The “woman in black” has been an ominous figure throughout much of European history. The Appalachian regions were no exception. There was an unusual report out of Kingsport, Tennessee. In November of 1927, reports emerged of a woman in black unlike any other recorded.
The traditional woman in black is a ghostly figure. She was pale, if anyone saw her hands or face at all. She always wore thick, oppressive mourning outfits, with black veils and trailing dresses. She usually appeared as an omen, or a warning.
Lena Mitchell was an African-American woman in Kingsport. Her home was located between Dale and Center Streets. Mitchell was also plagued with a woman in black, but her experience was unlike any others reported.
Her woman in black was also African-American, and only appeared to torment her. The villainous figure paid her a visit on the evening of November 14. Every time she appeared in town, Mitchell went into a trance-like state. Her relatives called it a “fit.” They suspected her nemesis somehow had her under hypnosis. They claimed it had happened before.
Reporters visited Mitchell’s house to hear her words and found her bedridden. Three relatives tended to her, and they were afraid to leave her alone. They feared she would kill herself. The physician summoned said they needed to leave her alone and she would eventually come around. The only words Mitchell could say revolved around the mysterious figure, and her wish that she would leave.
Chief of Police Bob Saylor began a city-wide search for the malevolent stranger. He was going to tell her to leave town. Relatives noted that, when it happened before, they found a strange hoodoo object beneath Mitchell’s bed. Once they got rid of it, her symptoms subsided and she returned to normal.
The search continued for 24 hours. Even though Mitchell continued to suffer symptoms, the police had exhausted their resources. No such woman was found. Mitchell’s condition continued to grow worse. The Chief said he didn’t exactly believe in hoodoo, but didn’t want a stranger in town making trouble.
Nothing further was reported about the case, but Mitchell is believed to have recovered.