Hello Halloween! Hello stranger!

super-ghostHappy Halloween!

Have candy!
Have candy!
Get down goblin!
Get down goblin!

Now a ghost story. . .

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I'll leave the light on if you get too scared.
I’ll leave the light on if you get too scared.

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One of my favorite ghost stories, as unscary as it is, is the one of the female stranger.  Even though I love its mystery I always thought she haunted somewhere in the Carolinas.  Imagine my joy when after an anniversary ghost tour in Alexandria, Virginia we happened upon a haunted restaurant called the Gadsby’s Tavern.  Looking up the ghost that reportedly roamed the hallways, ballroom and all around the place I learned it was the female stranger.  I was more than a little happy to have this realization.  Had I been better informed about the facts of this haunting I wouldn’t have had the same thrill.  Reading further I also discovered that she died on the 14th of October 1816 and we were dining in her haunted home on the eve of her death. . well 207 years later.

Gadsby's Tavern dining room
Gadsby’s Tavern dining room

Her spirit is seen with a candle by the window of room 8 where she died, in the hallways of the old Inn and in the ballroom.  One story even has her flirting with at least one handsome young man at a dance.  She has also been sighted by her grave in St. Paul’s cemetery.  The tombstone is the most likely reason she is so well-remembered.  Not only for its long epitaph but also for the fact the elaborate monument to the unknown woman was never paid for by her husband, if was her husband, who accompanied her to Gadsby’s Tavern all those years ago.

Windows of the haunted ballroom.  The woodwork has all been recreated as the original moldings live at Metropolitan Museum of Art’s American Wing.
Windows of the haunted ballroom. The woodwork has all been recreated as the original moldings live at Metropolitan Museum of Art’s American Wing.
Room 8
Room 8

The story is as follows:

“Two people emerged from the ship, a man and his wife. .. Mrs. Wise immediately called for a doctor to look after the woman… The husband and wife were shown to Room 8, where the woman’s condition continued to deteriorate… Eventually, the husband summoned the doctor, hotel staff and even the owner’s wife to Room 8 to ask a very unusual request: He asked that everyone present swear an oath never to reveal their identities.”

And those who knew the secret never told anyone who the female stranger was even though the husband never paid the debts to the inn, doctor and the stone mason.  She has been theorized to be European royalty or the ill-fated Theodosia Burr.  The many speculations of who she was may only have helped make facts murky all around so that no accurate history can be told.

10466479583_b5f94f5ae4_c The tombstone sits like a table near the entrance of  St. Paul’s cemetery.  It is very visible and should you want to visit it will be easy to spot.  The stone reads:

To the memory of a
FEMALE STRANGER
whose mortal sufferings terminated
on the 14th day of October 1816
Aged 23 years and 8 months

This stone was placed here by her disconsolate
Husband in whose arms she sighed out her
latest breath and who under God
did his utmost even to soothe the cold
dead ear of death.

How loved how valued once avails thee not
To Whom related or by whom begot
A heap of dust alone remains of thee
Tis all though art and all the proud shall be

To him gave all the Prophets witness that
through his name whosoever believeth in
him shall receive remission of sins
Acts. 10th Chap. 43rd verse”

As for her husband a very nice woman at the Gadsby’s Tavern Museum told us that his identity have been woven into the legend of a hermit named Cabin John.  No one knows for certain who Cabin John was but if he was the female stranger’s husband he was said to have gone mad with grief.  He lived in a little shack in a valley mourning his lost love in Maryland.  A developer, J. S. Tomlinson, claimed to have photographed Cabin John’s ghost among the trees in the valley.

Cabin John's house and the bridge named for him.
Cabin John’s house and the Union Arch bridge.

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5 thoughts on “Hello Halloween! Hello stranger!

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