Ghost stories and Valentine’s Day? It’s surprising to realize how many ghost stories are actually stories of unrequited love, love gone wrong or star-crossed lovers. Romeo and Juliet – I bet their ghosts spend a lot of time hitting themselves on their own foreheads and saying, “Duh! If I had only…” The Ghost and Mrs. Muir – one of my favorite movies about love between a mortal and a ghost. And how many heart-wrenching, romantic (okay, that’s a matter of opinion) dead teenager songs are out there – Deadman’s Curve, Tell Laura I Love Her, Teen Angel and Leader of the Pack, just to name a few.
But not many combine love, jealousy and murder like the Lady in Black – The Legend of Dona Leonora. Poor Leonora has been haunting the intersection of Highways 141 and 281 between the cities of Premont, TX and Ben Bold, TX for more than two hundred years. Some of the last witnesses were four men on their way to work an oil refinery. They all claim to seeing a woman in black appear right in front of their vehicle in the middle of the road. They couldn’t possibly avoid hitting her so they tried to stop. Nobody heard a thud or a bump but they were all sure that the lady had been hit. After getting out of their vehicle they discovered that there was no lady to be seen anywhere. They called the sheriff, who searched the area with spotlights but nothing was ever found.
The story starts with Don Ramos, who was a very wealthy landowner. And he was single. Probably on the top ten most-eligible in the province. According to the legend, there was a single woman who was his neighbor who assumed that she would end up being Mrs. Don Ramos – or Dona Ramos. Unfortunately, no one told Don Ramos about her plan. So, he went on a business trip to Mexico and brought a lovely bride back home with him. Leonora. She was a lovely Mexican woman who adored her husband.
Unfortunately, the neighbor was not very happy about the turn of events.
Soon after the marriage celebration, Don Ramos was notified that he needed to return to Spain immediately on some urgent business. Unwilling to expose his young wife to the dangers of a sea voyage, he left her at the ranch house. She was heartbroken, but waited faithfully for her husband to return home.
He was gone for six months and when he returned his young wife joyously informed him that he was going to become a father. Don Ramos was so happy and proud that he told everyone in the community about their wonderful news.
Well, that neighbor was still upset about not getting Don Ramos for herself, so she decided to stir the pot. She started a rumor that Leonora had been unfaithful to Don Ramos while he was gone and that the baby was not his. The rumor spread and Don Ramos found out about it.
Although Leonora denied it, Don Ramos was jealous and angry. He called two of his ranch hands and instructed them to tell his wife to put on a black dress. Then they were to place her on a horse and take her on a full-day’s journey away from the hacienda. When they reached the crossroads, they were to hang her for her infidelity.
When the ranch hands and Leonora reached the crossroads, the men led her horse underneath the tree and then threw a rope around a large limb. Leonora wasn’t stupid, she realized what they were going to do. She insisted she was innocent and had not committed any crime. She also told them that if they hanged her, she would never let them forget they hung an innocent woman.
In the meantime, Don Ramos was having second thoughts and he was riding as quickly as he could to stop the hanging. Unfortunately, he was too late. But, according to legend, Don Ramos realized the moment his wife died and he took a pistol from his belt and killed himself.
Dona Leonora still walks the roads, trying to find Don Ramos and convince him that she was never unfaithful. The Lady in Black, does love keep her here – or revenge?