Friday, October 24, 2008
Southern Ghosts Part Eleven - Petit Jean's Ghost, Arkansas
One of the most cherished and beloved legends in the South is the story of Petit Jean in Arkansas.
As the story goes Petit Jean was a young French girl. Because she was small in size or petite, she was called Petit Jean by those who knew her.
Her lover came to America on a voyage of exploration during the 1700s, when Arkansas was a French possession and, rather than be left behind, she disguised herself as a cabin boy so she could follow him across the Atlantic.
Her identity was discovered and she accompanied her love on an expedition up the Arkansas River, then an important route in the French fur trade. As the explorers were camped beneath what is now Petit Jean Mountain and visiting with the inhabitants of a local Native American village, Petit Jean mysteriously sickened and died. The saddened villagers carried her to the top of the mountain and buried her in a natural rock garden facing the rising sun.
Her traditional grave can still be seen today, high atop the mountain. Now surrounded by an iron fence, the low mound of earth is in the center of large rock formations near the overlook on the east side of the mountain.
Long-standing tradition in the area holds that the young girl's restless ghost still roams the area around her grave. People have reported seeing the strange figure of a sad young woman on the mountaintop and others claim to have seen mysterious lights in the area of the grave.
To learn more about the story of Petit Jean's ghost and to see photos of Petit Jean Mountain, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/petitjean1.