By Rachel Rochford (’23)
Everyone enjoys an eerie story, and with Halloween right around the corner, now feels like the perfect time to retell an old one. However, this is not your average scary tale. The narrative of The Female Stranger is in fact a real story. A story about someone who was once a living, breathing person just like you and I. Not only is this narrative of a real person but this story took place in 1816, meaning that it has survived for over 200 years now.
According to an article from NBC Washington, a woman, who would become the ghost we know today, and a man who claimed to be her husband arrived in Alexandria, viaf a ship from the Carribean. It’s said that she was very ill and in serious need of a doctor. So, she and her husband rented room eight in Gadsby’s Tavern, where she was treated by the best doctor in town. Nevertheless, the woman died from her illness on October 14th of 1816. Before she passed though, the woman and her husband extracted a promise from all who attended to her; no one was to tell another soul of their identities.
The woman’s husband was overwhelmed with grief when she died and left Alexandria as soon as possible. Before he could do this however, the man had one last thing he needed to do. He borrowed money from a local townsperson to construct an elaborate tombstone for his wife that still stands today. The story shook the residence of Alexandria. The payment given to the local townsperson turned out to be counterfeit. Additionally, everyone who attended the Female Stranger took the secret of her identity to the grave.
It’s said that the woman now haunts Gadsby’s Tavern. She is said to occasionally roam the halls or join in on parties in the ballroom. Normally, however, the ghost of the Female Stranger can be seen sitting in the window of room eight. Sometimes, the lantern that remains in the room will be hot to the touch despite being unlit for many years. Many people believe that this is the ghost of the Female Stranger trying to create a beacon, hoping that she may one day reunite with her husband.
This story leaves us with many questions such as who was the Female Stranger and why was her identity such an important secret? We will most likely never know the answers to these questions, making this the perfect story to kick off the Halloween season.