A family was having a picnic in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey during early 1970s. The discovery of a noose, a fresh mound of dirt and rhythmic drumming deeper in the wood alarmed the family.
I recently came across the following account:
"This is a story that my mother and aunts told me when I was in high school. I am 21 now and it has never left me. I think about it constantly and ponder over what happened. My Grandfather passed close to a year ago in June of 2020. He was 96 when he died and it caused some issues in my family. They don't really pertain to the story but there are some things about him that I have to share in order to explain the story in the best way.
My Grandfather John was a man who was extremely calloused and old-fashioned. He was bitter, abusive, and a complete "macho man." My mother was raised on never showing emotion or pain due to his abuse and lack of compassion for others. He was also an extreme racist. He had many secrets that are now coming to light after his death. Everything that happened around him was brushed off and forgotten because he had more important things to do, like drinking and having affairs. Just an overall intense and very no-nonsense type of man. He also was not religious at all and found things like faith and hope stupid.
This story takes place sometime in the seventies, most likely early to mid-seventies. My mom was born in 1965 and remembers this story clearly. My aunts as well remember this happening but no one knows exactly what year.
One summer day, John decided to take his family on a small outing with the intent to have a picnic in the woods. This was an area located within the New Jersey Pine Barrens. My mother, her three sisters, and her mother/my grandmother were all there and very excited about this. Where we are from, my family is more than accustomed to the woods and has lived in this area for generations. Going into the woods for a fun family activity was nothing out of the ordinary and seemed to be just another normal day.
They made their way down a dirt backwoods road and stopped once they found a clearing large enough to accommodate them. As all the kids started jumping out of the car and messing around as kids do after being stuck together, my grandmother began unloading their food and picnic supplies. John began surveying the area and deciding where to set up. As he was doing that, something in the woods past the clearing caught his eye. Before going to see what was out there, he yelled to the family and said he would be right back. The kids and my grandmother thought not much of this since they are all used to the woods and these woods, in particular, were very familiar to them.
They continued unloading and setting up the stuff they brought. One of the girls pointed out something in the clearing that caused a sudden shift from a normal day to something far worse. It was a dirt mound that looked like something was buried under it. This mound was about the size of a small person, maybe even child-sized. It was too big to simply be any animal in these woods, there was nothing but squirrels and raccoons in the area. Scattered amongst the mound were larger river rocks, there was no pattern but they were definitely placed on the mound intentionally. Also, the dirt seemed to be fresh, as though just buried. It was loose and slightly darker than the area around it. The mood immediately shifted from an average day in the woods to something much darker. My grandmother became concerned and told the girls to stay away from it. She was clearly upset and worried about it but did her best to ignore it. The girls, all being children, didn't have the same amount of worry and continued playing while just avoiding the mound.
They tried to return to their picnic and the girls were already chasing each other in circles again. It was supposed to be a joyous, sunny day and my grandmother wanted to keep it that way. Things seemed to return to normal for a beat. The trees around them created a wall of dense foliage, blocking their view from anything inside the forest. One of the girls again took notice of something strange. It was clear immediately what it was.
Along one of the long branches of the tree hung a noose. It was tied with rope and hung high above their heads. A lump of dirt can be explained away by nature but someone had to have placed the noose there. My grandmother stopped dead in her tracks when she first saw it. Something was wrong, very wrong. They couldn't just pack up and leave, John was still out in the woods. Even children can recognize a noose as a symbol of death. The children started to become very anxious, whatever innocence was keeping them from worrying about the mound had completely vanished. My grandmother, the resilient woman she is, soothed her children and told them it was just left by deer hunters. But she knew in her heart they needed to leave, no deer hunter would hang a deer and then bury it, at least no sane deer hunter.
It wasn't until they started hearing something in the woods that they began to really panic. My grandmother, as well as all the children, began hearing a rhythmic chanting from deep in the woods. It sounded as though there was a group of people all singing in deep voices to the beat of a drum. It went in a quick BUM BUM BUM pattern, three steady beats followed by a pause, and then it would repeat. It sounded far away but immediately fear began to take hold of each of them. They each listened and gathered together. As the seconds passed it began to increase in volume. It was getting not just louder, but closer. What started out as a distant echo soon began to engulf the entire clearing.
My grandmother was terrified and wanted so desperately to leave but John had yet to return. They waited, fear-ridden as the sound began to fill their chests. It felt like they were at a concert as the deep bass began to vibrate in their chest. It was everywhere and constant. As though the sound was being made by the trees themselves, surrounding the family in every direction. Suddenly, the sound of yelling broke through the constant drone of chanting. John's voice was yelling out to them from the trees.
"GO!" He yelled. "GET IN THE CAR!"
He came running out of the woods, yelling that they needed to leave. They had never seen terror on this man as they had at this moment. He was a man afraid of nothing, unbothered by the world around him. This was the most emotion any of them had ever seen from him. He saw something in those woods, something that shook his very being to the core. My grandmother began throwing everything back in the car as the kids got in as well. John and my grandmother picked up their things and as quickly as possible threw it all into the car. They had no care for the things they were packing up due to their fear, food was all over the trunk, and items were broken. After everything was tossed in they both got in the car and drove away.
This is where the main grunt of the story ends. But, one fact from this story is what really has caused me to wonder all these years. My grandfather has refused to ever speak of what he saw. He never told any of the children or my grandmother. Every time this was brought up he quickly rebuffed it and angrily told them not to ask again. He never went to the police or told someone outside of the family. My Grandfather is the only person who knows what happened that day. When I first heard the story I swore to myself I would ask him one day. Now I can't and regret it greatly. By the time I was in high school, he had moved out of the state with other family members and I mostly lost contact with him outside of occasional happy birthday calls or letters. This story doesn't have an answer to go with it. When he died the only thing I was sad about was never knowing what happened that day. We weren't close when I got older and once I learned of all abuse he caused I separated myself from him.
His death looms over me and this story still haunts me to this day. My mother and aunts just look back on it as a spooky memory from their childhood. Nothing more than a story to spook the little ones at Thanksgiving with. I am one of the only people in the family who is still curious about what happened. I have always been interested in mysteries, the occult, horror, and conspiracy theories. This story piqued my interest more than any others in my family. Which by the way, this isn't the only strange story from my family but it definitely is the most strange. I wish I had answers." Y
NOTE: There are several theories that may fit into the storyline, but I believe that it was either occult related or possibly the Ku Klux Klan. The occult seems to be a better fit. The Pine Barrens is strong in native people's energy, namely the Lenape (Delaware) tribes. This may have influence occult practices. I have read and heard similar accounts over the years, and believe that this may be another example. Was human or animal sacrifice involved? I believe that there is a definite possibility. I imagine the John would have been scared by this type of activity, no matter how callous he was.
The other possibility is the Ku Klux Klan. Most people believe that KKK activity was confined to the deep South, but this is simply not the case. The KKK influence was prevalent in the Mid-Atlantic as well, including New Jersey. I know this as truth since some of my family were members during the 60s & 70s.
I'd be interested in your thoughts. Lon
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