The Spook Rabbit Patch or "Ogre rabbits" - [FearsomeCritter/Urban Legend/Paranormal?] - Harmony, New Jersey. 1890
• About this critter: Vengeful Ghost rabbits from a patch in Pennsylvania, Hunters would spend hours frustratingly firing shots at these ghostly bunnies, when they gave up on wasting ammo, that they would release their hounds, only for them to return with their tails between their legs or worse...
• History: The earliest mention of the 'spook rabbit patch' that I could find is dated to 1890 in an issue of the Botson evening transcript its a very short mention but it does still mentions these 'ghostly rabbits' so it counts! – notably this article mentions it being in a Pennsylvania neighborhood.
...The following year in a proper "Yarn" about the situation from the nebraska world herald was published in 1891 titled "IN A SPOOK RABBIT PATCH" the story follows a New York writer and hunter on an adventure in the New Jersey mountains near Harmony, Warren county. - After a day of hunting his guide invites him to have a shot at a spook rabbit, saying that none of the city folk believe in them and nobody has ever successfully shot a rabbit in this particular patch. Dogs refusing to follow the trail to the patch adds to the superstition. When the two get back to town, they find that one of the dogs was covered in blood with lacerations all over him and are left speechless.
The final, non-modern mention of ghostly rabbits which I could find is a clipping from the messenger inquirer 1907: the article which is about a blacksmith, (who does ghost hunting on the side) - mentions the following about the spook bunnies:
...apparently they can talk!!! –
Far later in 1969 spook rabbits are 'mentioned' in 'Gilly Galoos and Gollywhoppers' however, the 'spook rabbits' are instead called "Ogre Rabbits" seemingly, the story is summarized in a very short poem:
"The ogre rabbit runs the dogs, til they are out of breath, then jumps at them from behind a tree and scares them half to death."
Perhaps these stories are all coincidentally similar, perhaps not, it should also be mentioned that "Jackalopes" are also sometimes said to attack back at dogs and hunters. Kicking at the dogs & in at least one case, breaking the dogs jaw!! (as mentioned in Tall tales of British Columbia ) - I'm sure there are other tall tales of rabbits that seek vengeance for their ilk out there.
--I sure would like to know where exactly this supposed 'spook rabbit patch' was in Harmony and if the 'Spook Rabbits' are at all still celebrated there or if this story has simply fallen to the way-side. There's very little information to be found about it online though a quick google search of it shows it is constantly mentioned in "top 10 new jersey cryptid" lists and the like. (which is how I found out about it, to my dismay, for some reason none of these articles gave a source or details beyond briefly mentioning that the 1891 article exists, which is why I decided to do my usual deep dive.)
I'm sure Harmony is is known for things far beyond these ghost rabbits, but there's very little media about the area online, at least as far as tourism goes!! - though hunting does seem to be an attraction for the area, i suppose thats because its somewhat rural and out of the way? - if there are any local folklorists or paranormal researchers in the area who are reading this in future, do us a favour and try to find the exact location of this supposed "spook rabbit patch" take some photos and send them my way! - I'll be sure to update this if that ever happens.
Art by @samkalensky part of my 'fearsome critters and cryptids' collection of stickers