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Way Down Low at Piscataway High - Fitz-Randolph Cemetery

At Piscataway High School, there is a small fenced in graveyard between the football field, home of the Chiefs, and the school parking lots. Many of the tombstones hold the name "Randolph", and the most interesting is one of the Randolph daughters who died in 1803 at the age of 15, the same age of many of the students who go to school nearby. The grave marker reads, "A sudden unexpected stroke, the tender bread of life was broke, in bloom of life her breath resign, and left her mourning friends behind". The Randolph family, which was prominent in Piscataway at the time, must have suffered a great loss, and this small cemetery remains as a tribute.

Interesting 19th century grave markers at Fitz-Randolph Cemetery, a small fenced in plot of land on Piscataway High School property.

Birch Run Away - Hidden Cemetery

Betwixt and between the recently built Birch Run Development in Piscataway, there is a fenced-in area of land that looks a bit out of place. This is one of the few locations where the shrubbery has been left to its own devices rather than being uprooted to make way for more housing. In investigating the plot, many tombstones were were found in the thick wooded region. Upon further inspection, the name "Giles" appeared on all of the legible tombstones, one in particular with the year 1837 engraved for Benjamin Giles. The most disturbing discovery was that the terrain in front of each grave marker was sunken a great deal. Since the land was not kept properly and the area was fenced in, there was no way to maintain the graves. However, it was discovered that the plot was well protected. Upon exiting, the crew was attacked by bees that rose up from the ground and sent everyone back to the car in a hurry. Two members suffered three stings each, present company excluded. It is believed that the intent of the bees was to protect without causing great injury, as the only person not stung was the one allergic to bee stings.

Hidden grave markers at the Birch Run Cemetery.

One of the casualties - a protector of the Giles clan

Runyon: For Your Life - Runyon-Stelle Cemetery

The Runyon cemetery on the corner of Possumtown Road and Centennial Avenue in Piscataway is no secret. One of the oldest graveyards in the area is well maintained, protected by a white picket fence, and surrounded by American flags. There is a family history and a list of all the Runyon family members buried there. The oldest was Vincent Rongnion, an American settler from France who claimed 150 acres of land along the Raritan in 1677, where Johnson Park is currently located. This makes him one of the earliest settlers in the Piscataway area, which was established as a town in 1666. His grave is located at the cemetery, unmarked, along with many generations of Runyon descent. This was truly a historic landmark for the town of Piscataway.

Benjamin Runyon, who died in 1785, is one of the older Runyon family members whose site can be identified, as many are unmarked or destroyed.

This well kept Runyon grave site could not be protected from subterranean intruders.

Queen of Kings - Old Queens

The Old Queens building on College Avenue is one of the most historic and most symbolic structures at Rutgers. It was designed in 1808 by John McComb, who also designed City Hall in New York City. In 1811, the building was home to academia at Rutgers, the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and the Rutgers Preparatory School. In 1825, the construction was completed, including a cupola and a bell donated by Henry Rutgers, which used to ring for the changing of classes.

There is believed to be a Grey Lady, or a ghost of a woman who died in sadness while waiting for her lover to return, who haunts the Old Queens building. One theory is that it is the spirit of Catherine Livingston, daughter of General William Livingston, who was the first governor of New Jersey and the namesake of Livingston Campus. Apparently, Catherine and Alexander Hamilton fell in love with each other after the Revolutionary War, but could not be together because they were in different social classes. It is believed that the Grey Lady of Old Queens is dressed in lace and has been seen near the cupola and bell tower. There have also been reports of faces appearing in the windows and strange noises coming from the Old Queens building at night.

The investigation was highlighted by some strange behavior of one of the outside building lights and some strange reflections through the windows, but nothing yet that can be classified as "phenomena". This incredibly historic building, which currently holds the office of the president of Rutgers, will continue to be investigated.

Focus on Ford - Ford Hall

Winants Hall was constructed in 1890 and was the first and only Rutgers dormitory until Ford Hall was built in 1915. The building is still used for graduate housing. The interesting stories surrounding Ford Hall involve a mysterious underground tunnel which ends at or near the residence hall. Based on maps and information in the Rutgers Picture Book, the tunnel is an old mine shaft that was in operation during the mid 1700's. It runs down Mine Street to College Avenue and ends at or near Ford Hall. Uses for the mine after its closing are believed to include a means of escape for slaves as an Underground Railroad, a passage for arms smuggling during the Revolutionary War, and a tunnel for smuggling alcohol during Prohibition.

An investigation of the basement in Ford Hall led to the discovery of many locked up and boarded up rooms and apparent crawl spaces that could not be accessed. One item of interest was a two-step metal stairwell that appeared to be covering up some sort of terrain. It is possible that one of the inaccessible rooms or areas, or maybe even the space under the stairwell could have some tie to the end of the mysterious tunnel, since its location is right below College Avenue. This could be another interesting location to come back to.

Sillie Willie - William the Silent Statue

In Vorhees Mall stands the bronze statue of Willie the Silent, or Still Bill, which depicts William, Prince of Orange, in all his glory. The statue was presented to Rutgers in 1928 by the Holland Society of New York as a symbol of its roots in the Dutch Reformed Church. The mystique surrounding the statue is that good old Wet Willie has been rumored to whistle at any virgins that pass by. This has long been a tradition, and some have reported to hear whistling coming from the general vicinity at times, but this is not confirmed. If there are any accounts or stories of this type of phenomena, which is possible since this is such a heavy traffic area for students, contact us. Unlike James Suydam who sits and observes from afar on Seminary Hill, Sillie Willie stands tall and proud among the students, waiting to give a little whistle.

The Stone Face of Seminary Place - James Suydam Statue

The James Suydam Statue at Seminary Place overlooks the Vorhees Mall area of the College Avenue Campus as well as the Johnson and Johnson headquarters along the Raritan River. Mr. Suydam sits and watches the activities of the campus from his throne. There was some mention of how the statue "haunts" students, in a Daily Targum article about the topic, but no stories have yet been confirmed, and there are no details or accounts provided. This site may warrant further investigation if additional information is provided, but for now, we'll let Mr. Suydam sit in peace.

A peaceful moonlit night calms the spirit of James Suydam at Seminary Place.

Super Bowl Secret - Loree Bowling Alley

This self-proclaimed "discovery" is something that a good number of people must already know about, but it seemed like a rarity to me. It is not so much a phenomenon as it is an interesting fact. Upon exploration of Loree Hall and Loree Gymnasium on Douglass, I found myself in the basement level. There was a door opposite the restrooms that was labeled "Bowling Lanes", and I thought that there was no way an actual bowling alley was down there, since I knew Loree as a computer lab and classroom building where I had taken a few classes. When I entered the door and flipped the light switch on, there was, in fact, and old style six-lane bowling alley, complete with racks of bowling shoes and bowling alley seating. It appeared to be a manual pin set up in which someone would have to be standing at the back of the lane to physically set up the pins and roll the ball back. The decorations on the walls had students names with '05 and '06, so this must be in use by some sort of women's bowling club or league during the school year. Either way, I thought it was still an interesting find.

Old fashioned bowling lanes in the Loree basement.

Custom bowling balls, shoes, and bowling alley seating - in the middle of Douglass campus

Good Wood - Log Cabin of Rutgers Gardens

The Log Cabin at Rutgers Gardens was investigated because, well, it's a log cabin on a college campus. Little of the history is known except that it was constructed in 1936 and is now used for public gatherings. One strange discovery was a small tribute to Janet Welsh from Jim E behind the log cabin, consisting of a religious candle and a small monument constructed of wood, berries, pinecones, and an expired pine. While this appears to be a tribute to a woman who has passed away, it is curious as to why it is at this particular location and how it may have happened.

Views of the log cabin, a construction of wood erected in 1936.

Tribute to Janet Welsh behind the log cabin.

Pole-tergeist - Liquid Assets

While this location stretches the boundaries of Rutgers Rarities investigations, it seems like it might be worth the extension. Liquid Assets Gentleman's Club in South Plainfield is proud of its association with the paranormal, advertising on a sign out front that "Yes, we are haunted!". According to A Day In The Life, John Colasanti, the owner of the club, believes that his uncles, who ran with notorious gangster Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll in the 1920's, have something to do with it. There have been reports of drinks evaporating, bar stools flying up and hitting the walls, and presences touching the girls' hair. Surveillance cameras have even picked up unexplainable ghostly images on film that disappear when people come near. Mr. Colasanti also explained that his two uncles died violent deaths in shootouts while they were only in their 20s. Maybe their spirits are still hanging around at a place they would've enjoyed back in their day. This investigation will certainly warrant further interest.

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©Rutgers Rarities and Unexplained Phenomena, 2005