Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Female Stranger

Port at Alexandria Virginia
This story began in 1816 with an arrival of a young married couple to the Old Town port in Alexandria, Virginia.

Gadsby Tavern
They disembarked and rented a carriage to take them to what is today Gadsby’s Tavern and Museum but then was known as City Hotel.

This hotel sat at the center of the city’s social life in the late 1700s into the 1800s.

Immediately, rumors began. Who was this young couple? They were fashionably dressed and appeared to have wealth.

Even more attention was focused upon them because the husband had carried his beautiful young wife through the hotel lobby—she being gravely ill.

Wild rumors flew that she was the daughter of Aaron Burr, Theodosia who had been lost at sea years earlier. I write about her ghost here. Another rumor stated the young wife was the daughter of an English lord and the couple was eloping.

Once situated in Room #8 at the hotel the husband called for a doctor to attend his wife. He oddly refused to give Mr. Gadsby, the owner of the hotel, or the doctor his or his wife’s names.

For three weeks his young bride suffered in pain. On October 14, 1816 she died. Strangely, the husband requested the doctor and owner of the hotel take an oath. They both swore they would not reveal the identities of the young couple.

His wife was buried at St. Paul’s Cemetery nearby. He arranged for a fancy tombstone to be placed on her grave. The inscription on it is a long sad letter to his wife. This epitaph begins, “To the memory of a Female Stranger . . .”

Female Stranger headstone
Soon after his wife’s funeral this man left town without paying any of his bills. These expenses included: the hotel bill, the medical expenses and the money owed for his wife’s funeral.

The townspeople were furious but there was nothing to be done for they did not know the name of this clever young man or his wife. Their identities are still a mystery today.

They say when this young husband first carried his wife into Room #8 at the hotel the number on the door slipped sideways. This is not a good omen being the symbol for infinity.

Is this the reason the Female Stranger haunts the Gadsby to this day? Some believe it is.

One recent encounter with her ghost scared a college student working in the Tavern’s restaurant. This server had just picked up a food order and had the plates balanced on both arms when she turned around.

The ghost was standing close to her staring right into her face. The ghost spoke to her and then vanished.

Terrified, the young lady screamed and dropped the plates.

The Female Stranger also haunts the building’s ballroom. Especially during parties held in this room.

She is most often seen in Room #8 where she died. Since the encounter with the young student she has not spoken to anyone else.

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