Ghostly Apparitions at West Point

Basement in Quarters 100.

Basement in Quarters 100, which is purported to be inhabited by the ghost of Thayer’s Irish maid, Molly. (Photo courtesy of Special Collections and Archives Department of USMA Library ca. 1965.)

Sleepy Hollow isn’t the only place in the Hudson Valley with sightings of ghostly apparitions and stories of otherworldly beings. According to legend, the old Morrison House (Quarters 107B) on Professors’ Row is sometimes inhabited by the ghost of a woman. One story claims that two servants who lived in the house in the 1920s became so frightened that they ran screaming from their room in the middle of the night. Father O’Keefe was called in to do an exorcism which reportedly sent the ghost to live under a railroad bridge on the east side of the Hudson.

Colonel Thayer’s quarters, in what is the current basement of Quarters 100, are also purported to be inhabited by the ghost of Thayer’s Irish maid, Molly. This female specter is said to muss the bedcovers in the “orderly room” and has even been accused of “borrowing” items and moving guests’ possessions. Perhaps she is unhappy about having extra visitors in the house.

In October of 1972, husband and wife team, Ed and Lorraine Warren, visited West Point to lecture on the supernatural. During that same visit the Warrens were asked to visit the Superintendent’s Quarters to investigate some unusual activity. Following the evening lecture the Warrens and a small group of officers and spouses returned to Quarters 100. Lorraine Warren closed her eyes and felt the presence of the ghost of a nineteenth-century soldier named Greer.

During this same month two first-year cadets, O’Connor & Victor, living in room 4714 in the 47th division, felt the presence of a phantom they described as a thin soldier, perhaps 5’ 6” in height, wearing a frayed full-dress coat and carrying a musket. On a subsequent evening upper- classmen slept in the room, and they too reported feeling the sensation of something otherworldly. The temperature of the room dropped from 27C to -18C. First Captain Joe Tallman and Deputy Brigade Commander Gary Newsom, who spent the night of November 6th in room 4714, were unmolested by the spirit. However, Cadet Jim O’Connor reported seeing the ghost on the wall of the room where he was staying. Perhaps the ghost was spooked by the upperclassmen.

Naval Academy Midshipman, William Gravell claimed responsibility for the ghost, saying he had created it using a slide, cheese cloth and a flashlight. West Point Cadets were not convinced by Gravell’s story. What do you think?

Content contributed by Elaine McConnell, Rare Books Curator