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My Visit to Eliza Jumel's Mansion to Research my Book--I Made Eliza's Ghost Laugh!

Those of you who have seen the play Hamilton are now familiar with Aaron Burr's last wife, Eliza. She started out dirt poor in Providence and with her street smarts and business acumen, became  New York City's richest woman. Read about my visit to her mansion and my 'ghostly' experience:

Me on the Steps of the Jumel Mansion

In researching my biographical novel about Aaron Burr and his last wife, Madame Eliza Jumel, I visited her mansion in Washington Heights, NYC. It's beautifully restored and maintained, befitting the once-richest lady in New York. 

You can also hear the many stories of her ghost wandering the mansion in a purple gown, rapping on walls and windows, and yelling at schoolkids to shut up! 

One July night in 1833, Aaron, age 77, showed up at Eliza's door with the same minister who married him to his first wife Theodosia fifty years before. After several rejections of his proposal, she finally agreed to marry him in the front parlor (photo below). 

Front Parlor

When she realized he was a gold-digger (as by then, he was broke), she began divorce proceedings, also charging him with adultery, as he had a mistress in Jersey City. In an ironic twist, she hired Alexander Hamilton Jr. as her lawyer. But in the most ironic twist of all, he died the same day he received the final papers. 

When we visited, my husband Chris & I were on the 2nd floor where the bedrooms are. I was standing in the doorway of her bedroom (Aaron's is across the hall), and said out loud that I wondered if they ever slept together, or always in the separate rooms. Chris said, 'she was so old, and he was 80!'

I replied, 'Well, from what I've read of him, he could still get it up.'

A minute later, Chris asked me if I laughed after saying that. I definitely had not laughed.
That means somebody else did! He'd heard a woman's throaty chuckle, NOT my voice at all.

Aaron's Bedroom

We were the only (living) people up there at the time. I'm convinced it was Eliza, eavesdropping on us, and I was able to give her a laugh.
Have you ever heard of a ghost laughing? I never have! 
If you're ever in the area, visit the mansion--it's an unforgettable experience.

My biographical novel is titled ELIZA JUMEL BURR, VICE QUEEN OF THE UNITED STATES. I enjoyed researching this fascinating woman's life.

Purchase ELIZA on Amazon

Visit the Jumel Mansion website

16 . 01 . 1942
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