There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet, Act I, Scene V
(This article was originally published Feb. 22, 2012)
We live in one of the oldest parts of this country. Many generations built homes and farmed the land before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Is it possible our predecessors left something behind? Half of all Americans believe in ghosts, and a fifth say they’ve seen one. Few have tales as creepy as Tyler Snyder of West Camp.
It was late in the evening of May 2 of last year, the day Osama bin Laden was killed. A strange feeling came over the fifteen-year-old Saugerties resident while he was in his room. He didn’t feel well. So he went out to the family room to listen to some music on his iPod. Suddenly the full-charged device went dead. Missy, the family’s lab/shepherd mix who has since passed away, barked. Tyler looked up, and that’s when he saw it: a huge black figure in his kitchen. It was all-black, he says, no detail. It stood next to a counter in the center of the room. Transfixed, he stared at the specter for a full 10 seconds through the doorframe between the two rooms before it exited to its left, through the pantry toward the home’s main entrance.
Suitably freaked out, he went to his parents’ room and woke them up with a message. “He told us in no uncertain terms that he was leaving the house and there was nothing we could do to stop him,” said Tracy Snyder, his mother.
Tyler headed off to a friend’s that night, but he’s still living in the family’s Emerick Road home. A night owl, Tyler says he was fully awake when he had the experience so it couldn’t have been a waking dream. He later discovered his cell phone, also charged, had also gone dead at the same time.
Tracy believes his story whole-heartedly, and says when she shares it with others just about everyone can relate a brush with the paranormal of their own. Father Bruce isn’t so sure. “He believes that when you’re gone, you’re gone,” says Tracy.
The family home is on a road called Emerick Road and Old Route 9W. The latter designation is fitting for a haunting: As most who believe in ghosts figure they represent some sort of imprint on the material world made by the consciousness of past souls, so an old ox bow of a well-trod state road, so hard to find shipping couriers often give up and tell the family they need to pick up at the distribution center, can feel as though time has passed it by.
The former name hearkens back to the history of the property. It was first settled by the Emericks, whose family history dates back to the early 1700s. The Emericks were Palatines; German war-refugees who fled to England and were dispatched to the Hudson Valley by Queen Anne to fell timber for the Royal Navy. They settled on both sides of the Hudson and, being logical and plainspoken German folk, gave simple names to their new homes: East Camp is now called Germantown, and West Camp is part of Saugerties.
A portion of the Snyder’s home dates back more than 160 years. The house and the 5-acre parcel that is the Snyder’s was once part of a much larger dairy farm owned by John Mull Emerick.