Presidents & Poltergeists: 6 Famous Ghosts Across the U.S.

Haunted True Stories for Halloween

Most everybody has a favorite thing about Halloween. Maybe it’s carving pumpkins, concocting crazy costumes, or eating wayyyyyy too much candy.

For us, it’s the ghost stories. Dozens of ghastly true tales and ghoulish local legends spook up our wildly popular in-person Haunted Scavenger Hunts. They explore the spooky side of cities around the country: New York City; Salem, Massachusetts; Philadelphia; New Hope, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles. And the Virtual Ghost Hunt: The Haunted Online Halloween Scavenger Hunt takes those real-world haunted hunts and translates them into an online quest with new ghost-plagued places and bone-tingling tales. In the spirit of the Halloween season, here are the true (or true-ish) stories of six famous ghosts in cities around the country.

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln Bedroom

You can hear some of the White House’s supernatural stories on the Haunted Washington Scavenger Hunt. But its most famous apparition is the Great Emancipator himself. The ghost of Abe Lincoln has evidently haunted the White House since his assassination in 1865. Theodore Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Winston Churchill are among those who say they’ve seen Lincoln’s ghost. Others, including Franklin Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor, have claimed to feel his presence or experience strange happenings in and around the Lincoln bedroom (so named because Lincoln used that room as his office).

Notably, the ghost of Abe’s young son Willie, who died in the White House during his dad’s presidency, has also been spotted haunting those hallowed halls.

Marilyn Monroe

Haunted Roosevelt Hotel

Los Angeles is chock-a-block with haunted hotels. Many of them boast a celeb spirit like John Belushi or the Black Dahlia, and a few appear on the Haunted Hollywood Scavenger Hunt. But none can hold a candle in the wind to Marilyn, who has pulled double duty in death. She used to haunt the ladies’ room of the Lido Room Bar at the Knickerbocker Hotel, where she and Joe DiMaggio dated and later honeymooned.

Since the Knickerbocker is now a senior living facility, Ms. Monroe has moved on to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, pictured above. Guests have reported glimpsing her in the mirror of room 1200, where she lived while on her way to stardom.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

With all its rich history, it’s only natural that Philadelphia hosts plenty of ghosts about town. (You might encounter a few on our Haunted Philadelphia Scavenger Hunt.) While Alexander Hamilton haunts the long-dormant First Bank and local spirits like Ma Gillin keep tavern-goers on their toes, top honors go to ol’ Benjamin Franklin. He has been spotted snoozing at Old City Hall, hanging around Independence Hall, lurking about Christ Church, and even checking out one of his favorite haunts in life: the library at the American Philosophical society.

The Crying Lady and…John Lennon?

New York City has plenty of ghosts, and you’ll chase quite a few on the Ghosts of Greenwich Village Scavenger Hunt. But farther uptown, visit the Dakota. This Central Park West manse is where Rosemary’s Baby filmed…and where John Lennon was assassinated. In life, Lennon claimed to have witnessed a weeping apparition he dubbed the Crying Lady. In death, he has made some spectral pop-ins himself, both to staff and to residents, including his late wife, Yoko Ono.

Lady in Black

George’s Island and Fort Warren, Boston Harbor

While the Haunted Salem Scavenger Hunt introduces you to some witchy apparitions, Boston has its fair share as well. In fact, one long-dead dame has haunted Boston Harbor for 150 years. Completed in 1850, Fort Warren on George’s Island hosted disloyal citizen and Civil War prisoners in grim, brutal conditions. One such prisoner’s wife, Mrs. Lanier, traveled from Georgia to the fort to free her husband. He died in the escape attempt and she was hanged…and now she hangs about the fort, haunting it still in the black robes she wore to the gallows in 1862.

Resurrection Mary

Willowbrook Ballroom Illinois

One of Chicago’s most famous ghosts is a twist on a familiar urban legend: the vanishing hitchhiker. Sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s, a girl named Mary went dancing with her beaux at the Oh Henry Ballroom in Willow Springs, Illinois, a few miles southwest of Chicago. They argued over something or other, and Mary stormed out—only to be struck and left for dead by a never-identified driver. Her parents laid her to rest in a white dress in Resurrection Cemetery.

Ever since, dozens of drivers along Archer Avenue between Resurrection Cemetery and the former Oh Henry Ballroom (now the Willowbrook Ballroom) have reported strange sightings. Many have said they offered a lift to a young girl in a white dress, only for her to disappear when they passed the cemetery. Others have claimed to hit, or very narrowly avoid hitting, a wandering girl in white. Every time, the girl vanishes before the driver can find her.

Find More Fun

Now it’s your turn! Contact us to learn about scheduling a private Halloween game, or find in-person and virtual adventures near you.


Image credits: Lead image by Sabina Music Rich on Unsplash; Lincoln bedroom in the public domain via Wikipedia; Hotel Roosevelt by Brendan Church on Unsplash; Independence Hall by Dan Mall on Unsplash; Dakota by Andrevruas – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0; Fort Warren by Doc Searls from Santa Barbara, USA – 2010_04_28_bos-rdu_014Uploaded by PDTillman, CC BY 2.0; Willowbrook Ballroom via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0;