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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Suicidal Specter of Manger Circle

There once stood a magnificent elm that towered above the Manger Circle neighborhood in the Village of Pelham Manor.  It stood on the property known today as 5 Manger Circle. An ancient elm, it towered as a solemn sentinel.

By 1953, the once-magnificent sentinel was at the end of its days, victimized by Dutch Elm Disease. That dastardly disease, first reported in the United States in 1928, was in the midst of its relentless and brutal spread across the nation. The disease was killing the giant elm of Manger Circle.  

The owner of 5 Manger Circle was saddened by the imminent death of the beautiful tree. The dying elm cast sadness over the neighborhood. Bare, gnarled limbs hung heavily from its wrinkled and twisted trunk. 

Its owner noticed that ne'er a day ended without at least one passing traveler staring forlornly at the stricken tree. Each time such a passerby stared, a look of sadness seemed to cast a pall across the staring face.  Often it seemed as if a painful memory was welling within.

The owner knew.  It was time. The dying elm would be taken down.

The heartsick owner and his son (who tells this story even today) were on hand for the gloomy event the day the ancient elm was taken down. That day, the heaviest limbs of the gnarled tree hung lower, slumping like broad but defeated wooden shoulders resigned to a sorrowful fate.

The owner's son recounts this tale even today.  He never will forget that melancholy day as he often has told his own sons.  

As the giant elm was taken down, neighbors poured into the yard.  Each was alarmed. Each arrived and asked the same question: if the old elm is destroyed, what will happen to the ghost of the man who hung himself from its limbs?

Shocked by the revelation, the owner and his son listened to a despairing tale that explained the sense of sadness that pervaded the area and the constant forlorn stares of passersby. Years and years before, a sadly-desperate man had chosen a heavy limb of the magnificent elm.  From that he hung himself. Neighbor after neighbor came forward to say that ever since, on particularly dark and gloomy nights, the ghost of the man could be seen wandering near the tree, just as gloomy and just as grief-stricken as the specter's living predecessor most likely had been in his desperate final hours. The phantom confined its wanderings to the area around the tree, somehow still tethered to the ancient elm that was used to end the living days of the specter's predecessor.

The owner's son remembers to this day how the neighbors seemed genuinely concerned about what would happen to the forlorn ghost once the tree was removed. Yet, the owner had no choice.  The old tree came down.

Today the Manger Circle neighborhood is one of the loveliest places in Pelham. For those who live there and others who visit, however, care should be taken on particularly dark and gloomy nights. Pay close attention to the darkness for It may be possible even now to see the Suicidal Specter of Manger Circle wandering the area, perhaps in search of the giant elm whose gnarled limbs once hung heavily from the wrinkled and twisted trunk of the giant tree that stood at 5 Manger Circle.

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I have collected ghost stories and legends relating to the Town of Pelham for more than fifteen years.  To read more examples that now total in the several 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. 25, 2016:  The Suicidal Specter of Manger Circle.

Mon., Oct. 24, 2016:  The Fiery-Eyed Phantom of Pelham Heights.

Mon., Sep. 19, 2016:  The Dark Spirit of the Devil and His Stepping Stones: A Pelham Legend.

Fri., Oct. 30, 2015:  The Shrieking Ghosts of Execution Rocks: Yet Another Pelham Ghost Story.

Thu., Oct. 29, 2015:  The Apparition of Wolfs Lane:  Another Pelham Ghost Story.

Wed., Oct. 28, 2015:  The Shadowy Specter of James Street:  A Pelham Manor Ghost Story.

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.

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