Theodosia Burr Alston was supposedly lost at sea in 1813. Yet 3 years later, a mysterious man and woman arrived in Alexandria, Virginia shrouded in secrecy and oaths to not reveal her identity just before she passed away. Her gravesite is know as the “Female Stranger” and some speculate that she is actually the lost daughter of Aaron Burr, former Vice President of the United States.
Join us as we visit this gravesite and talk about what may have been.
Female Stranger Gravesite: 0:13
Finding the Grave of Theodosia?: 1:16
Burr and Hamilton in the musical: 3:01
What happened to Theodosia?: 4:50
Gadsby’s Tavern: 7:10
Life after Theodosia: 9:22
Episode 95 – Theodosia Burr
Episode 95 – Theodosia Burr
Jenn: Today we’ll talk about the female stranger, her grave, and her connection to Erin Burr from Alexandria, Virginia.
According to legend, a young couple arrived in Alexandria, Virginia by ship in 1816, rented a room in Gatsby’s Tavern, room eight at 1 38 North Royal Street, and I will take you there. Of course, the woman was gravely. Her husband hired a local doctor to help care for her and on the condition. The doctor asked no question about his or his wife identities.
She eventually died on October 14th, 1816. Her husband borrowed money from a local businessman to bury her in town, repaying him. With a note from the Bank of England, the couple had secluded themselves in the room at Gadsby’s Tavern, and their presence at the tavern became rumor for speculation. Her grave is here.
At St. Paul’s Episcopal Church section of the Town Cemetery. There’s many theories of the woman’s identity, but most notably it’s Theo Doza Burr Alston, the daughter of former Vice President Aaron Burr, who was mysterious lost at Sea at 1813. So the entrance is at Wilkes in Hamilton, you can see right here.
And you have a bunch of signs here for the different cemeteries that are here. That’s why it’s not. St. Paul Cemetery sign. It’s the second one, so not with the arrow. It’s the one where you actually get to St. Paul’s Cemetery when you’re looking for the grave of the female stranger. You need to come down Hamilton until you see this sign.
St. Paul’s Cemetery established 1809. It’s right across from the Presbyterian Cemetery, 1809. I think this is Episcopal and this is Presbyterian. You can see the road out there and you have to come ways. And when you make that first left at the sign that says St. Paul Cemetery, it’s gonna be your first right, and then she is the second grave.
Says in memory of a female stranger whose mortal sufferings terminated on the 14th of October 18, 16, age 23 years in eight months. This stone is placed here by. This consultant husband whose arm she side out her lastest breath, a heap of dust alone remains of thee to all thou art and all the proud shall be to him, gave all the prophets, witnessed that through his name, who should ever believe it in him shall receive remission of sins.
Do you know the famous song from Hamilton Theo to say to you? That song from Hamilton sung by Aaron Burr, the character playing Aaron Burr is talking about his daughter Theo Doza. And Theo Doza Burr is a, a. Central character in the song. She’s not really essential character in the show, but her real life is something that musicals are made out of.
Erin Burr is in a relationship with, uh, the wife of a British officer, and that is true. The British officer dies. He marries her. Her name is Theo Doza Prevost. A year after they’re married, their daughter, Theo Doza Burr is born named after her mother. Her mother is named after her. Uh, Theo Dosis. So that’s where you get Theo Doza.
Theo Doza is uh, Burr and his wife’s only chil child because she is nine years his senior. She already has five children from her previous marriage. After Aaron Burr is the vice president, he runs into some problems and is brought up on charges and kind of runs. England. In the meantime, Theo Doza gets married and she marries Joseph Austin, a wealthy landowner from South Carolina.
She marries him in 1801. Well, by the time of the war of 1812, he becomes governor of South Carolina in 1813. They have one child together. Aaron Burr all. Then he’s born in 1802, but then he dies in 1812. He dies of malaria. He’s only 10 years old, so Aaron Burr comes back to America in the end of 1812 and her son has been, had passed away in the summer of 1812.
So Theo Doza decides to make the trip to visit her father. When she’s feeling better and more, well, her husband’s just been sworn in as governor of South Carolina on December 10th, 1812, but it’s on December 31st, 1812 that Theo Doza Burr Alston sails on the schooner patriot from South Carolina to visit her father in New York, and the patriot is lost at sea.
All those on board were never seen.
The captain decided to make a rapid return to New York with his cargo. It was heavily laden and there was reports of a very bad storm, the first and second day of January off the coast of Hatteras, North Carolina, and that’s where they believed the ship was lost off the co, the coast of Hatteras, North Carolina.
We also have a video there about the graveyard of the Atlantic. . So if you wanna watch that video, it tells you just how bad that water was, the shoals there, and how it could be a place where ships could be lost. But immediately, fork lore started to, what happened to the ship, what happened to the people?
And there were some deathbed confessions that the, that. Pirates had taken over the Patriot. Uh, there was a very well dressed woman on board, very well spoken, and there are accounts that they just killed her, their accounts that made her walk the plane, and she did so with such dignity and grace. There was a woman who eventually passed away off the coast of Hatteras and had.
Portrait of what people believe is Theo Doza Burr, and she said that her father had got it off a shipwrecked ship that had washed up onto the banks of North Carolina. So as a female stranger, people equate to her because this woman was well spoken and she was well dressed and refined. Now this is 1816 and I told you the Patriot went down in 1813.
Could it be her? It says 28 years old. Theo Doza at the time would be 33 years old, but age at that time is kind of really what you say it is. There’s no way to verify that. Yeah. Theo Doza is never found. Her son is buried in South Carolina and her husband will stay on as governor of South Carolina.
So right behind me is Gatsby’s Tavern, and this is room eight where the female stranger stayed at. It’s a complex of hick. Historic buildings, 1 34 and 1 38 North Royal Street in the corner of Cameron Street in the Old Town District of Alexandria. It includes the 1785 Tavern and the 1792 City Tavern and Hotel.
So this would be where in 1816, that couple rented a room and stayed here in room. Where the woman quickly deteriorated and then she would pass away on October 14th, 1816. So the infamous woman, it says on her deathbed, she made people surrounding her swear in oath they would never reveal her identity.
And so that’s why people believe it could be Theo Doza Burr is cuz she made people swear never to reveal her identity. The promise was kept and her grave as a table life structure at St. Paul’s C.
So you know, who are the famous guests of Gatsby’s Tavern, right? Why did I eat here for my birthday? I’m a famous guest now. George Washington frequently visited this tavern. And twice attended the ac the annual birth night ball held in his honor. So for his birthday, he came here twice for a ball in his honor.
Um, other prominent customers were John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. And the Marquis de Lafayette was also a guest to the Tavern during his tour of the States in 1824. So if you’re ever in the area and want to be another famous guest, a Gadsby’s Tavern, it’s here waiting for you.
Tell him, Jen, from Walk With History, sent you. Aaron Burr had a, you know, tragic life after his rise to fame as vice president. He falls after that, especially after his, uh, due with Alexander Hamilton, but to lose his daughter, for her daughter to lose her son, and then to lose his daughter. So that was a very interesting story and history about a very famous person from a very famous musical that we talk about today.
So if you’re ever wondering what happened to Theo Doza Burr, the mystery is still out there. But if you’re ever in Alexandria, Virginia, you can come visit the female stranger grave. It’s here waiting for you onto my next walk with history.