Non-Fiction / Supernatural
Ghosts of Central New Jersey
Historical Haunts of the Somerset Hills
Written by: Gordon Thomas Ward
Published By: The History Press
Reviewed by Dorothy Doremus
With Halloween fast approaching, I always enjoy reading a book or two about ghost tales. I particularly enjoy stories of local origin, which are hard to come by. I was really happy when I entered Barnes & Noble and spotted this novel in the local interest section.
Ghosts of Central New Jersey is an investigation of the paranormal conducted a bit differently than investigations of its kind, mostly because this team takes the time to do extensive research on the site in question. First, the author takes you through the local tale that has been passed down through the ages. Most of these tales have been retold so many times the stories are often conflicting and not what was meant to be conveyed. Many of the stories are hundreds of years old, so there are no witnesses to the truth behind the tales.
The second part of the investigation is a complete historical overview of the evidence. Often when you compare the folklore with the facts, you come across what is truth and what cannot be correct and is therefore legend. One particular case in the book where the author masterfully uncovered that a story could not have really occurred is the legend of the Vealtown Tavern. In the story, the owner of the establishment supposedly had a 16-year-old daughter. However, when the author reviewed the historical evidence, the owner actually had no daughters and was 33 years old at the time of his death.
The third part of the investigation is the gathering of evidence using EVP, mediums, cameras and witness accounts. The author had some success in proving that something was going on at the various sites mentioned in the book. The index provides a list of the EVP responses and is quite interesting. I had hoped the group had captured images of the paranormal, but I was out of luck. Even though the author had captured the evidence, he was short at calling the places haunted. After all, some of the evidence could confirm some aspects of these tales, but some didnít fit at all. More investigating would be needed to find out what is behind the paranormal activity.
If you like history and good investigative techniques, Ghosts of Central New Jersey is a great read. New Jersey is one of the oldest states in the U.S. and offers a rich history of the Revolutionary War period, which most of these tales have materialized from. The author takes great pains in presenting the facts within the points of his investigation. Itís very articulate. The book is a gem and I truly enjoyed the quick read as itís only a little over 100 pages, but very well done. I hope you read it and enjoy it as much as I did.