Local Legends: The Tale of the Fort Warren Ghost

George’s Island, one of the most-visited Boston Harbor Islands, is home to one of the city’s most legendary and prolific ghost stories: The Lady in Black. Rumor has it that this apparition still wanders the grounds of the Island in her black robes—terrifying those she comes in contact with. The story of her demise continues to mesmerize those who visit this mysterious island in Boston.


The Lady in Black or the late Mrs. Melanie Lanier was the devoted wife of a Confederate soldier. After she received a letter from her husband stating that he was imprisoned at Fort Warren on George’s Island, Mrs. Lanier was so moved to free him from captivity that she made the arduous journey from Georgia to Hull, Massachusetts – just minutes away from George’s Island.


One dark and stormy night, Mrs. Lanier, dressed as a man and sporting a new short haircut, decided to row from Hull to George’s Island toting her pickaxe and hiding a pistol. As her jailed husband hummed a southern tune to signal her, Mrs. Lanier made her way ashore to his cell with the help of some sympathetic Confederate soldiers she had befriended.

After being discovered by a Union officer, Mrs. Lanier captured him and held him at gunpoint, but the officer gained control of the pistol. The pistol went off, accidently killing Mrs. Lanier’s long-suffering husband.


As a penalty for her crimes, Mrs. Lanier was sentenced to death by hanging. She was granted her final request of being hung wearing female clothing, but all that could be found were black robes. She was executed and buried on George’s Island in these old robes, but did she really die? She has been seen wandering the island in her black robes many times since.

Find out for yourself if the story is true by visiting George’s Island—only a short ferry ride away from the Boxer—to increase your chances of witnessing this spellbinding ghost as she claims her territory.