Born in 1776 to John Mix, Captain Ebenezer Mix was part of the postwar generation who opened up the China trade. First as a seaman and later a sea captain, Ebenezer traveled to China to trade North American sealskins for Chinese tea, silk and other goods.
The Mixes were well known characters in Farmington, Conn. John Mix was a graduate of Yale who fought in the Revolution. Following the conclusion of the war he was active in the Society of the Cincinnati. He was a judge and a Federalist politician in Farmington for many years.
Commonly known as Squire Mix, historians descried him as “Tall in stature, dressed as a gentleman of the time, with silver knee buckles, formal in manner, of quick temper, punctilious, very hospitable and a good neighbor.”
Late in life, as his politics fell out of favor and his eyesight failed, John Mix became something of a crank. “He is said to have sometimes longed for judicious use of the thunderbolts of the Almighty,” records one historian.
John’s son, Captain Ebenezer Mix (or Captain Eb, as he was universally known), made a fine living for himself procuring luxury goods in China and providing them to the wealthy Farmington elite.
Journeying for months at a time across the ocean gave Captain Eb a healthy exposure to the superstitions of sailors. Later in life he, too, became somewhat eccentric, and on one occasion he let his superstitious nature get the better of him.
The story, enjoyed for generations in Farmington, involved an odd vision Captain Eb had one night in the cemetery next to his home.
Arthur Brandegee and Eddy Smith told the story in their history of Farmington:
A ghost had been seen several times in the old burying ground, and Captain Eb was not surprised, when, looking from his chamber window one dark night, he saw tall form clothed all in white and having two great white wings which it waved at intervals in ghostly fashion.
Captain Eb shouted to the apparition to be gone, but it moved not. He then proceeded to exorcise it with the rich expletives which sailors are wont to bring home from lands beyond the sea.
The waving of the ghostly wings was the only reply. As last resort Captain Eb seized an old queen’s arms, well loaded, which had seen service in Revolutionary days, and taking deliberate aim at the ghost, blazed away.
When the smoke disappeared the ghost was no longer to be seen. The next morning, when the sun lighted up the scene of the midnight encounter, there appeared one of the tall white slabs which were just beginning to take the place of the old red gravestones, and at its foot lay the remains of Deacon Elijah Porter’s old white goose.