A River Edge Place That Matters - The House Where Appearanc
Journeys into River Edge
It’s that time of year – a hint of chill in the air, shorter days, falling leaves, pumpkins – Halloween is upon us (Election Day and Holiday season not far behind).
Halloween locally means different things to different folks. To many, it is costumes and trick or treaters. To others, it is taking precautions on Mischief Night. For me, it has evolved into a time of year that I find myself explaining and making sure the historical record is clear about my babysitters of some 60 years ago.
You see, Miss Douglas and Miss Lawrence, sisters, were those babysitters. They lived in a large home at the corner of Kinderkamack Road and Tenney Avenue. The location, 688 Kinderkamack, is now home to a Chase bank. But back then the structure standing was the old Williams House.
It has quite a history – multiple rooms, an underground railway with connections to shielding runaway slaves and to bootleggers along the river.
By the way, the place was named after William Williams, a trader who built the structure there as it afforded a convenient lookout for ships on the river. Williams owned lands to the north and west, including what is now the fire department headquarters and Borough Hall. He also donated the land at the corner of Kinderkamack and Continental to the borough in 1897 so that the First Congregational Church could be built there.
By the time my parents used the babysitters who called Williams House home the large place had fallen into considerable disrepair – a lot for two elderly women to maintain. But it was their home and they did the best they could with it.
Nonetheless, the view from Kinderkamack was one that resembled the Meunsters or Adams Family home. So, it was not surprising that the place came to have a reputation as a “Haunted House” and by extension things would be said about the sisters. All those remarks were incorrect and unfair.
So, now as Halloween approaches decades later, I again find myself compelled to set the record straight to people who were not in town at that time and may not have even been born yet. While the house had many stories connected to it, none of them were about the place being haunted. And, as mentioned above, the sisters, of French Canadian origin, were wonderful people who I recall fondly these many decades later.
I include a past posting about the house and the ladies. https://www.klusster.com/.../the-haunted-house-of....
Though long gone, it remains a place that matters.
As I try to set the record straight about my babysitters, I wonder if there were any other places around town that you may recall as once being considered “haunted”.
An online collection of “haunted places” includes the Von Steuben House. According to the listing, the Revolutionary War landmark is “also known for a ghost who visited in 1951. Former resident Gen. F.W.A. Von Steuben, according to legend, paid a visit to his former home, sitting in a chair and having a conversation with a woman who was in the home at the time. The ghost asked the woman to tell him how the Revolutionary War was going, but when the woman told him that the war had been over for some 200 years, the flabbergasted ghost disappeared”. See: https://www.hauntedplaces.org/item/steuben-house/
What are your recollections?
Finally (and unrelated), what was your preferred trick or treat candy (mine was the original Kit Kat and Tootsie Roll Lolli-Pops)?