As we celebrated All Hallows Eve or Halloween, we were inundated with everything from spooky decorations, movies and most appropriately ghost stories. Believer or not, one must admit a good, old-fashioned ghost story gets everyone’s attention.
On October 25, the Sussex County Libraries featured a Zoom presentation on New Jersey Folklore and Ghost Stories by Rowan University Communications and Humanities professor James Judge. Judge, who delivered his pre-Halloween frights by candlelight, highlighted seven ghost stories that originated across the state.
“Ghost stories are a subset of folklore,” judge commented.
Folklore was a way that cultures and histories were preserved orally through story telling. Judge stated that all cultures have ghost stories and that spirits usually manifest as the lost, the searching or the malevolent. The stories included the Shades of Death Road in Warren County where ghostly orbs chase unknowing cars. The Devil’s Tower in Alpine is the haunted home to scorned wife Mrs. Rionda who leapt to her death and made a pact with Satan. The Proprietary House is where captured Revolutionary War soldiers suffered in dungeons and died, yet never left. Finn’s Point- Fort Delaware is the Civil War counterpart, where Civil War soldiers meet the same fate. The Newark area revels in the classic woman in white story where “a young woman” walks the side of the road.
Let’s not forget the Pig Lady of Hillsborough, who was harassed as a child and still guards her house with an axe and of course Mrs. Leeds’ cursed offspring who haunts the Pine Barrens as the Jersey Devil.
At least 20 Zoom participants enjoyed the supernatural tales for All Hallows Eve.