Sunday, August 28, 2011

201 EAST PECAN STREET

AUSTIN, TEXAS - The building at 201 East Pecan street was built in 1861 by the Ziller Family and opened for business as the first boarding house in Austin, which they called "The Missouri House". It's rumored that the boarding house was also a brothel. Several brothels where known to operate in that area just south east of "Guy Town". Through out the years the building at 201 East Pecan Street served the community as a bar, store, and many other businesses. Always a community place to meet and greet, so to speak. As years past the popular Driskill Hotel was built across the street on the corner of Brazos and Pecan, (now known as 6th Street).

201 East Pecan Street in 2002 (now 6th Street)
Buffalo Billiards

Buffalo Billiards occupies the building today and some say the building is experiencing echoes from it's past in the form of paranormal activities and apparitions. The first week of operation the manager did his normal nightly routine of placing all the pool sticks on the racks, and the billiard balls in their cases before closing and locking the doors for the night. The next morning, he arrived early to catch up on some paperwork after unlocking the front door he noticed that in the front foyer all of the sticks where laying on the tables and the ball were stern everywhere. Several balls were found lying on the floor. The manager immediately thought someone had broken into the store so he called the Austin Police department to report the break in. When the officers arrived they checked the building for any marks of a break-in or signs of intrusions and found none. The building's alarm was still armed and didn't show any signs of being tampered with. The police checked the building for possible intruders hiding within the building and found know one. It looked as if the manager had forgotten to clean up before he closed for the day.


Not long after that strange experience a cleaning woman was on the second floor in the area called the "Orbit Lounge". While mopping the floor of the lounge she felt as if someone had been watching her. When she had finished the chore she left the mop and bucket and went back in to turn off the lights. On her way back to the front door, where she had left the mop and bucket, she felt someone tap her on the shoulder. She turned around and saw nothing but the blackness of the room. She let out a loud scream then ran out of the second floor and the building. She quit the next day and never returned. 

A night bartender was getting the bar ready for a party in the Orbit Lounge one afternoon and had left the floor to get some clean glasses from downstairs. When he walked back up to the second floor lounge he noticed a gentleman in strange attire near a window looking out onto Brazos street. When he asked the man if he could help him the man turned to look at him and smiled. Then turned and walked to where a door had been before the floor was remodeled. He stepped through the wall and down the hall, only to disappear around a corner. When the bartender calmed down enough to tell others what he had seen he mention that the gentleman was wearing a suit like that of someone that lived in the later 1800's.


If you ever visit Buffalo Billiards ask the employees about any paranormal activates in the old building at 201 East Pecan (6th street). Almost everyone has seen or had something happen to them while working there.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

HAUNTING THE ELEMENTARY

AUSTIN, TEXAS - The corridors, once filled with bustling activity, now were quiet and dark. School posters and lunch menus had been replaced by graffiti, and the men who walked the hallways were not teachers, but contractors sent to demolish the school. They would have problems; the dilapidated old building was not as empty as it looked.
Old Metz Elementary (Pictured here just before the demolitions began.)
Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas
 Metz Elementary opened in 1916. That same year, the school board decided that Spanish-speaking children should attend a separate school. The board felt that the children would learn better if they had lessons in Spanish as well as English. Up until that time, the Mexican-American community in Austin had not formally protested any action taken by the school board, but many people from the neighborhood most affected appeared before the board to disagree with the decision. The proposed school would be several miles away, making transportation difficult for the children and their parents; there was also a concern that if the Spanish-speaking students were segregated, they would not have the same opportunities as the those who spoke English. While the board never formally backed down from its position, Spanish-speaking students who attended the nearby school, Metz Elementary, were never asked to leave or to attend the other school, and after a period of time, the matter was quietly dropped. 

Metz Elementary served the community through the better part of eight decades, but by 1989 the school was considered too small to meet the growing needs of the surrounding neighborhood. The decision was reached to tear down the structure and build a new and bigger school in its place. The crew who arrived to do the work did not anticipate any problems; there appeared to be nothing difficult about demolishing the crumbling structure.

However, they realized from the first day that someone or something wanted to make the job almost impossible. The first strange thing was hearing the sound of children's laughter when they had assured themselves that the condemned building was empty. Then they saw writing on the blackboards when no one had been nearby. Equipment that had been running perfectly before reaching the site broke down. Bulldozers and trucks stalled out for no discernible reason, and even workman's watches would suddenly stop running while they attempted to pull down the school's walls. Understandably, men begin to quit or just not show up for work, but the construction company refused to give in to supernatural pressure. They continued trying to work even as strange accidents plagued them. Finally, after a workman was fatally injured in a wall collapse, a clergyman was brought in to bless the building and the area was leveled. The odd occurrences made national news, and the Metz School Mystery has been puzzled over by curious people nationwide.

A new school stands almost in the same spot as the old Metz Elementary and now fulfills the same role in the community that the first smaller school did for so long. Perhaps the ties to the neighborhood and the school are so strong that some students never really leave.


Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories featured the Metz School story (originally broadcasted on Wednesday, May 15, 1991 on CBS Television).  The show was directed by Tobe Hooper, known for Poltergeist and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: and edited by Jonathan Moser who also created the special effects in the show.  Show Stars: Leonard Nimoy (Narrator), Guest Stars: Kent Burden (Joe Torres), Sarah Carson (Kate Morgan aka Lottie Bernard), Hector Elias (Morris Torres), John Hammil (Yonny Yonson (ghost)), Shawn Kristy (Elizabeth Murphy), Eileen Jo Bowman (Store Clerk), Eli Guralnick (Store Manager), Juan Garcia (Otto), Del Zamora (Gabe Torres), Robert Jacobs (Tom Morgan), Van Williams (Mr. Fitzgerald), Alvin Silver (Alan May)



 

THE BERTRAM BUILDING

AUSTIN, TEXAS - Rudolph Bertram (1829-1892) arrived in Austin in 1853 and began a trading post. In 1872 Bertram purchased the building at 1601 Guadalupe. In 1880 he began a wholesale grocery business, saloon and general store (1st floor) that served Austin for decades. Living quarters were on the second floor. The town of Bertram was named for Rudolph Bertram. Recently the historic building has served as several restaurants and bars. The building currently offers contemporary Indian cuisine and is known as the Clay Pit.

Outside the Clay Pit
 On our initial research, we discovered that in the basement there is a tunnel that led to a conveniently located brothel next door. Austin had several brothels in what was officially classified in City documents as the First Ward, bordered by the river and Guadalupe, Colorado, and Fifth Street. Everyone else called it "Mexico", or, more commonly, "Guy Town". Many brothels had tunnels leading to them so the more "high-toned" male citizenry wouldn't be seen visiting.  Their clients were city council members, legislators, students from the university, and businessmen who tacitly supported business in Guy Town through their continued patronage. 


Inside the Clay Pit at 1601 Guadalupe Street
  Several occurrences of strange "party like" noises have been reported coming from the up stair's dinning room in the nearly 150 year-old building. When the restaurant staff would walk up stairs to investigate the source of the noise, upon their arrival, the noise would suddenly stop. Witnesses have seen the apparition of a small child on the second floor. Exactly who the small child is remains unknown. However, looking at the records of possible deaths near or around the building, Bertram had a young son die in the family of typhoid fever. 


Whenever you're in the area of 1601 Guadalupe stop by the Clay Pit restaurant and enjoy the ambiance of the old Bertram building. The food is excellent!

THE DRISKILL HOTEL

AUSTIN, TEXAS - The hotel located at 604 Brazos Street in Austin opened its doors to the public on December 20, 1886, a dream came true for cattle baron, Jesse Lincoln Driskill. He had purchased the site for his future hotel in 1885 - an entire city block for $7,500. The venture, once finished, cost the outrageous  $400,000 and quickly became the premier "frontier queen" hostelry. Jasper N. Preston and Sons of Austin designed the original cream-colored brick and limestone building, which was apparently inspired by H. H. Richardson's recently completed Ames Building in Boston. Driskill had busts of himself and his two sons, Tobe and Bud, installed over each entrance. In October 1898, Austin's first long-distance telephone call was placed from the lobby.

Photo: PICA 05041, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library
  Since Austin is the capital city of the state, the Driskill Hotel was the place to be seen if you were a political figure. Many deals and compromises that effected the state of Texas and the world where made within the walls of the Driskill, and former US President Lyndon Johnson often watched election returns at the Driskill. Indeed, history has been made within its walls.
Some say that Colonel Driskill (an honorary title bestowed on him by the Confederate army during the Civil War) loved his hotel so much that his spirit remains on the property he purchased so long ago. According to Austin Ghost Tours, Driskill makes his presence known by the smell of cigar smoke. He is believed to turn bathroom lights on and off in several guest rooms on the top floors of the hotel.

Another apparition is the four-year-old daughter of a US Senator. She haunts the grand staircase leading from the mezzanine down to the lobby. The little girl was playing unattended with a ball when she slipped and fell to the marble floor at the bottom of the stairs and was killed. The front desk staff has heard the child bouncing the ball down the steps and giggling.

In the early 1990s, a Houston woman took a trip to the Driskill to try and recuperate from a wedding that her fiancé called off at the last minute . Staying in Room 29, she decided the best way to help herself would be to go on a week-long shopping spree with her fiancé's credit cards.  She was last seen coming out of the elevator on the fourth floor with her arms filled with numerous bags and packages, and her body was discovered three days later when the housekeepers became concerned that she hadn't left the room to eat. Her body was found lying in the bathtub; she had shot herself in the stomach, muffling the sound with a pillow. The Austin Police Department crime scene photographer reported that it was a sad to see such a young women commit suicide when she could have had a long, happy life ahead of her. 

An Austin Ghost Tour guide tells the story of two women who wanted to see a ghost and had heard the story of the Houston woman. At the time, the fourth floor was undergoing restoration and wasn't open for overnight stays, so the ladies got a room on the other side of the hotel. The women stayed out late visiting Sixth Street and came in around 2 AM. Being curious, they decided to stop the elevator on the fourth floor and have a look around. However, when they saw the hallways were lined with plastic and all of the beautiful paintings had been removed from the walls, they decided it wasn't such a good ideal to be walking around there after all, and they called he elevator back. When the elevator door opened, a young women stepped out with her arms full of bags and packages; she walked past them without saying a word and headed down the dark plastic-lined hallway. The two ladies wondered and how the woman could have done any shopping at that time of night. Following her down the hallway they asked if the renovations were bothering her. She replied, "No, It's not bothering me," then went into Room 29. The women became troubled and decided to get to their floor as fast as they could. The next day, they asked the front desk clerk why someone was staying in Room 29, since they were told no one could stay on that floor during the repairs. The clerk assured them no one was staying on the floor and took the two ladies up to Room 29. The group found the room still draped in plastic, without a bed, and with a bathroom sink sitting in the middle of the floor. The ladies then realized they had seen the ghost of the "Houston Bride."

The Driskill Hotel on YouTube

Many other ghosts have been seen roaming the hallways and rooms of the Driskill. What Was Then recommends Austin Ghost Tours for a firsthand look at the hotel and to learn more about the many guests still checked in at the Driskill.




LINKS


THE DRISKILL HOTEL - Book a stay at the famous Austin Hotel.


AUSTIN GHOST TOURS - Take the tour for yourself. We dare ya!
Spinner Magazine - Ghost of A Texas Ladies Man


TEXAS GOVERNOR'S MANSION

Texas Governor's Mansion (2001)
  AUSTIN, TEXAS - The Texas Governor's Mansion located at 1010 Colorado was built in 1856. From 1845 to 1856 the Governors didn't have a "suitable residence". In 1854 the Texas Legislature appropriated $14,500 for construction of a permanent residence for the Governor of Texas. A Greek Revival style building was chosen and designed by Austin master builder Abner Cook, (1814-1884). The bricks used to build the Mansion came from a clay pit on the Colorado River which produced the buff-colored bricks. Abner Cook owned the clay pit as well as the sawmill in Bastrop which supplied the pine lumber from the area forest. Construction was completed on June 14,1856.

Today the Mansion is the oldest remaining public building in downtown Austin. It's the fourth oldest governor's mansion continuously occupied in the United States.
The building has a colorful history since opening in 1856, (Check out the links below.) Paranormal activity includes occupants reporting seeing the former Texas hero, Republic of Texas President, and Governor, Sam Houston in his bedroom in the Mansion. Sam Houston served as governor from 1859 to 1861. The wife and daughter of Governor Mark White had encounters with the spirit of "Old Sam" back in the 80's.

The saddest story of one of the known ghost that inhabits the Mansion began shortly after midnight in 1864, a nephew of  Governor Pendleton Murrah (1863-1865), committed suicide with a pistol in an upstairs bedroom. He was only 19 years old and heart broken because of a refused marriage proposal. To this day sounds of footsteps, moaning and cold spots have been reported in that bedroom. In the Mansion doorknobs turning mysteriously. 

UPDATE

Texas Governor's Mansion after the fire on Sunday, June 8, 2008, in Austin, Texas

 Someone threw a Molotov cocktail on the front porch of the Mansion on June 8, 2008 and the fire cause extensive damage to the historic building. 

 
Will the ghost still haunt the Mansion after it's repaired and the Governor returns? Time will tell.

HAUNTED CAPITOL


Texas Capitol Building (2011)
  AUSTIN, TEXAS - Built over a three-year period between 1885 and 1888, the Texas Capitol has been a host to many historic events. Within it's walls great American's shaped a State and a Nation.  It's not a wonder that some of their spirits remained within it's wall to this day.
On the 30th day of June in 1903 at about 10:00 am, while serving as state comptroller, ROBERT MARSHALL LOVE (1847-1903),  was shot at his desk in the Capitol  by W. G. Hill, a former employee of the state comptrollers department. His last words were, "I have no idea why he shot me. May the Lord bless him and forgive him. I cannot say more." He died several hours later in Austin and was buried at Tehuacana  his home town..

Today's Capitol is under constant watch by the Capitol police department (now part of the Texas DPS).  Nothing moves within the Capitol walls without being seen by an officer. Cameras have recorded the image of a man dresses in a business suite dating back to 1903 standing near the old comptroller of public accounts office. Several visitors have reported a "nice man-- dressed funny" to the visitor's desk on the first floor. Officers have reported walking up to a man on the second floor, east wing during off hours and as they approach the man he turns and walks through a wall. Others report someone watching them while on tour at the Capitol and have noticed an oddly dressed man starring down at them from the second floor. Some reported the man has spoken to them as they walked by him. Saying " Good Day" and as they turn to reply he is gone.

Many believe the spirit is the man who was suddenly killed while serving Texas almost one hundred years ago. On your next visit if you see a nice man dressed in clothes from an older period, and  if you have a chance, ask him.

TEXAS - FIRST IN FLIGHT!

North Carolina license plates reads "First in Flight" because of the Wright Brothers first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. on December 17, 1903. School children throughout the world read in history books that this event was the first powered airplane flight ever. But is that correct? Some in Texas say: "Not True".

December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, NC
Flew 120 feet. Time, 12 seconds. Orville Wright at the controls
Photo LC-USZ62-6166-A - Library of Congress

 SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

Jacob Brodbeck, a German settler who established himself in Fredericksburg in 1847 as the second teacher at the Vereins Kirche could be the first person to have flown a powered air-ship in America. Jacob moved to San Antonio in 1863 and became a school inspector. There he worked on his plan to create a flying "air-ship". Soon he had a working model of his invention that had a rudder, wings, and a propeller powered by coiled springs. After showing his working model at local fairs he was encouraged to build a full-sized version of his craft that could carry a man.  His funding came from local men, including Dr. Ferdinand Herff of San Antonio, H. Guenther of New Braunfels and A. W. Engel of Cranes Mill, who bought shares in his project. Jacob promised to repay them within six months of selling the patent rights to his machine.

His full-sized airship, which featured an enclosed space for the "aeronaut," a water propeller in case of accidental landings on water, a compass, and a barometer, and for which Brodbeck had predicted speeds between 30 and 100 miles per hour.  The flight took place in San Pedro Park, in San Antonio and was said to have risen twelve feet in the air and traveled about 100 feet before the springs unwound completely and the machine crashed to the ground, although the inventor escaped serious injury.  A bust of Brodbeck was later placed in San Pedro Park.

After this setback, his shareholders refused to put up the money for a second attempt, so he traveled across the US on a fund-raising tour. His proposals failed to persuade his audiences to invest in his plan after his papers were stolen in Michigan. Brodbeck returned to Texas and lived on a ranch near Luckenbach until his death, on January 8, 1910, six years after the Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk. No drawings or blueprints of Brodbeck's craft have survived. He was buried on his property near Luckenbach.

This brings us to the end of this article with a question of what to believe. Do we trust the facts in history books? Or do we search for more information and come to our on conclusions?  Does Texas deserve a commemoration in history for being first in flight? These questions I leave with you to decide.






TEXAS - LOST IN HISTORY

AUSTIN, TEXAS -  Many states claim titles that Texas rightfully should own. The mystery is why do we allow incorrect facts to continue as truths? Maybe it's because once the bottle is opened it's virtually impossible to correct the inaccuracies. What people believe in means more to them than knowing the truth. Let me explain myself, you'll find cold hard facts thought-out the pages of What Was Then. Facts many prefer not to believe in because of their religious beliefs or for countless other reasons they have chosen to ignore the facts. On this page I will submit to you, our readers, cold hard facts that many will disbelieve. Never the less the facts will stand for themselves. Take it or leave it. If you wish, I encourage you to do your own research and try to establish the facts on this page as nothing more than incorrect dribble. With that said, here are the facts;
  
HAMBURGERS

It's a well-established fact that American's have devoured over 60 billion hamburgers from one fast food franchise alone. This does not include hamburgers that has been cooked at home or those purchased at other fast food checkout counters. So, where was the "hamburger" invented? 

Varies states have laid claim to this honor. The Library of Congress has stated on their webpage that the following is the true maker of the first hamburger;
The first hamburgers in U.S. history were served in New Haven, Connecticut, at Louis' Lunch sandwich shop in 1895. Louis Lassen, founder of Louis' Lunch, ran a small lunch wagon selling steak sandwiches to local factory workers. Because he didn't like to waste the excess beef from his daily lunch rush, he ground it up, grilled it, and served it between two slices of bread -- and America's first hamburger was created.
Louis Lassen Photo: Library of Congress
 
Hamburger Wars

TEXAS CLAIM


Frank X. Tolbert writes in his book "Tolbert’s Texas" that he spent years of research to find the truth about the origins of the hamburger. Now quoting from Mr. Tolbert's book, "It took me years of sweatneck research before I finally determined, at least in mine and in some other Texas historian’s estimation, that Fletcher Davis (1864-1941), also known as “Old Dave” of Athens, in Henderson County, Texas, invented the hamburger sandwich " un-quote.  Mr. Tolbert wrote that "Old Dave" was a potter in Athens, TX and when his business began to slow down he decided to open a small lunch counter in the late 1880s at 115 Tyler Street, next to the drugstore. Kindree Miller told Tolbert in an interview, "I remember eating what was later called a hamburger at Uncle Fletch’s café before I even started in the first grade. I never heard that story that the townspeople got up a pot to send him to the 1904 fair. It could have happened. But I think they just went up there on their own."

“When I was ten years old I went with my parents to the 1904 fair and to visit with our relatives. Uncle Fletch and Aunt Ciddy had rented a large house in Webster Groves, a St. Louis suburb. We stayed with them for maybe two weeks and we went to the fair almost every day and lived on hamburgers when we were there. Uncle Fletch had a good location, across the midway from a show featuring famous Indian warriors who had been talked into going on exhibit, including the old apache, Geronimo.”

Kindree said the sandwich was named during the fair. And both he and Grandpa Murchison said that Fletcher Davis was “...interviewed by a fancy dan reporter for the New York Tribune who also asked about the fried potatoes served with thick tomato sauce.” Mr. Davis told the reporter that the sandwich was his idea but he learned to cook the potatoes that way from a friend who lived in Paris, Texas." Apparently the 1904 reporter thought Old Dave said Paris, France, in referring to the way the potatoes were cooked. For the New York Tribune story on the hamburger said the sandwich was served with French fried potatoes.

 THE OTHER CLAIMS


Food History dot com reports that others have claims on being the originators of the now legendary sandwich.
  1. The first hamburger was sold at the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York, in 1885, by brothers Frank and Charles Menches. The story goes that the two Ohio brothers had arrived on the grounds of the fair too late to get a supply of chopped pork for their sandwich concession. The butcher sold them beef instead because he was reluctant to butcher more hogs in the summer heat, and after some experimentation they formulated a sandwich, which they named after the Buffalo, New York, suburb where they were doing business.
  2. Hamburg's claim to be the site of the first hamburger is disputed by the town of Seymour, Wisconsin, where a 15-year-old boy named Charles Nagreen is claimed to have served hamburger sandwiches in 1885.

 CONCLUSION


Remember before radio and television, news traveled very slowly. Newspaper reports took months to travel from town to town by stagecoach or by mail via train. Who do you believe was the true architect of the hamburger? Was the first hamburger created by Fletcher "Old Dave" Davis in Athens, Texas or by Louis Lassen in New Haven, Connecticut, at his sandwich shop? Or were the Menches Brothers or the 15-year-old Charles Nagreen from Seymour, WI the creator of the hamburger?

SOURCES
1. LOUIS' LUNCH - They claim the hamburger was invented in 1895 in a sandwich shop in New Haven, Connecticut. This website belongs to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
2. THE HENDERSON COUNTY HAMBURGER - by Frank X. Tolbert from the Athens, Texas website.
3. BURGER BUSINESS - Food History talks about the "Burger Beginnings".
4. Texas State Historical Association - The Handbook of Texas Online

THE MYRTLES

 ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA -   There are things in our collective past that we Americans would like to forget.  We would prefer to hide from the truth and pretend that certain situations did not arise, that injustice did not flourish sanctioned by government and custom.  Perhaps this is why some ghosts still inhabit this earth without moving on; to serve as a reminder of what happens when we have one set of morals we preach that differs horribly from what we practice. 


General David Bradford built the Myrtles Plantation in 1796, despite the fact that he was warned ahead of time NOT to place his home there.  The choice of location for the two-storied wood-frame home was a scared place for local indigenous people who had buried their dead among the beautiful trees and lush landscape.  Undaunted, the General had the graves and skeletal remains removed and continued with his plan. Perhaps this helps to explain why this location saw so much hardship and horror.  Ten murders and at least one suicide have occurred in the home.
 
The most tragic of these murders concerned the General’s grandchildren.  His son-in-law Clarke Woodruff practiced what many southern plantation owners felt was their due.  He forced himself on one of his slaves, a young woman named Cleo who worked in the kitchen.

This made the situation inside the home difficult for everyone.  Like many woman of the time the General’s daughter was forced to pretend that she was completely unaware of what was going on, Cleo had to endure a horrible burden.  She lived in fear of either being sold, and being far away from her family who also lived on the Plantation, or being sent out into the fields, which meant tortuous work in intolerable conditions.

The life expectancy for a slave at the time was under thirty years of age, such was the toll of being overworked in extreme poverty conditions. Cleo maintained good relationships with her fellow servants and in an effort to help them she put her own security at risk by eavesdropping on the conversation that Woodruff had with the overseers. She could in this way let them know who might be sold, whether families would be allowed to remain together, and who might face punishment.  One day the unfortunate young woman was caught in the act, her own punishment was heinously cruel: Woodruff himself cut off her ear.  After this incident the poor woman was never seen without a kerchief covering her head to hide this mutilation. Her existence was now one of desperation.  No longer did she have to worry about Woodruff forcing himself on her, but now her place in the household was tenuous.  She might be sold, or sent to the field. Desperate she decided on a tragic course of action. When one of the Woodruff’s young daughters had a birthday Cleo baked a cake into which she had stirred the juice of Oleander leaves.  Oleander leaves contain a poison that was often used for medical purposes and Cleo was no doubt aware of this.  Thinking that she had put in only enough to cause them a momentary distress from which she could then seem to nurse them back to health, she served the cake to the young girls and their mother.  She was confident that when they saw how well she dealt with this emergency and how well she took care of them, her place in the household would be assured once again.
Quickly, however, she found that she had miscalculated.  Cleo stayed with them, giving them water, seeing them as comfortable as possible as was her plan, but she had given them too much and even as she held the children they died, as did their mother. In a blind panic the poor woman ran out of the house and down the path to the plantation’s slave quarters. She sought help from her family, but when the other slaves heard of the events they were horrified that she might draw the anger of the whole community down on them.  They hung Cleo to keep a mob from killing all of the plantation’s slaves.
Clarke Woodruff, who returned home to find that he was a widower and his children were dead, was there after a broken man.  It’s doubtful that Woodruff ever saw his own fault in his misfortune.  Ironically during a time when southern men prided themselves on Christian duty, honor, and manners had Woodruff genuinely acted with any of these qualities his family would not have suffered as they did.

Even today visitors to the Myrtles Plantation often witness the image of a woman wearing a kerchief around her head, and young girls are seen playing merrily on the grounds.  A pretty woman in old southern dress gazes curiously down the staircase as if she wants to see who is entering her home.  A mirror that dates back to the time of the tragedy has often been claimed as having the outlines of faces visible in the glass. 

Myrtles posted this photo of Chloe's ghost. (Center of photo just behind the beam)
Unsolved Mysteries - Myrtles Plantation
 
For more information: www.praireghosts.com & the Myrtles Plantation

BLACK HOPE CEMETERY

HOUSTON, TX - Without a doubt the most important investment a family will make is the purchase of a home. If you choose to buy an older home there are problems you might expect to face: plumbing disasters, an aging water heater, and electrical malfunctions to name a few. You might if you believe in such things even expect some evidence of former occupants, perhaps even a ghost. If however you save and work toward your dream of owning a new home, moving day would mean a fresh start. No one has walked a trail across the carpet, or put dents in the dishwasher. The home you have purchased is uniquely your own.
Black Hope Cemetery
In 1980 Ben and Jean Williams brought a new home in Newport a subdivision just outside Houston, Texas. They moved in with their young granddaughter expecting to have all the satisfaction of living in a house that was built to their specifications. The neighborhood was beautifully designed and the house roomy and comfortable with the entire modern convinces they could want. But almost from the first day they began to have experiences that one would expect more in a drafty castle than in a brand new suburban house in southeast Texas.

At first it was just a feeling. The prickle at the back of the neck you have when being watched. An atmosphere became prevalent, a general gloomy darkness was experienced in some parts of the home and cold spots were noticed. As if something was trying to get their attention toilets began to flush by themselves and electrical problems that could not be explained occurred again and again.

The family began to have other more serious problems. Poisonous snakes began to find their way onto the property and into the couple’s home. Their daughter became seriously ill. Their neighbors reported similar incidents and problems with their own homes, but none of them could offer any explanation.

The frustration was exacerbated by a nagging doubt they could not put their finger on. When they moved in they had noticed that a tree in the back yard had strange markings carved into it. The terrain in the subdivision seemed oddly dotted with what looked like sinkholes. They could not shake the feeling that some clue or history of the area was being withheld from them. Unintentionally a neighbor discovered the horrible truth. Workers digging a swimming pool in the back yard unearthed the remains of two people.

  
Facts began to slowly emerge. They were able to locate an elderly man named Jasper Norton who as a youth had worked as a gravedigger. Not only could he help identify whom the graves belonged to, but he also told them how they came to be there. The subdivision was built over the graves of an abandoned cemetery that had been called "Black Hope." Buried in pauper and often unmarked graves were the remains of at least 60 people most of whom had been former slaves.

Horrified by the incidents that now seemed to be intensifying, and disgusted at the thought of having even unwittingly desecrated a graveyard many of the residents left the area, some taking a huge financial loss and simply abandoning their homes. Jean Williams was convinced that the carved markings on the tree in her back yard were in actuality a makeshift grave marker. As the Developer continued to dispute that the area had been a cemetery, Jean attempted to prove her case by digging around the strangely marked tree. Her daughter Tina, age 30, tried to help but collapsed and died of a massive heart attack. Jean and Ben devastated by their loss, and convinced the property was at least partially to blame also fled the subdivision.

The William's neighbors sued the Developer and were awarded a large cash settlement by a jury, but the judge in the case set aside this decision and none of the residents of the Newport subdivision received any money in compensation for their losses.

Many of the former residents now have rebuilt their lives, and are no longer plagued with the problems they experienced while living unintentionally over the graves of the Black Hope Cemetery.

LINCOLN: THE DREAM

President Abraham Lincoln

THE DREAM

The tall unwieldy man walked down a long hallway that was for him very familiar. He was in the White House.  For him these hallways and staterooms were very recognizable.  Only, at that moment strangers were mingling around.  The sounds of mourning came to his ears and as he entered a drawing room he saw a solider standing guard at the side of a coffin. “Who,” he wondered, “was lying in state in the White House?"
The guard seemed to read his mind..  “The President is dead, he’s been shot.”  Abraham Lincoln woke from that dream wondering if he’d had a premonition or if he’d simply had a dream expressing his fears. Lincoln had a life long interest in the occult and had invited prominent spiritualist mediums to both his home and once he took office even into the White House.
 

SAD EVENTS
 Oddly despite the apparent warning nature of the dream Lincoln declined extreme measures to protect his life, taking a fatalistic view of his future. The President arrived at Ford’s on the evening of April 14, 1865 hoping that seeing the play: “My American Cousin” would take his mind off the weighty decisions he was having to make since the Civil War had ended. Booth snuck into to the State Box and shot Lincoln at point-blank range. Regretfully, just as he’d dreamed, he was killed as he sat with his wife in the Ford Theater not long after that disturbed sleep. Day's later President Lincoln’s body was laid in state in the very room he’d seen in his dream.

THE MENGER HOTEL

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS -  Twenty-year-old German emigrant William Menger arrived in San Antonio in the early 1840's and started a brewery called the Western Brewery (1855-78) with Charles Phillip Degen, the brewmaster. It was considered the first commercial Texas brewery. In 1878, it had grown to be the largest operating brewery in Texas.

The Menger
 In 1857 William and his wife, Mary Guenther Menger, decided to expand their boardinghouse next to the brewery at 204 Alamo Plaza. Local architect John M. Fries is credited with designing the two-story cut-stone building, which features classical detail; John Hermann Kampmann oversaw construction of the project. The foundations were laid on June 18, 1858, and the hotel opened for business January 31, 1859. Only 23 years after the famous battle that took the lives 189 Alamo defenders and 1600 Mexican troops.

The Menger Hotel still contains the large cellar; constructed of three-foot-thick stonewalls, that were used to chill the beer produced by the brewery. The cellar was kept cool by the Alamo Madre ditch that flowed through what is now the patio of the hotel.  Menger had a tunnel constructed between the two buildings. The tunnel opens off the basement, through which he led groups of selected guests on tours of the adjacent brewery. Menger died at the hotel in March 1871, and his widow and son took over the management.

The Hotel has attracted the rich and famous as guests through the years. Capitan Richard King considered the Menger a home away from his home and stayed at the hotel whenever he had business to conduct in San Antonio. Mr. King was the owner and founder of the King Ranch in South Texas. In 1885 while on one of his frequent trips King took ill. His physician told him he wouldn't live much longer. King would linger on in his personal suite (now named the King Ranch suite) to say his good byes to his family and friends and wrap up what business he could. When he passed away in August his funeral was conducted in the Menger's lobby.

Capitan Richard King
 Several hotel guests while walking down hallways have reported seeing a man dressed in an old western-style suit, with a string tie, and a broad-brimmed black hat casually walking directly into a closed door. The door that leads in into the King Ranch suite.

The Menger's bar is a replica of the House of Lord's Pub in London, England. Hermann Kampmann sent an architect to examine the pub and duplicate the bar as closely as possible. The bar originally faced Alamo Plaza, but was moved to its present location facing Crockett street in 1949. Prior to its relocation, there had been a livery stable  for the convenience of the Menger guests.

The hotel bar also played an important role in the history of this country when a young future president, then a cavalry colonel stationed at Fort Sam Houston, convinced a group of Texas cowboys to join the cavalry by buying them a "full" mug of Menger's famous beer. The boisterous colonel was Teddy Roosevelt and he was recruiting men for his now famous "Rough Riders".  A former employee said he has seen a spirit, dressed in an old-fashioned military uniform beckoning to him to come to the bar one night while he cleaning. He stated he turned to run out of the closed bar and found himself locked in. While he hysterically yelled to his coworkers to open the door, the military specter sat quietly at the bar observing the panicked man's attempts to escape. Once the door was opened the terrified man left and never returned to his job at the Menger.

Teddy Roosevelt
Among the many famous guest of the Menger Hotel

 Presidents Taft, McKinley, Eisenhower, and Nixon all were former guests of the Menger. A photo of Harry Truman hangs in the lobby, taken during one of his visits to the hotel. 

Sadly the most sighted phantom at the Menger is that of a chambermaid who worked there in 1876. Her life was cut short in March when her jealous common-law husband, Henry Wheeler, shot her as she went about her duties at the Menger. She died in one of the third-floor rooms in the original section of the hotel. Today in the lobby, guest can see an old ledger, which is opened to an entry by Fredrick Hahn; in the "cash paid" column, he wrote, " To cash paid for the coffin for Salie White, col'd chambermaid, deceased, murdered by her husband, shot March 28, died March 30, $25 for coffin and $7 for grave, total $32." She has been seen roaming the hallways on the third floor appearing dressed in a full-length shirt with a scarf or bandanna tied around her head, an apron, and a long necklace of beads. 


A maid cleaning one of the rooms saw a figure of a tall American Indian sporting a long black braid and wearing a white shirt and black pants. She stated he suddenly materialized between two beds. The maid, accustom to other paranormal activity while working at the hotel, stood calmly while staring at the now solid Indian standing before her eyes. She then began screaming her head off and the Indian vaporized before her eyes. The apparition is believed to be that of Geronimo. He was imprisoned in the basement of the hotel while being transported to a reservation.
 
 Other famous guest of the Menger include the names of French actress Sarah Bernhardt, Beverly Sills, Buffalo Bill Cody, Oscar Wilde and regular visitors Roy Rogers & Dale Evans. A suite has been named after the famous pair at the hotel. 
 
Many deaths, suicides, and murders have taken place throughout the almost 150 years at 204 Alamo Plaza. Just how many still remain guests of the majestic hotel remains a secret. A secret that you could help solve by booking yourself a stay at one of American's most haunted hotels.

LA LAURIE

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – Cities, like people, have memories. Happy memories are commemorated with pictures, statues, and awards, but there are also things that cities would like to put behind them. Remembering causes the pain to return like reopening an old wound. For New Orleans, the most painful memory came at the hands of Madame LaLaurie.
LaLaurie in the year 1906
1140 ROYAL STREET
New Orleans, LA

She was beautiful, and her husband, a doctor, was handsome and rich. They had purchased a Creole-style home in the French Quarter and furnished the mansion lavishly. Invitations to their parties became a social prize. Her looks were the fashion at the time: long dark hair, blue eyes, and always beautifully and meticulously dressed. Even if her blue eyes were a little cold and her husband seemed to have a nervous nature, few mentioned having any qualms when being entertained by them. Who would want to risk an argument with a so popular a couple?

Only one woman at first dared to resist the social superiority of Delphine LaLaurie. One day, as one of their neighbors was climbing the steps up to her roof, she heard a scream. Across the street at the LaLaurie mansion, a tiny figure was quickly running up to the roof; the woman realized it was a slave, a young girl who was Delphine's personal servant. The terrified child was running in terror from an outraged Delphine, who was brandishing a whip. The neighbor watched in horror as the little girl gave a last ghastly scream and fell from the steps to her death on the stone pathway below.
In anger, not only did the woman speak out against her influential neighbors—she reported them. At that time in New Orleans, there were laws against cruelty to slaves. Delphine LaLaurie and her husband were fined, and their slaves—over one hundred men, women, and children—were sold away from them at auction.

However, Delphine would not be denied. She had her family and friends turn the auction into a farce by buying back the slaves and returning them to the LaLauries. There was little justice for the slaves; they had no voice, no rights, and they were sold back to a house that held no mercy and a woman who had no humanity.

Delphine's undoing would come from one of these individuals who could no longer stand the horror of living under the LaLauries’ roof. The cook, who was chained inside the kitchen, set a fire in a desperate attempt to end her nightmare.

The LaLauries’ only interest was in preserving the lush interior of their home, but neighbors and fire volunteers entered the mansion to try to save those trapped inside. In a locked attic room, they found victims who were long past rescue: not victims of the fire, but slaves who had been brutalized by Madame Delphine and the Doctor. Inside that room, they found servants who had been beaten, abused, and grotesquely experimented on by the couple. Everywhere the volunteers looked, they found men or women chained to walls or tied to tables, dead, unconscious, or crying out in pain for someone to end their torment. There were severed limbs on the floor and jars containing things the witnesses didn't want to identify. The attic room was a torture chamber.

The couple's social status meant nothing after that, nor did it matter any longer who they had victimized. The news of the horrors the LaLauries had committed swept through New Orleans, and a lynch mob was quickly formed. But there would be no justice; the Doctor and his wife escaped, probably with the help of relatives.

The LaLaurie mansion stood vacant for many years. Few people wanted to remember that such cruelty had occurred within their own community, aided and abetted by the laws and standards they still lived by. The house was believed to be haunted; lights were seen moving past the windows at night, screams and moans were heard coming from inside its walls, and eventually passersby would cross the street to avoid walking in front of the LaLaurie house.

The mansion has passed into different hands since then; it has been a boarding school, a saloon, and an apartment building. During one of its renovations, another secret from those times was unearthed. Under the floorboards, makeshift graves were found holding dozens of bodies that were believed to date back to the time of the LaLauries. We will never know for sure how many people were tortured and killed by the couple.

No one can say whether the restless souls of those who never found justice still linger inside the mansion, but New Orleans will always be haunted by what happened there.

 

REMEMBER THE ALAMO!

 
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - As written by a witness; on the 6th of March around 5:00 AM, the sound of distant cannons woke up a young woman and her family. She related that lying on pallets spread on the floor of her residence, the children could hear and feel the boom of the cannons as they fired 70 miles away. Sounds like thunder roaring from the location of a Spanish mission called the Alamo. The year is 1836 and for 13 days men, women and children are besieged inside the fort walls with thousands of enemy soldiers surrounding them. Now suddenly in the earlier morning darkness the enemy is attacking in force from all sides. Soldiers are pouring over the north wall. Men are dying all around and fighting is hand-to-hand. Abandoning the walls, defenders withdrew to the dim rooms of the Long Barracks. There some of the bloodiest hand-to-hand fighting occurred, and by eight o’clock in the morning all of the defenders had been killed.


Tranquility now replaces the sound of men fighting and dying at each other’s hands. A large metropolitan city has encircled the old mission instead of enemy troops. The Alamo has become the leading tourist attraction for the State of Texas with thousands of visitors each year wanting to see the place where Davy Crockett died. Thanks to several popular books and movies tourist numbers will continue to rise in the near future for the Alamo city.


But looks can be deceiving. Battle weary Mexican soldiers under orders that the Alamo be blown up so it couldn’t be used again as a defense, saw an apparition standing in front of the mission holding flaming swords. It scared the soldiers enough to defy orders and run away. Some say they saw Angels standing with flaming swords in front of the chapel and other say it was the ghost of the Alamo defenders. All that is known is the chapel remained along with the long barracks and some of the walls to this very day.

First known photo of the Alamo mission after the battle in 1836.

 A Texas Ranger reported a noise coming from the long barracks late one evening and when he went to see what was causing the noise he got a shocking view of what had happened in the building so long ago. He saw a man dressed in early Texas period dress running into the building with a look of great fear on his face. 

Following close behind him were Mexican soldiers dressed in their period uniforms with bayonets waving in the direction of the fleeing man. The man with his back to the wall began fighting the Mexican soldiers and suddenly the soldiers pushed their bayonets into his body. The soldiers disappeared and left the man sliding down the wall with blood trailing. The look of surprise was left on the man's face as he too slowly disappeared in front of the ranger's eyes. The Ranger stood there for a moment wondering what he had just witness and then slowly walked back to his post. He never wrote the experience in any official log because he knew no one would believe him. He later told a paranormal researcher what he witnesses under the condition that his identity would never be revealed.
The Alamo Chapel
San Antonio, TX
©2003 Kelli Lindsay
Around the Alamo visitors have seen many strange paranormal occurrences. A young boy has been spotted in the upper window of the Alamo gift shop, exactly who this young child is we may never know.

The Alamo story has now became a legend. The men inside the old mission are now heroes with their names on schools, towns, and forever in the hearts of free people throughout the world.

                                                   Alamo Spirits on Ghost Stories television show