Henderson and neighboring Ouachita Baptist University have always been rival schools. The rivalry is the cause of this urban legends. Even in Urban Legends, each school tells it a little differently.
Since Henderson is the one that is haunted, we’ll start with their version.
The story takes us back to the 1920s, a time when football rivalries were serious business.
The legend says an Ouachita football player, Joshua, was dating a freshman at Henderson, Jane. They were madly in love, however, the fact that Jane was from Henderson turned out to be a deal breaker for Josh.
Some versions of the story say his friends bullied and teased him into submission. He finally broke up with her and eventually moved on to find a new, acceptable Ouachita girl. Other versions say he met the girl first and broke up with Jane because of it. Either way, Ouachita is the real loser in the story. Those Ouachita guys are jerks, right?
Except, when Ouachita tells it, it was Jane who was the Ouachita freshman and Joshua who was the football player from Henderson. Those Henderson guys are real jerks.
True rivals are rivals even when telling urban legends.
The story (either version) says that when Jane found out he was dating a new girl and bringing her to homecoming, she was heartbroken.
She went to her dorm room and put on a black dress and veil, walked to a cliff over the Ouachita River and jumped to her death.
Now every year during Homecoming Week, Jane’s spirit, dressed in black with a veil, is said to a haunt Henderson College. She has been seen walking in and out of Smith Hall, the freshman women’s residence hall and around the center of campus.
Ouachita students say she is there searching for the woman who stole the man she loved away from her (darn Henderson girls) and the boys who bullied and teased Joshua. Henderson students
Henderson students say she still longs to attend homecoming with Josh.
She doesn’t do much. Students report seeing a faint black figure, hearing moaning, feeling cold hands or sudden temperature drops. She’s pretty harmless unless she finds out you’re related to the girl who stole Josh, I guess.
They actually tell a version of the story at freshmen orientation, so most students at Henderson have heard it.
An interesting tidbit on Henderson’s website says:
The Legend of the “Lady in Black” began in 1912, following the tenure of a Henderson student named Nell Page, who is credited with creating the story. According to legend, the Lady in Black roamed the halls in the girls’ dormitory predicting who would win the Battle of the Ravine. If she wore black, it signified a victory for the Reddies; if clothed in white, a victory for Ouachita was predicted. After Nell’s death at an early age, the story goes that it was her ghost who walked the halls.