Today we went to Basking Ridge, New Jersey for lunch. We have been there many times. The restaurant is called The Store. This is one of our favorite places for lunch. Tree-lined Finley Avenue and quaintness dominate. Basking Ridge is a town that appears to be straight out of the past.
We can vouch for that. Today we had a reunion with a 600 year old witness to history. It is a white oak
It hasn't changed much since our last visit. It is still beautiful to see. It's hard to imagine that Revolutionary War soldiers passed under this tree along with General George Washington and other well known generals at the dawn of our nation. The graveyard that surrounds it is just as interesting.
One of the gravestones still show pockmarks from Revolutionary War musket ball impacts. Next to it is a man who died at the age of 103 in 1760.
Here is just one of the interesting stories associated with one of the residents of the cemetery:
"Samuel Brown - Grave Number 85
Samuel's gravestone is only one of four flat stones in the yard. He died in 1763 and was the first member who left a bequest to the church upon his death. The amount was 200 British pounds which in today's money is $39,000. Samuel was married to Mary Whitaker, who became Widow Brown when Samuel died. When Mary remarried she retained the "Widow" title and became Widow White. Mary owned a tavern on Finley Avenue in which General Lee of the Revolutionary Army was captured by the British in December, 1776. This event kept General Lee out of the Battle of Trenton which George Washington might not have won if Lee had been present because Lee resented Washington's position as General of the Army."
This reminds me of a story. Years ago when I was working in the Morristown area, we used to go to a well known restaurant called the Wedgewood Inn. One day Eleanor and I had dinner there. The nearby interior door was closed. It soon popped open, accompanied by a cold draft. I got up and closed the door. It didn't take long for the door to open all by itself. After this happened a few times, I gave up closing the door. It wasn't until later that we learned that the restaurant was very old. It is said to be haunted. A servant girl named Phoebe had been murdered there many many years ago. It wasn't until we learned the history of the restaurant that we recalled the "opening door /cold draft" dinner. Maybe it wasn't a coincidence. Later we double dated there for just drinks. The place was packed. There were people standing in almost every available space with drinks in their hand. There was only one open table for four in the cocktail-only area of the restaurant. We decided to try finding another table in a less crowded area of the restaurant. After circling the entire restaurant, we found ourselves back at that same table....which was still completely empty waiting for us. We couldn't figure out why no one would sit down at that table. Maybe that ghostly servant girl named Phoebe took a liking to us. We took the hint and stayed at that table for the rest of the evening. The next time we have the inclination to have lunch or dinner in the Morristown area, a reunion with our old friend Phoebe the friendly ghost might be a possibility.
Here is some background on the haunted restaurant that I was able to look up on the internet:
**Haunted Jimmy's Restaurant
Servant Girl’s Ghost Sighted; Poltergeist Activity Happens
© Jill Stefko
Apr 14, 2008
A triple murder that happened in the nineteenth century is said to be the cause of a phantom and other eerie events.
Some restaurants have spirits other than the potable ones they serve. Jimmy's Steak & Seafood Grill at 217 South Street, Morristown, New Jersey, is one of them.
Ghostly Seeds Sown
The structure was built as a private home in 1749 by John Sayre. In 1833, Samuel Sayre lived there with his wife, Elizabeth, and servant girl, Phoebe. Antoine Le Blanc, an immigrant sailor from the West Indies, was hired to help around the farm and house. He misunderstood the employment opportunity and thought he would manage a large operation. He spoke very little English and, out of frustration, decided to make off with money he thought the Sayres had hidden in their home. He murdered the Sayres by bludgeoning them with a shovel. He killed Phoebe with an ax. He escaped to Newark, where a posse caught him and brought him to Morristown for trial. He was convicted and hanged on the Green in Morristown. Le Blanc's skin was stripped and made into wallets and purses to cover the expenses of the trial and celebration afterwards.
In 1946 the Sayre House was converted into a restaurant. There was a devastating fire in 1957. After the fire, reconstruction included additions and expansion to the building while saving a tree growing through the atrium dining area. In the 1970s, the Wedgewood Inn was owned by William McCausland. David DeGraff bought the restaurant and named it the Society Hill Restaurant. Now, it’s Jimmy’s restaurant.
What had been Phoebe’s bedroom is colder than the other rooms. Sometimes, waitresses working in that room saw Phoebe's reflection in the mirror instead of their own. They have reported feeling gelid hands on their shoulders. One saw a bloody hand reach out from one of the paintings.
Objects move of their own accord. After closing for the night, which involves extinguishing candles on the tables, the staff has often looked through a window to see one or two candles lit again.
Mr. McCausland’s keys disappeared from his desk. He searched, but couldn’t find them. When he returned to his office, he had his back to his desk and heard the keys drop. He turned around and there they were where he had left them.
On the night of the Society Hill’s grand opening, a punch bowl was being filled for the event. Suddenly, it cracked and split apart, spilling the punch.
An orb was caught on 35mm film on the ceiling by the chandelier. One waiter claimed that he was spun around by an unseen force. Chairs rock by themselves. Lights go off and on.
Over the years, psychics and a priest have been brought in to perform releasements or exorcisms of whom they believe are the tormented spirits of Le Blanc and Phoebe; however, cooks and wait staff at Jimmy's continue to describe eerie happenings.**