Ghosts of Ohio
Lore & Legends

Esther Hale

My name is Alice Whitehill, I live in Western Pennsylvania near the Ohio border. I am a member of the International Ghost Hunters Society and I am scheduled to speak at the 2001 Gettysburg Ghost Conference. I am writing a book about my experiences and the true-life experiences of others concerning the spirit world.

I have been experimenting with ghosts and music for about four years. I play 19th century folk music and Civil War tunes on the Mountain Dulcimer. The results are fantastic. One of my first contacts was with Esther Hale in the Sprucevale area of Beaver Creek State Park.

According to Gary Winterburn, author of "Scenes of Little Beaver Creek", the ghost of Esther Hale appears mostly on September 29, St. Michaelmas Eve. I am sure that she has been sighted many other times, but Sept. 29th seems to have a special significance. On September 29, 1996, I traveled to the Sprucevale location with my daughter and her friend. It was nearly dark. I parked the car and we waited to see if the ghost that the locals had been seeing for over one hundred years would appear.

I checked the time when we parked. It was 7:50 p.m. We waited for about 20 minutes, not seeing anything. Then I asked my daughter, who was seated in the back seat, to pass my dulcimer to me. This was the first time that I ever played in the dark. Well, I stumbled through a few old songs, and then decided to play "Amazing Grace". Just as I started into the second verse, the girls said, at the same time, "Oh my God, there she is!"

I looked up to see a misty figure moving near the side of the mill. As I played, she seemed to move with the music. Soon, she was in the middle of the road. When I played fast, she moved fast, when I played slow, she moved slow. When cars would appear from either hill, she would move out of sight along the side of the mill. When it was dark again, she came out to dance for us again.

This was the most awesome sight we had ever witnessed. Since I had read that she was there to meet her husband-to-be who never returned from the Civil War, I played and sang all the Civil War era tunes I knew. The last song was "The Vacant Chair". As I played and sang, "We shall meet, but we shall miss him / There will be one vacant chair," she stopped whirling in the road and started walking toward us. The electricity in the air was unbelievable. My hair was standing up on my arms and the back of my neck. As she came closer, we could see the features of her face, and her hair was in a roll around the back of her head. She was a very small petite woman. As she approached, my daughter became very uneasy. "Let's go now, Mom!" At that moment, I turned on the headlights and there was nothing there.

The time was 9:10 p.m. We had interacted with Esther for almost an hour. I have not be able to find out exactly if Esther Hale died in the 1830's or the 1860's. The stories differ around here. But, she seemed to like the music that I played for her.

Submitted by: Alice Whitehill, Hookstown, PA

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