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The Ghost of Laura Starr Latta

According to local legend, on Arkansas Highway 64, especially on rainy nights, the tormented spirit of Laura Starr Latta will appear. She died a month before her 20th birthday in 1899. Motorists claim to have seen Laura's tiny, frail body in a white nightgown standing on the side of the road opposite the cemetery where her body lay. Some old stories say that Laura was accosted by a group of thugs and beaten to death on the way to her wedding.

County records show that Laura Starr Latta was born Sept. 19, 1879, and died Aug. 22, 1899. She was the daughter of Andrew J. Latta, born May 7, 1829, died Jan. 15, 1905, and of Sarah Ann Latta, born Jan. 13, 1845, died Feb. 1, 1926.

The grave of Andrew J, Latta. Image credit: Find a Grave

Laura Starr Latta is buried beside her father's grave, who died on January 15, 1905 and grandparents as well as other family members.

Image credit: Find a Grave

The ghost of Laura Starr Latta is said to haunt the Price Cemetery, particularly during the rain and on the anniversary of her death, August 22. 

The Latta family resided in the Georgetown. Although local newspapers recorded the deaths of both parents (Andrew Latta died of what was considered to be “congestion of the brain”), listing them as prominent citizens, little is found on Laura.

Stories have circulated in the community over a ghost with white nightgown who is seen flagging down cars along the north rock wall of the cemetery on U.S. 64. She is presumed to be the ghost of Laura Starr Latta.

According to legend, she met with a violent death, and several sightings include the fact her wedding gown is stained with blood.

The inscription on her tombstone reads:

"Gentle Stranger passing by,
As you are now, once was I.
As I am now, so you must be.
Prepare yourself to follow me."

Many peculiar experiences are attributed to Latta, but the most common thread in recorded tales is that the ghost of Latta is a phantom hitchhiker. Several accounts exist of folks giving her rides, but she always disappeared before they got too far away from the cemetery.

Another local resident noted that her grandmother saw the ghost sitting along the side of an open grave dangling her legs over the edge. “There was a pair of new blue party shoes right beside her.”

Cemetery caretaker Darwin Price grew up down the road from the cemetery and has never seen or heard anything out of the ordinary in his 74 years, with one exception. Every few days there is a pair of shoes on the rock wall where the ghost is said to walk. “It’s the strangest thing,” he said. “I’m cleaning the cemetery up, and I throw the shoes away, but, sure enough, another pair will show up in the exact same spot a couple days later. It’s been going on for years.”

Local teenagers have been enraptured with the rumors, and another cemetery caretaker expressed concern over vandalism. The marker was missing for two years and found in a dorm room at the University of the Ozarks. “That tombstone has been stolen so many times, and the last time it was broken in half when we recovered it at a car wash in Russellville 10 years ago."

Today, only the footstone with the engraved letters “LSL” and the top of Latta’s headstone bearing flowers is evident at her grave beside her parents, grandparents, infant neice, sister and nephew under several tall old fir trees.


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