The Story Behind This Haunted Massachusetts Island Will Chill You To The Bone
One of Boston’s most famous ghosts doesn’t actually dwell in the city, but stalks George’s Island seven miles out to sea. The legend of the Lady in Black dates back to the Civil War, and her story is one of romance, devotion and tragedy. Read on to find out why this chilling local tale has endured for generations.
The story begins with Sam and Melanie Lanier in 1862.
Sam, a Confederate soldier, was captured by Union troops and sent to Fort Warren to be imprisoned on the island. He managed to smuggle out a note to be sent to his sweetheart, letting her know where he was. Initially relieved that her husband is alive, Melanie soon began to worry about Sam and decided to make the dangerous journey to New England.
She traveled from Georgia to Hull, where she was sheltered by a southern sympathizer. Melanie then sewed a simple soldier’s uniform and waited for a night when the moon is covered by the clouds. She crept into Fort Warren and managed to find where her beloved was being kept. In some versions of the story, Melanie brings a pickaxe with her and plans to break her lover out of prison.
Unfortunately, the duo was discovered. Melanie pulled out the two shot pistol she brought, but it blows up in her hand when she pulls the trigger. The stray bullet hit and killed the person standing beside her, which was her husband Sam.
Melanie was condemned to die by hanging for her actions. Before her execution, her final request was to be put to death in female clothing. All that could be found in the fort for her to wear was a pair of old, black tattered robes. She donned those robes and was executed.
The haunting began only a few weeks after Melanie’s death, and have not stopped since. The first account comes from a soldier standing guard shortly after the execution. He reported feeling cold hands on the back of his neck and turning to behold a woman in a black dress.
The reports of the Lady in Black seem to become more sinister as time progresses. She was often seen standing at the ramparts of the fort, and in some cases was reported to smile down unnervingly at soldiers. The apparition has also been reported to chase after soldiers at the fort, and there was one instance in the early 1900s when a solider broke his ankle while running from the figure of the Lady in Black.
Of course, some say that Melanie and her husband never even existed. There is some evidence that suggests that the tale may be nothing more than a story passed down from soldier to soldier over the years. However, many of the reported sightings of the Lady in Black come from individuals who claim to have been ignorant of the legend.
Visitors to Fort Warren can make up their own minds about the existence of the island’s most notorious longtime resident. You can catch a ferry to the island from Boston and explore the grounds of the fort. Rangers patrol the island and give tours, so you might be able to hear some first-hand accounts of the fort’s grim mistress.
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