Henry Ward Beecher's frisky spirit is still lurking around Brooklyn Heights—according to some, he's haunting Plymouth Church, where he was the first pastor, starting in 1847. Beecher was a good guy, known for his support of the abolition of slavery, so you probably don't need to fear his ghost... however, in the 1870s he found himself in the center of a scandal. Beecher was the subject of a famous adultery trial, after allegedly having an affair with his friend Theodore Tilton's wife, Elizabeth (something she confessed to). Back in those days, one could sue for such a thing! And Theodore Tilton did just that.
For more on the backstory, here's Andrea Janes of Boroughs of the Dead:
One of the first documented sightings of Beecher's ghost was printed in Everybody's Magazine, a Brooklyn publication that ran from 1899 to 1929—it stated: "The ghost of Henry Ward Beecher has appeared to a former friend, and confided himself in his message to complaining that a certain coin, known as 'the widow's mite,' had not been returned to him." The ghost made no mention of a scandal.
This was one of the biggest sex scandals of its time, a famous "he said, she said" case that not only got plenty of ink at the time (here's one lengthy NY Times article), but has been the subject of books since.
It all ended with a hung jury, and Beecher was exonerated, but he still had to deal with the court of public opinion, and a scandal tainting his legacy. Though it's worth noting that if Beecher's spirit is still lingering because of all this, it's lingering in close proximity to not one, but two statues erected in tribute to him.
Janes runs her Boroughs of the Dead tours year round, in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens (with tours in the Bronx and Staten Island coming up soon).
Video by Jessica Leibowitz.