According to folklore, people are advised to touch wood when threatened by evil. What should one do when the wood itself is the source of evil? Hopefully, we won’t have to find out (Knock on wood! Sorry.). For now, we can explore haunted trees from the safety of our own computers.
In this post, I explore haunted trees throughout the United States.
The Devil’s Tree (New Jersey)
A lone oak tree in Somersot County, New Jersey is believed to be cursed and is linked to the KKK and/or a homicidal farmer.
Whatever the origin story, the tree should be avoided. If you speak ill of the tree, you may face dangerous consequences (such as car accident). If you get too close to the tree, you may be chased away by a black Ford pickup truck.
The tree is warm to touch even during the winter and the ground near it cannot hold snow.
The tree still stands with a chain fence wrapped around its trunk to protect it from ongoing vandalism. You have to be pretty bold to vandalize that tree.
The Trunkless Tree (Iowa)
According to internet lore, a strange supernatural phenomenon occurs at Campbell Cemetery in Bertram, Iowa. If you visit the cemetery at night and turn off your headlights, you might be able to witness what looks like a tree floating in the air without a trunk.
The Oak Tree (California)
A giant oak tree provides shade for old stone ruins outside Beaumont, California, serving as a local hangout for teenagers. Rumors have circulated for many years that the place is haunted and was once home to a witch. People have allegedly heard voices and seen apparitions.
In July of 2011, the body of Christine Kunstmann (age 44) was found in a shallow grave under the tree. In 2015, the case was finally solved and three individuals were arrested for murder.
Sources: HauntedPlaces.org, LA Times, The Sun, CBS Los Angeles
The Fairchild Oak Tree (Florida)
In Ormond Beach, Florida’s Bulow Creek State Park sits a 400-year-old oak tree called The Fairchild Oak (of the botanist’s namesake). Two deaths are associated with the tree, allegedly. James Ormond II, who lived close by, was found dead under the tree (case of death unknown). The second death was the suicide of Norman Harwood over mounting debts. People have supposedly seen the apparition of man who causes onlookers to feel overwhelming sadness.
Sources: DaytonaBeach.com, Only In Your State
Whispering Tree (Philadelphia)
In 1893, newspapers reported the legend of “The Whispering Tree” in Pittsburgh, a maple tree which sat at the edge of a stream.
Murmuring would come from the tree at night, especially at midnight on Halloween. Local teenagers visited the tree for thrills, believing it was the site of a murder. A local attorney, J.H. Maxwell, was sick of all the tree gossip so he took matters into his own hands and chopped down the tree with an ax.
The fallen tree’s rings revealed it was over 150 years old. Upon further inspection, Maxwell also found 70 (yes 70) old-fashioned bullets at about the height of five feet.
He also found two hollowed streaks which served as a type of runway for stream water, which traveled up one streak and down the other. It was concluded that the water was making the whispering noises.
The cause of the bullets? We will never know.
Source: Chicago Tribune via The Clarke County Democrat, Grove Hill, Alabama, 02 Nov 1893 (pg. 2)
Spirit of Her Daughter (New York)
An elm tree in Prospect Park of Brooklyn is marked by a silver plaque reading “Nellie.” Nellie Howard died in the 1800s while on a European tour.
Her father was a member of the firm Howard, Sanger & Co., and she was a notable figure in social circles. As a child she enjoyed drives through the park and always admired the tall elm tree, constantly commenting on its beauty. During her illness, she reminisced about the elm tree and her last words were about spending time under its branches.
After her death, her mother was drawn to the elm tree and later became convinced her daughter’s spirit lived in the tree. It should be of note that the mother is “not a Pantheist, neither is she a follower of any of the ‘crank’ creeds which have of late set the social world a-wobbling […]” (haha).
Source: Lake Superior Citizen, Ironwood, Michigan, 21 Jul 1894, Sat (pg. 3)
The Haunted Apple Tree (Massachusetts)
Legend tells of a haunted apple tree in Douglass, Massachusetts. The story goes that a traveling salesman stopped to rest under a tree in an apple orchard. Someone, believed to be the property’s farmer, brutally murdered the salesman. He was found under the tree with a gash in his neck. The farmer later moved away because he was followed by the spirit of his victim.
Locals report seeing a man standing under the apple tree, one hand on his neck and the other hand reaching out for help. His cries can be heard a mile away. The apple tree he was killed under only produces apples with streaks of red, like blood.
Source: The Cheyenne Sunbeam, Cheyenne, Oklahoma, 05 Oct 1900 (pg. 2)
Featured Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash