Ghost Lights: The Legend of the Hookerman
HALLOWEEN ON THE FARM
Ort Farms Corn Maze Supports Goryeb Children’s Hospital
Robby Seibert, mixologist extraordinaire
(Photo by Lauren Kearns)
The Spirit in the Mill or The Ghost That Wasn’t
By C.G. Wolfe/ © The Black River Journal
Sam the miller was said to be the best muskrat trapper for miles along the North Branch of the Raritan River in Bedminster Township. In the eighteenth century the stream was reportedly teeming with these big, brown, furry rodents and their glossy pelts, used for coats, hats, and trimming brought twenty-five cents apiece. The bounty drew many part-time trappers to the banks of the narrow waterway but none of them could match Sam, who was the undisputed king of the local muskrat trade. Sam attributed his success to kind providence, but the truth was a lot less divine. Before sunrise, while his fellow trappers were still tucked into their beds, Sam would get to the river first and raid all their traps, always leaving a few animals behind to avoid suspicion.
One morning while poaching near the Vanderveer Mill Sam, who could sniff out a dram of liquor even better than he could a muskrat, crept into the unlocked mill and discovered a hidden barrel of whiskey. After looking around to be sure he was alone, Sam helped himself to several generous swallows before fleeing into the half-light of dawn, but he didn’t stay away long. The next morning he returned to the mill and this time he was prepared. Along with his big thirst, he brought along a big wooden bucket, and after he drank his limit, he smugly filled the pail to the brim to enjoy later on.
Before Sam could make good his escape, however, the Vanderveer’s miller came walking through the door and was standing between Sam and the only available exit. Sam hesitated for a second but knew there was only one way out - he would have to sacrifice his bucket of booty. Sam hurled the booze into the unwary miller’s face, temporarily blinding him, and dashed out the door.
Later that morning the terrified miller reported that he had been attacked by a ghost in the mill. Sam, who had been sure the miller recognized him, breathed a sigh of relief when he heard of the haunting episode and managed a little self-satisfied smile to himself, knowing that the ghost in the mill was actually more a “spirit” of the distilled variety.
In honor of Sam, we asked Gladstone Tavern’s legendary, local mixologist, Robby Seibert to share one of his favorite Halloween concoctions, which we’re sure will raise some spirits of its own.
1 ¾ oz. Berkshire bourbon
½ oz. Laird’s Applejack
2 oz. Melick’s cider
½ oz. lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Shake all ingredients and strain over ice in a mason jar. Garnish with a few apple slices and a cinnamon stick.