I received an e-mail from someone after reading my “Not About Terri Schiavo” post. The person said there is no Heaven or Hell. When you die, you’re gone. Journey over. It made me think a little and I decided to respond with this post.
When I was living two doors down from the Fleming Castle on Bonnell Street, in Flemington, NJ, back in the late 70s, I had several experiences that you could call strange. One night, while lying in bed, I was trying to doze off when suddenly I heard the front door opening. At that time, I lived alone and my bedroom was the first one up the stairs. I heard footsteps, not heavy, walk across the room and start up the stairs. I was sure I had locked the door. I waited until the steps came almost to the top. There was no way I was going to let an intruder near me. I jumped out of bed and at the same time I turned on the light switch, I kicked into the air at my target. There was no one there. OK. The possibility of it being a dream was true, but I’ve never dreamed like that. I wasn’t on drugs. I hadn’t been drinking. While quite alert, I still heard the footsteps coming up. I know I heard the door open. It was frightening. What was it? I don’t know. When I first moved in, I heard voices coming from the kitchen a couple of times. It stopped whenever I entered the room. No one was outside talking. Those, I just ignored and thought nothing of it, until…
When I started seeing Maryen, but before she moved in, we were going out for the night to hear a friend, Ken Yard perform in a band in Easton, PA. Ken and his girlfriend, Nancy, were living with me at that time. They had left hours earlier. We stopped at Maryen’s and then mine to get changed. While I was in the bedroom looking through my dresser, Maryen went down the hall to the bathroom. She left the door open. The downstairs door opened and up the stairs walked a female. I assumed Nancy had come back for something because she walked right into their bedroom. They should have been hours away. When Maryen came to my room, she said that Nancy was home. I said, yes, I know, I heard her. When I had glanced out of the corner of my eye, I saw a shadow walk by. Maryen saw the same thing.
I yelled, “Hi, Nancy!” There was no answer. We walked into their room. No one was there. I looked under the bed and in the closet. Nothing. I would have shrugged it off again, but Maryen heard and saw the same thing as I did. I never brought up the notion of spirits in the house to her before. I mean, we hadn’t been together that long. I didn’t want her to think I was crazy. Was that strange? Or were we? We never experienced anything again.
About a year or so later, I ran into an author and locally renowned historion on Flemington and Hunterdon County. When I told her of my incidents, I piqued her interest. She researched the address. Later, she told me a seven year old girl had drowned in a well out back hundreds of years ago. The well was long gone. At one time, the house was part of the Fleming Castle estate, most likely a barn, erected after the castle was built in 1756.
I had always been skeptical about ghosts until those experiences. I can’t say for sure that I believe in them, but, I won’t say that I don’t, either. I think what I’m trying to say is that if there is even a remote possibility of the existence of apparitions, then there is also that chance of an afterlife.
Chief Tuccamirgan grave marker on Bonnell Street
The following is excerpted from the Hunterdon Herald, a publication for the Hunterdon County Cultural and Heritage Commission. Although not related to the above article, the comments section of this post reflect an interest in Chief Tuccamirgan and John Philip Case.
In the family burial ground of the Case (formerly Kase) family in Flemington stands a large marker in honor of Chief Tuccamirgan.
When the Case family came here from Germany in the early 1700’s they settled along Tuccaminjah Creek – now known as the Mine Brook in Flemington. Not far from Philip Case’s log cabin lived a group of Indians whose chief was Tuccamirgan. Peaceful by nature, the Indians helped cut logs for the white settlers’ houses. It is even said that they hollowed out gum tree logs so that the Case babies could have cradles.
Legend tells us that Tuccamirgan’s wife had no children and would help the Cases care for their little ones. In this strange land the Indians were so helpful to the Case family that they all lived peacefully as brothers.
When good Chief Tuccamirgan died in 1750, he was buried in the Case family burying ground, which is located along Bonnell Street today. His grave is marked by a stone monument large enough that it can be seen for a long distance. It was put up in 1925 and reads: “In Memory of the Delaware Indian Chief, Tuccamirgan.”
To read about the Dvoor Farm and the Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance (HLTA), please go here.
©2005 David B. Knechel