The Ghosts of Burlington County Dec 7, 2015 0:46:02 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Dec 7, 2015 0:46:02 GMT -5
MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. – Be there pirates in Burlington County? Blackbeard and his crew were known to sail their pirate ship up and down the Delaware River. So could pirate ghosts be lingering in Burlington City at the foot of Wood Street, where an apparition of the ship’s dog has been seen around what was once a huge black walnut tree? The animal is said to guard a treasure of gold and silver that remains buried, along with a Spanish sailor Blackbeard allegedly shot and then buried to guard the riches and scare away robbers. This ghostly tale and others are explored in two books by county author Jan Bastien. The latest is Ghosts of Burlington County: Historical Hauntings from the Mullica to the Delaware.
“Seventy to 80 percent of the adult population believe in ghosts,” Bastien said. Her interest in the topic evolved after she moved to town across High Street from a Colonial prison (above) that had become a museum. When she discovered paranormal investigators often visited there and claimed to find spirits, she became fascinated with ghosts. She then started hearing about plenty of other ghosts in various historic haunts in Mount Holly. The revelations first led her to conduct Mount Holly ghost tours, but more recently she has focused on writing about ghostly spirits. Her first book was Ghosts of Mount Holly. “I believe there are reasons the county is so haunted. It is rich in the cradle of American history and some of that history was emotionally charged, like during the Revolutionary War,” she said.
Burlington County also is the largest county in square miles in the state. Burlington City was founded in 1667 before Philadelphia and there were European settlers here earlier than any place in South Jersey except Salem.
“The notorious Blackbeard may have sailed the Mullica (River), but he was more well-known on the Delaware River. Born Edward Teach, in Bristol, England, in the 1680s, he was one of the fiercest pirates who ever lived,” Bastien writes. “He reportedly had a girlfriend in Burlington and a wife in Marcus Hook, Penn., and the Delaware would provide an easy commute between their doorsteps. His journeys took him up and down the East Coast, often stocking up on food for his voyages at a store in Burlington before setting sail.”
The author explores not only Blackbeard, but the Burlington City library, officially known as The Library Company of Burlington. It has been visited by paranormal groups such as South Jersey Ghost Research and the owner of the Ghosthunter store in the city. Sharon Vincz said she also finds it fascinating that the ghosts in Bastien's books inhabit mostly historical buildings.
In her books, Bastien also relates ghostly Mount Holly tales of a Hessian soldier from the Revolutionary War haunting Mill Race Village and apparitions at the oldest firehouse, the library, St. Andrew’s Church Cemetery and the old prison. Other locations include Pemberton; the Watch Case Tower in Riverside; the Roebling Museum, where lights mysteriously switch off and on at night; and Smithville Mansion in Easthampton. Marisa Bozarth, a Burlington County parks employee who ran the old prison for a number of years, said ghost research groups have come to the museum from surrounding states and Ohio. “They have gotten everything from one or two photos of apparitions to electronic voice recordings. I have never seen or heard ghosts in the museum,” she advised. Some of those ghosts are suspected to be convicted murderers who were hanged and then buried in the prison yard. “You don’t always know who a ghost is, but I think one of those in the museum is Joel Clough, who was executed and buried on the grounds of the museum for murdering his girlfriend.” A prison guard also was murdered inside the prison.
“I’m not a professional paranormal researcher,” Bastien admitted, “but I felt something in the basement where the guard was murdered,” she told a group who came to her book lecture Sunday at the Burlington County Historical Society in Burlington City.
Source: Carol Comegno, The Cherry Hill Courier Post, October 22, 2015.