Famous Ghost Stories

Since prehistoric times, ghost stories have been a part of living lore. Generation after generation have recounted tales of the supernatural.  Below are some of the famous ghost stories that have been passed down through the ages.




By John B. Bachelder (died 22 December, 1894) – “Lincoln’s Photographs: A Complete Album”, 2nd ed, 1998, pg 417. ISBN-089029-087-3, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=281250

White House:  Abraham Lincoln

Another of the most famous ghost stories is Abraham Lincoln.  He was the 16th President of the United States and left his mark on the world by abolishing slavery in America. He spent many hours in the White House, considering various policies and administering the government. His fate was sealed when he was shot in the head during a theatrical event. Since his death, he’s been seen wandering the White House by staff and visitors. Sightings have been reported in the Yellow Oval Room, in the halls, and in various bedrooms at the nation’s capital building. At times he has been reported to speak, but usually, he’s been spotted sitting quietly. Is he contemplating the issues of our great nation?

Bloody Mary

This is probably one of the most famous ghost stories ever told. For decades, young girls have invoked this poor woman from the great beyond. Mary has crashed countless slumber parties across the world.  It’s probably more legend than ghost story, but depending upon your preferred version, you will chant Bloody Mary three times while staring into the mirror. After the third time, a horrid spirit will appear, taking you to places you’d rather not go. Or she’ll torment you, strangle you or scratch out your eyes. Whatever happens, it doesn’t sound like Ms. Mary likes being called upon, so it’s probably best to just leave her alone! Want to know more?





Dolley Madison by Unknown – University of Texas at Austin. Original source: Duyckinick, Evert A. Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women in Europe and America. New York: Johnson, Wilson & Company, 1873., Public Domain

White House: Dolley Madison

This former First Lady was married to an early President of the United States. Her spirit is seen in and around the nation’s capital. Who was she and what are the possible reasons she’s still hanging around.


Myrtles Plantation Slave Girl

Chloe has been haunting the Myrtles Plantation ever since she was hung in the tree in the front yard. She died that unhappy death after poisoning the family for whom she was a slave. It all started with being punished for eavesdropping on the family. It was a harsh punishment and she lost her ear over it. At any rate, Chloe retaliated. She baked some oleander leaves into a cake and fed it to the family. She didn’t really mean to hurt them, but the poison was a wee bit stronger than she thought and they died. Hence, the hanging. Chloe has been seen around the grounds of the plantation as have numerous other ghosts.


Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The Bell Witch

This is one of the most well-known ghost stories that originate out of Adams, Tennessee. It entails a man named John Bell, his daughter and a poltergeist. John’s daughter Betsy was tormented by an unseen spirit for about a year.  The spirit slapped her and pulled her hair. Her father claimed to have seen the otherworldly spirit. As things evolved, the ghost was known to speak, sharing its predictions for the future among other neat tricks. After becoming quite famous, many people thought of the thing as a witch. Eventually, John Bell was overcome by illness and everyone assumed that the ghost had gotten the best of him.


By Henry VIII is by Hans Holbein the Younger; Anne Boleyn by unknown artist. Uploaded by qp10qp. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Anne Boelyn

Anne Boleyn was the wife of King Henry the VIII between 1533 and 1536. For those who know history, she was only one of many, many wives to the king. Popular and well-liked, Anne became an inconvenience for Henry and he had her beheaded. Anne has been sighted roaming the Tower of London where she was held prisoner and eventually executed. Sometimes she’s seen with her head missing, other times she’s seen with it in tact. In any case, her presence is a reminder of intolerable cruelty by a former monarchy.


Marie Laveau

This seemingly ageless Voodoo Queen lived in New Orleans. Her power and influence created an indelible mark on the pages of the Crescent City’s history books. Her body is believed to be interred in the St. Louis cemetery there, where folks leave her gifts and offerings on an ongoing basis. Aside from manifesting as an apparition, she also takes the form of a large crow seen flapping through the St. Louis cemetery. She’s also believed to assume the form of a snake or large dog.



Madame LaLaurie Public Domain Image

The LaLaurie Ghost

The LaLaurie’s were a well-known couple in New Orleans. They were socialites with a gorgeous French Quarter house on Royal Street and were the talk of the town until it was discovered that they were performing cruel experiments on black slaves. Such hatred and brutality is unheard of except in horror movies. Still, they carried on until they were discovered and run out of town. One black slave is heard screaming from the house, supposedly what she did right before she expired as a result of the ghastly repeated experiments.


The Man in Grey – Drury Lane Theater

This is the home of the Man in Gray who’s been seen in the Drury Lane Theater before the opening of a new play. He is thought to be the image of an apparition of someone who was murdered there, but this is one ghost people don’t mind seeing. Some consider him to bring good luck because he’s been spotted right before the opening of some very successful shows.

By Isaac Robert Cruikshank – http://oq.oxfordjournals.org/content/21/3/496/F1.large.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17814417

The Flying Dutchman – Ghost Ship

The Flying Dutchman is a ghost ship created when during a terrible storm, its Captain refused to yield to a spirit at sea. He defiantly mocked the thing and was thereby cursed to sail forever with never a single break. He was made the evil spirit of the sea causing ships to crash and sailors to die. Whoever sees the Flying Dutchman is sure to experience disaster.



Blue Lady – Moss Beach Distillery

In life, this young woman was beautifully dressed in blue. She was killed on the beach while walking with her lover on the beach below the bar.  Apparently, she worked at the bar and her lover was the piano player.  The woman was married and the two were having an affair. This relationship was found out by the husband. Legend has it, he showed up to retaliate and stabbed his wife to death in the sand. The lover escaped after a fight. The woman now haunts the area. She wears a long blue dress.  Customers have also heard the piano playing by itself.



Sarah Winchester Public Domain Image

World Famous Ghost Stories: Winchester Mystery House

Sarah Winchester was an odd bird to say the least. She thought she was surrounded in life by a group of spirits. They were always there, talking to her, consulting her. When she bought her Santa Clara house, they told her to build random things on to the house, in random order and for no detectable reason. Stairs lead to nowhere and doors open to walls. Entire wings are just attached with no rhyme or reason. It’s the weirdest house in the world and also the largest private home.


Minnie Quay – Forester, Michigan

As the legend goes, Minnie was a young girl growing up in Michigan in the mid-1870s. She fell in love with a sailor who came to the Lake Huron port on occasion. Minnie’s parents learned about the relationship and condemned it. One night, out of despair, Minnie walked through town and town to the pier leading out to Lake Huron.  She slipped over the edge and ended her life. She is now said to roam the beach looking for her lover or to lure other young girls to their deaths.


Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery

By Cobra97 (Own work) Wikimedia Commons

For decades, this has been one of the famous ghost stories. A woman carrying a baby in her arms roams a haunted cemetery near Chicago, Illinois. She is dressed all in white and is aptly named the Woman in White. Other specters have been reported in this cemetery, including hooded monks, a glowing man, a farmer and his plow as well as others. A floating house is sometimes seen in the distance but disappears when you approach it and feelings of coldness and discomfort affect those who visit.


Ash Manor Ghost

Back in the 1930’s a house in England was claimed to be haunted. Noises from the attic along with banging and apparitions forced the family to seek help. It’s speculated that the home was built on a Druid circle and that the land used to be the site of a prison. It was thought that one of the apparitions was a man imprisoned for inciting rebellion. While the apparition’s identity was never verified, the haunting resolved. This was among the more infamous ghost stories back in the day.


Public Domain

Agnes Sampson – Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace is been a residence for Scottish Royalty since the 12th century.  It is said to be haunted by the ghost of Agnes Sampson, a midwife and herbalist whose skills were regarded with great awe.  When the witch hunts came around, she was accused of being a witch and taken into custody by the King after refusing to confessed.  In captivity, she withstood days and days of horrific torture, eventually being stripped naked and shaved from head to toe.  Once she broke, she confessed to the crimes and was burned at the stake for being a witch. She is known as “Bald Agnes,” as she roams the palace where she was tortured and put to death.


By Anonymous – “Infamous Murders” (1975), Public Domain

Lizzie Borden

Lizzie was accused of murdering her parents with an ax back in 1892. Although she was never convicted, the trial and publicity of the murders made the label stick. Now, over a hundred years later, people still talk about the murder and there’s a lingering assumption that she did it. (That children’s rhyme didn’t help her reputation any.) The house where the murders took place is now a bed and breakfast and a hotbed of paranormal activity for the paranormally inclined.


Sam McCauley – Banff Sprints Hotel Ghost

A late bellman at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, Canada is said to still be on duty there. The former employee vowed he would come back after to help out in the hotel during peak periods. Those who have seen him are convinced he’s keeping his vow.


Gabriel Vanslette, via Wikimedia Commons

Resurrection Mary

At the top of the popular ghost stories list is the blonde-haired, blue-eyed young woman haunts Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois which is outside of Chicago. The ghost, who has been seen by many witnesses,  is thought to be that of a young woman who was killed on night by a hit-and-run driver. She had had a fight with her boyfriend and was walking home in the dead, cold of night. The driver came out of nowhere and hit her.


Waverly Hills Sanitarium

Everything has its season and Waverly Hills is on the top ten list of famous ghost stories now. Tuberculosis was a real threat back in the early 1900’s, which is why the now-haunted sanitarium was open: to give tuberculosis patients a place to recover (or die) from the disease. Fortunately, advances in antibiotic medications brought the plague under control, but before that most people succumbed and many died in the hospital. It’s been the subject of numerous paranormal television shows and it appears it will re-open as a hotel in the future.


Borley Rectory Nun

This is another of the most famous ghost stories. This one made famous by Harry Price, renowned twentieth century ghost hunter.  Price recorded seeing objects move on their own there, as well as bells ringing when no one was around and rapping/tapping noises. Since 1863, ghosts were sighted on the property. Reports of a disembodied nun and a horse-drawn carriage are some of the most common. The Borley Rectory is now a ruin.


By Noel F. Busch via Wikimedia Commons


Al Capone

Al Capone recently joined the annals of famous ghost stories after being imprisoned for tax evasion. He never escaped his sentence as none of the lawyers he hired could overturn the judge’s original decision. He didn’t die in Alcatraz, but spent numerous years there suffering from dementia after contracting syphilis. It is reported that you can hear his banjo playing on Alcatraz island and some think he’s still imprisoned there in his own mind.


By Milton H. Greene – Promotional photograph for the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl, Public Domain

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was a legendary actress who died tragically and some say mysteriously. Although she had the life that many would die for, she did it literally.







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