Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Grace Brown: Big Moose Lake’s Ghost

The film based on
this story.
In 1906 Grace Brown had dated the man of her dreams for two years. Unfortunately, she discovered she was pregnant.

Brown’s father was a successful farmer, and her family lived in Ostelic, New York. Grace worked at the Gillette Skirt Factory in neighboring Cortland.

In 1904, the pretty Grace caught the eye of the factory owner’s cousin, Chester Gillette. Chester was a well-known womanizer. Despite this, the 19-year-old Grace naively felt that she had met her true love.

Many women were interested in Gillette because he was considered a “good catch.” He was popular, athletic and handsome.

Chester Gillette and Grace Brown
Grace ignored the fact that Gillette avoided being seen with her in public and the warnings from her friends that Chester was dating several wealthy daughters in the area.

She was too trusting-- she often saw Gillette without a chaperone.

When Grace told Chester about the baby, she requested they marry as soon as possible, but Gillette told her he needed some time to think.

Grace went back to Ostelic to visit her parents while Chester stayed in Cortland. It wasn’t long before word reached Grace that Chester was using his time to “think” to see other women.

She returned to Ostelic and demanded that they get married. When this didn’t work, she pleaded with Chester stating that she did not want to burden her parents with a pregnancy out of wedlock.

Chester arranged for the two to go on a holiday trip in the Adirondack Mountains. During this trip, he assured Grace they would wed.

Big Moose Lake
But Gillette had something much more sinister in mind. One afternoon he rented a boat from a man named Robert Morrison and rowed Grace out into the middle of Big Moose Lake. This lake is enormous with a depth of 70 feet.

He felt this was the perfect spot to cover up his crime.

Chester took a tennis racket and struck Grace with it. He knew she could not swim, and he watched coldly as she fell into the water and drowned.

At dinnertime, Morrison got suspicious when his boat was not returned. The next day he organized a search party. They found his rowboat capsized and a short distance away they found Grace’s body.

Two days later the police found Gillette in a local hotel. He first claimed he didn’t know Grace, Gillette then claimed she had drowned herself in despair for he didn’t love her anymore. No one believed him.

Chester Gillette's trial.
He was arrested and convicted of first-degree murder. On March 30, 1908, he was executed in the electric chair.

Since her death, it appears Grace Brown’s spirit is restless.

Grace’s story has inspired several books, the most notable An American Tragedy written by Theodore Dreiser. The film A Place in the Sun was based upon this murder.

Grace’s ghost is seen at Big Moose Lake. Witnesses state they have seen her falling from the boat into the lake, others say they have seen her walking along the lakeshore.

Her spirit also haunts several tourist cottages near the lake. She likes to extinguish all the lights.

In the summer of 1988 several employees of the Covewood Lodge encountered Grace's ghost.

As this group reached their living quarters, one member, Rhonda Bousselot, walked in the lodge first. She stopped at the top of the stairs. As she reached out to pull the string that turns on the light, she felt someone was standing right next to her.

This presence was so powerful she stopped in her tracks—frozen to the spot. Meanwhile outside, three of her male fellow workers spotted Grace’s ghost in front of them. The figure lingered for a few minutes and then moved away.

One evening, a few months later, Lynda Lee Macken was walking toward the lake with her flashlight when it went dim. By the time she reached the shore, it was no longer working. She was surrounded by darkness.

The edge of the lake is rocky, so she turned around to leave. She found herself looking directly at the ghost of Grace Brown. She got an overwhelming feeling the spirit was "sad." 

She made her way back to the lodge as quick as he could in the dark.

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