A White Lady is a type of female ghost purported to appear in many rural areas, and who is supposed to have died tragically or suffered trauma in life. White Lady legends are found around the world. Common to many of them is the theme of losing or being betrayed by a husband or fiancé. They are often associated with an individual family line, as a harbinger of death. When one of these ghosts is seen it indicates that someone in the family is going to die.
Generally, the aspects of this phenomena are that the ghost is female, dressed in late era Victorian garb, seen along a rural road, and associated with some local legend of tragedy.
Branch Brook Park in Newark, New Jersey, is home to the legend of the White Lady of Branch Brook Park. Two conflicting stories are told about this ghost. In one version, the lady was a newlywed who was killed along with her husband on her wedding night when their car skidded out of control and crashed into a tree in the park. In another version, the couple were on their way to a prom when their limousine crashed; the boy lived but the girl died, and she is allegedly still looking for her prom date. The White Lady of Branch Brook Park was also known in Newark's Roseville section, which borders the park, as Mary Yoo-Hoo. For many years the tree in question was along a sharp curve in the park road and part of its trunk was painted white, but it has since been cut down completely. It was said that on rainy or misty nights passing headlights produced a ghostly image crossing the road. There is some evidence that the details of this legend have been borrowed or blurred into other legends. Annie's Road, in particular, is thought to be a rehosting of this legend.
The gold rush ghost town of Bodie, California, is home to many ghost stories. One involves "The White Lady," a woman who was affianced to a miner from Bodie. On his way to trade his gold for cash, he rented room #19 at the Bridgeport Inn in nearby Bridgeport and left his fiancée in the safety of the inn, as he felt it too dangerous for her to accompany him on his journey. Unfortunately, the miner was robbed and killed on his way to claim his fortune. Upon hearing of his demise, distraught and unsure of what to do next, the White Lady hung herself in her room. An apparition of a woman dressed in white (possibly in a wedding dress) is said to walk the halls of the Bridgeport Inn to this day, waiting for her lover’s return.
In the afternoon and early evening, a female spirit in a white dress wanders around the graveyard of Charleston's Unitarian graveyard. She is known as the "Lady in White" by the locals. She is said to be the spirit of a woman who died at about the same time that her husband died as his ship sailed for Boston, Massachusetts. Neither of them knew of the other's demise. She was buried in the Unitarian cemetery while he was buried in Boston , where his spirit allegedly haunts that graveyard. The ethereal "Lady in White" searches the graveyard eternally for her husband.
Union Cemetery in Easton, Connecticut is arguably one of the most haunted cemeteries in the country. The most well-known haunt is a spirit known as "The White Lady". The identity of the spirit is not known, but sightings of her didn't occur until the late 1940s; meaning she must have died sometime before then. She is also said to haunt the nearby Stepney Cemetery in Monroe, Connecticut.
Another tale of a White Lady is the Headless Bride who haunts the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park. She is said to have been murdered by her ambitious new husband. After she fell in love with the servant, they went on a trip to Yellowstone. However, the young man managed to gamble away the money, and when the women asked her father for more money, and he refused, the husband beheaded his wife and fled. They say she haunts only the Old House, since that was the only part when she was alive. Every night around midnight, she descends from the Crow's Nest. Then, she turns, and you see tucked under her arm, her head! She is dressed in her old wedding gown. After she looks around sadly, she realizes her husband has not returned for her, and sadly disappears.
In Santa Cruz, California, a White Lady has been reported to be seen wandering the forest near the cemetery at night. Rumor has it that a man drugged his wife on their wedding night, then burned down the house while she remained unconscious inside. The White Lady or "White Witch" now haunts the blackness in her wedding dress. She is known to move about loudly and approach those nearby. According to accounts, she is dangerous.
"White Lady" is a common name in Great Britain for a female ghost, sometimes that of a nun. In popular medieval legend, a White Lady is fabled to appear by day as well as by night in a house in which a family member is soon to die. According to The Nuttall Encyclopaedia, these spirits were regarded as the ghosts of deceased ancestresses.
Castle Huntly, Scotland, is said to be haunted by a young woman dressed in flowing white robes. There are various stories concerning her history, one of which is that she was a daughter of the Lyon family who occupied the castle in the 17th century. When her affair with a manservant was discovered, she was banished to a high tower overlooking the battlements. Unable to endure her suffering, she threw herself to her death from the tower. The ghost of the White Lady has been seen a number of times over the years, often on the grounds surrounding the castle. She has also been seen in the room in which she was imprisoned.
The White Lady of Willow Park is native to a small, heavily-wooded park of Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, in northwest England. She is thought to be the tormented spirit of a bride who was drowned in the lake by her husband on their wedding night. Variations on her method of death include being bricked up in a cave and hanging herself in the kitchen.
Muncaster Castle in the county of Cumbria is reputed to be one of England's most haunted houses. The vengeful ghost in white of Mary Bragg, a foul-mouthed local girl who was murdered by being hanged from the Main Gate by drunken youths in the 19th century after they had kidnapped her for a joke, is also referred to as the white lady.The white lady has been sighted in Chadkirk, Manchester floating across the canal
Roughwood Nature Reserve in the Black Country also has had a high number of paranormal incidents, including sightings of a woman in a white period dress, drenched in ichor from the lake where it is rumored her body was abandoned. Local myths suggest this is the spirit of Pauline Kelly, who with her daughter Evelyn disappeared in the mid 1800's. The local community have a Halloween tradition involving dressing in white dresses, as well as a jokey rhyme.
"White Lady,White Lady, Come get your baby"
This rhyme came into being after stories involving the kidnap of the child after the death of Mrs Kelly, which keeps her rooted to this world.
Colonel Warrender, the governor appointed to the fort shortly after its completion, had a daughter named "Willful" who married Sir Trevor Ashurst. On their wedding night, as they walked along the battlements of the fort, the bride desired some of the flowers that grew on the rocks beneath the wall. The nearby sentry offered to fetch the flowers if Sir Trevor would take his place while he did so.
Sir Trevor agreed, taking the sentry’s greatcoat and musket and standing at his post. While waiting for the sentry to return, Sir Trevor, exhausted by the day’s excitement and the alcohol he had consumed at the wedding, fell asleep. When the governor made his round of the sentries, he became angry and shot Sir Trevor for sleeping on duty.
After inspecting the body, he realized his mistake. When his daughter learned what had happened, she flung herself off the battlements, later reappearing as the White Lady of Charles Fort.
The ghost has been sighted on several occasions. Major Black, who served in the fort in the early 1800s, reported seeing her figure passing up and down the stairs. In 1880, Captain Marvell Hull and Lieutenant Hartland reported being confronted by a woman in a white dress. When she turned towards them, they saw that her face, while beautiful, was entirely colorless. She then passed through a locked door. Other officers of the fort once reported being flung down the stairs by an invisible source.
Called Dama Branca or Mulher de Branco in Portuguese, the Brazilian Lady in White is the ghost of a young woman who died of childbirth or violent causes. She appears as a pale woman in a long white dress or a sleeping gown. Though usually speechless, the Lady in White will occasionally, in a sad voice, recount to witnesses her misfortunes. The origins of the myth are not clear, Luís da Câmara Cascudo's Dicionário do Folclore Brasileiro (Brazilian Folklore Dictionary) proposes that the ghost is related to the violent deaths of young white women who were killed by their fathers or husbands out of honour revenge. The most frequent reasons for these honor killings were adultery (actual or suspected), denial of sex, or abuse. Monteiro Lobato in his book Urupês describes a young woman starved to death by her husband because he suspected she was in love with a slave and only gave her the stewed meat of his corpse for food.
The Lady in White usually haunts houses, but sometimes is found around them as well.
A Portuguese video featuring a White Lady is available on the Internet. The video was reportedly found at the scene of a fatal car accident, near Sintra, Portugal. In the video, a woman and two young men are taking a car trip to the mountains. One passenger records the trip with a video camera.
While driving along the road, the travelers spot a strange female hitchhiker, whom they pick up. The passenger with the camera focuses on the hitchhiker, who seems strangely quiet, but says her name is Teresa (Teresa Fidalgo), and states that she hasn't been the same since her accident. She then points out a spot on the road where she says she died.
She suddenly turns to the camera and screams, showing her face, which is now apparently badly scarred and bloody and vanishes immediately. Startled, the driver swerves off the road and crashes the car, killing two of the travelers. According to the text at the end of the video, police investigating the accident found that a girl named Teresa Fidalgo died in a car accident in 1983 at that very spot.
Many sources have declared this legend was actually manufactured by a reporter in the 1950s, and also possibly a combination of multiple stories from the area.