Amy Lynn Greer has always been a sucker for ghost stories. As a child, she longed to dig into the books about hauntings in her school library, usually kept in the sections she wasn’t allowed in.
Once she got to second grade, she started reading books by Nancy Roberts, the bestselling author who began writing ghost stories for the Charlotte Observer.
“She was pretty famous for ghost legends,” Greer says about Roberts. “She really inspired me back then.”
As an adult Greer partnered up with a close friend, Michael Renegar, to dig into ghost stories of the Triad, namely the one surrounding a supposedly haunted bridge in Jamestown on East Main Street.
The legend goes something like this: A woman flags down a car at night, hoping to catch a ride back to her house. Her name is Lydia and she spent the evening at a dance. When the driver pulls up to the mysterious woman’s house, they find that she’s vanished. Confused, the driver approaches the front door and asks the woman who answers if she’s seen Lydia. The woman answers that her daughter, Lydia, died in 1923 near the overpass where she was picked up and has a habit of flagging cars down.
“She is, I would say, the number-one ghost story around here,” Greer says. “She’s one of the ones that always pops up to the top of the list.”
Greer met Renegar, whom she calls her brother, in 2006 and they became fast friends. They started researching Lydia’s legend and began digging into death certificates to try and find the real-life Lydia. Then, in 2017, Greer and Renegar stumbled across an old article that recounted the death of a young woman in the same area as the bridge in Jamestown, only her name wasn’t Lydia, it was Annie L. Jackson.
“But the timing matched up,” Greer says. “It was in June, and it was in the ’20s.”
The article explains that Jackson was killed almost instantly when the car she was riding in turned over after the driver lost control on a sharp turn. According to the article, Jackson was about 30 years old and was a native of Guilford County.
“She wasn’t a teenager going to a ball, but she was out past her curfew,” Greer says. “She lived in a boarding house in Greensboro.”
After Greer and Renegar posted their findings on their Facebook page, the duo was approached by a woman who said that Jackson was her great, great aunt.
“She said that she had been doing research too and had been thinking that her aunt was Lydia this whole time,” Greer says. “That’s where everything started matching up.”
In 2018, Greer and Renegar published Looking for Lydia, a book which recounts three decades of researching the legend.
Greer says she spend almost a decade trying to match Lydia with a real person. Renegar spent closer to 30 years.
“We kept running ourselves into dead ends,” Greer recalls. “I was like we’re going to be searching death records until we’re dead trying to match this up.”
But something always drew her back into Lydia’s story, she says.
“I’ll be honest,” Greer says. “I believe she was haunting us, wanting us to find this. There were several occasions where I ended up out there for no apparent reason. I kept ending up at this bridge. I believe that was her telling me that we needed to continue searching. We both felt a very strong connection to her spirit.”
Although she personally hasn’t seen anything at the bridge, which is currently under construction, Greer says on a few occasions, she felt like there was a presence when she was there.
“There was something there that she just wanted us to find that we hadn’t found yet,” Greer says.
She says one of her friends reported having one of the last sightings of Lydia in 2012.
“I still have a friend that goes out there once in a while to see if we can see her,” Greer says.
Earlier this month, Renegar passed away due to complications of diabetes, according to Greer. She’s still mourning the loss of her best friend and mentor but says she’s going to continue the work he started to uncover local mysteries and legends.
“It’s important to preserve our history,” Greer says. “to take time to find evidence. For all those years, we thought it was an urban legend, like Bloody Mary…. But when it comes down to hauntings, my goal as an investigator or as a writer is to try to give you the history that goes with the story, not just the legend. That way it’s more believable.”
And while Lydia’s story is one of the most famous in the Triad, Greer says this area is home to a lot of other hauntings and ghost stories.
“We’re rich in haunted history,” she says. “It’s really beautiful…I think it’s something of interest that people enjoy. It takes their mind off of everything that’s going on.”