Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Devil's Tree

Standing alone in the middle of a field just off of Mountain Road near Martinsville, New Jersey is a solitary oak tree with a few dead limbs. Looking at the tree there is nothing special about it except that local legend says that the tree is cursed and is owned by the Devil.

One of the first stories about the tree is that a farmer who owned the land way back in the day killed his entire family and then hung himself from the tree and according to the locals there have been other murders and suicides around the tree. There is evidence around the trunk of the tree that people have went out there and tried to cut it down and it is said that anyone who tries to cut it down will meet an untimely end.

The tree is supposedly a gateway to Hell and that a sentinel guards it at night. The sentinel apparently drives a black pick-up truck and will chase you down if you come near the tree, damage it or even talk bad about it within earshot of the tree. There is a better explanation that says that the KKK used the field for their meetings and the tree for hangings of African-Americans. The area was more secluded than it is now so it was away from the prying eyes of the police.

The tree continued to stand, at the intersection of Mountain Road and Emerald Valley Lane, although it has been damaged enough to require the erection of a chain link fence around the trunk of the tree to prevent more damage. Bernards Township planned to develop the area and cut the tree down but decided to preserve the tree instead despite neighbors in the area saying it is a nuisance. The township even went so far as to post hours for the tree. In May of 2009, the tree's branches were trimmed or cut down so the tree doesn't look the same.

The Devil's Tree in 2006.

The Devil's Tree in the summer of 2009, after getting it's branches trimmed.