Famous Ghost Stories

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

Abraham Lincoln Image After Being Assassinated
By John B. Bachelder

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 contemplating his duties as President. A gun shot during a theatrical event prompted his demise. Since his death, he wanders about the White House.   Visitors and staff claim he frequents various places. The Yellow Oval Room, the halls, and various bedrooms are common. At times he speaks, but usually, he’s seen 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 woman from the great beyond.   It’s more legend than ghost story. You chant Bloody Mary three times while gazing 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 best to just leave her alone! Want to know more?

Dolley Madison Image
by Unknown – University of Texas at Austin

White House: Dolley Madison

This former First Lady was married to an early President of the United States. You can spot her spirit. 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 her hanging 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 punishment for eavesdropping on the family. It was a harsh punishment that she lost her ear over. 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.   Reports state that Chloe wanders the grounds of the plantation as do other ghosts.

Betsy Bell Image
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The Bell Witch

This is one of the most well-known ghost stories anywhere. It originates from Adams, Tennessee. There was a man named John Bell and a poltergeist was disturbing his family.   John’s daughter Betsy endured the torment of an unseen spirit for about a year.  The spirit slapped her and pulled her hair. Her father claimed to have encountered spirit himself.   The ghost spoke, sharing its predictions for the future and other neat ghost tricks. After becoming quite famous, many people thought of the ghost as a witch. Eventually, John Bell succumbed to illness. Everyone assumed the ghost had gotten the best of him.

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn Images
by Hans Holbein the Younger; Anne Boleyn by unknown artist.

Anne Boelyn

This was the wife of King Henry the VIII between 1533 and 1536. For those who know history, Anne Boelyn was only one of many wives to the king.   Popular and well-liked, Anne became an inconvenience for Henry and he had her beheaded. Anne roams the Tower of London, according to reports. It’s where she endured imprisonment and eventually faced executed. She appears with her head missing at times. She’s also seen with it intact. 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 painted an indelible mark on the pages history books. Her body rests in St. Louis Cemetery, where folks leave her gifts and offerings on an ongoing basis.   She manifests as an apparition. She also takes the form of a large crow seen flapping through the St. Louis cemetery, as well. She’s also assumes the form of a snake or large dog at times.

Madame LaLaurie Image
Madame LaLaurie Public Domain Image

The LaLaurie Ghost

The LaLaurie’s were a well-known couple in New Orleans. They were socialites and owned a gorgeous French Quarter house. If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, maybe you’ve seen it. It’s location is on Royal Street.   The LaLaurie’s were uppity and the talk of the town. Until they got caught one day. They had been performing cruel experiments on black slaves. Such hatred and brutality is unheard of except in horror movies. Still, they carried on their activities until their discovery ran them out of town.   To this day, one black slave screams from the house. This was 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 from the Drury Lane Theater. He appears before the opening of a new play. He is the ghost of someone who was murdered there. This this is one ghost people don’t mind seeing. Some consider him to bring good luck. He shows up right before the opening of some very successful shows.

The Flying Dutchman Rendition
By Isaac Robert Cruikshank – oq.oxfordjournals.org

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 Image
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.

Bachelors Grove Cemetery
By Cobra97 (Own work)

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery

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. Some speculate 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.

Agnes Sampson Witches Devil
Public Domain

Agnes Sampson – Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace has been a residence for Scottish Royalty since the 12th century.  It’s haunted by the ghost of Agnes Sampson, a midwife. Agnes was also an herbalist who healed many. Her skills were regarded with great awe.

The witch hunts were not her friend. Accusations of witchcraft befell her and she ended up imprisoned. She went into custody on orders of the King after refusing to confessed.

In captivity, she withstood horrific torture. She was stripped naked and shaved from head to toe.  Once she broke, she confessed to the accusations and was burned at the stake. She is known as “Bald Agnes.” She roams the palace where she was tortured and put to death.

Lizzie Borden Image
By Anonymous – Public Domain

Lizzie Borden

In 1892, Lizzie faced accusations of murder when her parents were killed with an ax. 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. There’s a lingering assumption that she did it. (That children’s rhyme didn’t help her reputation any.)


Even the house is playing a part. It’s now a bed and breakfast. It’s also a hotbed of paranormal activity and a destination for ghost hunters.

Sam McCauley – Banff Sprints Hotel Ghost

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

Resurrection Cemetery Image
Gabriel Vanslette,

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. Back in the early 1900s, tuberculosis was a real threat to society. That’s why the now-haunted sanitarium was open. It emerged to give tuberculosis patients a place to recover (or die) from the disease. Fortunately, advances in antibiotic medications brought the plague under control. Unfortunately, that development was too late for the many people who died in the hospital. Waverly Hills appears as the topic of paranormal television shows. It will re-open as a hotel in the future.

Borley Rectory
By Noel F. Busch

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 objects moving on their own in the rectory. He also reported bells ringing when no one was around, as well as rapping/tapping noises. As early as 1863, ghosts existed 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.

Al Capone

Al Capone joined the annals of famous ghost stories for imprisonment for tax evasion. He never escaped sentence. None of his lawyers managed to overturn the judge’s decision. He didn’t die in Alcatraz, but spent several years there. He suffered from dementia after contracting syphilis. You can hear his banjo playing on Alcatraz island and some think he’s still imprisoned there…in his own mind.

Marilyn Monroe Image
By Milton H. Greene –

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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