Saturday, September 08, 2018

The Mysterious Disappearance of Theodosia Burr Alston

Theodosia Burr Alston

The disappearance of Theodosia Burr Alston, the daughter of disgraced U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr, is one of history’s continuing mysteries.

Theodosia was considered an intellectual prodigy in a time when women rarely received anything but a marginal education. At the age of eighteen she married James Alston who would become the 44th Governor of South Carolina. In 1807 her father, Aaron Burr was tried for treason, and although found innocent, went into self-imposed exile. Theodosia acted as Burr’s agent in America, raising money and raising support among the political elite for his return to America.

In December 1812 Theodosia boarded the schooner Patriot bound from South Carolina to New York. Neither Theodosia nor anyone onboard the Patriot was ever heard from again. Legend has surrounded her disappearance ever since, including tales that: (1) she was captured by pirates and became the mistress of a pirate captain; (2) she was made to “walk the plank” by the pirate Dominique Youx; (3) she was discovered by a Karankawa Indian chief on the Texas Gulf Coast in the hulk of a wrecked ship but died before she could be returned to civilization;and (4) Theodosia Burr Alston may have been the Mysterious Female Stranger who died in Alexandria at Gadsby's Tavern on October 14, 1816. The Female Stranger was buried in St. Paul's Cemetery with a gravestone inscription:

To the Memory of a


whose mortal sufferings terminated

on the 14th day of October 1816

Aged 23 years and 8 months.

This stone is placed here by her disconsolate

Husband in whose arms she sighed out her

latest breath and who under God

did his utmost even to soothe the cold

dead ear of death.

How loved how valued once avails thee not

To whom related or by whom begot

A heap of dust alone remains of thee

Tis all thou art and all the proud shall be

To him gave all the Prophets witness that

through his name whosoever believeth in

him shall receive remission of sins.

Acts.10th Chap.43rd verse

Grave of the Female Stranger

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