Valentine’s Day: It’s not all rosy

Valentine’s Day: It’s not all rosy - Photo

Valentine’s Day is traditionally associated with love and romance, but there is a darker side to this holiday. Throughout history, there have been many tales of ghosts, demons, and other supernatural beings that are said to haunt lovers to this day. From heart-wrenching love stories gone wrong to dark legends about the holiday’s origin, these spooky tales are sure to send shivers down your spine. Whether you’re a fan of the macabre or just looking for a change of pace from the usual Valentine’s Day festivities, these sinister stories of love gone wrong are sure to satisfy. So, as you prepare to celebrate this holiday of passion, sit back, relax, and get ready to delve into some of the most ghostly-infested hotspots you can visit on Valentine’s Day. Who knows, you may never look at this holiday in the same way again! 

View our list of cities to book a Valentine’s Day ghost tour with U.S. Ghost Adventures!


Why Tragic Love Stories Lead to Hauntings 

There are several reasons why so many tragic love stories lead to ghostly legends and active haunts. One of the most significant factors is the intense emotions associated with love and heartbreak. When someone dies suddenly or unexpectedly, the sense of loss and grief can be overwhelming, and the desire to be reunited with the departed loved one can be intense. This can lead to the creation of ghosts as a way to cope with the loss and keep the memory of the deceased alive. It can lead to people practicing dark arts or seances to raise the dead. It can lead a person down some sketchy paths. Another reason is the cultural and historical belief in the afterlife and the idea that spirits can linger on earth after death. In many cultures, it was believed that if someone died before their time or in a particularly tragic or heart-wrenching way, their spirit would be unable to find peace and would be doomed to haunt the earth forever.

Finally, ghost stories about tragic love often serve as cautionary tales about the dangers of passions gone awry and the consequences of unrequited or forbidden love. These tales can be seen as a warning about the power of love and the need to be cautious in our romantic pursuits.


20 Valentine’s Day Hauntings 


Former Site of Highland Hospital, Asheville

Photo of the Higland Hospital fire.

Highland Hospital Fire March 10, 1948. Source.

If you want a bird’s eye view of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s relationship and madcap love affair, all you have to do is crack open Hemingway’s “A Movable Feast” to get an idea of what being crazy in love actually means. As in literally “crazy.” Hemingway was a third-party witness to that trainwreck and had a couple of PTSD symptoms due to his friendship with F. Scott. The relationship between Zelda Fitzgerald and her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, was complex and tumultuous, to say the least. The two were deeply in love when they first met, and their relationship was characterized by both passion and intense creativity. However, as time passed and their personal and financial difficulties mounted, their relationship became strained and marked by bouts of infidelity and instability.


Zelda was a talented writer and dancer in her own right, and she inspired many of the characters and themes in F. Scott’s writing. However, she also suffered from mental health issues and was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia, which put a significant strain on their day-to-day habits. Despite her illness, Zelda remained devoted to F. Scott, and their relationship was marked by deep love and mutual admiration. As F. Scott’s fame grew and he became a prominent figure in the literary world, Zelda became increasingly unhappy with her role as a wife and sought to establish her own identity and independence. Their marriage was further complicated by their heavy drinking and partying, which often led to arguments and conflicts. Rumors had it that once they went out for a New Year’s party and returned home in April. In the 1930s, Zelda was finally diagnosed with schizophrenia and she was admitted to Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, for treatment. Highland Hospital was a leading institution for the care of mental illness at the time, and Zelda received a range of treatments including electroconvulsive therapy and insulin shock therapy. Despite her treatments, her condition worsened and she suffered several nervous breakdowns while at Highland. On March 10, 1948, a massive fire broke out at the hospital and killed Zelda along with eight other women, who had been sedated. Worst of all: She had just been cleared to go home. 

Today, it is said to be one of the most haunted places in the city, with many reports of strange occurrences and ghostly sightings by former patients, staff, and visitors. Some of the most common paranormal experiences reported at the site include the ghostly apparitions of former patients and staff members, eerie sounds and noises, and sudden drops in temperature. There have also been reports of doors opening and closing on their own, as well as objects moving by themselves — and Zelda’s ghost, is right in the thick of it. 


The Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas

Photo of Benjamin Bugsy Siegel

Mugshot of Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel circa 1920. Source.


The Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in the city, and it is said to be haunted by the ghost of its infamous creator, Bugsy Siegel, and his one-time paramour Virginia Hill. Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and Virginia Hill were two notorious figures in the history of organized crime in the United States. Siegel was a Jewish-American mobster who was one of the founding members of the notorious criminal organization known as the Mafia. He was involved in various criminal activities, including gambling, prostitution, and drug trafficking.

black and white photo of Virginia Hill

Virginia Hill. Source.

Virginia Hill was an American criminal and actress and all-around Femme Fatale, and she was known for her association and love affair with organized crime figures like Siegel and others. She was also Siegel’s mistress, and the two had a stormy relationship marked by infidelity, gambling, and extravagance. Siegel and Hill were both known for their flamboyant lifestyles and their association with the glamor and excess of the Las Vegas gambling scene. In the 40s, Busgy decided to try to go “legit”— with an “ish” at the end. He built the Flamingo in the 1940s, and it was one of the first luxury hotels in the city. Bugsy was finally given a strong bout of lead poisoning when he was shot four times in Virginia’s living room in 1947, after failing to pay back the money he owed the mob. The grapevine fingered Virginia as an accomplice of the hit — conveniently the little rascal was off in Paris during the “negotiations”. 

Some guests and employees of the Flamingo have reported seeing the ghost of Bugsy Siegel roaming the halls, especially in the area of his former penthouse suite. Others have reported strange noises and unexplained occurrences in the hotel and some claim to have seen his ghostly apparition looking out the window of his former suite.


Pacific Wheel, Los Angeles

The Pacific Wheel is a famous Ferris wheel located at the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California. It is one of the largest Ferris wheels on the West Coast, and it is a popular tourist attraction for visitors to the pier.

If you want to get into some heavy petting, maybe come home with a hickey or two, or try to steal a base — then on Valentine’s Day, there’s no better place than the Pacific Wheel. It has all the charm, the romance, and the vibe you’d sell your soul for on that most romantic night — and it also has ghosts. Dozens of them. Why? Because this is where the living, famous, and not-so-famous also came to frolic while still secure in their mortal coil. 

Amongst them Marylin Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. Or Marilyn and President Kennedy. And Senator John P. Jones and Arcadia Baker. Dozens of specters have been seen either snuggling or doing the horizontal mambo on the Pacific Wheel. 


Providence Athenaeum, Rhode Island

The Providence Athenaeum is a historic library located in Providence, Rhode Island, and is considered one of the oldest and most prestigious libraries in the country. Founded in 1753, the library has a rich history and is known for its collection of rare books, manuscripts, and works of art. It’s also where Poe and Whitman first met. Edgar Allan Poe and Sarah Helen Whitman were both prominent literary figures of the 19th century. Poe was a famous poet and writer of short stories, known for his dark and macabre tales such as “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Sarah Helen Whitman was a poet, writer, and critic who was active in the literary and spiritualist circles of her time – the occult was tres chic during that era. The two met in 1848 and quickly became friends, drawn together by their mutual interest in literature and the supernatural. They had a deep respect for each other’s work, and Poe was said to have been greatly impressed by Whitman’s intelligence and wit.

Although their relationship was primarily a friendship, there has been speculation that their conversations turned romantic in nature. Poe was known for his unconventional views on love and relationships, and Whitman was a strong-willed and independent woman who was known for her unconventional views. Some have suggested that their relationship was a secret, intense romance, while others believe that their connection was purely platonic. Rumors abound and one of them was this:

Photo of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe. Source.

Poe chased and hassled and made a nuisance of himself with Whitman — until late into their burgeoning romance, she finally accepted to wed the scalawag. But, there was one condition — He had to remain sober until their wedding on Christmas Day. Which was, in Poe’s case, near impossible. It would have been easier to ask him to stop breathing or grow antlers than drop the gin and cheap whisky. Poe didn’t keep his promise, and a heartbroken Helen refused to speak to Poe after that. Poe, ever the pragmatist and a man of convictions, decided to double down on his liquid passions and drank himself to death. The man was no quitter. When he died eight months later, Helen was so distraught that she came to the Athenaeum to try to summon the spirit of her lost love. It apparently worked because his spirit has been spotted at the library ever since. And if that wasn’t scary enough cosmic horror father H.P. Lovecraft also frequented and wrote some of his tales in that library.

Photo of the Providence Anthenaeum Library

The Providence Athenaeum Library Source.


Charleston, South Carolina

The Gray Man of Charleston is a ghostly figure said to haunt the beaches of Charleston, South Carolina. According to legend, the Gray Man appears before major storms to warn residents of the danger ahead.

The story of the Gray Man dates back to the late 19th century, and it is said that he appears as a tall, gray-clad figure, dressed in a long coat and hat. He is said to walk the beaches at night, silently warning residents of an impending storm. Some say that his appearance is a sure sign of a coming hurricane or another severe weather event and that those who heed his warning are able to escape harm.

Despite the lack of scientific evidence, the legend of the Gray Man has become a popular and enduring part of Charleston folklore. Many residents of the area still claim to have seen the Gray Man and believe in his power to warn of danger. One tale states that the Gray Man was once a fisherman — One stormy night, the man was galloping across Pawleys Island and a vicious lightning storm broke out. Thunder cracked, the wind rose, and a bolt of electricity speared him and snuffed his life out. Where was he going in such haste? To see his fiancé.


Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg

Photo of Bruton Parish Church.

Bruton Parish Church, circa 1902. Source.

Bruton Parish Church is a historic Anglican church located in Williamsburg, Virginia. Founded in 1674, the church has a long and rich history and is one of the oldest continuously used religious buildings in the United States. There have been reports of ghostly activity at Bruton Parish Church, with visitors and staff members claiming to have seen ghostly figures, heard strange noises, and experienced unexplained sensations — and it all starts with the sort of romantic tale that seems like a pun at the end of a very bad joke.

Reverend Jones lived a near-picture-perfect life. The man was respected, he had some cash squirreled away, and he was wed to a loving wife. Back then that was like winning the lottery. Still, like all things, they had an expiration date, including his wife. The woman grew ill and had to be confined to what would eventually become her deathbed. The doctors went to Jones and told him it was time to say goodbye. Jones, then confessed his undying love to her, recited a love poem, and swore that he would follow her to the grave and beyond. Then, as was customary during that period, he left and went to town to buy a gravestone. 

A couple of hours later, Jones came back — with a newly minted and carefully chiseled gravestone, and – wait for it – a new, half his age, lover. Yup, the man had picked up a replacement wife along the way. Mrs. Jones looked at the scene, and no doubt utter the following words right before she perished, “you son of a b…” Some say that her ghost, sporting a colonial-era dress, has been seen wandering the churchyard, and others have reported hearing the sound of ghostly laughter and footsteps echoing through the building.


The Precious Gem, Williamsburg

photo of Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore. Source.

This next tale is also extremely dodgy — and by that, we mean it sounds more like a crime novella or a penny dreadful than a retelling of actual events. It all starts with the notorious playboy, womanizer, philandered, rake, and player, Thomas Moore. The man was a cat and had quite the reputation when it came to his “stud work.” He was the sort of smooth operator that on paper seemed to radiate pure toxicity, but was nonetheless magnetic to most ladies in Williamsburg. Anyway, one day Thomas Moore fell madly in love with Constance Hall and the two carried on a very, and by that we mean VERY public affair. 

Here’s the rub — Constance was married, and it wasn’t the type of marriage where “key parties” were involved. One day Mr. Hall, who was on business while the lovers made whoopee around town, comes home. He gets the 4-1-1 from all his friends, loads a gun, bursts into Moore’s house, and kills him on the spot. He then forces Constance to help him hide the body. 

Moore’s ghost is said to haunt The Precious Gem and other locations on Duke of Gloucester St.  He is usually seen following women, single or taken, and has been spotted at the Bruton Parish Church where weddings are still held to this day.


Marrero’s Guest Mansion, Key West

photo of Marrero’s Guest Mansion in Key West, Florida

Marrero’s Guest Mansion in Key West, Florida. Source.

Francisco Marrero was a prominent businessman and hotelier in Key West, Florida, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was known for his success as a merchant and for his elegant and luxurious Marrero’s Guest Mansion, which was one of the most popular and fashionable hotels in Key West at the time. Marrero’s Guest Mansion was renowned for its grand architecture, luxurious furnishings, and impeccable service, and it attracted many wealthy and famous guests from around the world. In addition to its reputation as a luxurious hotel, Marrero’s Guest Mansion was also known for its haunted history, with many stories of ghostly sightings and strange occurrences being associated with the property.

The biggest story, regarding ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and specters has to do with Enriqueta. Marrero was a lady’s man, he loved to strut about town and entice the “señoritas” and all of them swooned for him. It was easy for the dashing Latino. That is until he met his match with Enriqueta. She was a tough cookie to crack. It took him a while to entice her, but finally, he managed to pull it off. They built a happy life and ended up having eight kids. Then, in January 1891, Francisco was killed. And here’s the kicker, in case that wasn’t shocking enough, he had a previous wife whom he had never properly divorced. Not because he didn’t want to, but because of a technicality on the divorce documents. 

Wife numero uno came in, took Francisco’s whole estate, and tossed Enriqueta and her urchins to the street. Within a few years of their eviction, the whole clan, all 9 of them, had died. Today, they haunt the house-turned-hotel


The White House, DC


You simply can’t have a ghost article, one with epic hauntings, without having an entry on Honest Abe. The man’s specter gets around. In Washington, every building that was once graced by Lincoln while he wore this mortal coil is said to be haunted by the man. And, unlike other specters, Abe isn’t shy — just check out his interaction with Winston Churchill during that British Prime Minister’s stay at the White House. And as far as romances go, and legendaries love affairs, there is none greater than that of Mary Todd and Abraham. 

Photo of Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln and their son.

Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln, and their young son. Source.

Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln had a complex and often tumultuous relationship. They were married in 1842 and had four children together, but their marriage was marked by personal and financial struggles, as well as the enormous political and social pressures of the times. Despite their difficulties, Abraham and Mary were deeply devoted to each other. Mary was known for her strong personality and her political savvy, and she was a valuable asset to her husband’s career. She was also a supportive and loving wife, who helped Lincoln through the many challenges he faced during his presidency, including the American Civil War. However, Mary’s health was fragile, and she suffered from frequent headaches and nervousness. She was also prone to depression, which was exacerbated by the loss of three of her children and the enormous stress of the Civil War. Despite these difficulties, Mary remained a constant presence by her husband’s side, and she was with him in Ford’s Theatre on the night he was assassinated. In the aftermath of Lincoln’s death, Mary faced additional challenges, including financial difficulties and a difficult relationship with her son.

All those difficulties, it seemed, were alleviated by the ghost of Abraham Lincoln, who on more than one occasion, came to Mary’s aid. There are even photographs of Honest Abe’s specter beside his wife. Today, both paramours frequent the White House in all their spectral glory. Sneaking up to Presidents in crisis and giving them a reassuring pat on the back, and whispering words of wisdom when needed. 


The Merchant’s House Museum, New York City

The Merchant’s House Museum, located in New York City, is known to be one of the most haunted locations in the city. The museum, which was built in the mid-19th century, was the home of the Tredwell family for nearly 100 years and is now a cabinet of curiosity dedicated to preserving the family’s furnishings and artifacts. The story of Gertrude Tredwell and Luis Walton is a romantic haunting tale of the one that got away — a tale that is often associated with the Merchant’s House Museum in New York City.

Photo of Gertrude Tredwell

Gertrude Tredwell. Source.

Gertrude Tredwell was the last surviving member of the Tredwell family who lived in the house until her death in 1933. Meanwhile, Luis Walton was a Liverpool lad who came to the states hogtied to a financially down trotted father and in search of a medical degree. Walton and Gertrude became friends and over the years that relationship blossomed into the boudoir. But there was a hitch — Gertrude’s dad. The man was strict. He forbade Gertrude to marry Luis because of religious faith. The Tredwells were Episcopalian while the Waltons were Catholics. To the day of Gertrude’s death, she simply couldn’t stop talking about Walton — she died a spinster, alone in her mansion having outlined her inheritance. 

There have been many reports of strange and unexplained occurrences at the museum over the years, with many visitors and staff members claiming to have had ghostly encounters. Some of the most common experiences include seeing apparitions, hearing strange noises, and feeling an eerie presence in certain rooms.


Edgar Allan Poe House, New York

Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, poet, and literary critic who lived in the 19th century. He was born in Boston in 1809 but spent much of his life in Richmond, Virginia, where he lived with his wife Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe. So far it’s all kosher – wait for it. Get ready for a tale that nowadays would seem tawdry and extremely odd. 

Newspaper article showing a poem written by Virginia Poe to her husband Edgar.

Ledger-Enquirer newspaper; March 13, 1961 Source.

For Virginia, when she met and decided to tie the knot was not only Edgar’s cousin – whom he called “Sissy” – but a child bride. Virginia was only 13 years old when she and Poe married, and she suffered from poor health throughout her life. And during their relationship, Edgar liked to sample the wares at the local watering hole. In other words, the man had a secret Tinder account – and Virginia was well aware of it. Despite her fragile health, Virginia was a source of inspiration and support for Poe, and he dedicated many of his works to her. Tragically, Virginia died of tuberculosis in 1847 at the young age of 24. Poe was devastated by her death and is said to have never fully recovered from the loss. Some believe that her death was the main inspiration for many of his dark and melancholic works, including the poems “Annabel Lee” and “The Raven.”

And where did she bite the bullet? Right here at the Edgar Allan Poe House. She along with Poe – who likes to stroll with ectoplasmic glee all over New York, he’s been spotted in all his famous haunts – loves to mope around the place and scare the bejesus out of tourists. 


One If By Land, Two If By Sea, New York

a photo depicting the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton

The famous Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton duel Source.

Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton were two important figures in early American history who were involved in a famous political and personal rivalry. Burr was a politician who served as Vice President of the United States under Thomas Jefferson, while Hamilton was one of the country’s founding fathers and served as its first Secretary of the Treasury. The tension between Burr and Hamilton began when Hamilton criticized Burr’s political ambitions and accused him of unethical behavior. Burr turned and basically said: “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” And if you’ve seen Hamilton the Musical then you know what he was referring to. This eventually led to a duel between the two men in July 1804, in which Hamilton was killed. The duel is widely considered to be one of the most famous in American history, and it had far-reaching consequences for both Burr and Hamilton. Particularly the latter, since, well, he died as a result of it. 

For Burr, the duel effectively ended his political career. But Burr was, well Burr, and he loved his scandals. Burr went off to Louisiana, since he was labeled a pariah in his home state, and tried to start his own country. This was a huge NO-NO in America, and he was later tried for treason. So, what did Burr do? Well, he was given a choice: the firing squad or an exile in France. He went for the latter. While all of this was happening, the man was sowing his wild oats whenever he had an opportunity. Chances are that if some distant relative of yours had once met Burr, then you’re probably related to him. 

Burr, now in France marries and then divorces heiress Eliza Jumel. Burr, somehow manages to come back to the states, is acquitted of all charges – friends in high places – and resumes a law career. He’s finally handicapped by a stroke and dies in financial ruin in a boarding house in 1836. His ghost, still rather randy in the afterlife, has accosted co-eds and female diners at “One If By Land, Two If By Sea”, a hip and extremely romantic restaurant in Greenwich Village. Why there? Because it is right around the corner from where he once lived. 


The Dakota, New York

The Dakota is a famous apartment building located in New York City on the corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West. It was built in the 1880s and is known for its distinctive architectural style, which is considered a blend of French Renaissance and Gothic Revival elements. In addition to its history and architecture, The Dakota is also well known for its location. It is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, near Central Park, and offers residents stunning views of the park and the city skyline.

photo of Yoko Ono and John Lennon

Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Source.

The Dakota is famous for several reasons. It was one of the first luxury apartment buildings in New York City and has been home to many famous residents over the years, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The building is also known for its association with several ghost stories and paranormal events, with many residents and visitors reporting strange occurrences over the years. Every time you take a corner in the Dakota you’re most likely sharing breathing room – get it? – with a specter. It’s that haunted. And the biggest “cause celeb” of the place is none other than one of the Beatles, John Lennon. Can you imagine? Yes, that’s another pun. John Lennon and Yoko Ono were two of the most influential musicians and cultural figures of the 20th century. Lennon was a founding member of The Beatles, one of the most successful and innovative bands in music history, while Ono was a multidisciplinary artist and activist who was ahead of her time in her use of conceptual and performance art. Lennon and Ono first met in 1966 – and she really was her “Be My Yoko Ono” according to the Barenaked Ladies. The duo began a professional collaboration that would eventually evolve into a romantic relationship. They were married in 1969 and became known for their anti-war activism and their belief in world peace.

Photo of the Dakota apartment building in New York City

The Dakota. Upper West Side, Manhattan, New York City. Source.

In 1980, Lennon was tragically murdered outside of The Dakota. The news of his death shocked the world and left many fans and admirers devastated. Reports abound of Lennon waltzing across the Dakota, one of them by Yoko herself. She describes how one day she found his spirit sitting on his famous white piano like it was just another Tuesday. He turned to her and said, “don’t be afraid. I’m still with you.”


Machpelah Jewish Cemetery, Queens.

photo of Harry Houdini's headstone

Harry Houdini’s headstone with his wife Beatrice. Source.

There have been several reports of paranormal activity at the Machpelah Jewish Cemetery in Queens, New York. The cemetery, which was established in the late 1800s, is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the city and is the final resting place for many members of New York’s early Jewish community. Some people claim to have seen ghostly apparitions wandering among the graves, while others have reported hearing strange noises and feeling an eerie presence in certain areas of the cemetery. There have also been reports of mysterious lights and shadows moving across the grounds at night. One of the most well-known ghostly residents of the Machpelah Cemetery is believed to be a man named Isaac, who was a caretaker at the cemetery many years ago. According to legend, Isaac was so devoted to his work that he refused to leave the cemetery even after his death. Visitors have reported seeing his ghostly figure wandering among the graves as if still tending to the grounds.

But we’re not here to talk about Issac — We’re here to talk about Harry Houdini. 

photo of harry houdini with his mother and wife

Harry Houdini with his mother and wife. circa 1907. Source.

Harry Houdini was a legendary magician, illusionist, and escape artist who was famous for his death-defying stunts and incredible illusions. He was born in Hungary in 1874 and immigrated to the United States as a child. Over the course of his career, Houdini became one of the most famous entertainers of his time, performing all over the world and captivating audiences with his incredible feats of strength and daring. Houdini’s wife, Bess, was his partner and assistant both on and off stage. They were married in 1894 and worked together throughout their careers, with Bess appearing in many of Houdini’s illusions and stunts.

photo of seance put on by Bess Houdini

Bess Houdini at one of her famous seance’s. Source.

One of the most famous stories about Houdini and Bess involves a series of séances that Bess held after Houdini’s death in 1926. Following Houdini’s death, Bess began holding annual séances in an attempt to talk with her husband from beyond the grave. According to legend, Houdini promised Bess that he would communicate with her from the afterlife if it were possible, and the séances were an attempt to fulfill that promise. Despite the fact that Houdini never appeared to Bess during the séances, the tradition of holding séances on the anniversary of his death continues to this day, with magicians and fans of Houdini coming together to attempt to communicate with the legendary escape artist. And that tradition was started by Bess herself — and her favorite place to hold a spiritual booty call? Right on Harry’s grave. Also, do you want to know when Houdini died? On October 31, 1926 – That’s right people go to his grave with an Ouija board on Halloween. And Harry, it seems, does come out regardless of what skeptics say. 


Melrose Hall, Brooklyn

This next one is twisted — really, really twisted. During Colonial Times, a British bigwig officer and loyalist named William Axtell set up shop in Brooklyn. He bought a mansion called Melrose Hall and moved there with his stunning, jaw-dropping, way-out-of-his-league fiancee. The girl was educated, graceful, and beautiful, everything a man could want. Yet, for William, she lacked one thing — she wasn’t his sister. Yes, you read that correctly. You see, William was obsessed and passionately in love with his sibling, Alva. 

Newspaper article about the ghost of Melrose Hall

Lake Wakatip Mail, April 24, 1903. Source.

How much in love? He built her a secret room in his house and basically hid her away in there. That’s right, the man had a sex chamber, under his mansion for his sister. Every day he would sneak off to, well, let’s not get into details, like we said “it’s a twisted tale.” The only other person who knew of Alva’s existence was a slave woman who took care of her and brought her food. Anyway, the years passed and no one was the wiser. Then one day, the Colonel went on an extended business trip and the slave died. With no one to bring her water or food, Alva slowly starved to death in that dungeon. When the Colonel got back he was devastated — he quickly got rid of the body, and hoped no one would notice. Some say he even built a shrine on one of the walls with some of the clothes and bones. Like we said, “twisted.”

The house was later purchased by Anna Carla Mowatt, an actress and she was the first to have a ghostly encounter with Alva. In her memoir, The Autobiography of an Actress, she stated that “a young girl had starved to death in that chamber and that her ghost wandered at night around the house.”


Lafayette Square, DC

Lafayette Square is a historic public park located in Washington, D.C., near the White House. The park is named after the French General Marquis de Lafayette, who fought alongside the American forces during the American Revolution. There have been reports of ghostly activity in Lafayette Square, with some visitors and local residents claiming to have seen ghostly figures and experienced strange sensations. One of the most famous ghost stories associated with Lafayette Square is that of the “Woman in White,” who is said to roam the park at night. According to legend, she was a woman who was jilted by her lover and now haunts the park, searching for him. But, others tell a different tale — one of the star-crossed lovers and a devastating blow that left ripples in time, and it all starts with Philip Barton Key II.

newspaper article of Phillip Barton Key

Phillip Barton Key. Source.

Philip Barton Key II was a prominent attorney and politician in the 19th century and was associated with Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. He was the son of Francis Scott Key, the composer of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and was known for his legal expertise and political connections. In 1859, Key was involved in a highly publicized scandal when he was shot and killed by his friend and former business partner, Daniel Sickles. The murder took place on Lafayette Square, in front of the White House, and was widely covered in the press at the time. Why was he shot? Phillips had begun a passionate affair with Teresa Sickles — Yup, Daniel’s wife. 

newspaper article covering the murder of Daniel Sickles.

The Charlotte Observer newspaper, October 18, 1936. Source.

For Daniel, she was nothing but a trophy to parade around on his arm, and he’d had numerous affairs with other women. Philip was different. In Philip, Teresa had found the love of her life. Then, BOOM, it all came to a crashing halt. The murder of Philip Barton Key was one of the first cases in the United States to use the temporary insanity defense, and it helped to establish the idea of “crime of passion” in American law. To this day, some believe that the specter of Philip roams the area along with dozens more and that in reality, the famous “Woman in White” is none other than Teresa mourning her lost love. 


Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia

The Betsy Ross House is a historic building located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is believed to be the location where the famous seamstress Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. The house has been restored and is now open to the public as a museum, showcasing the life and work of Betsy Ross and the history of the American Revolution.

There have been reports of ghostly activity at the Betsy Ross House, with some visitors and staff members claiming to have seen ghostly figures and experienced strange sensations. Some say that the ghost of Betsy Ross herself still haunts the house, and others have reported seeing the ghost of a British soldier who was killed during the American Revolution.

photo of painting of Betsy Ross with the original American flag

Betsy Ross. Source.

But let’s talk about the famous seamstress and why she’s constantly seen sobbing inside her former home. Betsy lost not one but three husbands during her lifetime. Betsy’s portmanteau during her era was “the beautiful young widow” — that’s how the newspapers described her. Helen and Cleopatra looked frumpy when standing next to Betsy Ross. John Ross, her first, died two-and-a-half years into their marriage — Betsy, was so enamored, that she left her Quaker upbringing and faith just to be with him. Joseph Ashburn, hubby number two, died wallowing in pain and desperation in a British prison. Then came John Claypoole – the messenger that traveled all the way to America to deliver Betsy the bad news on Joseph – whom Betsy fell head over heels for. They married and had a couple of kids together – some of which also died. And then, after years of very poor health, John also kicked the bucket.


The Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg

photo of the Mclellan home that would become the Jennie Wade house

The Jennie Wade house. Source.

The Jennie Wade House is a historic building located in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It is named after Jennie Wade, who was the only civilian killed at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. The house is now a museum, showcasing the life and death of Jennie Wade and the history of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Jennie’s death has made her a symbol of the human cost of war. Jennie was in her 20s and lived in Gettysburg with her parents when the battle began. She was in the family’s her family’s home when a bullet came through the door and struck her, killing her instantly. Her death has been remembered as a tragic event, and her memory has been honored in various ways, including through monuments and memorials in Gettysburg. The stray bullet got her while she was baking bread for the Union army — particularly for one of the soldiers, her fiance Johnston “Jack” Hastings Skelly, Jr. She would never know that he was wounded in battle 2 weeks before the Battle of Gettysburg, or she may have tried to go see him instead of staying to bake bread for Union soldiers. Jack also would never learn of Jennie’s death. Even though he died just a week after she was killed, the news never made it about his fiancée’s death. 

photo of military plate on the grave of Johnston "Jack" Hastings Skelly, jr.

Military plate on the grave of Johnston “Jack” Hastings Skelly, jr. Source.

The lovers are buried near each other at Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg. Her spirit is said to be seen wandering the house where she was shot, and sometimes in the surrounding countryside. There have been reports of ghostly activity at the Jennie Wade House, with some visitors and staff members claiming to have seen ghostly figures and experienced strange sensations. 


Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles

photo of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Source.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a historic cemetery located in Los Angeles, California that is the final resting place for many of Hollywood’s most famous stars and legends. The cemetery was established in 1899 and has been the finHollywood’splace for many of Hollywood’s most iconic figures, including Rudolph Valentino, Tyrone Power, and Jayne Mansfield. Over the years, there have been many reports of paranormal activity at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, leading some to believe that the grounds are haunted. Some visitors have reported seeing ghostly apparitions wandering among the graves, while others have claimed to hear strange noises and feel an eerie presence in certain areas of the cemetery.

photo of newspaper article on death of actress Sharon Tate

San Bernardino County Sun newspaper. August 10, 1969. Source.

One of the most famous ghostly residents of Hollywood Forever Cemetery is said to be the actress Sharon Tate, who was murdered by members of the Manson Family in 1969. Visitors to her grave have reported seeing her ghostly figure wandering among the graves at night, while both Valentinos reported strange lights and other paranormal activity in the area. But this is Valentine’s blog post — so let’s talk about the original “Latin Lover”, Rudolph Valentino. The man whose last name is basically Valentine but with more oomph to it. 

photo of Rudolph Valentino

Rudolph Valentino. Source.

Rudolph Valentino was a silent film star, by way of Taxi Dancer from New York – in other words, he was a pretty face that some Hollywood producer decided to market. He was one of the most popular actors of the 1920s. He had two wives, a harem of lovers, and a battlefield of crazy fans pinning for him. When he kicked the bucket, tens of thousands of fainting, shrieking, out of their minds women mourned in the streets in front of Frank Campbell’s Funeral Chapel on the Upper West Side. Visitors to his grave have reported feeling an eerie presence and hearing strange noises coming from his mausoleum, leading many to believe that Valentino still haunts the cemetery.


Italy, the whole peninsula

You really can’t have Valentine’s Day’s best haunts and ghostly tales without unearthing the original — and for that, we’ll have to skip the pond and take an imaginary flight to Italy, and talk about the man that gave the Day to Valentine. St. Valentine was a Christian martyr and saint, and the story of his life has been the subject of many legends and speculation over the centuries. There are at least two different tales associated with Valentine, both honored in the Catholic Church

Valentine’s Day. photo of painting of St. Valentine

Painting of St. Valentine. Source.

One story is that St. Valentine was a priest who lived in Rome during the third century. He was imprisoned and eventually executed for performing marriages for Christian couples, which was illegal at the time. This act of bravery and devotion to love and marriage is said to be the reason why St. Valentine is now the patron saint of lovers. Another story is that St. Valentine was in fact a bishop who lived in the Italian city of Terni. He was imprisoned and executed for his faith, and while behind bars, he is said “to have cured” the jailer’s daughter of blindness. Before his execution, he sent her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a final goodbye, which is another reason why St. Valentine is associated with love and romantic messages.

His ghost, or his spirit, or his essence – since Christianity isn’t fond of the whole concept of ghosts – can be felt in various places throughout Italy, primarily where his body was buried in Via Flaminia, an ancient road that lead to Rome, and in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome —where relics, such as his skull with a crown of flowers, is exhibited to pilgrims. 


Love at times can be neither patient nor kind. We hope you enjoyed this look at the darker side of love and the history of some of history’s most complicated and haunted couples. U.S. Ghost Adventures wishes you a Happy Valentine’s Day or Singles Awareness Day, however, your feeling toward the holiday goes!



Featured Image Source: Flickr