The Lady in White; Different Tellings of a Famous Urban Legend Part 1

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As a car is driving down a lonely road at night, the driver is chatting with his girlfriend on his cell phone.  It had rained earlier that evening and his headlights shine off the wet pavement as he says goodnight and throws his phone on to the seat next to him.  His focus moves from the road to his radio so he can find some music.  As he looks up to the road, he slams on his brakes and begins to fish tail.  He see a beautiful woman, dressing in white, standing in the road.  Thanks’ to his quick reaction, our young driver avoids a collision, yet as close as he came to hitting the pedestrian, she makes no move to get out of the way of the oncoming car.

The young man gets out of his car to see if the woman is okay but she is nowhere to be seen.  He looks all around the road, both directions and see no one.  He shrugs and attributes the encounter to being tired and a trick of the light on the wet road.  He returns to the car.  In the passenger seat, he finds the woman.  She sits there seductively, a calm look on her face as she looks up at the young man.  The teen looks her over and can’t help but notice her curves.

“Do you want to take me home?” she asks.

“Oh HELL YEAH” the boy replies excitedly.

Two days later, his car is discovered on a lonely bridge, filled with blood but no body was ever found.

Having gone largely unnoticed for years by Hollywood, the legend of the Lady in White has endured in American Mythos for years.  In every region of America, there is the story of a woman who has lost her love, her daughter, been cheated on, been killed violently, or numerous other conditions that have caused her to not move on to the other side of the Veil and now she haunts stretches of road, wells, swamps or houses.  So let’s discover some of these stories and see what we can learn.

 

In the early 1800s, the White Lady and her daughter were supposed to have lived on the land where the Durand Eastman Park — part of Irondequoit and Rochester — now stands. One day, the daughter disappeared. Convinced that the girl had been raped and murdered by a local farmer, the mother searched the marshy lands day after day, trying to discover where her child’s body was buried. She took with her two German shepherd dogs to aid in her search, but she never found a trace of her daughter. Finally, in her grief, the mother threw herself off a cliff into lake Ontario and died. Her dogs pined for their mistress and shortly joined her in the grave.

After death, the mother’s spirit returned to continue the search for her child. People say that on foggy nights, the White Lady rises from the small Durand Lake which faces Lake Ontario. She is accompanied by her dogs and together they roam through the Durand Eastman park, still searching for her missing daughter.

The White Lady is not a friendly spirit. She dislikes men and often seeks vengeance against the males visiting the park on her daughter’s behalf . There have been reports of the White Lady chasing men into the lake, shaking their cars, and making their lives miserable until they leave the park. She has never touched any females accompanying these unfortunate fellows. (http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/07/the_white_lady.html)

 

This story seems to be the basis of most of the Lady in White stories.  A mother or wife who has lost a child to a violent death and it usually blamed on a man.  There are hundreds of stories like this across the nation.  And like almost all Urban Legends, there is a none to subtle moral lesson: Mothers, watch your children of great evil will befall them.

As interesting, and common, as this story is, we would like to explore some of the more unique Lady in White legends that are around.

We will start in Gettysburg Pennsylvania, site of the most decisive and bloody battle of the American Civil War.  The area is full of urban legends, ghost sightings, and paranormal occurrences.  We will focus however on a few of them

At Gettysburg College, the legend goes that a young couple climbed the bell tower of Glatfelter in a suicide pact. The girl jumped, but the guy changed his mind. Her spook has since been seen on the bell tower, but only by males.  It seems she’s trying to lure a fellow to jump for her, to replace her cowardly beau and join her in the afterlife. The 1887 structure is the computer science center now, so GC techies, beware if you hear her siren call.

Perhaps one of MY favorite Lady in White stories of the Gettysburg area is that of Spangler Spring.

SPANGLER’S SPRING (Gettysburg, Adams County) The first story dates a couple of decades past the Gettysburg conflict, to the 1880s. A woman met her lover boy at the spring, their favorite spot, and he told her that the relationship was over. Distraught, she killed herself then and there, dying in his arms. (Talk about your messy break-ups.) Another version claims she killed herself after she realized her married Romeo wasn’t going to leave his wife. It’s said that she still roams the spring area with a broken heart. Two nurses that went ghost hunting found her, according to The Cold Spot. They heard a popping sound, followed by a rising mist from behind a tree that formed into the Lady in White. One woman felt deep sadness and the other felt sharp fear. They skedaddled.  It’s said that the ghost is always walking head down, stopping often and bending over, as if she’s looking for something (maybe a ring?) https://sites.google.com/site/hauntsandhistory/gettysburghappyvalleyhaunts&history3

This story hold a special place in my heart for a few reason.  First of all, I have been to Spangler Spring and encountered our forlorn Lady.  My son and I had traveled to Gettysburg on a Boy Scout trip.  We decided to take a trip to the Spring since I was familiar with the legend and I thought it would be good bonding time (my son has always enjoyed ghost stories even from a young age).  As we approached the area,  my son froze in his tracks and pointed to the far bank.  We both saw a woman, all white with very little detail as to her wardrobe, staring down at the monument that marks where the spring was at.    My son started whispering to me making sure I saw what he was seeing.  As I opened my mouth to respond, the woman looked at us, shook her head in disappointment and walked away, fading as she left.  The next day, as the Boy Scout troop took a hike, we found ourselves back at Spanglers Spring.  My son and I just looked at each other and smiled, deciding to keep the story of our encounter to ourselves as the boys climbed over the monument that now covers the Spring.

Also in Pennsylvania, we come to Altoona and Wopsy Mountain.  The White Lady of Wopsy Mountain. One legend reports the White Lady is looking through Wopsy Mountain for her baby. The baby was thrown out of the horse carriage while rounding Devils Elbow, a dangerous curve that still exists on PA Wospy Mountain. The legend says the baby was never found.

The other legend of The White Lady of Wopsy Mountain’s story has the husband dying instantly. The wife regains consciousness only to find her beloved husband’s decapitated body.

Mr. Orr says the woman disappears into the woods, wandering around Wopsononock Mountain. She heads west towards Buckhorn Mountain. Yet, she always disappears around the deadly curve at Devils Elbow. She’s been seen there many times by people traveling down the steep mountain road. Most sightings only last a second when you suddenly see someone in white on the side of ther road ahead but once you approach the area there is no one in sight.

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