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Visiting Alexandria, VA's grave of the "Female Stranger"

One of America's most mysterious historic gravestones.

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Created by Tatiana Danger - September 9th 2016

One of the oddest local landmarks in America is located in St. Paul's Episcopal Church Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia. It's the Grave of the Female Stranger, and it's become quite the tourist attraction over the years. No one knows who's buried there, or what they died from. But, there's plenty of speculation, which makes this one of America's most macabre historical mysteries.

Alexandria, VA, US

St. Paul's Cemetery

Allegedly, a woman died in Gadsby’s Tavern, in Room 8. Visitors still claim to see the face of a woman in the window. According to legend, a 23-year old woman died in 1816 and was buried by her husband, and gained national acclaim over the fact that her headstone gives no details as to who she was or what she died of. The husband and wife had come to Alexandria on the ship, the "Four Sons," but upon disembarkment, the woman became sick and covered herself in a thick, dark veil.

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138 N Royal St, Alexandria, VA, US

Gadsby’s Tavern Museum


When they reached Gadsby's Tavern they promptly called a doctor to tend to the woman. The doctor was sworn to secrecy that neither he nor his nurses would ever reveal who she was. After the woman died she was quickly buried and that's when the legend of the Female Stranger was born.

Ever since she was so quickly buried the townspeople (and visitors alike) claim to see a woman wandering the grounds covered in a thick veil. Today, the grave is well-looked after. However, some people believe the remains should be exhumed, and tested for DNA.

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The gravestone has the following inscribed:

"To the memory of a Female Stranger

Whose mortal suffering terminated on the 14th day of October, 1816 Aged 23 years, and 8 months

"This stone is erected by her discon- solate husband in whose arms she sighed out her latest breath, and who under God did his utmost to soothe the cold dull hour of death.

"How loved, how honor'd once avails thee not, To whom related or by whom begot, A heap of dust remains of thee

'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be."

Poets, writers, journalists, and singers have all been entranced by this mysterious story. Then in 1836, Lusy Seymour (AKA Susan Rigby Dallam Morgan), a columnist from Maryland recounted to the Philadelphia Courier that the woman was beautiful, foreign, very pale and seemed very troubled. Seymour asserts that the man accompanying her was not her husband, and quickly left after burying her. However, before she died, the woman spoke with a pastor. Seymour claims she did research and investigating in Alexandria.

About ten years later, the Alexandria Gazette came out with their own article regarding the Female Stranger. They uncovered even more evidence, such as the man's last name, which they assert is "Clermont," and that he paid his bills at the tavern with counterfeit English currency. Allegedly, this "Clermont" ended up in Sing Sing prison.

Some of the speculation surrounding the identity of the woman includes one theory that she's actually Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of Aaron Burr. But, the dates don't match up. For the next few decades newspapers around the country, from New Orleans to Cincinnati all purported to know the truth, which ranged from torrid love affairs, to exhuming the body after burial.

The most romantic story though came decades after the death of the Female Stranger. This is the "star-crossed lovers" theory, reported by the Washington Evening Star. This story purports that the woman brought together a man and a woman, who both returned to her grave to express their gratitude for years.

Tatiana Danger

Roadtrippers co-founder. When I grow up I'm going to be Indiana Jones or a professional pizza tester. Current Status: Mom to Bruce and Nina.