Written for MyCentralJersey.com
With Halloween approaching, many are flocking to the nearest “haunted” attractions such as the Scare Farm at Norz Hill Farm in Hillsborough or Schaefers Farms’ Frightfest in Flemington. However, cheap scares from costumed teenagers are very different than the real thing.
If you’re looking to fork over $25 then laugh as you cling to your significant other, visit the attractions. But if you’re looking to meet some real ghosts at any time of the year, visit some of these haunted spots in Central Jersey.
“Pig Lady Road,” otherwise known as Roycefield Road in Hillsborough, has fed a local legend that tells of a severely disfigured woman who dwells in the woods adjacent to the estate of the late tobacco heiress Doris Duke, or Duke Farms. Folklore states that the “Pig Lady” attacks those who visit her lane late at night, which has brought tourists down the road to turn their cars off, flash their lights three times, scream “Pig Lady” and look for her in their rearview mirrors. The basis of the legend changes from source to source, as some claim she was a Duke family maid who was disfigured in a fall after a fire at the mansion, while others claim she was born so disfigured that her father put a pig’s head on her, and others still say that she was a withdrawn pig-faced farmer who killed local teens after they tormented her over her appearance.
The Devil’s Tree looks exactly as it sounds. A lone tree in a Mountain Road field in the Martinsville section of Bernards near Emerald Valley Lane, the tree holds many old scars that appear to be the result of chain saws and axes in attempts to remove the sinister oak. This has resulted in authorities wrapping it with fencing, but the scars are still very visible. So what makes this ancient tree so evil? As in most local legends, no one can agree. The stories range from a farmer killed his entire family then hung himself on the tree, to it being the site of many local suicides and murders, to a “death curse” that befalls anyone who attempts to chop it down. It is also said that in the winter, no snow falls around it.
The Union Hotel in Flemington, constructed in 1814, may not currently hold overnight stays for guests as it is under renovation, but the legends of its empty rooms remain with the supposedly constant stirring of ghosts living on the four floors. Hotel staff tell stories involving hearing the hum of a lullaby upstairs, a pressure paired with the feeling of a presence against the chest of staff and a cold chill, followed by the appearance of an empty pair of children’s black patent-leather shoes walking up the stairs.
The Piscatawaytown Burial Ground in Edison holds graves dating as far back as 1693, as well as many burial sites of Revolutionary War soldiers. The real haunting that surrounds the cemetery, however, is a local witch, Mary Moore, who was buried in 1731 after she was put to death following an accusation against her of witchcraft. Several local legends involve two boys who stole the headstone then died in a curse after meddling with it. It is said that if visitors walk around her grave three times and spit, her ghost will appear.
The Ayers-Allen House, a Metuchen private residence dating to the 1740s, is said to be haunted by Revolutionary War soldiers, Hessian soldiers, a woman searching for her son who was killed by British soldiers, or two Native Americans who were unjustly hanged in a tree in the yard. It is also believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Jenna Intersimone’s “Life Aboard The Traveling Circus” column appears Tuesdays. Her “Life Aboard The Traveling Circus” blog is at MyCentralJersey.com, as well asLifeAboardTheTravelingCircus.com. Tweet her at @JIntersimone or email her at JIntersimone@MyCentralJersey.com.
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Pig Lady Road: Otherwise known as Roycefield Road in Hillsborough, or the property of the late Doris Duke.
The Devil’s Tree: Head to the intersection of Mountain Road and Emerald Valley Lane in the Martinsville section of Bernards. Across the street from Emerald Valley Lane, you will see an undeveloped field where the tree is visible from the road. The tree is tightly wrapped with metal fencing to prevent further damage.
The Piscatawaytown Burial Ground: 2136 Woodbridge Ave. in Edison
The Ayers-Allen House: 16 Durham Ave. in Metuchen. Visit the landmark’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ayers-Allen-House/545427198814925