A major thoroughfare on the Atlantic Coast, the Delaware River is both beautiful and tumultuous at times. Throughout history many towns and communities have sprung up along the river and thrived because of the many benefits it offers. One of these communities – a picturesque small town called Fieldsboro in New Jersey with a population of only about 500 – was incorporated in 1850. One of the first homesteads, which predates this incorporation by almost 100 years, still exists today and is actively being restored and studied for its historical purposes as well as the hauntingly good evidence it can provide.
The Whitehill Mansion, in Fieldsboro, is a short jaunt for us – only about 5 minutes from our home. Even so, the first time we heard of this historical site, only a few years back, was at a local Craft Beer event – volunteers were soliciting donations for the upkeep of this historically stunning place. The Mansion was offering tours of the building and grounds for nothing more than a donation.
The original home on this property dates back to 1723 and is still standing, although additions have been added throughout the years.
In the early 1700’s, a wealthy and successful merchant name Robert Fields decided to take up residence on the 600 acres of land he inherited from his father in what later would be known as Fieldsboro. A large portion of this land follows the Delaware River and the home was constructed right along its banks. Robert married a young woman named Mary and they had 3 children in the home. Unfortunately, Robert Fields tragically and mysteriously drowned in this same river, which had once offered him and his family so much hope, in 1777 leaving Mary to care for the home, property and children on her own.
During the Revolutionary War, some accounts state that Mary was a supporter of the rebels but others state that she actually tried to remain impartial. Either way, her home was invaded and searched several times by the British forces but being the cunning woman that Mary was, she was able to keep her home intact and remain living there throughout the war. Volunteers at the Mansion talk about Mary being a huge supporter of the Americans during the Revolutionary War and actively hiding and assisting soldiers. There seems to be some evidence to this fact and with the Mansion’s placement along the banks of the river, it would have been an immense asset to rebel forces and likely coveted and sought out.
Through the ensuing 200 years, the Mansion remained a homestead to various families and people including senators, rum-runners and even prostitutes. In the 1920’s, the Mansion was turned into a fine dining restaurant and served the local area for over 50 years. There is evidence to suggest that the basement of the building, which houses a rather quaint bar area, was used by mobsters and that the upstairs rooms were a brothel – housing prostitutes and witnessing all the violence, pain and sorrow that goes along with it.
After 20 years of sitting vacant and falling into a state of sorrowful disrepair, there was ample talk of demolishing the structure and possibly selling off the remaining land. As a result, during the 1990’s “The Friends of Whitehill Mansion” was created, a non-profit whose sole purpose is to keep the Mansion open and restore it for future generations. Today, it is available for tours, rented to the public for events, and has become one of the more well-known haunted locations in New Jersey. After visiting this location, I personally can attest to the widespread history that it offers as well as the exceptional interactive ghostly spirits that reside within.
The Whitehill Mansion may sound familiar if you are a fan of the paranormal. “Paranormal Lockdown”, with Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman, was at the Mansion and the show aired during the first season. The lockdown and the release of the show, however, was well after my first few visits.
The Whitehill Mansion sits at the end of a long, winding driveway and is not visible from the road. There is no signage out front announcing the treasures this property offers and there’s certainly no notification of the paranormal and spiritual inhabitants. Our very first tour was a candlelight tour of the property during the Halloween season with our kids. At the time, I hadn’t heard very much about the Mansion and wasn’t expecting a life changing paranormal experience – which is why we brought the kids along. We were expecting a few spooky stories while we walked around this historic building and to have a few laughs, maybe learn a few facts about by-gone times of our local area, and to head home early.
To say the least, those expectations were far exceeded.
We were happily chatting in the car as we drove down the driveway, trying to engage my son who absolutely hated these little outings, and I was completely unprepared for the physical and emotional reactions that ran right over me as we parked the car. My heart began racing, my face flushed, and I completely lost my train of thought as my body went into total fight or flight mode. Stunned by what was happening, and not a little afraid to exit the car, I none the less tried to put on a bright face and keep the excited mood going. Even then, I was no stranger to the physical reactions I experienced and was very practiced at pushing through. However, brave face or not, I needed a few minutes before I could actually enter the Mansion.
We decided to take a walk around the outside, get a feel for the energy of the property and hopefully settle down a bit in the process. The outside of the home is quite imposing, much larger than I had expected and quite beautiful. Here in the United States, having the opportunity to visit a home constructed in the early 1700’s is quite rare, and I don’t have a lot of experience taking in and absorbing so much energy, so much history all at once. Added with the proximity to the force of the river and all the energy that it brings, this property is something to behold for sure.
I immediately was drawn around the back of the home, towards the river bank. Unfortunately, it was quite muddy and reaching the bank of the river was impossible. I did however pick up on a Native American history to the property quite strongly and in fact, during an archaeological dig on the property completed in 2011 there were artifacts located that lead to Native American inhabitants. This connection, this link to the Native Americans, is possibly one explanation for what I encountered in this home later on this night.
The Mansion is three stories and my attention was immediately drawn to the top floor, the attic, and to a specific window on the left-hand side. I told my husband at the time that the window, and the space beyond it, was making me feel physically ill. A stranger to this stuff at the time, my husband looked at me a little sideways and ushered us back to the front of the house. It was time to go inside.
As you walk in the front door, your attention is drawn to a massive staircase straight ahead and a room directly to your right with a large, original fireplace and windows. It is in this room where many of the artifacts are on display – artifacts located during the archaeological dig in 2011. Strolling around this room, trying to take in the artifacts while dealing with the incredible spiritual energy, I felt my shirt tugged hard from behind. Fully expecting it to be my daughter, I turned around to grab her hand and was startled to find her across the room with her brother and father. Blinking, feeling a little confused and put off, I hurried over to them wanting nothing more than to stand in front of my husband – let him get tugged on.
We entered the foyer area to join the next tour and I noticed two children wandering back and forth, dressed in old-fashioned clothing. They looked to both be under 10 – a boy and a girl. It literally took me a breath or two to realize that these children were not part of the tour, were not a reenactment of sorts. They were in fact spirits and they were running back and forth, giggling and reaching for people. Several years later, during an actual investigation at the Mansion with PCINJ, a friend of mine had her first real paranormal experience in this foyer – she was touched and tugged on. Unless you have ever been physically touched by something that is not there – felt the energy that goes along with it – it is almost impossible to explain how startling and life changing it is. I have little doubt that this experience was one or both of these children that looked and felt so alive to me.
Looking and feeling alive is actually quite common for the spirits at the Whitehill Mansion. During a later investigation with PCINJ, I had an experience with this that left me confused and arguing with my husband days later. I naturally came off looking a little crazy. I talk about this in a future blog post, which will detail this investigation with PCINJ.
We began the tour upstairs on the second floor, which consists of several bedrooms that are from the original historical home. Each of the original bedrooms has a large fireplace that would have been used to heat the home during the cold, harsh winters here in New Jersey. Although the rooms are now vacant, even people that are not sensitive to such things would feel the welcoming, loving, lived-in feel of the place. Touching the wood around the fireplace fills me with a sense of nostalgia, a longing for simpler times when the greatest past time was a good book and a stroll around the gardens. In what would have been Mary’s room, the mother that so willfully and cunningly carried on in this massive home during dark and light times despite losing her husband, I felt a sense of peace and comfort – of coming home and contentment.
This comforting, homey feel held up throughout the second floor until I walked down a hallway and found myself standing at the entrance to a large bathroom with an old-fashioned claw foot tub and what looked to be newspaper covering the walls.
Instantly I felt light and foggy headed, slightly off-kilter and a bit confused. Against my better judgement (I can fully admit that I do this way too often and no – I still haven’t learned my lesson), I entered the bathroom with everyone else. As we all gathered in the room, the tour guide was acting a little edgy herself and began asking for volunteers to sit in the tub. At first, I found this a little strange – why would we sit in that dirty old tub – but then I adjusted to the energy. I was overcome with emotion immediately – I felt a profound sense of loss and defeat while feeling angry and confused. I sensed a female spirit with us.
One person on tour did volunteer to sit in the tub and the tour guide shared a troubling story with us all. Through many years of paranormal investigations at the Mansion, they have been able to determine that this bathroom is a hot spot for activity and that people often feel overcome with emotion. Equipment often goes off in the bathtub itself and men especially are known to become very uncomfortable in the tub – some as if they can’t breathe or are being choked. Different mediums and investigators have come up with two scenarios – backed up by numerous experiences and multiple pieces of evidence including EVP’s and spirit box interactions.
The first is that a woman committed suicide in the bathtub, likely one of the prostitutes that used to work in the brothel on the 3rd floor, and she still inhabits the room and is looking for help. The second is that a man died or was strangled in the bathtub and that is why men specifically feel very uncomfortable and choked.
What I knew then is that the haunting in the bathroom and the spiritual interactions are definitely from a woman spirit – I could feel her all around us. I also knew that although I could “see” a woman in the tub with her wrists cut, she didn’t actually die this way and the story repeatedly being told during tours of her suicide was angering her.
During an investigation with PCINJ at a later date, I was actually brave enough to sit in this bathtub. This woman spirit channeled through me and gave me the entire story which caused me to not only scare the day lights out of my teammates and husband but also had me rethinking my own intelligence for getting into these situations. You can read about this investigation on a later blog post – coming soon.
We moved onto the third floor, the attic area. As I climbed the steps a deep sense of foreboding overcame me, and warning bells started going off inside me. At this point, I was still somewhat naïve, so I didn’t recognize these signs for what they were and continued up the steps. To the right is a large room and beyond that, through a small entranceway that is slanted and very low (almost hidden), are the rooms that housed the prostitutes. I never made it the right on this tour.
At the top of the steps, to the left, is a large room. It is unclear what this room would have been used for in the past or why it exudes such a strong, powerful energy. Most of the tour crowded into this large, dark room and the guide began telling some creepy stories of people being afraid in this room, touched, scratched and even pushed. At first, I remained in the hallway, but something was drawing me into the room, almost against my will. Up until I stepped across the threshold of the room I was only feeling uncomfortable and unnerved, anxious. Everything changed after I stepped over…
It felt as if everything slowed down – like a movie played back on slow motion. Maybe that is why the experience remains so vivid even today. I could see the guide talking, but I couldn’t hear her – I couldn’t hear anything. I felt oddly disassociated with everyone and everything. I was distinctly aware of my anxiety and unease, but I couldn’t actually feel them. I saw my husband standing across the room with the kids, staring at me – wide-eyed and concerned – but I felt no sense of warning or inclination to action. I noticed the woman standing to my left wipe her bangs back off her forehead, the man next to her rub his eye. I saw the various shifting and fidgeting representing unease, but I couldn’t feel it myself.
As this sense of slowing down and of disassociation grew stronger, I felt rooted to the spot and in almost a meditative state. Looking directly across the room, I saw a dark, shadowy mist start forming in the corner and grow quite rapidly. I saw it grow large and begin moving forward, covering everything in its path. As it reached the center of the room, coming closer and closer to me, that muted alarm bell ringing in my head became a fire alarm and I realized this thing was coming for me.
Without any thought or sense of awareness, my body took over. It turned from the room, sprinted down the hallway and ran for the stairs. Halfway down the stair case I began gagging and crying silently.
By the time I passed the second floor I was becoming aware of my surroundings again and could hear people around me. I was quite embarrassed, but my pure terror kept me from pulling myself together. Exiting the building, at this point not quite running anymore, I did get over by my car before that gagging turned to dry-heaving – ending in vomiting.
I don’t exactly know what happened in that room that night or what it was that I encountered – even now it isn’t clear to me – but I have never stepped foot in that room again and will not even get close to it. We have toured the Mansion since then and also investigated it overnight – the entire place except this room.
Native American related? Did something happen to a soldier during the revolutionary war? Is this room related to the brothel and the prostitutes? Did some other unspeakable energy enter this room through some unknown nefarious action in the past?
We may never fully know… I for one do not intend to ever cross that threshold again…
Stay tuned for the next part – Whitehill Mansion the Investigation – where I detail the actual paranormal investigation we did overnight, my next experience in the bathroom, and tell you all about the basement and that quaint little bar that was used by mobsters. I will say this… there is a “wise-guy” in the basement that stays behind the bar and likes to interact with visitors….