The story played out in a brief succession of news articles in 1892. Eyewitness accounts. Ghost siting reported on the Wentz farm about 10 miles south of Salem. Could it be the disturbed remains of a pioneer woman buried some 45 years earlier as the witnesses attested? Or some practical joke played by neighbor farmhands. Either way, it made for a good story.
In the D.M. Morris account, a hired hand working for Mr. Lewis Wentz unknowingly parked his plow over the grave before returning to the farmhouse for his supper. After his meal he returned to the field to clean his plow and turn it over in preparation for work the next day. While engaged in the task, he felt himself “enveloped in a cool, wavy, mysterious, and indescribable sort of vapor” according to the report in the Statesman Journal. Startled, he looked around to find a fair woman standing behind him. He spoke to her, but she did not respond. The cold, scornful face she cast at him frightened him enough that he picked up a fence rail and directed three fierce blows at her. The rail met no resistance whatsoever. Sufficiently alarmed he took off running in the direction of the farmhouse half a mile away. Over plowed ground and stubble he stumbled, pursued closely by the ghost woman. Just as he reached a large pile of boulders that marked the end of the field, she disappeared into nothingness. Out of breath and covered in perspiration he returned to the farmhouse kitchen to tell his tale only to discover that others had encountered her before, including a son-in-law to Mr. Wentz and other neighbor farmers.
Local folklore suggested that the foundation for the story began forty-five years earlier in 1847 when the mortal remains of a pioneer woman was laid to rest in the sod in the middle of the pasture on what was now known as the Lewis Wentz place. As time passed, the pasture was turned into a field and brought under cultivation. At first the grave was plowed around, but after awhile forgotten through long neglect and change of farm hands. Once plowed, grain grew over the dust of the woman who, at her own request, had been buried on the grassy hillside. Current county maps pinpoint the location of the property, now bisected by I-5, southwest of Willamette Valley Vineyards where Cloverdale Rd. splits off of Enchanted Way.