The Mysterious Ghost of Grace Brown - Unsolved Mysteries

Does a century old murder victim haunt a resort in upstate New York?

Grace Brown

The boat was found overturned

CASE DETAILS

Grace’s ghost haunts the lake

For generations, the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York have been a favorite vacation spot for the famous and the infamous.  One summer night in 1988, several employees of the Covewood Lodge on Big Moose Lake, including Rhonda Bousselot, were approaching the staff lodge.  Rhonda led the pack, unaware that someone, or something, might be waiting inside:

“I walked into the staff lodge, straight up the stairs with my hand out, reaching for the string, which is how to turn on the light.  As I approached the top of the stairs and just before I was ready to turn on the light, a feeling came over me that somebody was right there.  More or less, I stopped in my tracks and really just didn’t move.  I didn’t have an overwhelming feeling of fright, but something definitely or someone was there, and it just kind of took my breath away.”

But the real show was outside. According to Rhonda, her friends were witnessing a spine-tingling vision:

“All three of them had the same exact story.  It lingered for just a few seconds, and then moved away. All three of them saw the ghost.  I didn’t see anything myself, but I felt that somebody was right there, and it was just a strange feeling.”

But who is haunting Big Moose Lake? People there believe it is the ghost of the young and beautiful Grace Brown.  In 1906, her brutal murder shocked the nation.  Decades later, Hollywood turned the notorious case into a hit film, “A Place in the Sun.” Hollywood portrayed Grace as an unattractive nag.  But in truth, Grace Brown was a naive, lovely 19-year-old who worked at the Gillette skirt factory in Cortland, New York.  It was there, in 1905, that she met the handsome and charming Chester Gillette, the factory owner’s nephew.

Author Craig Brandon has written about the infamous Grace Brown murder:

“Chester Gillette was considered quite a catch by the people in town because he was popular and he was athletic and he was handsome.  I’m sure a lot of women in Cortland were interested in him.”

Chester Gillette was convicted of Grace’s murder

From the start, it was a scandalous romance.  According to Craig Brandon, Chester convinced Grace to see him without a chaperone which, in those days, put her reputation at risk:

“I think she saw him as the ideal person, that he was everything that she wanted.  She was in love probably for the first time in her life, and she wanted to see this through no matter what.”

For Chester, it was a secret affair.  He never took Grace out in public.  He never acknowledged their relationship.  According to Craig Brandon, Chester was frequently seen with other young women, especially those from the town’s wealthier families:

“Her friends were warning her that he wasn’t what he seemed to be, that he was something different, and I think that she had no experience with that type of person.  And so she was seeing what she wanted to see rather than what her friends were telling her.”

But Grace could not resist Chester and she soon discovered she was pregnant.  At the time, unwed mothers were outcasts.  Grace begged Chester to marry her, but he stalled as long as he could.  Finally, in July, 1906, Chester took Grace to the Adirondacks.  She assumed it was a wedding trip.  According to Craig Brandon, they rented a rowboat at Big Moose Lake from a man named Robert Morrison:

“Morrison expected them to come back around dinnertime.  And when they didn’t come back, he thought that was somewhat suspicious.”

The next morning, Morrison organized a search party.  The rowboat had capsized.  A short distance from it, they found Grace’s body.  Two days later, police found Chester Gillette in a nearby hotel.  At first, he denied even knowing Grace Brown.  Then, he claimed Grace had drowned herself in despair because he didn’t love her anymore.  Few believed him.  He was tried and convicted of first degree murder.  On March 30, 1908, Chester Gillette died in the electric chair.  Had justice been served?  Apparently not enough to satisfy the restless spirit of Grace Brown.

Lynda Lee Macken had her own encounter with Grace Brown a few months after Rhonda Bousselot’s:

“I was walking down toward the lake with my flashlight and the light was getting dimmer and dimmer.  By the time I got to the edge of the lake and the rocks, my flashlight wasn’t working.  So I had to turn around and go back… I was awestruck, and not only was I certain that I was looking at a ghost, but I had a very strong feeling of sadness.  She was very sad.”

Was it the ghost of Grace Brown?  Over the years, there have been continual sightings.  And many wonder if her spirit has been trapped at Big Moose Lake since the day she was drowned by her faithless lover.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season eight with Robert Stack and in season two with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

 

27 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I used to strum my guitar and sing a song called Pretty Polly(a very old folk song partly based on this case and another much older similar case.) Researching the song’s history led me to read Dreiser’s American Tragedy. Coincidentally, just as I was reading the very last paragraph of that book, this episode of Unsolved Mysteries happened to be on. I wasn’t paying attention to the television until I realized this very case was the topic. Pretty freaky if mere coincidence…

    Reply

  2. amy

    I’m from Eagle Bay. Big Moose Lake is very dark, very remote. I could see why he thought he would get away with murder, her body could have easily never been found.

    Reply

  3. Pamela Thompson

    I would love to read their love letters and his diary he wrong before his execution.

    Reply

  4. Anonymous

    You thought I was dead, didn’t you? I’m still there. While you’re searching in the Adirondack Mountains for me, that is not where I died. My body is in India.

    Reply

  5. Anonymous

    WOW, I believe she never left b/c she thought it would be her happy place, but it turned out to be deadly & she can’t move on.

    Reply

    • mary

      I believe her spirit is still there is is not at peace she is searching for something but what and is there other people responsible for her death, have a syaunce and find out somone needs to talk to her spirit And find out what does she want

      Reply

    • Elizabeth lynne

      I saw the this episode a couple times growin up id like to find it again to show my boyfriend bc hes neber seen it and he doesnt really believe in ghosts i tried finding it on youtube and its not there does anybody have any suggestions where to find it?? . . . .it also happens to be one of my favorite ghost stories

      Reply

    • Elizabeth lynne

      I did forget to say please in my last email my appologies if anybody could please tell me where to find the episode of grace browns spirit id greatly appreciate it please and thank you Elizabeth lynne c:

      Reply

    • Karen

      I’m intrigued by this story. Especially since having had the grandma with the same name. Grace Brown. In NC.She passed before I was born though. I’d love to see the ghost of this Grace Brown.

      Reply

    • Pamela Thompson

      I believe she’s not moving on and she was also very pregnant and very in love and for the person to kill her that she loved would be the tramatic. She has not moved on.

      Reply

  6. Anonymous

    If being horribly betrayed and murdered by a rotten lover equals your soul haunts that place forever then this world would be stacked 12 feet high in hauntings inch by inch.

    Reply

  7. Sourav P

    Maybe she wanted to interact with her treacherous lover after her death and suddenly her lover dies and this made her sad. As she is not harmful to others, it is clear that she may not have been killed i.e. the capsizing would have been a mishap. Here a question arises; why did Morrison send the search party in the morning instead of sending at night?

    Reply

  8. Anonymous

    Maybe she died from eating too many donuts from Eagle Bay Donuts

    Reply

  9. Anonymous

    In the mid 1970’s I had two close encounters with Grace Brown’s ghost at her home in South Ostenic, NY:
    I was awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of steps on the stairs between the first and second floors of the house.
    Some months later, again at Grace’s home, I was playing cards with 3 friends in the dining room when we heard the rattling and banging of pots and pans in the kitchen. Upon checking the kitchen, of course we witnessed no one there. But what exactly were those kitchen noises in a house so far away from its neighbors?

    Reply

  10. Karyn Jean Sparks

    Are you sure it was him who killed her maybe something happened maybe man waved down need some help wacked stick with him with head wood he drag to him into the woods then guy took her middle of the lake thought was her lover was not killed her with wood! Swim away her lover awoke up didn’t know what happened then walked to the hotel room got his stuff got in car. Probably going to tell the sheriff next day!

    Reply

  11. very intersting story

    This story has intrigued me for years. I even got chesters prison diaries. She obviously is aware she is dead because she appears to people and extinguishes lights. Why though? Chester got excecuted and her justice was served. What more could she possibly want? My grandmas house was haunted by a pilgrim and he was violent in his hauntings. He wanted her and her family outta that house. Grace isn’t violent. She just appears looking sad and turns off lights. Her ghostly nature seems pretty much like her human nature. I guess ghosts are like people. Who knows why some of them do what they do.

    Reply

    • Catherine J Fusco

      “”””A Place in The Sun””.. was Grace Brown the unattractive control freak as depicted in movie by Shelly Winters?..I read this story many years ago..however I heard she was beautiFULL but that wouldn’t fit with the storyline script..{movie}..The trial courtroom scene was aggravating ..But Monte played his role as he did his many roles as if he were the character stellar performances by cast and especially Monte..Grace Brown’s ghost was seen by many.vacationers in the Adarondaks..{spellllling may be incorrect} ha..sorry restless spirit of Grace Brown..as many spirits are restless ..having returned to the place they died and or where they were most happiest..case in Point {Mary Queen Of Scots} Mary Stewart…….This sight””” is great..Intelligent comments..inquiring minds..wanna know….

      Reply

  12. Phoebe Moody

    I believe that she’s not at peace … and might even still be in shock over what happened to her at the hands of someone she dearly loved and trusted. She might not even fully understand exactly what happened. She still feels “alive” and might not realize she has passed on. Her sadness stems from the fact that the last thing she remembers was being assaulted by the man she thought she was going to marry …. and the next thing she knew was that he had apparently abandoned her at the lake and now she cannot find him. There is no sense of time for those who have passed …. so she probably even believes that it’s 1906. A good psychic medium could go there and communicate in a compassionate manner with her and literally explain the situation to her …. and then gently persuade her to go into the Light and move on to the Other Side where she can reunite with those who love her. It’s quite amazing …. the basic similarities between this story and that of Lacey Rocha and Scott Peterson. Chester Gillette and Scott Peterson even share the same dark good looks. It is said that the personality does not change and can be reborn into a new physical body until it finally learns it’s lesson and chooses to evolve. Until then …. they just remain the same type of person and keeps repeating the same type of behavior and making the same kind of mistakes lifetime after lifetime. Gillette hit Grace in the head with a tennis racket and then tossed her body overboard into the water and left her there. He even laughed during his trial and seemed completely unrepentant about what he had done. On the other hand …. Scott Peterson told a cell mate that HE hit Lacey in the head with a golf club …. and then took her body out on the water in a small boat and dumped it overboard. During HIS trial …. he, too, was laughing and unrepentant about what HE had done. Both young men murdered the pregnant mother of their child because they did not want the responsibility of fatherhood …. and both men have been incarcerated on death row. There are many other similarities between the two stories — such as both men were seeing other women behind the back of the woman pregnant with their child. Like I said ….. the similarities are amazingly “coincidental”.

    Reply

  13. rob

    this case seems so like the movie : a Place in the Sun

    Reply

  14. mike hawk

    fake

    Reply

  15. halea

    I believe she already knew/knows what happened to her. I believe she is also grieving for her baby that also lost his/her life .

    Reply

  16. Gail Long

    i would love to read more about this story

    Reply

  17. Kiss Marianne

    It’s a true story.
    Dreiser had write a novel from it: American Tragedy the title.

    Reply

    • Stephanie

      This is a true story a sad but true story.. You should read Murder in the Adirondacks it gives a truer version of the story then “american tragedy did.” I look forward to going to big moose lake and finding out more.

      Reply

  18. Anonymous

    I would like to know more about Chester Gillette and how she haunted him. Enjoyed reading this story.

    Reply

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If you have questions, comments, or complaints concerning our privacy practices or if you wish to change, access, or remove your Personal Data, please contact us as indicated below.  We will attempt, where practical, to respond to your requests and to provide you with additional privacy related information.

Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. is the owner of this Website and retains all ownership rights to the information collected at this Website. Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. reserves the right to change, modify, add, or remove provisions of this Privacy Statement. Any changes to this Privacy Statement will be posted here, and we encourage you to check back from time to time. In addition, Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. will notify registered users of changes as they occur.

We allow third-party companies to serve ads and/or collect certain anonymous information when you visit our web site. These companies may use non-personally identifiable information (e.g., click stream information, browser type, time and date, subject of advertisements clicked or scrolled over) during your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services likely to be of greater interest to you. These companies typically use a cookie or third party web beacon to collect this information. To learn more about this behavioral advertising practice or to opt-out of this type of advertising, you can visit networkadvertising.org. Your use of the site constitutes your agreement to accept cookies, beacons and third-party advertising. Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. assumes no responsibility for third-party ads.

ARTICLE 1. Personalization
1.1 We may use the contact information you give us to better tailor your Website experience to your interests, and to send you information about Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. and its services as well as promotional material on behalf of some of our partners. We may use other information that you provide to us to show you content in which you may be interested and to display the content according to your preferences. We will also share this information within Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. in order to enhance your experience on this and other Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. Websites.
1.2 In addition, we may share this information with advertisers or other third parties that are not part of the Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. family on an aggregate or other basis that does not disclose your identity or contact information.

ARTICLE 2. Online Surveys/Contests
2.1 From time to time, we may conduct online surveys and contests. These may ask you for contact information (like name or email address) and demographic information (like zip code or age).
2.2 We may use this contact information from our surveys and contests to provide you with information about our company and promotional material on behalf of some of our partners, and to contact you when necessary.

ARTICLE 3. Shopping/Commercial Services
3.1 This Website may offer shopping services, which may be offered by us or by a firm that operates a store under contract with us. If our Website offers shopping or other commercial services, you will use a customer order form to request information, products, and services. The order form will ask you to give us contact information (like name or email address), financial information (like account or credit card numbers), and demographic information (like zip code or age).

3.2 We will use the financial information that you provide to bill you for products and services. By giving our Website your credit card and related personal information, you are authorizing our store to give that information to the merchant and credit card company in order to confirm and fulfill your order.

3.3 We will use contact information from the order form to fulfill your orders. We may also use contact data to get in touch with you when necessary. We will not otherwise use or distribute your financial information without your prior approval.

ARTICLE 4. Public forums
4.1 This Website may make available chat rooms, blogs, forums, message boards, and news groups. Please remember that any information that you disclose in these areas becomes public information and you should exercise caution when deciding to disclose your personal information. Information disclosed by you or by others enters the public domain and may be freely used by any other persons or entities using the site.

ARTICLE 5. Information Sharing With Third Parties
5.1 From time to time we may enter into a special relationship with another company that is not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. to provide additional features at this Website. These special relationships may include “powered by” partners, business partners, sponsors, and co-branded sites (referred to here as “co-branded pages”). These might include, for example, pages that share our name and that of another entity. You should look for a specific privacy statement on any such co-branded page. Any personal information that you provide when signing up at one of those co-branded pages may be shared with our third party partner. You should also check our partner’s website for information regarding its privacy policies.

5.2 Also, the nature of some features of our Website may require that we share personal information about you with persons or companies outside of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. For example, this may occur at a feature that enables you, via our Website, to ask questions of persons or entities that are not part of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. By responding to those features of the site, whether by email or direct entry of information on our Website, you are consenting to our transferring that information to such persons or entities.

5.3 With respect to specific registration modules, like contests, we may disclose personal information collected, and we may post a conspicuous statement on the registration module to the effect that we will be disclosing the information collected with third parties.

5.4 Finally, we may share any of the information collected from you with these other non- Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc companies in an aggregate basis. The aggregated information is not linked to any information that can identify you.

ARTICLE 6. IP Address and Log Files
6.1 We may use your IP address to administer our Website, to help diagnose problems with our server, to analyze trends, to track users’ webpage movements, to help identify you and your shopping cart, and to gather broad demographic information for aggregate use.

ARTICLE 7. Cookies
7.1 This Website may use a standard technology called a “cookie” to collect information about how you use the Website. Cookies reside on your computer and help our Website to recognize your computer’s browser as a previous visitor. This information allows us to customize delivery of information. For example, our Website may use cookies to save and remember registration information or preferences that you may have set while browsing the Website, to keep track of your shopping cart, to ensure you don’t see the same ad content repeatedly, to deliver content specific to your interests, and to save your password so you do not have to re-enter it each time you visit our site. We use cookies only to gather information as indicated in this policy.

7.2 In addition, on occasion our site may also set a “session cookie” which helps us administer the Website. The session cookie expires when you close your browser and does not retain any information about you after it expires.

7.3 Finally, we may also use an ad network provider to help present advertisements on this and other Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. websites. This ad network provider, like other advertising service vendors, uses cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies on the hard drive of your computer to serve you advertisements tailored to interests you have shown by browsing on this and other sites you have visited, and to determine whether you have seen a particular advertisement before and to avoid sending you duplicate advertisements. In doing so, the provider collects non-personal data such as your browser type, your operating system, web pages visited, time of visits, content viewed, ads viewed, and other clickstream data. The use of cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies by these ad network providers is subject to their own privacy policies, not ours, and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. assumes no responsibility for the collection or use of such information.

ARTICLE 8. Banner Advertising
8.1 We have contracted with an ad-service to place banner advertising on our Website. All of the data provided and generated by the ad-server software remains in our possession. This feature of our Website may, on occasion, set “cookies” on your computer. Any information collected or stored by the ad-service or the cookies is treated in the same manner as other information described in this statement.

ARTICLE 9. Children’s Personal Information
9.1 Consistent with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act:

9.1.1 This site does NOT collect, use, or disclose personal information (including online contact information) of children under the age of thirteen (13).

9.1.2 In the event that a child under the age of 13 attempts to register on our site, we will NOT accept the registration and will delete information received from the child.

9.1.3 In the event that a child posts personal information in a public forum such as a chat room, we will attempt to delete that information once we become aware of it.

ARTICLE 10. Security of Your Personal Information
10.1 Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. employs reasonable security measures consistent with standard industry practice, for information collected through this Website. We believe that we have adequate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of the information we collect on our Website. We also use internal protections to limit access to users’ personal information to only those employees who need the information to perform a specific job.

ARTICLE 11. Sale or Merger
11.1 If this Website is sold to, or merges with, another company not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc., you should expect that some or all of the information collected from this Website may be transferred to the buyer/surviving company. If so, CMP will seek to obligate the acquiring company to use any personal information transferred by this Website in a manner consistent with this statement, but cannot guarantee that it will be able to impose that requirement or that the acquiring company will comply.

ARTICLE 12. Legal Process
12.1 You should be aware that Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. may be required to disclose your personal information to the government or third parties under certain circumstances, such as in court or regulatory proceedings.

ARTICLE 13.  Contacting the Website

13.1        If you have any questions about this Privacy Statement, the practices of this Website, or your dealings with this Website, please contact us at: unsolved@unsolved.com.

ARTICLE 14.  general information

14.1        Choice of Law:  This Agreement and the Additional Terms shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of California , as it is applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within such state, without regard to conflict of law principles.

14.2        Choice of Forum:  You agree that any cause of action you or Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. brings to enforce this Agreement and/or the Additional Terms, or in connection with any matters related to this Website and/or the Privacy Statement, shall be submitted to arbitration in the County of Los Angeles, State of California, United States of America in accordance with the commercial rules and regulations of the American Arbitration Association then in effect (as amended herein), provided that said arbitration shall be heard before a single arbitrator, who shall be a retired judge, selected pursuant to such rules and regulations, and shall be conducted on an expedited basis and in confidence. The arbitrator’s decision shall be controlled by the terms and conditions of this agreement and any other agreements I may enter into with you, and shall be final and binding, and shall provide for each party to bear its own costs of arbitration and attorneys’ fees.  Each party expressly waives any right to a jury.  Judgment upon the award of the arbitrator may be entered or enforced in any court of competent jurisdiction. 

14.4        If any provision of this Agreement, or the application thereof to any person or circumstances, is held invalid or for any reason unenforceable then such provision shall be deemed superseded by a valid, enforceable provision that matches, as closely as possible, the original provision, and the other provisions of this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect.  The failure of either party to insist upon strict performance of any provision of this Agreement shall not be construed as a waiver of any provision or right.  Unless expressly provided otherwise, this Agreement is the entire agreement between you and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. with respect to the use of this Website and shall not be modified except in writing, signed by an authorized representative of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc.

ARTICLE 15.  European Union and Other Foreign Nations

15.1        This Website is governed by and operated in accordance with the laws of United States of America and is intended for enjoyment of residents of the United States.  Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. makes no representation that this Website is governed by or operated in accordance with the laws of other nations.  By using this Website and submitting any personal information, visitors from outside of the United States acknowledge this Website is subject to U.S. law, consent to the transfer of personal data to the U.S., and waive any claims that may arise under their own national laws.