Ghost stories haunt Capital Region

October 26, 2018 05:19 PM

Grizzly murders, a haunted mansion and time travel. It sounds like something out of Hollywood. However, these stories are straight out of the Capital Region. With less than a week to go until Halloween, ghost tours in area cities are filling up.



Long before there was an Empire State Plaza in Albany, the ground it was built on was home to public executions. The last happened in the 1800s when young Jesse Strang was hung for the murder of John Whipple.

The murder took place at the Cherry Hill mansion - still standing on South Pearl Street. Strang climbed to the top of woodshed behind the house - and shot through a window - hitting Whipple in the chest.

Whipple still haunts the mansion as a “missionary spirit,” because he knows that Strang killed him – so he has come back looking for him.

Strang was convicted - and hung.  He still roams the plaza grounds - perhaps seeking vengeance on Elsie, Whipple's wife and Strang's lover - who was complicit in the murder, but was acquitted.


A tale of forbidden love still haunts Schenectady. Late in the 1600s, young Alice VanderVeer - who lived in what is now the Stockade, left home one evening, headed for the banks of the Mohawk to secretly meet a young man.

Her father caught them and in a rage, shot and killed the suitor. Irate neighbors believed that VanderVeer and her father had conspired to off the young man and chased the duo - catching the father first. Then, they tied him to a tree and set him on fire, killing him.

Alice would face the same gruesome fate.

Tour Guide Suzanne Unger says the popular story now is that every year of the first full moon after the summer solstice, you can still see her running from a Stockade up to where the angry mob caught and killed her, in what is now known as Jackson's Garden on the Union College campus.


In Saratoga Springs, there’s a twist on the paranormal. Among the most popular stories is that of The Devil's Chair at Congress Park. It was once the cornerstone of a church that was to be erected there in the mid-1800s -- and once considered sacred by Native Americans.

However, when word came that a casino was to be built nearby, church leaders abandoned their plans -- but the cornerstone remained.

After the church left, presumably the devil took over.

Many who have dared to sit in The Devil's Chair have reported unusual experiences. That includes going back in time to around 1900. Of those, most who report this, are women.

One woman claims while back in time, she visited a Saratoga hotel, took a piece of stationery and wrote herself a letter that she then tucked beneath The Devil's Chair -- which she and her friends later recovered.

MORE INFORMATION: Ghosts of Albany | Schenectady County Historical Society | Haunted Saratoga Tours


Jerry Gretzinger & WNYT Staff

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