sure what became of its villagers. During its existence, Hanton City was just another farming community, although the residents took care to remain isolated from the surrounding towns.

This standoffish behavior led to rumors that the town was made up of runway slaves, lepers, or victims of some other communicable disease. Mutterings of evil, witchcraft and supernatural behavior occurred within the surrounding villages, but there is no historical record of conflict between settlements.

A final theory seems to be the most likely scenario. During colonial times, Rhode Island was known to be fiercely independent and devoted to separating from England during the American Revolution. Scholars who have studied Hanton City believe that it may have been made up of a small group of Loyalists who remained devoted to the king and their former homeland. They may have chosen to live in isolation from the rest of the state, or they may have been banished to do so.

Only three headstones in the tiny Alfred Smith Cemetery of Hanton City can be read, and they all bear the name Smith – Alfred, Eliza and Emor. Whether or not this is a clue to the village’s purpose and fate has never been determined.

Curious visitors to the Smithfield area will have a difficult time locating the stone walls and crumbling foundations that represent the remains of Hanton City. The area is almost completely choked with vegetation throughout the seasons, and the land is now owned by The Dow Chemical Company. Rumor has it they plan to level the remnants of the village and develop the land.

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