Francine In Retirement
Seeing Life Through Photography

Blennerhassett Mansion by Candlelight


I hope you will join me on my visit to Harman and Margaret Blennerhassetts’ island estate on the Ohio River, where they lived more than 200 years ago.

Board the “Island Belle” sternwheeler as we begin our journey to the magical Blennerhassett Island.

The island is transformed into an 18th-century party where its magnificent mansion and grounds are illuminated by hundreds of candles and lantern boxes.  Docents, dressed in the style of the period welcomed us upon our arrival.  The soft glow of candlelight leads to music, 18th-century dances, and a lively game of cards and many planned activities on the island.

The activities included a horse-drawn covered wagon ride.  An inviting bonfire at the servants’ party which included Appalachian music, clogging, making apple butter and haunting stories of local folklore.  Click on below video to view the fun.

The Blennerhassetts’, wealthy Anglo-Irish aristocrats, came to America in 1796 and to this island in 1798.  The home they built here was completed in September 1800.  After living here for six years, in December 1806, they fled their island paradise never to return.

The Blennerhassettes’ flight from the island resulted from their connection with the controversial former Vice-President of the United States, Aaron Burr.  They allowed Burr to use this island estate as the base of operations for a military expedition to the Southwest in 1805-1807.  Most historians now believe this was directed against Texas, then a part of Spanish-ruled Mexico.  President Thomas Jefferson, however, declared that Burr wanted to separate the west from the rest of the United States, which was high treason.  The local Wood Country militia invaded the island to try to capture Blennerhassett and Burr’s men who managed to escape.

The federal government arrested Burr and Blennerhassett and imprisoned them in Richmond, Virginia.  Burr was tried for treason in 1807.  Following his acquittal, both he and Blennerhasset were released with their lives and fortunes shattered.  Harman joined his wife in Mississippi Territory where he tried to support his family by growing cotton, but eventually lost the remainder of his fortune.

He and his family emigrated to Canada and eventually to England, where they were taken in by Harman’s sister, Avis.  Harman Blennerhassett died in 1836 on the Isle of Guernsey off the coast of France aged 66.  Margaret died in 1842 at the age of 70 in New York City while visiting one of her sons.  (Information provided by The Friends of Blennerhassett and Blennerhassett Historical State Park)

I have entered this post into The Weekly Image of Life: October Magic, hosted by the Island Traveler.  See other entries on the link above.



13 Responses to “Blennerhassett Mansion by Candlelight”

  1. So glad I could join you Francine. Very interesting, too.

  2. How beautiful! Thank you for bringing us along with you! 😀

  3. What fascinating stories you gather and share Francine.

    • Thanks Gilly, all shared through the lens of my camera. A friend I met on one of my tours told me about this place that only have candlelight tours two nights in October. I was glad I was able to attend one.


  4. It’s amazing how something so beautiful, grand and magical holds a sad story, particularly for the one who started the mansion. I still would like to believe it was created for something wonderful as shown by the images, of the enchanting road lighted by candles and lanterns, leading us to a time of passion and mystery. I wished the man and his wife who built got to stay there long enough the magic of a house and a dream they created. A magic and dream we now get to enjoy through the eyes of those who visited the place. Eyes like yours my friend. Thanks.

  5. Thanks Island Traveler, I had a wonderful time going back in time to the 18th-century. Glad you could experience it as well through the lens of my camera.

  6. Interesting story!

    • Just a little bit of history I was not aware of. There is a little book about the Blennerhassetts that I brought while on the island called, “An Island Called Eden”. Can’t wait to start reading it.

  7. Francine, you have me reading up on Harman and Aaron Burr. Good grief was Burr ever conflicted and unscrupulous. I can certainly imagine his adversaries exclaiming “Good ridence!” as he faded into obscurity.

  8. […] Francine of […]

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