By Evelyn Peregrin
A tree in Bernards Township that will not die is surrounded by accounts of murder and suicide. Folklore says that a farmer murdered his whole family and then came to the devil’s Tree to kill himself, according to Weird N.J. This tale has drawn many curious New Jersians to its roots with tales of continued suicides and murders attracting those who wish to wet their appetite of the supernatural or seek a thrill. Many have tried to fell it, leaving ax and chainsaw marks on its trunk after each failed attempt.
N.J.com ranked the Devil’s Tree number six on “N.J.’s 10 creepiest places” list. They recounted the story of Dave Hochman and his friends who decided that Halloween night was a good time to approach the supernatural tree.
“Pitch black, nothing around,” Hochman said. “A friend of ours had an axe and was going to chop the tree down. We get to the tree, and walk up to it, the guy takes a big swing, axe head breaks off as soon as it hit the tree.” The tree was unscathed, Hochman continued. The boys wasted no time sticking around.
New Jersey is full of unique folklore that has been perpetuated by its citizens for centuries. According to The New Jersey Historical Society, the Jersey Devil story dates back to the 1700s to the Leeds family in the Pine Barrens. While there are many versions of this story, accounts of noises, blood-curdling screams, and strange cloven hoof prints over the last 200 years have led many to believe in this ghoul-like creature exists.
Many N.J. sites merit using the word “creepy” and might induce involuntary urination to any individuals with weak bladders. The Gates of Hell are located in Clifton if you seek Hades, and the Spy House found in Port Monmouth is often called “the most haunted house in America”, according to N.J.com. One story might make some New Jersians feel more at ease.
The Spanish Mansion is now a few stone walls covered in ivy and weeds located in the woods of Pinewald, N.J. but was once an extensive property owned B.W. Sangor. The rumors surrounding this location connect Sanger and an illegal liquor operation run by Al Capone, says Weird N.J. Sangor had connections with the New York mob and it is possible that they produced alcohol during prohibition.
“That’s a far cry from locally circulated rumors of mob assassins burning bodies at the site, or a rat’s maze of tunnels being located beneath Pinewald’s sandy soil,” wrote Neil Slowikan, Weird N.J reporter.
Slowikan continues to say that there’s a kernel of truth at the core of every legend, and all he can do is look for more evidence.
To read more about New Jersey lore and legends, look at Weird N.J.