I remember hearing stories of this famous local ghost growing up. In the 1970’s many of the head stones where vandalized in the Rose Hill Cemetery and it was at this time many tales where told of The White Witch of Nortonville.
For over a 100 years there has been sightings of a woman dressed in a white period (1860’s) dress walking in the grave yard or standing by the cemetery’s entrance. This woman is alleged to be Sarah Norton whose husband Noah founded the town of Nortonville. Sarah was a skilled, dedicated midwife who delivered over 600 babies in the coal mining communities. She was rumored to be an a unbeliever because she was not known to be a “very religious person.”
On October 5th, 1879 while in route to deliver a baby Sarah was thrown from her buggy and killed when her horses bolted and ran. She was greatly admired by the towns people and they tried on two occasions to have a funeral for her, but on both occasions violent storms interrupted the proceedings. It was rumored that the townspeople simply put her into her grave without a “Christian Burial”. Some believe this is why Sarah’s apparition is seen haunting the grave yard. However there is another version which I personally favor which is that Sarah’s ghost is watching over the souls of the many children who died from epidemics that are buried there. Helping them into this life as well as the next.
Although I personally have never seen the White Witch, I have been to the Rose Hill Cemetery. It is a beautiful place high on a hill overlooking what used to be the town of Nortonville. The wind seems to constantly blow through the old cypress trees, carrying with it the whispering voices of the children buried there. Cyn KG6UHJ
Rose Hill Cemetery can be found in the 5,000 acre Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, near the Mount Diablo silica sand mine; Hazel-Atlas Mine, located between two old mining town sites, Nortonville and Somersville. Starting at the south end of Somersville Rd., which runs through what was once the mining town of Somerville, one takes about a 3/4-mile hike up a dirt road which takes the hiker(s) through flowery fields, turning up into a hilly area past friendly cows and which finally ends at the old Rose Hills Cemetery, which has a glorious view of what was the city of Somerville and the surrounding hills.