Spooky spots, dark tales and hidden history
in western Queens
Photo via Shutterstock You know Astoria for its modern townhouses and building complexes, its vast cultural diversity, the bike lanes
and, of course, the sprawling waterside Astoria Park, but you may not know its past, with large plantations,
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Our Haunted History
The Hallett family
Mitch Waxman, of the Newtown Pentacle,
said when he first moved to the
East Astoria neighborhood at 44th Street
between 35th Avenue and Broadway, he
asked his favorite conversation starter,
“Have you ever seen a ghost?” Several
of his neighbors said yes, and he realized
they were all describing the same
ghost, a pregnant, Colonial-era woman in
a white dress.
One of Waxman’s neighbors, a lifelong
resident, said that his mother remembers
feeling the ghost’s protective presence in
the room when he and his brother were
sick in bed as young children.
Another neighbor, a doctor, had a
spookier experience. He reported seeing
the ghost in the middle of the night in his
bedroom. She came toward the foot of
the bed, and then he felt his feet tingle
and shake uncontrollably. She disappeared
through his mirror.
The ghost traces back to the true,
documented story of the Hallett family.
William Hallett moved to Astoria in mid-
17th century for safety with his new wife,
Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake Hallett,
the niece and daughter-in-law of prominent
John Winthrop, Massachusetts Bay
Colony’s first governor.
She had divorced her second husband on
the grounds of insanity. However, it turned
out that insanity was not a legal excuse
for separation, according to Marie Carter,
an Astoria resident and a tour guide with
Boroughs of the Dead who leads the tour
Haunting Histories and Legends of Astoria.
Elizabeth Hallett was technically guilty
of polygamy, which was punishable by
hanging where the couple lived in Connecticut,
Carter said. The pair fled to Astoria,
where they bought land from Peter
Stuyvesant and developed a large estate.
Two generations later, William Hallett
III upset his slaves by forbidding them
to go to church on Sundays. In 1708, two
of their slaves viciously butchered Hallett
III’s entire family one night with an
axe, including his pregnant wife and five
children. The attackers, who committed
Queens’ first capital murder, were executed
just as brutally. The female slave was
hung at the stake, and the male slave was
hung in gibbets, where he was reported
to have hallucinations of riding a horse as
he bled, according to Carter.
People believe Hallett’s wife is the
“White Lady” still haunting the area.
By DANIELLE BRODY
complex relationships and deathly waters.
There are rumors and ghost stories in every city, and Astoria is no exception. Bob Singleton, executive director
of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, said most of the time, “the truth is more fascinating than fiction.”
In the spirit of Halloween, we dug up some haunted stories, rumors and spooky spots that are rooted in fact.