Every community has those places that are considered legendary, at least locally. The stories behind these sites tend to be exaggerated over the years, with more details and incidents worked in to add spice to the local landscape. The New Jersey Devil’s Tree probably leans more toward the side of rumor, however visitors have claimed to experience strange things around the tree that they could not explain.
Haunted New Jersey: The Devil’s Tree
The centuries-old Devil’s Tree in New Jersey is a tired old oak with sprawling branches that grows in Bernards township. It’s become the focus of many legends in the area. The first tale involves a farmer who slaughtered his entire family then hung himself from the tree. This legacy seems to continue with rumors that other suicides and murders occurred near this natural land feature.
Bernards township was allegedly once a central location for the infamous KKK in New Jersey. The Devil’s Tree is described as being more “secluded” during this period with woods and fields surrounding it. Some believe that the KKK hung their victims from the branches which allowed the timber to absorb the negative energy generated by these events.
There are claims that people have tried to cut the tree down, and have failed. The surface displays visible marks from attempts but the tree still stands. The legends state that those who try to remove the tree meet an untimely death.
Paranormal Activity at the Devil’s Tree
Some locals believe that the tree has a “protector” who drives a black Ford pickup. This vehicle allegedly chases off anyone who tries to go to the tree at night. The truck simply vanishes once the intruder is far enough away from the tree.
The pickup story is hard to swallow considering the many YouTube videos of people visiting the tree who seem to do so unharassed. Of course these are generally daytime recordings so maybe that’s why we haven’t seen the old Ford kicking up dust down the road.
There have been reports of people visiting the tree then noticing that their windshield or side windows were cracked for no obvious reason. No damage existed before the visit, so the tree is usually suspected.
At one point, passersby saw what looked like bodies hanging from the tree’s branches. These turned out to be nothing more than effigies of a rival high school football team that the local team hung to increase their chances of winning (or as a fun prank).
Weird New Jersey covered the tree. Their article included the story of Rob S. who stated that when he and a friend would drive by at night during the full harvest moon, they would see what looked like bodies swaying in the wind.
Another contributor insisted that an 8 to 12 foot circle around the tree had no snow on it during winter. There is also the story of Steve K. who found a noose hanging from a large branch on the tree and what looked like the claw marks of a large animal in its bark. Steve climbed higher, noticing more marks higher up. A strange noise and burst of energy flung him from the tree, breaking his ankle.
The Devil’s Tree Today
It’s safe to say that there is likely a good bit of rumor mixed into the Devil’s Tree’s legend. It is intriguing that so much is attributed to the tree. It makes you wonder if there isn’t a kernel of truth lying just under the surface. A user posted on the Weird NJ forum saying that the tree had been heavily pruned in 2009. It was still standing but was somewhat diminished. Their details along with a number of corresponding photos can be found here. Another visitor recorded footage of the tree in 2011 (see video below).
2011 footage of the New Jersey Devil’s Tree
Have you been to the Devil’s Tree (or would you like to go)? Share your personal experiences or investigative approach to this location in the comments.