The quiet New York suburb of Yonkers hides a history of hauntings. Now converted into apartments, old Public School 13 is the site of strange apparitions that may be ghosts of former students and teachers who died in a tragic fire. The Boyce Thompson Institute's lofty goal of solving world hunger was never met, and unfulfilled spirits are said to lurk in its abandoned laboratory. Wealthy colonial landowners still watch over stately historic homes like Philipse Manor Hall. Even the iconic Untermeyer Park is a playground for the otherworldly. Local ghost investigator Jason Medina reveals these and other ghosts of Yonkers.
About the Author
Jason Medina owns and operates Yonkers Ghost Investigators. He is retired from the NYPD after more than twenty years' service. He has been conducting ghost investigations and haunted research since 2006. He is a member of the Kings Park Heritage Museum, where he volunteers as a researcher, photographer and blogger; a member of the Yonkers Historical Society where he volunteers as a researcher, photographer and writer; and a volunteer at Sherwood House in Yonkers.
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PART I RESIDENTIAL HAUNTINGS
IROQUOIS ROAD HAUNTED HOUSE
Long ago, before the United States was a nation, the members of the Native American Iroquois Confederacy made their home in what was known as Mohawk Valley. Located in the north-central region of New York, it was the only true home to the five tribes of this confederation. They never really settled in Westchester County nor had any interest in doing so. However, they often crossed into the land, which at the time was occupied by the Algonquin people. They did so for the purpose of trading, fishing and hunting.
For many years, both groups were at war, until the Iroquois defeated the Algonquin. Regardless of this victory, the Iroquois still did not try to claim the land of their enemy. They were perfectly content where they were.
This allowed the Algonquin to continue to thrive on the lands they called the Aquehung, which included the Tuckahoe Hills and the regions surrounding the Sprain Brook extending to the west banks of the Bronx River. Along the western shore of the Bronx River once stood a great village also called Aquehung, located somewhere around where Tuckahoe and Bronxville currently meet.
The term Aquehung has been interpreted to mean "high bluff," "a river that runs along a high bluff" or simply "a place on the river." It is pronounced ah-kwa-hung.
In the time when the Weckquaeskeck, a tribe of the Algonquin, settled in the Aquehung, the residential communities, parkways and railroads that exist today did not surround them. Instead, there was only the unaltered beauty of nature. There were lush forests, dazzling rivers and brooks, rolling hills and pleasant valleys. Wild animals roamed freely and were hunted for food and clothing. The rivers were alive with trout and other freshwater fish. It seemed the Weckquaeskeck had everything they needed in this paradise.
These ancient tribes have forever left their mark in so many ways. By reading books, visiting museums and through Internet searches, we can learn how they lived. Fortunately, some of their legends have survived the ages and are still passed on today.
Throughout Westchester County, there are many streets, towns, rivers and lakes that have retained their original Native American name or are named after a tribe that called New York its home before the land was known as New York.
The Mohegan Heights Section of Yonkers is one such location. Prior to the 1900s, some of the roads that go through the area today did not exist. The area was mostly covered by farmland, which was gradually in development. In time, new roads and homes were built, until one such home was erected on a quiet little corner of a new street called Iroquois Road.
It seems this particular house has a rather interesting past that longs to be told. For one family, a haunting occurred here that was so terrifying that it caused them to move away from New York, never to return.
I came about this account from an anonymous woman who contacted me directly. As a child, she resided within this seemingly normal-looking white house. At a glance, the house gives the appearance of a dream home. It's a two-story brick Colonial-style home built in 1931. A typical white wooden picket fence surrounds the house, which is what you'd expect to find around an average suburban home. Regretfully, without the permission of its current owners, I cannot disclose its exact location or show any images of it, but the address is known to me.
However, on further investigation into its past, the truth is revealed. Within this house, there was once an ominous presence that lurked both down in the eerie basement and up in the attic. "Not a benevolent spirit, but a truly scary and threatening one," my source so nervously stated. I began to wonder what could have possibly happened to her for her to say this to me. I was intrigued and had to know more.
As it turned out, she had no knowledge of the previous owners. It is unknown if anyone ever died within the house.
According to this former resident, she lived there as a child from 1961 to 1978 with her immediate family, which was rather large. She and her seven siblings often felt the unmistakable sensation of heavy breathing on the backs of their necks. Whenever they would turn around, there would be no one there. Sometimes they'd hear the distinctive sound of footsteps walking around the house, but no one could be seen causing the sound. These occurrences happened quite often. She said there were also numerous other family members and friends who have witnessed or experienced these strange incidents, although I was only in contact with the one person.
Throughout the many years the family resided there, they experienced these ongoing occurrences. It took place so many times that for practically the entire time they occupied the house, none of them dared to ascend or descend the basement staircase, unless it was about two steps at a time. They were always in a hurry to get off the staircase for fear that something would happen to them if they lingered too long. Perhaps someone or something might push them or touch them in some way. They also dreaded seeing an apparition appear before their eyes. Fortunately, to the best of her recollection, none of her family members was ever hurt while residing there.
To this day, there is no doubt in her mind that her former home was haunted. She has since moved far away from there and has no intentions to go near the house ever again. Who can really blame her?
I took a ride to check out the house for myself. It has passed through several owners since my source's family moved out. I was unable to verify from the current owner if any paranormal occurrences take place today. I never went back to try again, not wanting to disturb the current residents, although I did leave them with my card. It is very possible the hauntings came to an end when the other family left. Sometimes it just happens that way. As far as I know, the spirit or spirits did not follow the previous family when they left.
LEE AVENUE HAUNTINGS
This residential street goes from north to south and is only several blocks in length. Yet there has been so much paranormal activity that many of its residents felt compelled to move away purely out of fear. Neighbors have often shared and compared their unbelievable stories with one another.
At night, many of them have experienced unseen entities lying down on top of them as they turned in for the night. In the middle of the night, what almost sounded like someone speaking backward has been heard in some homes. The names of neighborhood children were found written in magic marker on the kitchen walls of several homes. Sometimes chairs have been knocked over without anyone being near them.
Donna Parish-Bischoff, a former resident of Lee Avenue, wrote an autobiographical book that describes her horrifying experiences from the time she grew up there. The book is called The Lee Avenue Haunting. The following account can be found in her book in more personal detail.
During the early 1900s, long before her family moved into their former home on Lee Avenue, a young British gentleman named Henry Mund lived in this two-story farmhouse on his own. At some point, strange incidents began to take place. He would sometimes write to his mother in Manchester and tell her about how he kept seeing things that he could not explain. Ultimately, these paranormal experiences drove him to madness.
When he no longer resided within the house, it was abandoned and eventually fell into a state of disrepair. It remained that way for nearly two decades.
Finally, someone purchased the property and decided to fix it up. The new owner converted the house into a two-family home. During the time when the house was undergoing extensive renovations, tools would often disappear and turn up at different locations. This usually caused arguments and distrust among the carpenters and contractors. When the house was put up for sale, the families that came to see it would also end up arguing.
It is said there is a dark presence residing within this particular house that has left people with an unsettling feeling. Out of respect for the current owners, I will not disclose the actual address.
The house was finally sold to a family of five. They settled into their new home, totally unaware of the house's supernatural history. Unfortunately, their experiences there did not start out well. The lady of the house hanged herself after only living there for a short time.
According to the suicide note she left for her husband, she no longer wished to be in pain. It is said she suffered from a rare blood disorder and as a result was gravely ill. However, there are those who believe it was the darkness within the house that helped to bring about her fatal decision that would leave her husband and three young children devastated.
It was during the fall of 1974 when the first-floor apartment of the house was leased out to Donna's family. At the time, she was a mere child of six, but she never forgot those early days in that house. She always felt like she was being watched. She said it had been that way before they even moved in.
On the day they went to sign the lease, young Donna had been learning how to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on a piano in one of the rooms while the adults conducted their business. The young daughter of the family that was living there at the time was teaching her as a way to keep her entertained.
Suddenly, a lamp fell off the nightstand on its own and broke. The other girl told Donna not to worry because that sort of thing happened often. Like most adults, her father did not believe in ghosts, so naturally Donna was blamed for the mishap. That would only be the beginning for the Parish family.
Donna had an older brother and sister. Together with their parents, they'd reside in the house for many years. During that time, the family went through many dark experiences.
Incidentally, the bulk of Donna's fears came from the basement, which has a separate staircase located at the rear of the house. The washer and dryer were kept down there, and she usually dreaded descending the old steps that led into her own private hell.
Sometimes doors would open or close without anyone touching them. Other times they would slam shut. There would be no wind or breeze to blame. Footsteps could be heard on occasion while there was no one walking. Disembodied voices were sometimes heard and often sounded like they were speaking another language. There would also be an occasional foul odor that smelled like a filthy animal or urine, which would go just as suddenly as it manifested. On occasion, the family would feel cold spots within the house. It even occurred during the warm summer months. To top it off, whenever holy water was used to bless the house, the amount of paranormal activity would only increase tenfold.
It was the typical otherworldly events you'd expect from any horror movie about a haunted house. The only exception was this was no movie — it was real.
One time, as a child, Donna heard a little girl singing a nursery rhyme from within her bedroom closet. Coincidentally, the song was "Mary Had a Little Lamb." She immediately called for her mother, who came running. When her mother checked the closet, there was no one inside.
Eventually, Donna changed bedrooms and bunked with her sister in a different room down the hall from her original room, which had been next to her brother's room. As it turned out, the room she shared with her sister wasn't much better. There was a lot of poltergeist activity in that room.
Donna recalled asking her sister if she could borrow her shoes to wear around the house. She was still quite young at the time, but her sister gave her permission. She informed Donna the shoes were in their bedroom closet, which was long and narrow. When Donna stepped inside to grab the shoes, she heard a little girl giggle before singing "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Donna instantly let out a scream, and so did her sister, who also heard the disembodied voice.
They soon learned their room previously belonged to the son of the family that resided there before they moved in. Apparently, he ran away before his family moved. He was found dead from a heroin overdose at the Yonkers Motor Inn at around the same time when the paranormal activity in his former room picked up.
Donna's brother once found himself virtually trapped within his bedroom when he opened his door and found all of the dining room chairs neatly piled up like a pyramid against his door. At first, he blamed his sisters, but when he confronted them, they had no idea what he was talking about. They were shocked when they realized the occurrence had been paranormal in nature.
Their mother was literally brought to tears because of the incidents that occurred. One time an unknown thick clear liquid drenched her hair after falling on her head. There were no leaks in the ceiling, so they had no idea where the liquid came from. She rinsed her hair out immediately and cried out of frustration. She even resorted to shouting, "May the powers of Christ compel you," similar to the line used in The Exorcist film. It did not work.
Sometimes they would find mysterious puddles of liquid on the floor in random locations throughout their home, but there was never any evidence of a leak. Other times, a yellow syrup-like substance would somehow stain papers left lying about. Donna believes it could have been ectoplasm, a clear liquid-like substance believed to be secreted by spiritual entities when they attempt to manifest into a physical form.
Whenever someone was alone in the house, there was a creepy apparition that would often appear. It was about five feet in height with long dark hair and no visible face. It would start by showing up in someone's peripheral vision, and then it would pop out from somewhere or peek out. Of course, this usually resulted in someone having the living crap scared out of him or her.
That's pretty much what happened when Donna's sister first saw this apparition. She was alone in the kitchen, drawing a picture, when this thing kept peeking from behind her. Finally, when she turned to look, she got the fright of her life and screamed. Her mother came running into the kitchen, but it was gone.
The second time her sister saw this thing was in the bathroom. Once again, she was completely terrified by this creepy vision.
The only one in the household who never admitted to seeing it was their father, who stuck to his guns and refused to believe in ghosts.
Donna also used to see the apparition of a Native American chief. He wore tan clothing with fringes, along with the typical ceremonial headdress and war paint on his face. The feathers in his headdress were bright white, yellow and orange. His eyes were a piercing green color. He almost resembled her father, except his skin was darker and he had long silvery hair. Sometimes he'd be chanting something in his native tongue, while other times he'd open his mouth and no sound would come out.
Whenever Donna saw him, she'd scream. Her mother used to advise her to count to ten and it would go away. Sometime later, her mother revealed to her that she had Mohawk blood running through her veins from her father's side. After she learned about that, she never saw the Native American chief again, but she never forgot how he looked. Could it have been an ancestor visiting her from the other side?
There was another apparition she used to see on occasion. It was a dead boy. Perhaps it was the boy who once lived there. While it is possible, she's never seen what he looked like to compare the two.
Donna once made the mistake of buying an old Ouija board from a flea market at a church. She did so when no one else was near her, spending her last dollar on the musty old game. Her sister was against the idea from the beginning, once she found out. Her mother considered getting a refund, but the man who sold it had already gone.
Back then, Donna did not comprehend the mystical power the Ouija board could contain. She was curious to use her new game — with or without someone else, if need be. She'd sometimes sneak and use it, while no one was watching. Her brother offered to teach her how to use it properly, but by the time he made good on his promise, she had already used it several times on her own.
Had she known then what she knows now about Ouija boards, she would have never bought it. She might have even run from it.
One day, the glass indicator that came with the board flew against the wall and smashed into several pieces. No one was near the board when this occurred. Donna and her brother had just placed it on the dining room table moments earlier, so they could watch television with their mother. In the end, they knew it was for the best.
While playing a magic game with her brother at the age of nine, Donna placed a coat around him from the front, and then he had her tie the sleeves behind his back. With both his hands and feet tied together, he then had her lock him in a closet. Both he and Donna had walkie-talkies, so they could communicate with each other, in case he needed her to help him out. The object of the game was for him to free himself within three minutes, although it didn't turn out that way.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Ghosts and Legends of Yonkers"
Copyright © 2015 Jason Medina of Tribal Publications, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of The History Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PART I. RESIDENTIAL HAUNTINGS,
Iroquois Road Haunted House,
Lee Avenue Hauntings,
Montague Place Haunted House,
Nepperhan Avenue Haunted House,
Old Public School 13,
Van Cortlandt Park Avenue Hauntings,
Walnut Street Haunted Boarding House,
PART II. NON-RESIDENTIAL LOCATIONS,
Alder Manor and the Boyce Thompson Institute,
Glenwood Power Plant, aka the Gates of Hell,
Hudson River Ghosts and Legends,
Oakland and Saint John's Cemeteries,
Otis Elevator Company,
Philipse Manor Hall,
Public School 6,
Saint Joseph's Cemetery,
Saint Joseph's Seminary,
Van Cortlandt Park,
About the Author,