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To survive, you must tell stories…(“,)

Piscatawaytown Burial Ground and the witch of Edison

4 min read

New Jersey is steeped in urban legends and stories of the supernatural. There everybody has heard of the Jersey Devil, a creature with the head of a goat, the body of a deer, giant horns and wings.
It is said that he was the 13th child of Mother Leeds back in 1735 and was born a demon through a curse. There have been a number of sightings of the Devil since then, one of them even being reported by the brother of Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte.

But there is a legend that predates his existence, that of the “Witch of Edison”, Mary Moore.
On Woodbridge Avenue in Edison, there is an old white church which sits in front of one of the oldest graveyards in New Jersey.
This is the Piscatawaytown Burial Ground, and it is steeped in Revolutionary War history.
Its grounds were also used at one time as the training grounds for the British Army as they moved through the state. Right next to the commons yard was a tavern where both George Washington and Alexander Hamilton visited, and all the whole area has a deep, rich history.
Buried here are many of the original families of this area, but also British Soldiers from the American Revolution, American Soldiers from various wars, a Civil War General, Mayors and other influential residents.
Its oldest tombstone still legible today is dates back to 1693 and rests above the Hoopar brothers, who died after eating poisonous mushrooms, and they were buried together.
But there may have been earlier burials.
Another interesting gravestone is that of Thomas W. Harper, who was killed during the tornado of 1835. According to the legend, he was standing out in the storm when he was told to enter the inn across from the church. Harper then said he would not fear God until he felt his power. He then was struck with a timber from the Church, and died 4 days later.

But that’s not all that resides in the graveyard.
In 1731 the burial ground became the final home of one Mary Moore, a local woman who was allegedly a witch, accused and put to death (hunged or burned her at the stake) for her “crimes”.
However that may not be the full truth as reports on her death vary greatly: according to some sources she was hung while others said she poisoned herself after she murdered her husband.
Despite that, the claim that Mary Moore was a witch, that she grew strange plants in her yard, made animals do strange things, and dressed oddly, remains the same across the board.

There are even some accounts that Mary Moore was the inspiration of the legend of “Bloody Mary”, basically a game that guys play at sleepovers.
One stands in front of the mirror at midnight in the dark and says “Bloody Mary” three times. At that point, the ghost of Mary is supposed to appear and either scare the shit out of you or rip you to shreds. Though no one is really sure what its actual origin is, some people think it has to do with Queen Mary I, who was nicknamed “Bloody Mary” in life, while others think it has to do with a girl named Mary Worth who was once beautiful until an accident tore her face to shreds and, at that point, she vowed that no one else would be beautiful. In any case, if you ask someone from Jersey where Bloody Mary comes from, they’ll tell you Mary Moore.

So what does this have to do with a grave?
Well, the legend goes that the Piscatawaytown Burial Ground is haunted by the ghost of Mary Moore. At night, it is told that if you walk around her grave three times and spit, you will come face to face with Mary’s ghost.
Feel free to test that story, but good luck trying to find her grave!
In fact, there’s another story that tells about two boys, I don’t know if friends or brothers, that stole her headstone in the 1980s, or 1950s.
Apparently, after stealing the headstone, one of the boys was trying to cross Route 1, a busy, major highway that runs through Edison, and was killed instantly. After that, the second boy smashed the headstone, fearing that it had been cursed. Or, another way the story goes is that the boy was hit by the car on the way home from stealing the headstone and it fell into a sewer (!!!)…

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