The Lady of the Lake is one of the most legendary ghost tales to ever captivate Dallas and generations have tried to find her over the years at White Rock Lake; while there are two popular variations to the tale with differences, both versions also share similarities as we will see. Reader's Digest recently released a list of the 14 most haunted bodies of water in the world. And on it, right above Loch Ness (yes, that Loch Ness), was Dallas' own White Rock Lake.
The first published version of the tale has been traced back to 1943 when a lady named Anne Clark wrote about “The Ghost of White Rock Lake” to be included in the collection of short stories published as “Backwoods to Border” by the Texas Folklore Society.
According to this version a beautiful young girl who appeared to have a wet dress and hair approached a couple who had been parked along the shoreline. She told the couple that she had been in a boating accident where the craft had overturned. She assured the couple that everyone was safe but that she needed to get home before her father became worried and as she climbed into the back seat of the car she told them an address in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas.
At one point the couple asked her a question and were stunned to see the back seat was empty save for a puddle of water where the girl had been sitting. The couple continued on to the address they were given and went to the front door where a man received them. The man listened politely to their tale but his face was etched with sadness. He shared with the couple that they were the third duo to come to his front door sharing the same story -- and then he dropped a bombshell: his daughter had drowned at the lake a few weeks previously.
Over the next decade, the tale of The Lady of the Lake grew and a second version was published by Frank X Tolbert in his book, “Neiman Marcus, Texas: The Story of the Proud Dallas Store”. This version of the story named a Mr. and Mrs. Guy Malloy as the couple in the car and that they handled visual merchandising displays at the flagship Neiman Marcus in Downtown Dallas.
In this version, the ghostly lady offered no details as to how she became drenched and the address she needed to go to had changed from Oak Cliff to one that was nearby on Gaston Avenue in the Lakewood area of Dallas. Mrs. Malloy commented to her husband that she was certain the lady was wearing a Neiman Marcus dress - naturally! Just before arriving at the address, the couple realized their back seat was vacant save for the wet spot where the lady had been sitting. This time, the man who answered the door shared that his daughter had died after falling off a pier at the lake several years earlier; he also stated that she only wore Neiman Marcus apparel.
Over the next few decades, the tale became steeped in legend and it wasn’t unusual for parents or older siblings to drive youngsters around White Rock Lake on a mission to see the Lady in person.
“I remember frequently having sleepovers at a childhood friend’s home and her father would indulge a car load of girls by taking us out to see if we could spot the Lady of the Lake,” shared Beverly Heart who was the official storyteller for the City of Dallas for several years. “We tried so hard to find her and it seemed our eyes would play tricks on us -- was that her standing among the rushing water near the spillway? Or was she coming ashore with the mist from the lake? We never did confirm a sighting of her but I do recall others swearing that they had witnessed her and she was always drenched but beautifully dressed.”
Many people have tried to nail down the origin of the story and what is known is that a Mr. Guy Malloy truly did work at Neiman Marcus as old phone directories from that era confirmed his existence as did employee directories from the legendary department store.
At some point in the 1960’s a differing version had the Lady appearing in a negligee and that she was despondent and ended her life by throwing herself into the lake. The sad part of this version is that there are at least two documented cases of despondent women taking their own lives at the lake.
Louise Ford Davis took her life on July 5, 1935; she had left a note for her sister, Mrs. Frank Doyle, who immediately alerted police. Officers sped to the lake in an attempt to save Davis and it was DPD Detective Bryan who shared in an interview with The Daily Dallas Times Herald that he had spotted her body as he sped along Garland Road. Sadly, it appeared that officers were only a couple minutes too late in saving her. There was no mention of how Davis was dressed; she was buried in Albany, Texas.
The other occurrence happened on November 24, 1942 when Mansfield resident Rose Stone drowned herself in the lake. A passerby named Johnnie Williams discovered Stone; she was wearing a sweater and skirt and had pinned a farewell note to her clothing asking that her relatives be notified of her death.
Whether the Lady of the Lake really existed or she is a representation of the lost souls, we will leave that up to you to decide!
Join our Dallas-Dark-Tales Walking Tour to explore the more ghoulish and curious side of Dallas history. Explore the city’s past as our guide takes you on an eerie, yet fun-filled, adventure.