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Devil’s Tree: impacting New Jersey legends

Due to the anomalies surrounding Devils Tree, its been featured on Weird NJ. Weird NJ is a magazine that writes about urban legends in New Jersey.
Photo Credit: Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Licence
Due to the anomalies surrounding Devil’s Tree, it’s been featured on Weird NJ. Weird NJ is a magazine that writes about urban legends in New Jersey.

There’s an inherent sense of spectacle when someone mentions something that’s scary or traumatic. People either feel the need to go up to it or run away from it. What invigorates people the most are stories about the haunted. Somerset County, New Jersey’s Devil’s Tree can be described as a horrifying spectacle.


There are many different theories describing the Devil’s Tree’s whereabouts, but most of it is linked to murder or suicide. One story claims a farmer murdered his family before lynching himself on the tree.

Whatever the case may be, anyone who tries to destroy or cut the tree will be cursed. It’s located in an undeveloped field on Mountain Road in the Martinsville section of Bernards Township in Somerset County, New Jersey.

Various tales say that even disrespecting the tree in words can lead to car accidents and meltdowns. There are also stories that the tree served as a headquarters for Ku Klux Klan members in New Jersey, and the tree may have been used to hang African slaves as far back as the 1920s. Many say the souls of the tree come from the dead that was killed by the sinister group.

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During winter, the ground surrounding the tree is supposedly free from snow. The tree itself has also been described as a potential portal to hell.


Thrillist Magazine said, “Out of context, the tree’s silhouette alone is enough to inspire nightmares: a warped, half-dead oak looming in the middle of a lonely field, with dozens of ax marks lining its trunk. Then there’s the gruesome history.”

Some legends state that you can see the ax and burn marks left on the tree. At the time, Bernards Township Police Detective Lt. Jon Burger hasn’t seen a surplus of visitors in years because it was marked as private property.

Brooks Betz wrote, “Supposedly anyone who tries to cut down the unholy oak comes to an untimely end, as it is now cursed. It is said that the souls of those killed at the spot give the tree an unnatural warmth, and even in the dead of winter no snow will fall around it.”

While there was proof that the KKK was present near the Bridgewater area, the curse behind the tree is just mere speculation. Much hasn’t been proved in terms of death near the tree.

Legend also says urinating on the tree can even lead to death. There is a story of a man who urinated on the tree, and ran over a deer while driving home. Bernards Township designated the area a park where it can be protected. Devil’s Tree has a chain link fencing around the trunk.  Police also patrol the area for any illegal trespassers.

No one understands why one cannot destroy the oak of the tree, despite its bruised marks.

People’s experiences

Melissa C. reported that she and her friends touched the tree one night. Once they went out to eat, they noticed their hands turned black. Other visitors have also claimed to have strange experiences. Matt W. said when he and his friends put their ears next to the tree, they heard children laughing and playing.

Visitors claim they can see shadows of a hanged man. The Lineup reported, “Curiosity seekers who trek across the field to get a closer look often feel as if they’re being watched. Rumors suggest that a mysterious man named “Old Nick” lurks along the field’s perimeter, monitoring visitor activity from inside his black truck.

This being is said to lurch across the field near the Devil’s Tree and stop anyone from disrespecting it.

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About the Contributor
Joseph Sanfilippo
Joseph Sanfilippo, Managing Editor of Entertainment and Media
Joseph Sanfilippo is an 18-year-old Senior at Colonia High School. Sanfilippo is an only child but enjoys being around family and friends. Most of his friendships have impacted him in a positive way. Sanfilippo is an avid movie-goer and dedicates some of his free time to write reviews. He has a passion for creative self-expression, and constantly gets stuck in a world of imagination. He also has a passion for music, and most of his buddies know he’s always analyzing the next big Indie film or song. Sanfilippo’s favorite subject is English. He feels at ease when he’s writing because that’s when most of his thoughts emerge.  This year he's in Journalism 3 where he is eager to create his own podcast and create videos.  You can catch him hanging out with his friend group or at your local AMC theater, working or watching a movie. Sanfilippo plans on being a filmmaker one day and can’t wait for what the future holds. 

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Devil’s Tree: impacting New Jersey legends