a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Monday, October 24, 2011

The ghost of Dolley Madison ranks No. 1 in D.C.

Binnie the unconventional ghost tour guide leads a group of tourists in July around spooky LayFayette Square in Washington, D.C. (Scott Beveridge photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former U.S. First Lady Dolley Madison is spotted more around the nation's capital than many of Washington, D.C.'s, elites, even though her body has been interred in Congressional Cemetery since her 1849 death.

"The city of Washington is just in love with Dolley," said a tour guide named Binnie, who leads paying visitors around supposed haunted sites near the White House. "She's one of the most prolific ghosts in D.C."

The nation first became enamored with Dolley when she served as First Lady under Thomas Jefferson. Her first husband had died three years into their marriage, leaving her alone to raise a son until she became the famous bride of James Madison, the nation's fourth president who authored the Constitution.

Binnie wears a long red period dress as she discusses Dolley in Layfette Square, where Mrs. Madison spent her remaining years after that son squandered their money and left her to charity. But, Binnie has an unconventional style, chattering away sometimes in ghetto lingo, while sporting a tattoo on her right forearm and a modern blue paisley cotton tote bag off a shoulder.

She admits her style is her own. She insists the history behind her stories actually happened.

While destitute, men delivered free baskets of food to Dolley, probably the same guys she helped to educate when they were children under her platform of improving the schools in poor, local neighborhoods. Her educational charity work defined the roll of the First Lady, Binnie explains while working for Washington, D.C. Ghost Tours.

Today visitors to Lafayette Square claim to see the ghost of Dolley Madison rocking on a porch at the pale-yellow Cutts-Madison House at 721 Madison Place NW, where she spent her final years. Others claim to see her headless ghost in town, staring from a window. Her ghost apparently also has been spotted roaming the White House gardens, becoming angry at the sight of a gardener merely plucking a rose.

People have reported witnessing so many ghosts in this part of town that it has become known as "Tragedy Square."

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