What Really Happens At New Jersey's 'Spy House'

Plenty of creepy places have vied for the title of "Most Haunted House in America," but one New Jersey house, standing on the shores of Sandy Hook Bay since 1648, has lots of people convinced.

From this part of the Jersey shore, you can often catch sight of the tops of New York City's tallest buildings, just a ferry ride away in Manhattan. But the Seabrook-Wilson House (also known as the Spy House), with its white, clapboard siding and genteel air, can feel to visitors like walking back in time.

It's not just the picturesque location and its lighthouse view that calls to mind earlier times, though. For a lot of people, it's all the pesky ghosts that keep popping up. Sure, there are plenty — for instance, Weird New Jersey – who say that the ghost stories were most likely borne from the enterprising mind of former elderly curator Gertrude Neidlinger (great ghost name — you're not fooling us, Gertrude), but what fun is that? Let's talk ghost sightings.

Twenty-two active ghosts!

As Roadside America tells it, the Spy House once claimed to play host to 22 ghosts. That's a remarkable (and remarkably specific) number. Apparently Neidlinger used to hold seances in the home, which possibly explains the specificity of the intel. Alas, nothing gold can stay, and following a reported disagreement between Neidlinger and the corporate board, she was locked out. But for the ghost hunters and the plain old ghost-curious, it didn't matter; the home's reputation as a way-station for restless spirits was cemented.

The house was in the Seabrook family for 250 years and, over the years, has also been a private residence, boarding house, inn for tourists, and a museum. It's also been a tavern, which is the source of its nickname. The story is told, allegedly, that British troops drank there during the Revolutionary War and would spill secrets once drunk (hence, the "Spy House"). Weird New Jersey bursts that bubble, though, by noting that the building wasn't actually a tavern until 1910. Ugh, fine. What else you got, Spy House?

Don't look in the yard (or maybe do?)

According to the site Ghosts of Ohio, the Spy House has played host to the "strange appearance of large amounts of ghostly children," many of whom have allegedly been spotted playing in the yard. If that's not creepy enough for you, consider the accounts of some Weird New Jersey readers, one of whom shares that his friend's parents arrived early for a tour and, while waiting to be let in, looked up to see a young boy staring down from an upstairs window. The only problem, explained the tour guide when she arrived, was that no one was supposed to be in the house. When they searched the place, no one was.

Some claim to have seen the apparition of a bearded sea captain walking the halls, thought to be the infamous pirate Captain Morgan. Unlike the jaunty figure on the rum bottle, this Captain Morgan reportedly threatens visitors. Another visitor claims to have peeped through the windows of the closed house and seen the figure of an old man reading a book in a rocking chair. The one agreed-upon claim that seems to have held up best however, is that by spinning her ghostly tales and keeping people interested, Neidlinger just might be partly responsible for ensuring the home stayed standing when it might otherwise have fallen into irreparable disrepair. Show her proper thanks if you visit, and remember to look up at those second-story windows on your way home.