Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses of the Hudsonalley Region
December 17, 2006 3:08pm CST
Man always seems interested in poltergeists, so it is of little surprise that even in our modern society they are still the object of great interest. Great Britain allegedly has the most haunted houses of any nation, but America has more than its share too, and is supposed to rank second. It is worthy to note at this juncture that ghost stories seem to be cultural in nature, being that wherever the British went, their ghost stories seemed to crop up where none were previously. The Hudson Valley has numerous legends about ghosts and haunted houses. Washington Irving who lived near Tarrytown related in literature the Dutch story of the headless horseman. This has always been known to be fiction, but many local stories are taken more seriously by many. Several years ago the New York media gave much coverage to a story from Nyack, N.Y. in which the new owners of a house were having great difficulty living in because it was haunted. I brought this to an old friend who grew up on that street. He was very annoyed by the attention drawn to it as he insists that people whom he knew lived there for generations had never complained of any such problem. He asserted that the new owners might be engaging in some publicity to raise the price of reselling the property. A few years later a lawsuit brought a total refund of the original selling price to the owners from the realtor and the previous owners. It was legally deemed as damaged goods which were concealed during the sale. In Stony Point, N.Y. stands a curious and Colonial era house called the “Poor House”. It was the first almshouse in that vicinity. If we recall Dickensian England’s institutions of the workhouse and debtor’s prison, the Poor House is a living monument to these. The original cell for local debtors and shackles are still intact. It is on the national list of historic houses. This house is alleged to be haunted too. In the early 1970s there was a hullabaloo about the owners having hired an exorcist to rid the place of spooks. The story went that this place was a British sentry post and General Wayne while enroute to the battle of Stony Point arrested the sentries and executed them on the spot and buried them on the property. It is supposed that the ghosts of the two British soldiers are what haunt the area. Also in Rockland County is a famous place known as the Spook Rock. The Dutch named it “Spouk” as this is their term for spirit or specter. The story goes that this was a crossroads where Indians and whites met to conduct business. Apparently a, Indian maiden and her boyfriend would also meet here for dates. One day the maiden was found on this spot murdered. Her ghost is supposed to frequent the area. Secondarily, this place was at a crest of a hill (since being leveled by the highway department). In those days it was said that if you would drive to this point and place your car in neutral, some mysterious force would actually pull your car uphill in defiance of gravity. I tried it and found nothing. A rural place named call Hollow road is also supposed to be haunted. A long time ago a woman died or was murdered there and she continues to walk around in a flowing nightgown. This story is interesting in that many repeat it but no one ever seems to have actually seen it. Haverstraw, N.Y. was incorporated in 1666. It still ahs several old buildings. One is a brick house which dates to Colonial times. It was owned for generations by the same family. They said that for years they were plagues by lights going on and off and doors being found open which had previously been locked, not to mention the usual eerie moaning and groaning. The family did some research and found that during the time of the American Revolution a young woman either hanged herself or fell down a staircase killing herself. It is now supposed that the ghost of this woman is what haunts the house. This same family also owned another old house nearby which was similarly plagued. In the early 1970s they were remodeling the house and the father said that while outdoors he saw a woman standing in the window in an unoccupied section of the house. As this was brought to light, the two sons also said that they had witnessed the same thing but kept it to themselves for far of ridicule. During the renovations they found deep in the eaves of the attic letters from the Revolutionary War era. They spoke of local shenanigans and political intrigues. It also made mention of Aaron Burr numerous times who was well known in this region but also one of the most famous and peculiar characters of American history.