Column: Hear the haunting of the Bronx and other areas

Ghost in the dungeon
Blake A. Bell will deliver an eerie presentation on ghosts of the Bronx at the next meeting of the East Bronx History Forum.  
Photo courtesy Getty Images

The East Bronx History Forum and the Huntington Free Library are pleased to announce the Forum will hold its 169th meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. with a live Zoom presentation by Blake A. Bell, retired town historian of Pelham, “Haunted History: Ghost Stories of the Bronx and Lower Westchester.” This will be both an in-person meeting and a Zoom meeting. As we get closer to the date Zoom credentials will be emailed to our members as well as posted on our website:

Bell served as a member of the boards of trustees of the Westchester County Historical Society, the Society of the National Shrine of the Bill of Rights at Saint Paul’s Church National Historic Site, and the Pelham Preservation & Garden Society. He also served as Pelham town clerk for three years and as a member of the Pelham Town Board for eight years. He is the author of “Thomas Pell and the Legend of the Pell Treaty Oak” as well as “Town of Pelham’s 350th Anniversary Celebration: Historian Blake Bell’s Articles Published in The Pelham Weekly” (2006).

Bell will deliver an eerie presentation on ghosts of the Bronx. Ghosts and New York history coalesce in Bell’s gripping and entertaining new book that is the most recent among three by the New York historian. The work, published by State University of New York Press and its Excelsior Editions imprint, is “an unusual and fascinating fusion of New York history and folklore.” Entitled “The Haunted History of Pelham, New York: Including Ghostly Tales of the Bronx, Westchester County, and Long Island Sound”, the book recounts ghost stories of The Bronx, City Island, Pelham Bay Park and the surrounding region.

Recognizing that virtually every gripping ghost drama in the New York region springs from kernels of fact, historian Bell weaves spellbinding accounts of ghosts, spirits and specters together with well-documented context to help readers understand the actual events and historical developments that underlie each tale. With nine sections including those on Indigenous American Hauntings, Revolutionary War Specters, Ghostly Treasure Guards, and Phantom Ships off Pelham Shores, the author relates 37 chapters filled with entertaining and dramatic ghost stories that have been passed from generation to generation (in some instances for nearly 200 years) as he details how such lore came to be and why it is so important to an understanding of The Bronx, City Island and the Pelham Bay region.

As one critic has written, “The boundary lines and stories of the metropolitan area of New York have changed over the centuries, but The Haunted History of Pelham, New York, as researched and told by . . . Bell, has made it fascinating, fun, and factual. Filled with numerous historical references, photographs, and maps for the curious and fun for the campfire story in all of us. It also provides detailed information that will help when planning your next family excursion.”

Many of the ghost stories related in the book are ghostly tales of The Bronx that have been recounted for generations. Bell will present a number of those tales and will hold a reading from the book of one of the most gripping stories about a Bronx ghoul.

We look forward to you joining us at the Huntington Free Library for this in-person and Zoom presentation.