Rowan Ghosts Profiled in Professor?s Haunted New Jersey BookSeptember 30, 2005
The ghost of a Rowan University theater professor attends all stage productions and the owner of the historically significant Hollybush mansion on campus haunts the grounds in the evenings. Those of just two of the many ghost stories profiled in "Haunted New Jersey: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Garden State" co-authored by Rowan Geography Professor Dr. Charles Stansfield Jr. and Rowan alumna Pat Martinelli.
In "Haunted New Jersey" (Stackpole Books, $9.95), Stansfield and Martinelli have amassed a diverse collection of stories spanning the length and breadth of the state of New Jersey, chronicling happenings ranging from the mundane to the outrageous. The book includes classics such as the ?Jersey Devil? and the ?Woman in White,? as well as UFO sightings and shipwreck and seaside hauntings.
Elizabeth Tohill, a dramatic arts teacher at then-Glassboro State for 26 years and namesake for the University?s theater, Tohill Auditorium, is one of the Rowan ghosts highlighted in the book. Students report sightings of Tohill?s ghost at rehearsals and performances, including an appearance in the chorus line of a musical. The ghost of Thomas Whitney, wealthy Glassboro glass manufacturer and owner of the estate on which Rowan resides, also is said to walk around the campus, shaking his head in disapproval over the changes made through the years. It was at Whitney?s home, Hollybush, that the historic June 1967 Summit between Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin and President Lyndon B. Johnson took place.
Unlike similar books, "Haunted New Jersey" is a serious record of historical accounts long shared by word-of-mouth. "A Publisher?s Weekly" review praises Stansfield and Martinelli?s sober approach, saying the collection ??should appeal to residents of the Garden State interested in local lore as well as American historians.?
?As a cultural geographer, I?m really intrigued by the universal themes of ghost stories,? said Stansfield. ?Ghost tend to be territorial, remaining in the places and hanging around the people most familiar to them in life. It?s comforting to think of favorite professors or historical figures still involved in the same activities or concerned about the same issues in the after life that interested them while they were earthly beings. That?s the allure of the genre, I think.?
The one-year sales of "Haunted New Jersey," which have reached nearly 10,000 copies, reflect the appeal of regional ghost stories. The book?s success has spawned a follow-up book from Stansfield, "Haunted Jersey Shore: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Garden State Coast," to be released in March 2006 and other Stackpole titles focusing on the ghosts of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, according to Stackpole book editor Kyle Weaver.
To arrange an interview with Dr. Charles Stansfield Jr., or for more information on "Haunted New Jersey" or its follow-up, "Haunted Jersey Shore," contact the Rowan University Relations Department at 856-256-4583.