The Devil's Tree -- Somerset County, New Jersey

In an open field in Somerset County, New Jersey, stands a centuries old tree that is has built up an ominous reputation over the years.  It began it's notorious history back in colonial times.  Legend has it that when slaves became unruly for some locals, they made examples out of them by hanging them from this tree.  Thus began a history that would tarnish this unworldly looking oak for all time.

Some decades later, folks tell of a man who went insane.  One dark night, he went about murdering his entire family.  Realizing what he had done, he went to the hanging tree and proceeded to hang himself from it.  During the post Civil War era, the Klu Klux Klan members were s no stranger to the hanging tree.  Their favorite activity?  Lynching a number of African Americans from a very large branch that stuck out of the side of the tree at the same time.  After this horrible era, and the KKK was on the decline, the lynchings pretty much came to an end.  However, the reputation of what would become known as The Devil's Tree had just begun.


The Devil's Tree along Mountain Road in Somerset County, New Jersey is thought to be haunted by former slaves and others who were killed there over the years.
The Devil's Tree along Mountain Road in Somerset County, New Jersey is thought to be haunted by former slaves and others who were killed there over the years.

Many would visit the tree, knowing of it's torrid reputation.  Many who would touch the tree would report that whatever part of their body they touched the tree with, would turn black.  A black substance which could not be identified and would not come off easily.  Now it would be understandable if it were a walnut tree, but this is a mighty oak.

Then, some visors to the tree would see a faint out line of a noose hanging from the large branch where many met their deaths.  Except when they approached closer, there would be nothing!  Over time some folks began to believe the tree was really possessed by the Devil.  Attempts were made to cut down the tree, but they failed in some way or another.  One vandal, did manage to cut off the large branch that was known as "the hanging branch".

Many visitors say the tree possesses some strange energy which causes strange and bizarre things to happen when people are around it. The tree still stands today, protected by wire mesh so as to not only protect the tree from damage, but to protect those who may attempt to touch it so that they may not absorb it's evil!

Location:
120-156 Mountain Road
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
N 40° 37.810 W 074° 34.979

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The Devil’s Tree - Basking Ridge, NJ
(The above pictures are ones that I took on January 13th, 2016)

Across from a fairly new suburban neighborhood on Mountain Road in Basking Ridge is a unkempt field. One thing stands out in the patch of land, a large oak tree with gnarled branches protruding against the sky. It is impossible to miss when rounding the corner of Mountain Road.

The Devil’s Tree has a long history that is known by most locals. Back when the area was mostly farm land, a farmer murdered his family on their property and then immediately hung himself from the trees long branches. It is also believed that during colonial times farmers in the area would torture and lynch their slaves on the tree if they had attempted to escape. This reportedly also occurred later on when the tree became a favorite lynching site for the local KKK.

The tree is widely believed to be cursed. It is said that if someone disrespects the tree they will encounter vehicular troubles ranging from a flat tire to a fatal car accident on their way from the road. The area around the tree is believed to be a portal to Hell and people report that no snow falls on the land around the tree and that no matter the weather the tree is warm to the touch. Visitors also tell stories of being chased by a black pick up truck after seeing the tree only to have the truck’s headlights disappear suddenly.

Another curse associated with the tree has to do with the farmer who allegedly murdered his family and then himself. It is believed by locals that he said anyone who attempts to cut down the tree of sever its limbs will come to an untimely end.

Today the tree is protected by the town, but visitors are not allowed after “one hour past dusk”. The trunk of the tree is wrapped in a chain-link fence to keep vandals away, but the marks of chainsaws and axes still mark the base of it.

When I went to visit The Devil’s Tree for the first time ever on January 13th, 2016, I started to become anxious as soon as I was within about 4 miles of the road. My breathing became shallow and I felt uneasy. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find the tree since there is a little forest on the road as well, but I could feel it before I saw it. It’s hard to miss, to say the least. There’s a little shoulder on the road across from the tree to park and a short path leading from the road to the base of the tree. There were broken beet bottles on its roots and a crushed soda can wedged between the bark and the fence surrounding it.

The tree is harrowing, tall and sinister. Some branches have been cut off and the stumps are flat and thick. I touched the tree’s roots and though it was 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside, they weren’t cold. I wouldn’t say they were warm, but they weren’t cold. As I started at the roots I had a mental flash of feet hanging just above where I was kneeling. I stood up, mentally thanked the tree for letting me approach and touch it, walked back to my car, took one last picture of it, and headed down the road. I can’t say I was sad to go, I got much calmer and I felt safer the further down the road I got. I can’t attest to any of the history of the tree, but I can say that SOMETHING happened there and something is still there.

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