The ghost of Grace Brown

by Marc Hoover 13 days ago in urban legend

Grace still roams the Big Moose Lake in New York where she was murdered

The ghost of Grace Brown
Grace Brown and Chester Gillette

For over 100 years, people claim to have seen the ghost of a woman named Grace Brown. She was murdered at the Big Moose Lake many years ago. People have reported seeing her ghost roaming the shore of the lake while others claim to have seen a ghostly woman drowning in the lake. So, what happened to Grace Brown and why are people still fascinated by her?

And what does she want? No one knows.

On the morning of July 11, 1906, it was a beautiful morning at the Big Moose Lake outside Herkimer, New York. A young couple had rented a rowboat from a man named Robert Morrison. The couple took the boat out on the lake and never returned. Morrison became concerned. Morrison and a group of people climbed aboard Morrison’s steamboat to locate the missing couple.

The rescue group located the missing rowboat. It was overturned and there was no sign of the couple. But one rescuer saw something in the water. Someone lowered a spiked pole into the water and recovered the missing woman. She was deceased. The crew loaded the dead woman on to the boat. The searchers didn’t locate her male companion. They returned to shore and called the authorities.

Authorities noticed the body had cuts on her forehead and mouth as if someone had struck her. Morrison also mentioned he thought it strange the man had brought along a suitcase and a tennis racket. Police visited the Glenmore Hotel where the couple had checked in. Carl Grahm and Grace Brown had registered at the hotel.

The police located the woman’s employer. She had worked at the Gillette Skirt Company. Although Grace Brown worked at the factory, no one named Carl Grahm did. Authorities learned Brown was involved with a man named Chester Gillette, who was the factory owner’s nephew.

Did Grace Brown accidentally drown?

The police located Chester Gillette and questioned him about Grace Brown. When police interviewed Gillette, he said Brown was pregnant with his child. He claimed she was emotional and committed suicide by jumping from the boat. The police were suspicious because Gillette didn’t appear upset about her death. But after they found his broken tennis racket buried near the shore, they arrested Gillette immediately. Grace Brown’s death soon became one of the most fascinating crime stories in the early 1900s. The media descended on the story like a plague of locusts.

Chester Gillette had come from a Christian family. His parents were wealthy until they gave up their material goods and traveled with the Salvation Army. But Chester wanted the finer things in life. He wandered through life until he became employed at his uncle’s factory.

Gillette then began a sexual relationship with Grace Brown, a woman who also worked at the factory. But she meant nothing to him. He was a womanizer. Other workers witnessed Gillette raising his voice at Brown. After she became pregnant, Gillette became concerned about his social status. He wanted to marry someone with wealth who came from a good family. Gillette realized Brown could interfere with his plans.

He had asked Grace to join him on a romantic getaway at Moose Lake. She assumed he wanted to propose marriage to her. Unfortunately, Grace Brown loved the wrong man and it would lead to Chester Gillette being charged with murdering Grace.

Chester Gillette goes on trial for murder

On November 12, 1906, Chester Gillette went on trial for killing Grace Brown. The prosecutor argued that he killed her because she stood in the way of his rise in social status. The defense argued that Gillette didn’t kill Brown intentionally. Supposedly they had gone to the lake to discuss future plans. After Brown had jumped into the lake to kill herself, Gillette went in after her. He left her in the lake after losing sight of her. The defense claimed his only crime was bad judgment and cowardice.

On December 4, 1906, a jury convicted Gillette of murder. After Gillette’s appeals were exhausted, he died in the electric chair on March 30, 1908. Many years ago, I saw a movie titled “A Place in the Sun,” a fictitious movie based on the story of Gillette and Brown. The Grace Brown story was the tragic story about a woman who fell in love with the wrong man. It’s a timeless tale that occurs often.

If you believe in ghosts, you can always visit the Big Moose Lake in New York. You never know, you just might see the spirit of a distraught woman named Grace Brown.

urban legend
Marc Hoover
Marc Hoover
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Marc Hoover

Marc Hoover is a Hooper award winning columnist for the Clermont Sun newspaper in Ohio. Contact him at or through Facebook: Marc also has a podcast called Catch my Killer.

See all posts by Marc Hoover