When William Schuck died in 1976, he declared in his will that the historic home he had purchased four decades earlier should be left to Gloucester Township for just $1 — so long as the town officials create a historic society, keep the house open for public tours and let him be buried there.
But they might have gotten more than they bargained for.
Schuck’s final resting place is just behind the 264-year-old home he owned, known as the Gabreil Daveis Tavern in the Glendora section of the Camden County town.
Psychic mediums, who along with paranormal groups have participated in many fundraising ghost research nights, have said that the spirits of both Schuck and the man he bought the home from — Joseph Jaggard — as well as others, still roam the hallways and rooms of the two-story brick home that is now a museum.
According to Sharon Mickle, president of the Gloucester Township Historic & Scenic Preservation Committee, in 1756 Daveis built the eight-room structure where he lived with his wife and three children as a way to make a living, serving travelers along the Big Timber Creek.
“A tavern was a place of gathering and a place of communication. It was like the lifeline of the community,” she said.
The last person to live in the house was Schuck who purchased the home from Joseph Jaggard in 1933 after numerous attempts to buy it. Schuck came across the property after he fell in love with the area while farming for his brother.
Jaggard was the last of the Warwick Jaggard family to own the home after approximately 100 years. The home was cluttered and in disrepair with a goat roaming in and out of the house when Schuck first met Jaggard. In order to sweeten the proposition of a sale, Mickle said that Schuck promised Jaggard he could live with him and help bring the house back to life while earning his keep.
Schuck made his living working in the composing room for a local newspaper and was also an artist. Many of his paintings still grace the walls of the historic home today.
But the home had a long history before Schuck arrived — it was owned by two Revolutionary War soldiers and passed through other hands until Edward Warwick, a captain the the Civil War, purchased it –– making it a prime spot for paranormal investigators, like Frank Lazzoro, director of NJROPE, New Jersey Researchers of Paranormal Evidence.
During one of many investigations, Lazzoro said that while looking out a second-floor window he saw a woman wearing what appeared to be a white dress walk across the property, for what seemed like 10 seconds, then vanished.
“That caught me off guard, I didn’t expect it,” he said.
While standing inside the home on a recent chilly October evening, Mickle recalled the time she and Marti Haines, a local medium, investigated the upstairs bedroom of Theodosia Warwick Jaggard, Joseph’s mother. Mickle brought in letters to read that were written in the late 1800s from Theodosia’s brother Richard who was working in Wyoming.
Theodosia wanted her brother to come back because their mother was ill but the time was never right for him to come home.
“She’s looking out the window,” Mickle said Haines told her before she even read the letters. “She’s waiting for someone to come home.”
Haines, who has been a medium for 20 years, said that she feels that Theodosia used to watch the ships and the people come in.
She claims to have seen Theodosia sitting on her bed and walking around usually wearing a bluish or gray period dress.
“Very proper woman,” said Haines.
During one of Haines visits to the house, Mickle said that she told her there was a man with them in the basement. She described the man as wearing overalls and a cap and had something wrong with one side of his body “like he was in the war and he had an accident with a gun.”
“I just about died,” Mickle said after hearing that.
Weeks before, a picture was discovered of Jaggard in his older years, standing by a tree dressed in a hat and jeans, similar to what Haines described — except she had never seen it before, Mickle said. Not visible in the picture is Jaggard’s wooden leg which is covered by his jeans.
The folk tale behind Jaggard’s injury, as Mickle explains it, is that while hunting in the early 1900s he decided to rest against a tree and placed his shotgun next to him. He started flailing his arms around when a bee started to bother him and knocked the gun to the ground.
“The shotgun landed and blew off most of his leg right below the knee. He was all alone and used his belt as a tourniquet,” Mickle said in a low voice. “He had to finish off the little bit of his leg with his knife and then he crawled back to this house.”
In the house under a protective case is Jaggard’s wooden prosthesis that he carved from a log.
Just after Haines saw Jaggard in the basement Mickle asked her, as a test, to ask him which room was his. After delaying a few minutes to give Haines time to find the room she went upstairs and discovered her in Jaggard’s room.
As she walked into the room Haines said to her, “He says what took you so long?”
Haines claims Jaggard’s spirit took her on a tour of the home and even showed her where he sighed his name on a pane of glass in his room.
“He’s a very nice person, very warming, very interested in telling his story and letting people know why he was still there.”
Schuck who lived in the home for 43 years, 23 of those with Jaggard, still oversees the property, said Haines.
“Schuck is there because he wants to make sure that they take care of the property,” she said.
During one of the first paranormal events she chaperoned, Mickle said that she went up to Schuck’s bedroom with Haines and stood in the doorway while Haines talked to Schuck’s spirit explaining that they were there to raise money to help with funds for historic projects and educational sessions.
Haines then asked her if she saw the room changing color. “I was seeing a different kind of color,” Mickle remembered seeing. Haines explained to Schuck who Mickle was and then relayed a message back to her.
“She said he’s tipping his hat to you and thank you for everything you do.”
Events scheduled for 2020 that included the Revolutionary Re-enactment, South Jersey History Fair and the Holiday Open House have been postponed due to COVID-19.
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Tim Hawk may be reached at [email protected]. Follow Tim on Instagram @photog_hawk.