A big welcome to Elle Cosimano who is here to tell us about Elle’s Top 10 List of Haunted, Cursed, and Otherwise Mysterious Trees and celebrating the release of The Suffering Tree (published on June 13, 2017 by Disney-Hyperion).
Elle’s Top 10 List of Haunted, Cursed, and Otherwise Mysterious Trees
I’m a sucker for a spooky ghost story, and there’s nothing more haunting to me than the twisted shadow of a skeletal tree with a long and sordid history. The Suffering Tree in my book is entirely fictional, but it was inspired by a very real tree. A tree whose broken limbs and creeping roots stayed with me for six years while I imagined all the terrible things it may have witnessed during its life.
When I stumbled on this oddly picturesque tree in the middle of a neglected cemetery off a winding farm road, I knew it must have a strange story to tell. The ground here felt like it held old secrets, and the tree, dead by all appearances, felt like it was standing sentinel over those graves. And like all ghosts and apparitions, it felt like it had something to say. A lesson to impart. A wrong to make right. And so I reimagined this tree someplace else and wrote its story—how it first became cursed and the secrets of the ghosts who haunt it today.
And with that, I present my Top 10 favorite creepy and mysterious trees and their stories:
10. “The Witch Tree” – Smithfield, Rhode Island
Once located in the middle of the intersection of Mann School Road and Log Road, this skeletal, spooky tree, often presumed dead by appearance, was riddled with scars from the dozens of traffic accidents attributed to it, and yet somehow managed to bloom just enough every spring to convince locals of its lingering life. Supposedly haunted by spectral children, as well as menacing bright lights that would give chase to passersby, the tree was eventually cut down due to the high number of car crashes it was thought to have caused.
9. “The Devil’s Tree” – Somerset County, New Jersey
The gnarled old oak was supposedly once cursed when a local farmer slaughtered his family, then hung himself from himself from the tree in the hours that followed. The tree is also said to have been located near a KKK headquarters, and was used to carry out various hate crimes, including hangings and murders by KKK members. It’s thought by some that the tree absorbed the evil energy associated with these terrible events, and the resulting curse is responsible for the strange phenomena reported by countless witnesses. The tree is said to draw an unusually high number of lightning strikes and it’s said that the ground beneath it exudes a mysterious heat, making it impossible for snow to gather over its roots. Strange noises have been reported omitting from it, and some people have reported seeing spectral nooses swinging from its branches. After many failed attempts to cut down the tree by vandals, it is now under the protection of the local township.
8. “The Ghost Tree of Pebble Beach” – Pescadero Point, California
Located on a dangerously rocky stretch of Pebble Beach, the unusually high rolling swells this bleached cypress overlooks recently claimed the life of a well-known surfer, prompting the surfing community to call the area, “Ghost Tree”. The road near the tree is also said to be walked by “The Lady in Lace”, a female apparition in a spectral white gown who haunts the 17-Mile Drive and is said to appear to motorists on foggy nights. Many accidents have been attributed to her sightings.
7. “The Whipping Tree” – Harvard, Massachusetts
This 100-foot tall American Sycamore was witness to the horrible beating of Shaker Abijah Worster in 1782. Stripped, lashed to the tree and whipped for attempting to intervene in the whipping of one of his brethren, Worster survived, but the men who participated in his beating all mysteriously died shortly after, causing locals to believe the tree was cursed.
6. “The Haunted Elm of Bara Hack” – Pomfret, Connecticut
The old elm, thought to be the supernatural center of a ghost town, an 18th century Welsh settlement which has been uninhabited for more than 100 years, is now nothing more than a trunk beside a cemetery amidst the village’s ruins. The slaves who once lived here were the first to note the strange occurrences in the cemetery, most notably a spectral infant cradled in the arms of the tree, as well as the images of the village’s recently departed. Today, ghost hunters report hearing voices, wagon wheels, and children playing, as if the day-to-day sounds of the village were playing on a loop.
5. “The Listening Tree” – Mackworth Island, Maine
Before it was struck by lightning and removed, this legendary white pine was known for its strange faces with uncertain origins which had been carved in its trunk. Isolated from the mainland, the tree once stood near a school for the deaf made infamous in the 1980s for the discovery of rampant child abuse by its administrators. Local legend says that deaf students of the school were able to hear the tree speaking to them.
4. “The Haunted Tree of Hookman’s Graveyard” – Seymour, Connecticut
There are a lot of conflicting stories about the origin of the hauntings in Great Hill Cemetery, often referred to as Hookman’s Graveyard in urban legends. Some say a cemetery caretaker by the last name Hookman, accused of a crime he didn’t commit, hung himself from a tree in the graveyard. Others say the caretaker in question had a prosthetic hook for a hand, and having used it to murder a young boy and hang him from the tree, came to be known by the name Hookman. Whatever the case, the tree in the cemetery has become legendary among ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts. It’s said that if you park your car beneath it, you may hear the caretaker’s hook scrape along your car’s roof.
3. “Old Man Tree” of Sagamore Cemetery – Bourne, Massachusetts
In the early 1900s, the construction of the Cape Cod Canal flooded a cemetery in Bournedale, and the deceased buried there were relocated to Sagamore Cemetery. During the transplant of the graves, several headstones were misplaced on the wrong disinterred remains, and some believe this error is responsible for the frequently reported hauntings in the cemetery today. Local legend says the cemetery is haunted by Emory Ellis, a heavy cigar smoker who was hellbent on stopping the movement of the graves before he died in the early 1900s. It’s said he stood at the entrance to the Bournedale cemetery with shovel, threatening to harm anyone who attempted to tamper with the graves, and his protests were finally quieted with payment. But many believe the “Old Man Tree” at the entrance to Sagamore Cemetery—a knobby, gnarled tree whose trunk, from certain angles, appears to have a figure climbing out of it—is haunted by his ghost. It is reported that you can still smell his cigar smoke there, as if his restless spirit is still guarding the cemetery gates.
2. The Candler Oak/”The Hanging Tree” – Savannah, Georgia
Thought to be more than 300 years old, this sprawling live oak dripping with Spanish moss is one of Savannah, Georgia’s oldest landmarks. During the Civil War, the hospital that shared the grounds with the tree was used by the Confederacy, and troops built stockades beneath it to detain Union officers held as prisoners of war. Visitors have reported seeing bodies swinging from its branches and its considered by many to be one of Georgia’s most haunted places.
1. “The Devil’s Tree” – Port St. Lucie, Florida
Said to be owned by the devil himself, this hulking 150-year old oak was witness to the heinous torture and murder of two teenage girls by serial killer Gerard Schaefer in 1973. The park it inhabits is now said to be plagued by mysterious hauntings, including multiple sightings of cloaked hooded figures dancing around the tree. Some say there have been several attempts to cut down the terrifying oak, but according to legend, chain saws refuse to work around the tree, and an attempt by two men with a cross-cut saw resulted in all the teeth falling from the blade. The tree still stands today.
Available on June 13, 2017 by Disney-Hyperion
“It’s dark magic brings him back.”
Tori Burns and her family left D.C. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family-it’s their generations-old land the Burns have “stolen.” As the suspicious looks and muttered accusations of her neighbors build, so does the pressure inside her, and Tori returns to the pattern of self-harm that landed her in a hospital back in D.C. It all comes to a head one night when, to Tori’s shock, she witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard.
Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events-including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter’s cousin-that seem to point back to Nathaniel.
As Tori digs for the truth-and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel-she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family’s oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried at any cost.
Enter the giveaway via the widget below – Open to US ONLY
Interested in being a guest on All Things Urban Fantasy? Fill out our Guest Request Form