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The Friendly (& Unfriendly) Ghosts of Key West

Posted on: October 7th , 2019 | History
The Friendly (& Unfriendly) Ghosts of Key West

Key West has a long history, and with it comes some skeletons in the closet. Stories with odd narratives you could only expect in Key “Weird” are the focal points of the island’s numerous ghost tours.

Here’s a look at the island’s most interesting ghosts (some friendly, others not so much) and where to find them.

Robert the Doll 

Fort East Martello Museum
We'll put Robert in the "not-so-friendly" category. This allegedly haunted doll has scared the bejesus out of the general public for decades. Gifted to a young boy on the island back in 1904, Robert the Doll is said to regularly change his facial expression, move all on his own, and has been heard giggling. He's also picky about who takes his picture, and many folks believe to be cursed by him after snapping a photo. He’s so infamous that he’s been the subject of films, television shows, attracting ghost hunters, psychics and the curious from far and wide.

Ernest Hemingway

The Hemingway Home & Museum
While Robert the Doll is every bit creepy, the Hemingway ghost is as laid-back as they come. Before news of Hemingway’s death in 1961 reached the island, neighbors had reportedly seen Papa on his second-floor veranda. Turns out it may have been a mirage. Since then, the late writer has been spotted in the same place, sometimes giving a polite wave to passersby. His late second wife and journalist Pauline Pfeiffer, is also reportedly seen at times smoking cigarettes in the backyard.

Lady in Blue

Capt. Tony’s Saloon
This old-time bar on Greene Street has a lot of mystery surrounding it, some tall tales likely invented by its late, great owner and former mayor, Capt. Tony. Regardless, The Lady in Blue is said to frequent the bar, specifically around its famed hanging tree. Legend says the tree was used as a lynching post for those guilty of piracy in olden days. The Lady in Blue was hanged from the tree after killing her children and husband. Today, she’s believed to haunt the premises. What do you think? We recommend you go in and have a drink and see for yourself.

Barbara Mabrity

Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters Museum
This friendly ghost is believed to be the former lighthouse keeper, Barbara Mabrity. She held the position for nearly 40 years after taking over for her late husband in 1832, who died from yellow fever. Alone with her six children, she maintained the lighthouse and carried out all the duties of her position, scaling its 88 steps daily. Mabrity braved powerful hurricanes and tropical storms, even escaping the lighthouse before it crumbled in 1846. Mabrity retired from her post when she was 80 years old and died three years later. Today, people say they can hear the lighthouse keeper climbing the stairs.

Key West has lots more intriguing ghost stories. Curious to learn more? Go on a ghost tour for a fun, interactive way to learn about the history of Key West and its alleged haunts. See your options for a thrilling nighttime activity!

If you’re traveling to Key West without a car, make sure to check out specials at 24 North – we offer continuous shuttle service into town and much more.

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