Thursday, October 10, 2013

New York Ghost Stories: Aaron Burr

New York Ghost Stories: Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr is most well known as the man who shot Alexander Hamilton. Burr was charged with treason 1808.  However, in court he was found not guilty.  After that he went on to live in France in exile.  Eventually, after begging by his daughter Theodosa, President James Madison pardoned him and he returned to New York in 1812.

He was supposed to meet his daughter Theodosa in New York.  It turned out quite differently and today Aaron Burr and his daughter Theodosia make an interesting pair of ghosts in Battery Park.

On December 31, 1812, the beautiful and vivacious Theodosia Burr, wife of wealthy governor Joseph Alston of South Carolina, left her husband’s plantation. She sailed north on the Patriot to visit her beloved father in New York City. In January 1813, British ships intercepted the vessel off Cape Hatteras of North Carolina. Though the two countries were at war, the ship was permitted to continue on its voyage. The Patriot was never seen again. That very night, a storm swept North Carolina and swamped the boat. All the bodies except that of Theodosia washed ashore. 

Aaron Burr is forever doomed to be at Battery Park to await the arrival of his daughter Theodosia. Sometimes Aaron Burr joins the American Merchant Marine Memorial in Battery Park as he keeps watch for his daughter. Liberty Island is in the background.  

Aaron Burr married again late in life in 1833 but his wife separated from him within four months. In 1834, Burr suffered a stroke which left him unable to move. He died in 1836 in a boardinghouse.

Aaron Burr's Death Mask
Now and then, reports emerge that a ghostly Aaron Burr still awaits his daughter at Battery Park.
Another version of the story has Theodosia taken aboard a pirate ship and forced to walk the plank. According to this account, Theodosia’s ghost eventually arrived at her father’s residence, at 3 Wall Street, where she and her dad remain in spooky tandem.

Still another version has her as an amnesiac who lived in a North Carolina town. She had treasure that had somehow survived the sinking. There are numerous tales about Theodosia's fate, detailed here.

For more New York Ghost Stories, join a Wall Street Walks downtown New York Ghost Tour!