From the outside, Roanoke is a town like any other. Surrounded by the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains, it offers a fun range of activities and tours for locals and visitors alike. Not to mention a very rich history.
Roanoke was being explored by settlers H to the fertile land as far back as the seventeenth century. Before the settlers, the land was home to a number of Native American tribes who lived off the earth and fished from the Roanoke River. The word "Roanoke" is said to come from the word "rawrenoc", smooth shells used as the tribes' currency.
An old settlement with a rich history
The Europeans moved fast, and by 1740, built their own farms in the Roanoke Valley. The population grew as various tradespeople moved in. And the establishment of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad in 1852 into a booming commercial society, and that year the city of Roanoke was born. Roanoake became the number one stop along the "Great Wagon Road" which would over time lead from Pennsylvania to Georgia providing a "route for inland trade and settlers heading west."
With such a deep-rooted history, there are bound to be ghost stories. Roanoke does not disappoint. There's the Grandin Theater, the Patrick Henry Hotel. But one of the most famous urban legends to come out of Roanoke has to be the tale of the "Lady in Black".
The beautiful ghost would follow and flirt with married men
The "Lady in Black" popped up several times in Roanoke back in March 1902. She was said to be "strikingly beautiful with dancing eyes" and a turban covering the majority of her face. She was said to trail married men after sundown and flirt with them. The Roanoke Times had a field day with the sightings. One story they printed from a terrible gentleman describes his encounter with the lady in detail.
“The most recent instance is that of a prominent merchant of the city, who, on the night after payday, having been detained at his store until after midnight, was making his way home, buried in mental abstractions, when at his side the woman in black suddenly appeared, calling him by his name. The woman was only a couple feet behind him, and he naturally increased his pace; faster and faster he walked, but in spite of his efforts, the woman gained on him until, with the greatest of ease and without any apparent effort she kept alongside him, ‘Where do you turn off?’ she asked of him. He replied in a hoarse voice, ‘Twelfth Avenue.’ Ere he was aware, she had a hand upon his shoulder. He tried to shake it off, but without success. ‘You are not the first married man I have seen to his home this night,’ she spoke in a low and musical voice.
Reaching the front gate, he made certain she would leave him, but into the yard she went. This was a little more than he bargained for…The merchant admits that he was a nervy man, but that in spite of his efforts, he could not help being at least a little frightened. ‘Twas the suddenness of the thing,’ is the way he expressed it.”
Sightings of the same spirit were also reported in Alma, Nebraska, and Bluefield, West Virginia that year. And though Roanoke is full of history, no one knows who the Lady in Black once was or why she has stayed behind in Roanoke.
Have you heard the stories of the terrifying Lady in Black? Would you run or stay to flirt if you saw her? I'm not sure about you but I don't care how smooth a ghost's pick-up lines are, I'd be heading the complete other direction.