In 1828, the work began on the Sandy and Beaver Canal, with Edward Gill as the Chief Engineer at the helm. He was brought over from Ireland, along with his wife and daughter. His wife died mysteriously on their way across the Atlantic. Buried at sea, Gretchen was devastated at her mother's loss. She traveled with her father in the Columbiana County area, staying at whatever town was closest to the particular lock her father happened to be working on. No doubt she stayed in towns like Gilford, New Lisbon, Elkton, and Spruceville. In fact it was Spruceville (today called Sprucevale) that she was staying when she contracted malaria, a common disease for the time.
It was severe and many people died from it. So did Gretchen. Grief stricken, Edward had her body entombed into the Lock he was working on at the time of her death. Lock #41.
The Sandy and Beaver Canal took twenty years to finish. In 1848, or somewhere in that time frame, Edward returned to Lock 41 for the body of his beloved daughter to return to Ireland for burial. It is a journey they would not complete. The ship he was transporting his daughter back to Ireland on went down at sea in a terrible storm. The family was joined, all buried at sea. But, the ghost of Gretchen Gill has been seen many times of the decades. She appears as a white form wandering through the woods. She is often heard to be calling:
"My mother. I want my mother!"
No one knows why she came back to Sprucevale to haunt the sleepy little park. But then, why do any of the ghosts there choose to remain? We may never know. But it sure is fun looking for answers!
Her birthday is August 12. It is on this date that many believe she is best seen. We will be down there to find out!