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The Death of Gracie Brown

Updated on July 11, 2016

Mysterious 1906 Drowning of Grace Brown and the Ghost of Moose Lake

A young and lovely factory worker, Grace Brown was in a serious romantic relationship with Chester Gillette. Gillette was seeing other women, while the kind and reserved Gracie was faithful to Gillette. After they had been seeing each other for some time, Ms Brown became pregnant. Gillette had no intention of marrying Ms Brown, but fooled her into thinking he would. It was while on a trip to the Adirondacks when they were supposedly going to Marry that the tragedy happened.

Ms Brown and Gillette were on a boat ride on Moose Lake when their boat capsized and Ms Brown drowned. Gillette was later tried and put to death for her murder.

There have been many reports of sightings at the lake of the ghost of Gracie. Some as recent as 1988 tell of a great sadness about her. It is as if her soul is forever trapped at Moose lake because of the circumstances surrounding her death.

Grace Brown - School Days
Grace Brown - School Days

A Beautiful Young Lady

Her Death a Horrible Tragedy

As you can see from this photo from her school days, Ms Gracie Brown was a beautiful young girl. It is easy to see why the flamboyant Gillette fell for her, and she him.

The tragedy is not only the untimely death of Grace, and then of her Murderer, but the loss of their unborn child and what they could have been as a family, were it not for the young man's selfish and evil acts.

Gracie's Ghost must continue to mourn for her child and her lost love.... as she continues to show herself and her sadness to those who still report seeing her on the still waters of Moose Lake more than 100 years later.

The ghost of Gracie has been seen drowning, wandering the lake-shore, visiting small cottages nearby, where she seems to try to extinguish all the lights. Is she searching for her lover? Or perhaps the child she did not get to bear? I wonder if ghosts have the capacity to think or if they are more of a memory - particles of a lost soul clinging together by passion, not able to let go. May Gracie find peace and a restful existence, somewhere beyond the silver lake.

Moose Lake - Hauntingly Serene

Moose Lake - Hauntingly Serene
Moose Lake - Hauntingly Serene

An American Tragedy

In An American Tragedy, Dreiser sets out to outline the pathos of an American Dream gone wrong. In Clyde Griffiths, you have Everyman, someone who strives to rise from poverty to riches, from anonymity to wealth. But to reach that goal, he resorts to falsehood,adultery and murder.

An American Tragedy (Signet Classics)
An American Tragedy (Signet Classics)

The first attempt to tell this complex and haunting tale.


Have you ever seen a ghost? - Or felt a strange presence?

Or do you not believe in ghosts?

Have You Ever Seen a Ghost, or Felt a Ghostly Presence

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From Miss Brown's Letter to Gillette

"Oh, dear, you don't realize what all of this is to me. I know I shall never see any of them again."

"If I come back dead perhaps if she knows she (Miss Brown's Mother) won't be angry with me. I will never be happy again dear. I wish I could die."

Adirondack Tragedy: The Gillette Murder Case of 1906 - Contains the full letter exchange between our tragic lovers

Adirondack Tragedy: The Gillette Murder Case of 1906
Adirondack Tragedy: The Gillette Murder Case of 1906

Quote from black box above is from this book


The Trailer - for A Place in the Sun

The cast of this movie is phenomenal!

Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, Shelly Winters (a real breakout role for her!), Raymond Burr (remember "Ironside"? this is him much younger!)

Get the DVD - and watch Gracie come to life again and again!

The story is changed, but the character based on Gracie is played by Shelly Winters. This movie was awarded the first ever Golden Globe!

Please share your thoughts~ - On Grace's story, or on Ghosts...

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      I didn't know about this old murder and how it related to these literary pieces. Interesting.

    • Louis Wery profile image

      Louis Wery 7 years ago from Sarasota, Florida USA

      Interesting to learn the background for "A Place in the Sun." Thank you for retelling this sad ghost story.