A Monster a Day, the 13 Witches of Union County New Jersey

Dare to drive…

Photo by robpoppy

Photo by robpoppy

Chances are, if you live near Scotch Plains, NJ, you’ve heard of the legend of the 13 witches and you know about the 13 bumps in Johnston Drive. If you don’t then the story goes something like this…

In 1845 David Felt set out to build “Feltville” a small village made to provide homage to the local papermill workers. Some 175 residents called what is now known as the “Deserted Village” home.


The Deserted Village consists of cottages, a small store-church, a cemetery, and what’s left of a small mill. It is located in the Watchung Reservation in Berkeley Heights, and is now maintained by the Union County Parks Division.

Cottage in "Deserted Village" By Headfirst Adventures

Cottage in “Deserted Village” By Headfirst Adventures

By 1860 David Felt a.k.a. King David blew that taco stand and rode out to retire in New York. The villagers tried to keep their home in tact but were descended upon by 13 sisters, witches if you will, that preyed upon the village children kidnapping and murdering them in numbers.


By Serious Compacts

By Serious Compacts

Legend has it that the 13 sisters were tried, hanged and buried beneath their hometown street, Johnston Drive, their corpses leaving behind 13 large bumps in the road. Logical explanations have been speculated and of course no one really believed that there were child murdering witches buried beneath the earth, until they paved the road and the bumps reappeared. Every time they paved the road, the bumps would rise again, leaving this town to carry on its legend of the 13 witches of Union County.


It is said that if you drive over the bumps and count them and say “thirteen witches” then turn around, you will see the witches following you behind your car.


I was 14 years old and sitting in the back seat of my friend’s older brother’s car who we were all afraid of,” Sullivan said. “It was like getting to the top of a roller coaster; Johnston Drive is a long stretch of road giving first-timers a lot of time to build up anticipation. I didn’t see any witches that night, but the thirteen individual bumps were definitely there.” -James Sully Sullivan, a lifelong resident of Berkeley Heights via SummitPatch


Whether or not this legend is true is not for me to decide, but the Deserted Village sure seems like a curious place to me.

About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

5 Comments on this post


    CELTICSOUL / Reply

    CELTICSOUL / Reply
  3. […] The Deserted Village, with buildings dating back to the 1800’s, one can only wonder what spirits may be lurking in the town. Nothing has been recorded, but stories linger about past Feltville […]

  4. Personally feel the girls weren’t witches, but guess the ignorance of people back then dealing with the girls good sense of crops and putting their all to maintain themselves and achieving so, the people were at a lost with not flourishing and falling on bad times, who wondered how could the girls have so much, accused them of being witches.Personally feel the girls didn’t kidnap or killed children, their souls are unrest and their spirits roam, cursed is the town for what they did to the girls.

    lee / Reply

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