Time Traveler

LOCATION:  Pine Barrens, NJ

CHALLENGE:  3 stars

DATE/NUMBER:  03-Mar-2001/35


In the scrub cedar that borders the river, weird shadows move.
Lights flicker and gutter out. The eerie wraith falls, or rather
seems to float to the ground. Then it searches for something and,
disappointed, strides off down the road to a lonely grave

'The Legend of Joe Mulliner' -- Henry C. Beck

I was poking around what could possibly be construed as the remains of the Forgotten Town of Calico, in the Pine Barrens, when I came across an old jar. I opened it, and I pulled out the remains of an old newspaper, dating from 1839. I've scanned it in, and reproduced what I could of it below.

Oswego Observer
June 13th, 1839 3 Cents
Thief at Large in the Harrisia Area
As reported by the Johnsons, Edward and his wife Lucy, of Harrisia:

"Turns out we were spending the weekend at the cabin on the small beaver pond up north of Martha, when we heard rustling in the cabin, followed by a neigh and a horse galloping off.

As I rushed into the cabin, Lucy immediately noticed some of her possessions missing, including her wedding ring that had been passed down from her great-grandmother. I was quick to mount up and give chase up the hill, just barely getting a glimpse of the red-headed, red-bearded rider as he disappeared up the road.

As I began to close the distance on my quarry, the thief bounded into a small grove of old growth pines off the left side of the road, went past a twin pine, then headed northwest into the woods.

I followed, where about ten yards or so in, my horse misstepped into a hole and came up lame. Fortunately, Lucy rode up behind me, and we chased off following the sounds of the thief crashing thru the pinelands.

We came out back on the road, past were it forks for the pond and the shortcut over to Shamong Road. We galloped out towards Martha Road, following the fresh hoof prints in the sand, and caught sight of him up ahead as we joined Martha Road.

I began to wonder who he was. The Refugees hadn't been a problem for half a century or more, before I was born, and besides, I could tell by the look of his tack and clothing that he was not from around here.

We rode on in pursuit, across the wooden bridge spanning Buck Run, then down thru Martha, past the smell of the furnace and the big oak tree at the Jesse Evans mansion. I yelled "Stop Thief!" to the few people loitering at the crossroads, but either they didn't hear, or didn't care, or, most likely, had no ride handy.

As we rode into Harrisia, past the paper plant, the garden, then down main street towards Bodine's Tavern, a small posse joined in pursuit. Unfortunately, as we got to the tavern, with no place for him to go, he dismounted, ran upstream along the Wading River a little ways, and jumped into a red skiff tied to a post at the base of the northernmost pier.

He rowed across the river, where he tied the boat to a small oak tree and disappeared into the pines. No other boats were available, and the horses weren't up to it. The oddest thing was that I saw his horse trot about 100 yards up the road back towards Harrisia, to a dead oak tree and into the woods -- what became of it I haven't a clue, but from the way he acted, it was as if he had done this before.

All and all, we figured to have rode four miles in pursuit."

This is the second such reported incident of the "Red Bearded Thief". A bounty of five dollars for any information that leads to his capture has been offered. Post any information you have to the sheriff's office in Tuckerton.

Devil Takes Man's Life

The Jersey Devil once again was seen wreaking havoc, this time somewhere out in the area between Speedwell and Apple Pie Hill.

We are sad to report this time, that there was a human victim, one Charles Wills, may he Rest in Peace, who was interred in the recently consecrated cemetery by the side of the road near where he was victimized.

Mulliner's Ghost Seen in Washington
Joe Mulliner, the infamous "Robin Hood of the Pines", was hanged fifty eight years ago, from the low limb of a buttonwood tree among the scrub cedars along the Mullica River.

This fact, however, doesn't stop people from reporting his wraith from time to time, searching the places he haunted during his lifetime of woeful deeds for the pile of gold he buried long ago.

One such place was the tavern at Washington, where, so the story goes, Joe was headed to for an evening of ale, dancing, and merriment, when he spied a young, pretty girl in her wedding gown, lying on the lawn sobbing. When he asked her what was wrong, she simply looked towards the front of the inn where the figure of a large, burly man was silhouetted in the bar window.

That night, Joe hung around for the wedding, where he suddenly appeared on the staircase overlooking the ceremony. When he looked upon the couple, he recognized the burly groom -- an enemy from the past who had been pursuing him for bounty. It was not Joe's style to sneak out the back; he simply looked on as the wedding continued.

As the girl replied "I do", with a discernible quiver in her voice, some recalled later, the sanctity of the moment was shattered by a gunshot from the stairs. To this day, the bullet hole can still be seen in the roof, a few feet to the southwest of the chandelier. Joe looked the groom in the eye and bade him farewell, and as the stunned crowd looked on, the groom disappeared out the back door of the inn. Mulliner then strode across the room and took the bride by the hand.

They danced into the night, or so the tale goes. Joe was overheard whispering some directions to her to meet later -- "100 yards out the back door of the tavern thru the woods to the field, then on to the far side of the field behind the large pine."

Several people have since dug back there for the gold, assuming that's what his directions meant, as Joe certainly must have been afraid of being caught that night. But neither the gold, the girl, nor the groom have ever been seen since that night.

Joe, of course, was caught by Captain Baylin a short time thereafter, and hanged by the river. His ghost, just as it was last Saturday night, is still occasionally seen on that staircase and in that field behind the tavern.

Today's Recipe

Today's recipe for Pinelands Cranberry Pear pie comes from Marjorie Cramer, who sells them to the passing stage riders from the front porch of her Mount Hotel at the Quaker Bridge Washington, Mount Sandy Ridge Roads crossroads:

Pastry for a twin-crust pie
2 cups fresh Pinelands cranberries, cleaned
3 ounces of water
9 teaspoons tapioca
8 ounces sugar
3 cups diced, fresh Jersey pears
6 teaspoons butter
Pinch of salt

Fire the oven or baking kettle to high baking temperature. Line the bottom of the pie pan with half of the pasty.

Place the cranberries and water in a saucepan. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes, until the skins pop. Add the sugar, salt, tapioca, and pears, and mix well. Let cool, then mix into the pie pan and dot with butter.

Cut the remaining pastry into strips and make a lattice top for the pie. Trim and turn under the edge of the pie pan.

Bake the pie for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 30-35 minutes, until brown.

Be sure to poke deep into the pie to make sure it is done.

Recipes Wanted

If you would like your recipe to appear in a future issue, let us know.


This issue's WordHunt has hidden at least ten words (three or more letters). Words can appear horizontally, vertically, or diagonally; forwards or backwards.

NOTE 1:  The New Jersey Pine Barrens are a special place. Replete with unique ecosystems, plant life (the area is noted for carnivorous plants), paddling rivers, and of course the fading fingerprints of the lost towns and the maze of sandy roads and trails that connect them. Grab your tent or canoe, and plan to spend the weekend.

NOTE 2:  Off-trail walking is involved. Not recommended for the novice navigator or ghosttowner, you will get lost without proper preparation and navigational aids. Consider 4WD, although it certainly can be done on foot if you enjoy hiking.

NOTE 3:  Be wary of snakes and other wildlife when reaching into dark places. No need to dig for this box. All bearings magnetic unless otherwise noted. A pace is a long stride counted on a footfall of either foot, i.e. two paces are counted each time the right foot hits the ground. Be aware of if or when there is game hunting in the area.

NOTE 4:  Please re-hide the thing well just as you found it, and be discreet when stamping up.

DISCLAIMER & COPYRIGHT:  PERSONS USING THIS CLUE OR HUNTING THIS LETTERBOX DO SO AT THEIR OWN RISK. Do not hunt this letterbox without reading and agreeing to the waiver first. Children, do not hunt this letterbox without the supervision of an adult who has read and agreed to the waiver. Possession of this clue does not imply rights of access to particular lands and route choices, or the safety thereof, including the location of the box itself. Always observe current local regulations, signs, property rights, and customs; you are responsible for your actions. Clue not indended to be taken literally or to suggest route choices; route choices (and the choice to proceed at all), are your choice.
This clue, photographs, and associated stamp art are copyright © 2001, by Randy Hall. Permission to reproduce for personal use granted; all other rights reserved.