Woman credited with making Niagara Falls a honeymoon destination died mysteriously


Published March 7, 2023 at 3:27 pm

Theodosia Burr Alston is the woman credited with making Niagara Falls the "Honeymoon Capital of the World."

The woman credited with turning Niagara Falls into a honeymoon destination was also the daughter of a disgraced American Vice President and in the end, died under very mysterious circumstances.

Theodosia Burr Alston, born on June 21, 1783, is the woman credited with helping Niagara Falls become the “Honeymoon Capital of the World.”

After she married Joseph Alston, a wealthy landowner from South Carolina, in 1801, she suggested they honeymoon at Niagara Falls, becoming the first recorded couple to do so.

A few years later, she nudged Jerome Bonaparte, Napoleon’s younger brother, and his bride, Elizabeth Patterson, to do likewise and honeymoon at the Falls.

Historians believe this became the start of a trend with couples connecting Niagara Falls with the notion of being the ultimate romantic getaway.

As for her father, U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr, it seems he was the author of his own downfall. He became a fierce political rival of Alexander Hamilton, who ran the American Treasury for America’s first President, George Washington.

Burr and Hamilton butted heads often in the early days of American politics due to philosophical differences but it all came to a head when Burr ran for governor of New York in 1804. Hamilton campaigned against him, calling him unworthy and that became enough for the pair to have a duel with pistols.

Burr won and Hamilton died but the aftermath of their duel lead to Burr falling out of public favour. A few years later, he was tried and acquitted for treason and eventually he fled to Europe to live in exile.

As for Theodosia Burr Alston, the fate of her father played a role in her death. Eventually, he returned to New York and she wanted to see him after his absence. Long bouts of illness had made her weak and the loss of a young son had her grieving.

Since her husband could not leave his post as brigadier general of the state militia and the newly elected governor of South Carolina during the War of 1812, she boarded the schooner Patriot all by herself as it was sailing to New York.

The Patriot was never seen again after it left the port of Georgetown, South Carolina and from that day forward, newspapers titillated readers with lurid stories of her alleged fate, including captivity, murder, and deathbed confessions of former pirates.

While some simply believed the Patriot sunk at sea during a storm, more salacious accounts had the schooner captured by pirates and Burr Alston forced to walk the plank. Another had her being held captive in Bermuda by one pirate who made her his mistress.

What’s the truth? No one knows for sure as her tragic disappearance has remained a mystery for over 200 years.

Did Theodosia Burr Alston have to walk the plank after being captured by
pirates? This illustration from the time period was attached to a newspaper
article that seemed to think so.

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