This island I was talking about has an interesting history itself. During colonial times, the entire state was settled, and Long Beach Island was home to a specific tribe of the Lenape Indians. The island is fourteen miles long and roughly a mile off the coast of the mainland, and there were no bridges, there were no motorized boats, there was no walkway—the only connection between the mainland was the canoes the Native Americans made from the trunk of the great oak. Much controversy surrounds the shifts in inhabitants from Native Americans to the Colonial settlers, but one thing is agreed upon: somehow…some way, the slaughter of an entire tribe of Native Americans occurred, and a mass burial took place on the southern tip of the isle. Some say it was syphilis that took down the tribe, others think it was a severe hurricane, some say the settlers who valued land for fishing and farming and agriculture decided to head over to the island in middle of the night and execute every Indian in sight. There is no evidence of exactly what happened, but people who live on the island sometimes report that sometimes, late at night, they can almost hear the wails of the dead echoing from that burial site.
N has spent his summers in Beach Haven, Long Beach Island, New Jersey since he was born. The tiny town was established in the late 19th century and holds incredibly rich and often, dark history in the original structures that still stand. Many Victorian buildings still exist, which gives the beach town a unique flair. A popular pastime of teenagers on the island is to bike ride at night to the various, rumored-to-be-haunted locations and scare each other. Thus, the telling of ghost stories is prevalent in the childhoods of the children who grew up on the island. N’s grandfather told him the story of the slaughter of the Lenape Indians on LBI, and is another ghost story that was prevalent in his youth amongst his friends as they biked around in the dark.
This piece reminds me a little of the lost colony of Roanoke and the mystery surrounding the disappearance of its inhabitants. The unknown leads to peoples’ imaginations wandering, and it’s interesting that various theories were mentioned in this performance. It’s also interesting to consider the sordid past of this quaint beach town.