Note: The lands along Beil Hill Road are private property, so please be respectful of the land owners and please, no trespassing. The road is a public road and travel on it is permitted. Also, I changed the name of the storyteller by his request, but his exact email responses are in quotes.
It started with an email from Danny asking if I knew the Legend of Beil Hill, also known as “Spook Hill,” located just south of Greenville. I had to admit that I was not familiar with the story and I sent an email back asking for more information. Danny’s reply gave me not only the legend, but included was his story of witnessing the ghost light on three different occasions.
Known locally as “The Lady and the Lantern,” the ghost light has been spotted within an area that is surrounded by Kidds Mill Road (on the north), River Road (on the west), Hamburg Road (on the south) and Route 58 (on the east). Most often, the white light seems to appear along the road named after the hill, Beil Hill Road.
Local legend claims that in 1880, a lady was crushed to death in a buggy accident that occurred on Beil Hill. The lady has just left her sister’s house, which was located along this road, when the deadly accident occurred. As her buggy was coming down the hillside, it overturned, killing the lady within.
The ghost light first appeared to the lady’s sister and brother-in-law, who were walking along Beil Hill Road one evening. The dim light, similar to the glow given off by a kerosene lantern, appeared nearby and guided them along the road as darkness descended. Ever since then, the ghost light has been spotted wandering along the road, bobbing across the surrounding fields and weaving among the trees nearby. Those who have managed to get close enough to the phantom light claim that it is carried by a spectral lady dressed in white. Not too many have seen the lady, but her lantern has become a part of local lore.
Danny then informed me that he saw the ghost light a number of times. “During the late 1970s I saw the ghost light three different times,” Danny wrote. “While some claimed they saw a lady carrying a lantern, I never saw a lady, just a strange light.”
The first time Danny spotted the ghostly light was along Beil Road. “It was either 1975 or 76 the first time I saw the light on Beil Hill. A group of us went out that night to look for The Lady and The Lantern and it didn’t take long for her to appear. We saw it just inside the woods. The light seemed to dance among the trees, going in front of and behind them as it moved through the woods. A couple of us started towards the spot, but only went a couple steps before it just vanished.”
The next time he spotted the light in the autumn of 1977. This time the ball of light was spotted in an open field along Route 58. “My girl and I were headed to Mercer when we saw it. The sun had just set when she asked if I saw the bright light in the field to our right.” Note: a clarification put the sighting on the western side of Route 58, the side where Beil Hill is located.
“I pulled over and we watched it swaying back and forth in a field for ten or so minutes. There were a couple other cars that pulled in behind us and a couple of the guys went out to see what it was. They had only gone a short distance into the field when the light vanished.”
Danny stated that he saw it a third time, this time along Beil Hill Road. “The last time I saw it was in the fall of 1979. I was coming across Beil Hill Road when the light appeared in the field only a couple yards from the road. I slammed on the brakes to get a better look, but by the time the dust cleared it was gone. I’ve been across that road a million times or more since then and I’ve never seen that light again. I’ve heard other people talk about seeing it, but I haven’t.” While I could not easily explain what he had viewed back in the late 1970s, I knew without a doubt he was convinced he saw something.
When I asked if he had ever witnessed the lady carrying it, Danny replied: “I’ve never spotted the lady who carries it, but I’ve heard of people who have spotted her walking along the road.”
Danny’s story of seeing the ghost light has the earmarks of the “typical” ghost light: a strange, bright light having a size somewhere between a baseball and basketball. The light appears to be swaying as if carried by somebody. The light vanishes when approached.
Ever curious, I contacted some friends in the area and asked if they had ever heard of the story, but sadly they were unfamiliar with the legend. But that was not going to stop me from visiting the area.
The sun was beginning to set as I arrived at the junction of Route 58 and Beil Hill Road. I made a quick trip along Beil Hill Road, looking for any signs of the Lady and the Lantern, but found no signs of her presence. Finding no sign of the lady, I returned to the parking lot of St. John’s Lutheran Church that allowed a view of Beil Hill.
Sitting in the vehicle, I surveyed the area. Though mostly woodlands and fields, the area has enough houses to remove any feeling of remoteness that the area once held. Ahead of me was the wooded hill and fields of corn. I could not help but think if the light appeared in the corn field there was no way I was going to see it.
As I watched the hillside a movement in the far grassy field caught my attention and grabbing the binoculars, I scanned the field. It wasn’t the lady that had caught my attention, but a deer that had ventured out into the grassy field to feed.
I continued scanning the hillside and then I saw it. Just inside the tree line at the top of the hill a bright light appeared and almost immediately vanished. I focused on the spot and watched.
After a couple of seconds later the light appeared again. Unlike the stories I heard the light did not waver, but remained in the same spot on the other side of the trees. Seeing the light did not move, I headed down Beil Road. I had gone a short distance before it disappeared.
I stopped in the middle of the road and waited for it to reappear. Nothing reappeared.
After a couple of minutes, I allowed the vehicle to move forward. I was just starting up the hill when the light reappeared roughly in the same location where I had spotted it earlier. As I drove along the road, the light appeared to move, but I quickly realized that it only appeared to move among the trees. The light I was seeing was stationary.
When I got to the top of the hill, I could see that the light was coming from a house hidden by the row of trees. The mystery of my ghost light was solved. But this does not solve the mystery of the ghost light Danny and countless others have seen over the years. This house was relatively new and could not account for the sightings of the ghost light in the past.
As the sun vanished behind the horizon I left the hill in silence, knowing I had not solved the mystery of the ages, yet knowing I would have to return again to search for the lady in white.
Note: A couple years ago, when I posted this article on a previous version of The Pennsylvania Rambler, I received an email stating the ghost of the lady also haunts a farmhouse in the area. The gentleman provided no other details and asked me to contact him. I did email him back, but never received any more information from him.