Tennessee Ghost Stories: Tall Betsy

In the early 1890s a figure locals called “The Lady in Black” began stalking women around downtown Cleveland, Tennessee after the sun went down. The mysterious entity was said to stand over seven feet tall and wore a long flowing black dress and covered her hands in yellow or white gloves. Today, the entity’s identity remains an unsolved mystery, the source of controversy and the pride of the town.

While some chalked it up to a local man being mischievous, others said the spook was actually a freakishly tall woman who only went out at night so no one would make fun of her gangly appearance. Whoever it was, no one was ever harmed. And as quickly as “The Lady in Black” appeared on the streets of Cleveland, she seemed to disappear within a few years.

Flash forward to the 1920s and 1930s, the story of “The Lady in Black” took on a life of its own as the kids who grew up in the 1890s began telling the story to their children. According to the parents, if you were out after dark, the sinister woman in the black dress would take you and pick her teeth with your bones!

Over the years “The Lady in Black” has become known around town as “Tall Betsy” or “Black Betsy”. Betsy supposedly now resides in a mausoleum in Fort Hill Cemetery and only makes appearances in October. The legend of “Tall Betsy” eventually became so popular in the area that she was named the “Official Goblin of Bradley County”.

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