Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Shadowy Specter of James Street: A Pelham Manor Ghost Story

With Halloween only three days away, the Historic Pelham Blog continues the week with newly-uncovered Pelham ghost stories.  The story today is about the "Shadowy Specter of James Street."

A silent, dark specter roams the streets of the Manor in the area of James Street near the Esplanade.  It is a pitch-black specter -- never luminous or shimmery.  It takes the form of a human figure that is solid black from head to toe without exception.  No eyes are visible.  No clothing can be detected.  It is simply the color of darkness from head to toe, entirely the same shade.  It might be said to resemble a shadow in three dimensions.  Indeed, on dark moonless nights, the shadowy specter is nigh impossible to see.  It blends into the blackness of the nighttide.

One who has seen the Shadowy Specter of James Street is Bardy Jones of Pelham Manor.  Bardy will never forget the experience.

Bardy has a pair of dogs.  One is a gentle giant named Sidney.  She is a mixed breed thought to be part Black Labrador Retriever and part Newfoundland.  Those who know Bardy and Sidney know that neither has ever met a stranger.  Friendly to all and happy to stop and chat with friends and strangers alike whenever and wherever an opportunity arises, Bardy often can be seen walking Sidney on a leash in the neighborhood that includes James Street near the Esplanade.  

Sidney loves people.  When passing a friend or stranger during her walks with Bardy, Sidney strains at the leash to approach and say "hello" in her own special way, with tail wagging, tongue panting, and a sparkle in her bright eyes.

While walking Sidney late one dark evening on James Street just south of the Esplanade, Bardy looked ahead into the darkness and noticed something light-colored that seemed suspended in mid-air.  He squinted and looked ahead into the ink-black shadows trying to make out what the odd item before him might be.  Keeping his focus on the strange item that seemed to float in the darkness, he moved a little closer until he could make out what looked like an ordinary white shopping bag.  It was no ordinary bag, however.  Momentarily, at least, it seemed to float motionless before Bardy's eyes.  

As Bardy stared at the shopping bag, he realized that it actually seemed to hang from something.  Then, a chill raced up his spine.  In a flash, Bardy realized that only six feet away there stood in the darkness a shadowy black specter that, as Bardy describes, "was solid black, same shade, head to toe; face, clothes everything."  A shopping bag hung from an arm of the specter.  The specter's featureless face seemed to have a cigarette dangling from where its mouth should have been.  The cigarette did not illuminate either the featureless face or any other part of the figure.

The dark figure stood motionless and silently in the blackness directly beside Bardy.  Its appearance was startling.  Though Bardy stared at the specter, there was utterly no acknowledgement from the apparition of the presence of Bardy or Sidney.  Bardy was struck by the fact that though he and the ever-loyal Sidney passed only six feet from the shadowy figure, Sidney never acknowledged the figure; never tugged at her leash; never attempted to approach the specter with tail wagging, tongue panting or sparkling eyes.  Indeed, like the specter that took no notice of the pair passing it, Sidney took no notice whatsoever of the specter in return as she trotted by with Bardy in tow at the other end of the leash.  The figure remained motionless and silent.  It seemed content merely to wrap itself in the blackness of the night.  Bardy quickened his steps to hurry away from the spot.  He will never forget the experience.

If you find yourself walking the streets of the Manor after dark, particularly near James Street where it meets the Esplanade, pay close attention to the shadows.  Even if you hear nothing, even if you notice nothing, and even if you sense nothing, you still may want to make certain that your eyes have adjusted completely to the dark.  You may have to squint as you walk along, searching the shadows diligently.  If you feel that you may have seen something in the corner of your eye, quicken your step.  It is well nigh impossible to see a dark specter enveloped in the shadows on a dark night.  

So far, at least, the Shadowy Specter of James Street remains silent and harmless.  Be careful out there in the dark of the Manor, however.  One never knows. . . .

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A special thanks to Bardy Jones who provided this colorful story and who granted his magnanimous permission to permit me to use the story that forms the basis for this article.  Thank you, Bardy, on behalf of the Town of Pelham.  And please, extend our thanks to Sidney as well.  Good dog!!!

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I have collected ghost legends relating to the Town of Pelham for more than fifteen years.  To read more about examples that now total in the dozens, see

Bell, Blake A., Pelham's Ghosts, Goblins and Legends, The Pelham Weekly, Oct. 25, 2002, p. 1, col. 1. 

Bell, Blake A., More Ghosts, Goblins of Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 43, Oct. 29, 2004, p. 12, col. 1. 

Bell, Blake A., Archive of HistoricPelham.com Web Site:  Pelham's Ghosts, Goblins and Legends (Oct. 2002). 

Bell, Blake A., Bibliography of Pelham's Ghost Stories and Legends (Oct. 2002).

Tue., Oct. 27, 2015:  The Ghostly Gardener of Bolton Priory:  A Pelham Apparition.

Mon., Oct. 26, 2015:  The Ghostly Matron of the Manor Club:  Even a Ghost Whisperer's Nightmare!

Fri., Oct. 31, 2014:  Ghosts in Pelham! Yet Another of Many Accounts of the Haunted Cedar Knoll.

Mon., Sep. 08, 2014:  In 1888, The "Ghost of City Island" Upset the Town of Pelham.

Fri., Jan. 17, 2014: The Phantom Bell Ringer of Christ Church in Pelham Manor.

Fri., Jan. 30, 2009:  Article Published in 1901 Detailed Ghost Stories and Legends of Pelham.

Mon., Feb. 19, 2007:  Another Manor of Pelham Ghost Story: The Whispering Bell.

Fri., Aug. 18, 2006:  The Ghost Gunship of Pelham: A Revolutionary War Ghost Story.

Wed., May 03, 2006:  Another Pelham, New York Ghost Story.

Thu., Oct. 13, 2005:  Two More Pelham Ghost Stories.  

Wed., Oct. 14, 2009:  1879 News Account Provides Additional Basis for Some Facts Underlying Ghost Story of Old Stone House in Pelhamville.

Order a Copy of "Thomas Pell and the Legend of the Pell Treaty Oak."

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