Saturday, July 10, 2021

Visiting the Grave of the Female Stranger

St. Paul's Cemetery, Alexandria, Virginia

I love a good mystery. 
I went to visit The Grave of the Female Stranger in St. Paul's Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia. I actually visited the entire complex of 13 cemeteries over a little over 80 acres, which I will share about later. It is quite a place.

The grave belongs to a woman who died in 1816. The mysterious inscription (below) and story has quite a romanticized tale. There have been numerous speculations as to her identity along with tales of ghostly sightings in the place of her death—Room 8 at Gadsby's Tavern.

Was she the daughter of Aaron Burr? Probably not but that’s part of the tale. I learned today that while the husband of the mysterious stranger paid for everything- the burial, grave, etc. he did so with with borrowed money from a local businessman whom he repaid with a note from the Bank of England, which actually was forged.

In the mid-19th century, with numerous articles sharing the legend in local newspapers, the grave was a tourist attraction. In my opinion, it still here because here I am.

The inscription:

To the memory of a


whose mortal sufferings terminated

on the 14th day of October 1816

Aged 23 years and 8 months

This stone is placed here by her disconsolate

Husband in whose arms she sighed out her

latest breath, and who under God

did his utmost even to soothe the cold

dead ear of death

How loved how valued once avails thee not

To whom related or by whom begot

A heap of dust alone remains of thee

Tis all thou art and all the proud shall be

To him gave all the Prophets witness that

through his name whosoever believeth in

him shall receive remission of sins

Acts. 10th Chap. 43rd verse.

The next to last stanza is supposed to be from Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady by Alexander Pope but there are some differences in the language.


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