In the 1860s, a family of German immigrants moved to a house on One Sandy Hollow Road in Port Washington, New York. They had a daughter named Suzanna "Suzie" Brunner. She lived there for the next 75 years.
In the years before the Civil War, as Port Washington's first post-mistress she drove the mail coach from Port Washington to Great Neck, Long Island. She drove a horse-drawn buggy through unpaved roads in snow, rain and sometimes in darkness through desolate areas. Her horse named William J. Tilden had been broken in by her.
A highwayman once made the mistake of trying to hold her up. For his troubles he ended up dead when she killed him with the butt of her whip. One wonders why she didn't use the gun she carried with her instead. But was there any truth to this story, or was it an urban myth about a woman referred to as "a devil of a mail carrier"?
In 1881, G. H. McClellan, a man who had fallen on hard times left Syracuse and started to work around Flushing. He was last seen on October 26 on his wagon, looking "the worse for liquor." The following day, still drunk he was found unconscious with an "unnatural blackness in his eyes and bruises on his body." lying in Jamaica Road. Mr. McClellan was dead 48 hours later.
A reporter interviewed Suzie who told him "that the day prevous to his death she gave him a thrashing with the butt of her whip in the face and the eyes for bad conduct in a state of intoxication."
It was believed he died from delirium tremens because of his alcoholism.
Susie Bruner and her horse, taken somewhere on School House Hill at head of Mill Pond, Port Washington. Susie carried mail to and from Great Neck to Port Washington. One day in the line of duty she horsewhipped a man who tried to hold her up. The man died from the whipping. After her father "Old Dutch Jose" died Susie was the "man" of the family. Susie always wore an apron, even to church.
Eventually Suzie left her job as post-mistress and went on to work the family farm, ploughing fields all over town with her horse Mr. Tilden. She also served as a janitor at the Sands Point school and opened a store catering to the children who called her "Aunt Suzie."
About her unmarried state, she commented, "them I wanted, I couldn't get, and them that wanted me the devil wouldn't take."
Along the way she bought properties in Port Washington and a 1908 map showed she owned three properties around Sandy Hollow Road. When a new school was built she purchased the old one and moved it across the street to a piece of land she owned. It served as a residence from then on.
Her day would start at sunrise and end at 10 pm., so it's not surprising that she started haunting the coach house of her property after her death. There were reports of the back door opening mysteriously and upon occasion the face of a woman seen peering from an upper window. This was according to neighbors who lived next door during the 1980s.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by Marlene Pardo Pellicer