Tails of the Afterlife
True Stories of Ghost Pets

Page 3


A sampling of my new book - "Ghosts of the Outer Banks"

In December 1812, Theodosia Burr, the only child of Aaron Burr,  left from Georgetown, SC on the Patriot to visit her beloved father in New York City. Aaron Burr, former vice president to Thomas Jefferson, claimed a notorious place in history as the man who killed political rival Alexander Hamilton.  That night in December, an angry storm swept the coast of North Carolina and the ship was never seen again nor, with any certainty, was Theodosia.   Some say that during the gale, pirates boarded the ship removed all valuables, forced the passengers and crew to walk the plank, then sank the ship. But legend persists that Theodosia survived, that she was driven insane having to watch the crew walk the plank and see them die in the shark feeding frenzy below.  The pirates, having a fear of the insane, allowed her to go ashore bereft of all possessions except a portrait of herself that was to be a gift to her father. With her sanity completely gone, she was thereafter cared for by a Banker fisherman and his wife.

The years went by. In 1869 the strange woman became ill, and a doctor from Elizabeth City was called in to attend her. He did what he could, but it was clear that she had not long to live. As he was leaving the sick room, the poor fisherman's wife told the doctor that, as she had no money, he would have to choose something from the house for his pay. When he replied that he would like to have the handsome portrait hanging on the wall, the afflicted old woman sprang from her bed. "It is mine! You shall not have it! I am on my way to visit my father in New York, and I am taking this picture of his darling Theodosia!" With that, she grabbed the canvas, rushed through the door, ran down the surf, and walked into the ocean. The next day, the portrait washed up on the beach. It is fact, not legend, that the doctor took the picture from Nags Head to his home in Elizabeth City and that a descendent sold it an art dealer who in turn sold it to a member of the Burr family.  The legend is that Theodosia is said to walk the beach in Nags Head between Christmas and New Years.

Ironically, Alexander Hamilton who, caught in a storm off Hatteras and almost lost his life, was responsible for the erection of the first light house on Hatteras. Is it supernatural justice that the man who murdered him lost the most important thing in his life, his only child, in the same place?

Now you may think that this was the end of the story.  But in 2009, Ghost Tours of the OBX, booked a private tour on a beautiful July evening.  This large family group chatted with our guide and enjoyed all the stories.  They settled comfortably in the chairs in the town’s gazebo and began listening to the tale of Theodosia.  They began smiling and exchanging little glances and maybe a snicker or two.  But those smiles vanished when the picture of Theodosia was produced.  The group began holding the picture up and comparing it to their relatives.  Finally our guide said – “What is going on?’  “We are the Burr family and we have often heard this legend.  But if you look at this picture and then look at us – you can tell that we are really related.  Maybe it is not a legend after all.”

Later that summer, in the same gazebo, Theodosia’s picture was shown again.  This time, two young men, paled at the sight.  “We saw this woman on the beach this morning,” they said.  “She was walking on the beach in Nags Head and we thought she was just a crazy woman in her pajamas.  She didn’t say anything, but was just muttering to herself.” 

It seems Theodosia continues to walk the beach, now enjoys the summer season as well.


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