The Seneca Hill Ghost


This story originally was posted as “A Ghost Sighting in Minetto” on October 22, 2011

by Judy Berman

One crisp, clear November night when the moon was brilliant, a scenic ride along Old Route 57 turned into a terrifying experience for one traveler.

She came over what is Seneca Hill, and started down the long, long roadway which runs down the other side of the Oswego River, through the sleepy little village of Minetto, just south of Oswego, N.Y.

It was so bright that night that the road was like a bright ribbon. The traveler was coming down, reaching almost the bottom of the hill. She thought she saw something outside the passenger’s side of the car.

She turned quickly. Looked. It was so pronounced that she had the feeling that something was there. But she didn’t see anything and thought, “Oh well. It must have been a shadow, a tree or something like that.”

The next November, the same thing happened.

This time, out of the corner of her eye, she distinctly saw something, turned and caught a glimpse of something … but, what?

The third year, she again made her way through Seneca Hill on that long ribbon of moonlight.

But, this time, there was no mistake.

There she was on the right-hand side of the road. A woman, who was in her late-30s, was running. She wore a nightgown, an old-fashioned nightgown. She had a little girl by the hand who appeared to be about 6 years old, also in an old-fashioned nightgown.

They were running. Running as hard as they could along the shoulder of the road. The traveler started to stop and clearly saw the woman’s face.

She never saw such terror, never saw such terror on a human face before. The woman was frightened beyond belief.

So, she put the brake on as fast as she could and her car came to a squealing halt.

She jumped out. She could see them. They were still behind her, running up a hill.

She shouted after them, “Stop. Wait. What’s the matter?”

They didn’t turn and she thought, “Maybe they didn’t hear me.”

The traveler ran after them, but didn’t seem to gain any ground. When the pair reached the crest of the hill, they disappeared. She went to a house, the first one she saw. She knocked, but no one answered.

no one answered when I knocked on the door

Shaken and confused, She raced back to her car and headed across a bridge to a state police substation

She told the desk sergeant he had to come with her, something terrible had happened.

It seems like he moved in slow motion as he closed his book and put it down.

“Something has happened on the other side of the river,” she said, frantic and anxious.

“There was a woman and a little girl running … “

The state trooper broke in, “You say you saw a woman and a little girl?”

“Yes, yes. But we mustn’t talk about it. You must come with me. I know something terrible has happened. She looked so frightened and she was running up the top of the hill.”

“We’ve got to go over and see what happened.”

The state trooper calmly told her that he’d heard that story many times. He said what she saw people at the station called the Seneca Hill Ghost.

(Have you had an encounter with a ghost? Please share. No gory stuff, please.)

Thanks to Rosemary Nesbitt, who told me this tale, which is one of my favorite ghost stories. Nesbitt, a professor for more than 40 years at SUNY Oswego, Syracuse University and Wells College, also was a historian and author of 15 plays for children. She died in 2009. Nesbitt said others had told her they’ve had the same experience on moonlit rides through Seneca Hill between Nov. 5 and Nov. 10.

Main Photo – Moonrise – Moonrise over Heol Ddu Taken just as the full moon was coming over the horizon at Heol Ddu, owned by Hywel Williams

Photo – Moon – at night – at the edge of The Lincolnshire Wolds, taken by Dave Hitchborne…

Photo – ghost story – house at night

  1. What scares me as much as this story is the fact that you originally posted it over a year ago. It seems like it was last month. How can time move so quickly?

    1. What scared me, Charles, was that you were the ONLY one to comment on this story last year. Maybe that will change this time around.
      Yes, it is hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for a little more than a year.

  2. Mom, did you ever find out the story behind the ghosts? That would be neat to find out. Great story by the way. I remember this from before.

  3. I love ghost stories! When they happen to someone else! Thanks for the specifics about the location and the dates. I’ll take great care to never drive there at that time. (Probably a good chance it won’t happen anyway, since I’m in Virginia!)

    1. AA, a friend of mine went with me thru that area when we both worked in radio. My hubby joined me another time. We stopped in to talk to the locals who said they’d either seen the ghost or knew someone who had. We never did, but it was a fun ride.
      Had we actually seen the ghosts … I no doubt would be scared silly.

  4. I had chills up my spine just reading this! I’ll have to check out your above links. I’m curious about the story behind it (as much as it terrifies me!) Have I seen a ghost? I grew up in a very old house, over 100 years old. Many people died there, including my own grandfather. I wrote about my experience with his ‘ghost’ or spirit in a blog post way back. I think it was called Footsteps on the Stairs or something. Anyway, I’ve got loads of other stories to tell, too.

    1. When did you post that story, Darla? I’d love to read it. I grew up hearing ghost stories. My Mom and several other relatives had ESP and I did believe what they saw and heard. Some call it “second sight” – the ability to see future events or things that happened in the past.

    2. Darla, honey, Lay off that zinger-stuff you put in your plaid coffee cup, and I bet you’ll be seeing fewer ghosts. Or hearing footsteps on the stairs, or….oh now I’m starting to get creeped out.

  5. I love this. But I wonder what the story was that caused the woman and child so much terror? I suppose that’s the mark of a real ghost story. There aren’t always answers. Great post, Judy.

    1. After my daughter, Jenn, asked about the background on this story, I did some searching on the internet. The link is above. The site says that a cult, called the Millerites, predicted the world would end Oct. 22, 1844. The woman is said to have locked her child and herself in a barn. When the world continued, as the story goes, the woman plunged to her death out the barn window.
      Glad you enjoyed the story, Kate.

  6. Mother passed last month. In the ending days she had one foot on the other side yet by sheer will she brought her self threw the haze of morphine to call out to me several times. Half an hour after she died a tear formed and fell from her left eye. There is a link.

    1. I’m saddened to hear of your Mom’s passing, Carl. I believe there is a thin veil between the spirit world and ours, and that if they try to contact us, we can hear them if we really listen.

  7. This is a very old story. I have live only a few miles south of there near Phoenix NY since 1970 and have heard and read of this many times. It still frightens some people.

    1. Thanks for writing, Donna. I drove thru there several times when we lived in Central New York. I didn’t see anything, but I do know that folks in that area did believe in the sightings. Rosemary Nesbitt, an exceptional story teller, told me about this for an interview when I worked at WHEN-AM radio. She was a SUNY Oswego Professor.

  8. I do hate terror and the irrational responses it brings. That’s why I don’t go to haunted house events. I’m too much of a fraidy cat. I had to read your story with one eye closed.

    1. You’re not alone, Barb. When I drove thru this area (and stopped in to talk to some locals) at night, I never went alone. I give you kudos for semi-putting aside your fears and reading my story.

    1. Not seeing what they were scared of does add to the terror. Alfred Hitchock played on our fears that way.
      Rosemary Nesbitt was mesmerizing when she told this story. I taped the radio interview I did and have played it for my students. I’m glad the story “grabbed” you, Ronnie.

  9. Ghost stories–especially children in peril–set my imagination in high gear. I need to know what/how/when/why…and then my mind creates some kind of resolution. Usually violent resolutions. Especially when you wrote about the influence of the cult called the Millerites.
    Well done, Judy. A perfect, eerie time to share this.

    1. Thank you, Marilyn. This ghost story has a link to where I grew up and it still rattles some folks in that neck of the woods. Glad you liked this spooky, little story.
      That’s a real compliment as I’ve enjoyed the stories you’ve written about your family.

  10. My breathing is slowly returning to normal, the color is slowly returning to my face, I am slowly crawling out from under the bed… : )

    Great story, and it brought back a childhood memory. I think I told you that I grew up in Cooperstown, NY, which is home to the NY State Historical Association, in addition to the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

    When I was a kid, a local historian named Louie Jones achieved some minor fame when he published a collection of ghost stories with the wonderful title, Things That Go Bump In The Night. It contained a few Seneca Hill-ish tales, tho I’ve forgotten the details.

    I’m afraid the only ghosts I’ve ever seen have been on our television screen. Of course, that was before we got our antenna… : )

    Very enjoyable post, Judy– thanks!! : )

    1. Mark, I can hardly believe that I (and, sometimes, my husband or a friend) went to Seneca Hill to find out why they’re still hanging around.
      I went hoping I’d see a ghost. Be careful what you wish for. Thank heavens I never saw one.

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