Some years before the outbreak of the Civil War, a man with his wife and daughter took up their residence in a log cabin at the foot of Sunrise Rock, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. It seemed probable that they had known better days, for the head of the household was believed to get his living through “writin’ or book-larnin’,” but was fairly useless at hunting and farming.
The father was so quiet and gentle that the neighbors never upbraided him for his lack of practical skills, and would sometimes, after making a call, wander into his garden and casually weed it for him for an hour or so. The wife was a spunky lady who became an active member of the local church, and whose cooking was legendary in the settlement. And the daughter, Stella, was a well-schooled, quick-witted, rosy-cheeked lass, whom all the shaggy, big-jointed farmer lads of the neighborhood regarded with hopeless admiration.
A year or two after the settlement of the family, it began to be noticed that Stella was losing color and had an anxious look, and when a friendly old farmer saw her talking in the lane with a lawyer from Chattanooga, who wore broadcloth and had a gold watch, he was puzzled that the “city chap” did not go home with her, but kissed his hand to her as he turned away. Afterward the farmer met the pair again, and while the girl smiled and said, “Howdy, Uncle Joe?” the lawyer turned away and looked down the river. It was the last time that a smile was seen on Stella’s face.
A few evenings later, Stella was seen standing on Sunrise Rock, with her look bent on Chattanooga. The shadow of night crept up the cliff until only her figure stood in sunlight, with her hair like a golden halo about her face. At that moment came on the wind the sound of bells-wedding-bells.
Pressing her hands to her ears, the girl walked to the edge of the rock, and a few seconds later her lifeless form rolled through the bushes at its foot into the road.
At her funeral the people came from far and near to offer sympathy to the mother, garbed in black, and the father, with his hair turned white, but the lawyer from Chattanooga was not there.
Since that tragic day, a misty white figure sometimes appears at the edge of Sunrise Rock just before twilight. Most times, the spirit stares wistfully down into the city of Chattanooga. But whenever church bells ring through the valley, the ghost of Stella wrings her hands in despair and leaps once again from the heights.
Citation: Skinner, Charles M. Myths and Legends of Our Own Land. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1896. Edited by S.E. Schlosser. This article is in the public domain and is part of the cited work.